Simo is a small municipality in southwest Finnish Lapland. This is a summer destination and most people come here for fishing wild salmon. Other attractions are the old villages Simokylä and Simoniemi.
Simo has about 3,000 residents. The net migration is slightly positive but the population trend is slowly declining though. The community still lives strongly from agriculture, and potato is even nowadays a major product. Many locals however drive daily to the cities Kemi or Oulu for work. In close future a renovated highway from Oulu towards north will probably bind Simo more to influence of Oulu than to the rest of Lapland. Simo itself is an important wind power producer and there are several wind power plants. Simo is also an important producer of energy peat.
Geographically Simo is very similar to the Ostrobothnian area to its south. The landscape is flat and consist of forests and large open mires. Compared to the rest of Finland the lakes and rivers are notably scarce. The river Simo (Finnish: Simojoki) flows to the Baltic Sea, and is one of those few rivers left that still have its original breeding Baltic Sea salmon population. The shoreline to the Baltic Sea is long, and the shallow waters are in favour to many pelagic birds. The population is heavily concentrated to the sea shore and along the banks of the Simo river while there are few people residing elsewhere.
There are large bog and mire systems especially in the northeast. The southern part of the Runkaus Strict Nature Reserve, protecting an exceptionally important fen mire, is in Simo. To protect its nature the Runkaus area is closed to the public.
There are many place names of Sami origin at the area. The oldest known settlements on the mouth of Simo river are fishermen communities from 1300s. In 1540 there were 11 houses in Simonkylä, 6 in Simoniemi and 5 in Maksniemi village. The road connetion was established in 1652 but it took until 1750s before wagons could use it. During the 1700s, numerous settlers arrived to the area but it took until 1800s before first permanent settlements were built inland, to the banks of the Simo river. Simo became an independent parish in 1796.
When Finland was still part of the Russian Empire, some young Finns – known as Jägers – prepared themselves for rebellion against Russia by traveling secretly to Germany to get military training there. Later they arrived back to Finland via sparsely populated Ostrobothnian coast where hiding the autorities was easy. On December 11th, 1916, a group of these Jägers were hiding in a forest hut near Yli-Kärppä village when a police patrol found them. During the encounter known as Simon kahakka, the Simo Skirmish, one Jäger was killed, three Jägers and two policemen were wounded, and two Jägers were captured. The skirmish was the first violent encounter between Finns and Russians since the Finnish War (1808–1809) – except the assassination of the governor general Nikolaj Bobrikov 1904 – and is often seen as a start of weaponed fight for Finland's independence. There is a movie about the skirmish.
In September 1944, during the Lapland War, the bridges across the river were completely destroyed by Germans to slow down approaching Finnish army. Maksniemi village and the surroundings of the railway station suffered heavy damage during these battles while Simonkylä and Simoniemi villages survived completely.
In the early 20th century the paper mill in Kemi started to turn the rural municipality into more laborious one. Agriculture remained the most important livelihood. During the 2010s, Simo has become an important producer of wind power.
Highway E75 (Ouluntie) runs through the administrative centre. Distance to Oulu in south is 80 kilometers (1 hour drive) and to Kemi in north 27 kilometers (20 min). National road 924 (Ranuantie) connect the administrative center to Ranua 92 kilometers east (1h 20 min).
There are numerous daily coach connections between Oulu and Kemi, some of them continuing to Rovaniemi and Haparanda. These stop at Simo centre if necessary; either at the 1 Simo Bus Station or – mostly – by dropping the passengers to a bus stop by the highway. A bus ticket costs approx. €7 from Kemi and €10–18 from Oulu. See Matkahuolto for details.
The nearest railway stations are at Kemi and Oulu, where you must continue to Simo with a coach. The railway goes through the administrative centre but passenger trains haven't stopped here for decades.
The nearest airports are Kemi-Tornio Airport in north and Oulu Airport in south. Both have daily connections to Helsinki.
