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The north-west Finnish Lapland, also known as Fell-Lapland includes the "arm" of Finland, with all the highest fells of Finland. Like the north-east, much of it belongs to the Sámi native region. Although much of the region is off the beaten path, in season you will have company on some of the wilderness trails, and two of the most popular ski resort in the country are here.


Some of the "cities" have just a few hundred inhabitants, if that, but here we go:

Map of North-west Lapland
  • Enontekiö – the "arm" of Finland (fi: Käsivarsi), with all Finnish fells over 1,000 metres high
    • 1 Hetta — administrative centre; gateway to some northern national parks and wilderness areas
    • 2 Karesuvanto — northernmost border crossing to Sweden
    • 3 Kilpisjärvi – alpine village at the border of Finland, Sweden and Norway, near the tallest fells of Finland
  • 4 Kittilä – airport and the Levi resort
  • 5 Kolari – the northernmost railway station
  • 6 Muonio – fishing, the Olos ski resort, the Pallas fells and wilderness

Other destinations[edit]


Wilderness hut in the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, mid-March

As the alternative name Fell Lapland reveals, much of the landscape is dominated by fells, in particular in the "arm" where the highest mountains in Finland are. A river defines the border to Sweden, while the border to Norway is along a watershed. Like the north-east, much of it (that is: Enontekiö) belongs to the Sámi native region and there are many protected areas. You can experience barren landscapes above the treeline that are unlike anywhere further south in the country. Although much of the region is off the beaten path, in season you will have company on some of the wilderness trails, and two of the most popular ski resort in the country are here.

Don't ignore the climate. Pokka of Kittilä, in the inland (thus with quite continental climate), got a Finnish record of −51.5 °C (−60.7 °F) in 1999. Kilpisjärvi, at 69° N and about 500 m elevation, has a mean temperature of +11 °C (52 °F) in July.


Finnish is the main language. Enontekiö is bilingual with Northern Sami, and you may have luck also with Norwegian.

Get in[edit]

Reindeer are a common sight.

The region features two border crossings from Norway and two from Sweden: Kivilompolo north of Hetta with E45 and Kilpisjärvi with E8 respectively Muonio and Kolari, the latter by minor roads.

From Sweden the main options are E45 from Swedish Lapland and E4 along the coast to Haparanda and then along E8. From Nordland of Norway, drive to Sweden by E10 and use E45, from Troms, use E8, from western Finnmark, use E45, and from eastern Finnmark either drive to E45 (along E6 or via Karigasniemi) or via Inari and Sirkka of Kittilä.

Trains go to Kolari in season. At other times you have to go to Oulu, Kemi or Rovaniemi and continue by other means. The Swedish trains take you to Luleå or Haparanda.

There are daily coaches along E8 between Rovaniemi and Troms, skipping the Norwegian leg off season (in spring and autumn).

There are airports in Kittilä and Hetta, the latter without scheduled services.

Get around[edit]

The daily or twice-daily coaches from Rovaniemi via Kittilä, Levi and Muonio to Kilpisjärvi are the main transport unless you have a car. It should be possible to transfer for Hetta at Palojoensuu, where E45 leaves E8 for Hetta, Kivilompolo and Kautokeino (where the coaches might continue). For getting to your destination in the region, airport transfers can be booked.

There are weekly bookable shared taxis (mainly for the elderly etc.) on some routes. Normal taxis are also available.

There is a decent road network between the major villages and to trailheads for hikes. The E8 passes the highest point of the Finnish public road network close to Kilpisjärvi – check weather forecasts.

For wilderness destinations, use your feet (or a bike) in summer, skis or perhaps a snowmobile in winter. There are snowmobile routes to most destinations, but deviating from them is usually not allowed (for the "tracks", there are fees).

See and do[edit]

On the trail to Halti (Nordkalottleden)
Saint Mary's Day in Hetta, with many using Sámi clothing as part of their dress

For those who want out in the wild, there are options suiting everybody: Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park is popular, with good services, while the wilderness areas offer solitude, some mostly with forest and mires, the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area mostly above the treeline. For a one-week canoe adventure, try paddling down the border from near the tripoint to the sea.

Fishing is big in some of the lakes and along the main rivers, you'll find tourist businesses arranging fishing trips more or less anywhere. Going independently, you have to check rules and pay the fees.

Some natural sights are in easy reach. Check the national park visitor centres and their surroundings. At Iitto, along the road to Kilpisjärvi, there is a palsa bog, probably the most easily reached one of these, otherwise characteristic for the tundra. Near Karesuvanto along the same road there is an observation tower of the Lätäseno-Hietajoki mire protection area. Most significant villages have some short hiking trails to nearby sights. And at any cottage you have access to some of the local nature.

The E8 is called the "Aurora Borealis Route" by some and, indeed, this may be a good region for spotting northern lights in the dark season: little light pollution, often clear skies and more or less the right latitudes. In midwinter you also have polar night – no sun to be seen, just a bit of twilight in midday. Most would prefer the midnight sun, which can be seen much of the summer, depending on where you stay.

For Sami culture, you may want to check Hetta at a suitable festival. The national park visitor centre has relevant exhibitions year round. With the right attitude or the right contacts you could also trek to a Sámi summer camp off roads – but remember their right to private life: be a guest they appreciate. An easier way might be to find a local Sámi craftsperson and chat while buying some of their textiles or jewellery. Don't go to the booths lined with "Sami" costumes for sale – that's likely a Finn selling fake.




For nightlife, head for the ski resorts.

Good-looking running water in the wild is usually potable. Boiling it for a few minutes is recommended – better safe than sorry – although local hikers seldom bother.


There are hotels at the ski resorts and some of the major villages, see the "city" articles. However, the main option is a cottage. These are common at the resorts, and you will find them here and there, mostly along the rivers. When booking, check that the cottage is where you want to stay; some search engines may suggest accommodations a few hundred kilometres away.

In the wilderness areas and national park, you often have access to open wilderness huts, where you can overnight for free (with your own hiking mattress and sleeping bag). These rely on visitors behaving, service is sometimes done only biennially – and latecomers have an absolute right to the facilities, as those who arrived earlier have had time to get warm and dry (and to put up their tent in case). In the national park, there are also similar locked and bookable huts.

Stay safe[edit]

For trekking, remember that you are in the Arctic. In mountains, what matters is not the height but the treeline. In the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, there are areas with no woods in reach, so you may have to cope with any weather in the open fells.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to North-west Lapland is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!