There is a local bus connection between Simo bus station and Kemi bus station via Simoniemi and Simonkylä villages. The bus operates once or twice a day at working days. A bus ticket from the Simo bus station to Simonkylä costs around €3.30/adult. Otherwise you need to use your own vehicle or local taxi.
Any visits to Runkaus Strict Nature Reserve require a written permission from the Finnish Forest Administration. The permissions are given for scientific purposes only.
- 1 Simoniemi village. A traditional agricultural village which acted as the administrative center until the railway was built. The village was saved from the destruction during the Lapland War. One of nationally important cultural scenic views. The village has guest marina.
- 2 Simo church, Kirkkotarhantie 3 (in Simoniemi village). A wooden church built in 1846, separate bell tower from 1773.
- 3 [dead link] Simo local history museum, Kirkkotarhantie 2 (in Simoniemi village next to the church). A small museum in an old barn next to the church. Open during the summer.
- 4 Simonkylä village. The southernmost village in Finnish Lapland survived the Lapland War untouched. Two nature trails and a museum road. The 3 kilometers long museum road is part of old Ostrobothnian road built in 1652. King Adolf Frederick of Sweden used the road during his trip in 1752. The village has local heritage museum and is one of nationally important cultural scenic views. There are occasionally festivities at Simonpirtti village house.
- 5 Marttilanlahti fishing huts, Maneesintie. A group of old fishermen's huts built mostly during the 19th century.
- 6 [dead link] Pahnila museum, Palokarintie 7 (in Simonkylä village). early June to early August Sa-Su 12:00-18:00. Local history museum in an old manor. This is the only local history museum in Lapland with all the buildings on their original site. Guide available when the museum is open.
- Simo Upthrust Park (Simon Maankohoumapuisto). During the last ice age the kilometers thick ice sheet caused the basement rock to depress. The Bothnian Bay area is the best place on Earth to see how it slowly rises up, nearly one centimeter a year. Eventually this phenomenon known as post-glacial rebound will slowly turn the whole Bothnian Bay into a lake. The Upthrust Park is a collection of sites where one may get some feeling on this fancy phenomenon. Info plates.
- 7 Pilots' Memorial (Lentäjäpatsas). During the Lapland War in October 10th 1944 a Finnish Air Force Junkers JU-88 was shot by a German destroyer. The pilot tried to make an emergency landing to the forest but only one of the four men crew survived the landing. The badly burned sole survivor found his way back to civilization after a week in the forest. The memorial is by a road to Arppee in the middle of nowhere and was dedicated in 1970. Lean-to shelter at the site. There is sign saying "Lentäjäpatsas" at the crossroads from Pohjoispuolentie road.
- 8 Simo Skirmish Memorial (Simon kahakan muistomerkki) (7½ km south from Yli-Kärppä village). A memorial of Simo Skirmish between Finnish Jägers and Russian police patrol in December 11th 1916. Reconstruction of the hut where the Jägers were hiding (the original hut burned during the skirmish). A 16 km long hiking and biking trail from Veska village in Kuivaniemi to Kievari village in Simo visits the site. Lean-to shelter by the road.
- 9 Kallio island. An island about 3 km off the mainland. Remnants of an old sawmill closed in 1925. Vast amounts of sawmill waste wood can still be found on the shores. Trail and a lean-to shelter.
- Most people visit Simo for fishing as the river Simo has original wild salmon population. For fishing you need to buy a Finnish national fishing permit AND a separate permit "2581 Simojoki, Simo" sold by the Finnish Forest Administration. Take a look at website Simojoki.com for details for rules and regulations. Most lodging companies have permits for sale.
- There is official 178 km long canoeing route in river Simo. The route starts from lake Simojärvi in Ranua and ends to the Baltic Sea. The paddling route is considered quite easy and it takes 4-7 days to complete.
- Jäger Path (Jääkäripolku) is 16 km long marked trail from Veska in Kuivaniemi to Kievari in Simo. The trail has been completely renoved in 2019.
- 1 Martimoaapa-Lumiaapa-Penikat Mire Reserve. A very valuable fen mire and raised bog complex with a nature trails (2-13 km) mostly on duckboards. Also old-growth hill forests. Two bird observing towers by the trails. There is a lean-to shelter by the road and three open wilderness huts deeper in the area. Dry toilets and waste disposals but no other services. Duckboards over Martimoaapa mire are in poor condition. free.
- 2 Härkäletto island. This small group of rocky islands far out on the sea, about 14 kilometers from the mainland, form the southernmost point of Finnish Lapland province (so far, as there is an island-to-be in southwest). Excursion harbour with a dry toilet and a campfire site but no other services. If you are travelling with a yacht this is suitable and rather popular place to stay overnight. The islands are shown on Finnish Nautical Chart G. As the post-glacial rebound makes the seafloor rise make sure your nautical chart is current enough. free.
- 1 K-market Simontori, Ratatie 1, ☏ . M-Sa 08:00-21:00, Su 10:00-21:00. Grocery store.
- 2 Sale Simo, Ratatie 3, ☏ . M-F 07:00-21:00, Sa 08:00-21:00, Su 10:00-21:00. Grocery store. Mail service. Pharmacy.
Eat & drink
- 1 Pizzeria Nibras, Yritystie 2, ☏ . M-Th 11:00-20:00, F-Sa 11:00-21:00, Su 12:00-21:00. Kebab-pizzeria.
- 2 [dead link] Villa Alma-Ruusa, Ratatie 8 b 1, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 10:00-18:00, F-Sa 10:00-02:00, Su 12:00-22:00. Café and restaurant.
- 3 [dead link] Helmi's Lunch Café (Helmin lounas-kahvila), Ratatie 9, ☏ . M-F 07:00-17:00, Sa-Su closed. Home-made style lunch buffet. Pizzas.
- 4 Simojoen Lohiranta, Ranuantie 219 B, ☏ , email@example.com. Restaurant at a lodging company 20 km from the town.
- 1 Wanha Pappila Cottages, Pappilantie 10, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Ten cottages for 4–6 persons in Simoniemi village, by the guest marina. The main building is an old vicarage built in 1902. Sauna. Various activities. Cruises to the nearby islands, including Kallio island, in June-October.
- 2 Simojoen Lohiranta, Ranuantie 219 B (20 km from the administrative center to Ranua direction), ☏ , email@example.com. Rooms and cabins for 2–6 persons by the river Simo. Caravan site with electricity. Restaurant. Fishing permits and gear. Transportations from/to the airport. Camping area open June 1st–August 30th. Caravan €25/night, tent €18/night.
- 3 [dead link] Simojoki Country House (Simojoen Eräkartano), Pohjoispuolentie 306 A, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Husky farm by the river Simo at over 200 years old family estate. Two person rooms. Restaurant and bar.
- 4 Lapin Rinki Camping, Lohitie 14, ☏ , email@example.com. Camping area by the river Simo in the administrative center. Tent area, caravan site and cottages. Cooking option. Fishing permits. Open from June 1st to August 30th. tent/caravan €20/night, cottages €35-49.
- 5 Hopeaperä Camping, Ranuantie 383 b (37 km from the administrative center to Ranua direction), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Camping and caravan site open around the year but no services at the winter. Cooking option. By the river Simo. caravan €30/night, tent €10/night; electricity €6 (winter €10).
There is notable risk for tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) in the Simo area. The endemic range extends to southern suburbs of Kemi. The local tick species is Ixodes persulcatus which carries TBE much more often than other European ticks.
- 1 Simo Health Care Station (Simon terveysasema), Varkkermontie 1, ☏ . For medical emergencies M-F 08:00-16:00. The nearest 24/7 emergency is in Kemi hospital.
- Bothnian Bay National Park
- Ranua, with a zoo. Among the animals are polar bear, brown bear, lynx, wolf, wolverine, forest reindeer, beaver and otter (some 50 species in all).
|Routes through Simo|
|Tornio ← Kemi ←||NW SE||→ Ii → Oulu|