Enontekiö (North Sami: Eanodat, Inari Sami: Iänudâh, Swedish: Enontekis; also known as nickname the Arm of Finland (Finnish: Suomen käsivarsi)) is a large, sparsely populated municipality in the north-western arm of Finnish Lapland. The municipality includes part of Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, a number of designated wilderness areas as well as all peaks of more than 1000 m in Finland, among them the highest peak Halti at 1,324 m (4,344 ft) above sea level. Enontekiö has the second lowest population density in Finland, with less than 2,000 people on more than 8,000 km² (3,000 sq mi). Wide areas lie above the tree line.
The municipality is bilingual with Finnish and Northern Sámi both having official status.
- Enontekiö Tourist Information, ☏ , email@example.com.
- 1 Hetta (Sami: Heahttá) – Hetta is the main village and administrative centre of the municipality. The names Hetta and Enontekiö are often used interchangeably.
- 2 Kilpisjärvi (Sami: Gilbbesjávri) – The northernmost village of Enontekiö is the location of the Saana fell and a great starting point for a trip to Halti. Tripoint with Sweden and Norway in the Malla Strict Nature Reserve.
- 3 Karesuvanto (Sami: Gárasavvon, Swedish: Karesuando) – A twin village laying both in Finland and Sweden. The main border crossing between Sweden and Finland in Enontekiö.
Other destinations edit
- 1 Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, Finland's most popular national park
- 2 Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, with Finland's highest fells, including 3 Halti
- 4 Malla Strict Nature Reserve, see Kilpisjärvi
- 5 Pulju Wilderness Area
- 6 Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness Area
- 7 Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area, see Karesuvanto
Get in edit
By plane edit
1 Enontekiö Airport (ENF IATA) 6 km west of the main village, Hetta, is the highest altitude airport in Finland. Numerous charter flights land in the winter, but there are no regular scheduled air services. The airport has no public transportation but taxi.
By car edit
Usually people arrive to Enontekiö by car, either from the south or from the neighbouring countries, Norway and Sweden. Cars can be taken on the trains from southern Finland, to Kolari or Rovaniemi, leaving "only" some 150–450 km of driving. The main roads are E8 and E4.
Cars are available for rent, if booked in advance, at most major airports, including Alta and Kittilä. There are limited rental car services in Hetta, mainly run by local entrepreneurs – if you want to rent a car in Hetta it is best to ask for details at your hotel. Demand is low, so there is no need to pre-book; journeys must conclude in Hetta.
It is possible to get someone to drive your car to where you need it. Ask at your hotel.
By train edit
The Finnish rail network terminates over 300 km to the south in Rovaniemi (year round) and Kolari (winter). Some of these trains have a direct coach connection all the way to Kilpisjärvi. A call taxi[dead link] from Kolari to Hetta with a reduced fare (€80) is also available. Swedish trains from the south go to Luleå and Boden, and along Malmbanan to there via Kiruna from Narvik in Norway. Nowadays there are also trains from Luleå to Haparanda (by Tornio)
An overnight train allows you to have a good rest before continuing by bus or car.
By bus edit
To get in without car, you will need to use a coach. There are a number of routes north from Rovaniemi, including the Rovaniemi–Hetta and Rovaniemi–Kilpisjärvi services. The former connects Rovaniemi via Kittilä Airport, the ski resorts of Levi and Olos, Muonio and finally Hetta, with various stops in-between. You may need to transfer in 5 Palojoensuu, where E4 and E8 meet.
Matkahuolto releases bus schedules for September–May and May–August. The journey from Rovaniemi to Hetta takes around 4 hr 50 min, and the journey from Kittilä to Hetta takes around 2 hr 30 min.
In winter connections from Norway are cumbersome, via Sweden or via Inari.
The Swedish bus service Lanstrafiken Norrbotten Busses provides a service in Norway from Alta to Kautokeino. From Kautokeino you can take a bus across the border to Finland with Eskelisen Lapin Linjat to Hetta, but only during the summer months, June–August.
By bike edit
The Eurovelo cycling route nr 7 from Nordkapp to Malta ("Sun Route", 7,409 km) comes down trough Finnmarksvidda, passes Hetta and continues down through Sweden. There are no biking lanes or other special arrangements for bikers up here, so there is no big advantage of the Eurovelo route, but there may be more information and tips on it than on the other options – and usually there is just one road to choose from.
Distances are huge but the hills are not very steep, the roads are mostly well maintained and traffic is light. Mind your clothing: even in July average temperatures are around 10°C (50°F) in some parts of the municipality.
The coaches take bikes if there is room, so you can choose what legs to go on your own.
Get around edit
Practically there are three forms of transport in these parts of Finland: your own car, taxi and coach. Coaches run once or twice daily from Rovaniemi. Bikes are useful in the summer and can be taken on the bus. In the winter there is a network of snowmobile routes and snowmobile tracks.
The condition on road E8 (national road 21) in Enontekiö is sometimes challenging; there are incidents for lorries almost daily in winter, although with careful driving a normal car shouldn't have major problems.
There is a system with shared taxis by bus fare along certain routes around the municipality ("kutsutaksi[dead link]"). These are primarily meant for elderly inhabitants of small villages needing to visit Hetta once in a while, but are open to anyone. They mostly drive weekly and must be requested before 18:00 the preceding evening. Check these if ordinary buses do not seem to fit and you do not want to use normal taxis. With some luck they may allow a chat giving insight in local life in quite another way than using tourist facilities.
There is also transport from the airports (still valid?).
Then of course, trekking is one of the reasons to come here. There is lot of nature to be explored by foot, ski, bike, canoe or similar means. Snowmobiles can also be rented but using a snowmobile is restricted to waterways and marked routes, some of which require paying a fee. Riding a snowmobile the locals have more rights to access than visitors do.
Views and nature. The midnight sun is shining from mid-May to mid-July. Between late November and mid-January the sun does not rise at all. In winter northern lights can be seen in three nights out of four. The Kilpisjärvi village and its surroundings are a must see destination for nature admirers.
There are some easily accessible natural sights. The Iitto palsa bog en route to Kilpisjärvi is perhaps the only easily accessed such bog in Europe. There are also bird wetlands by the road. In Hetta you can borrow a coffee pot to climb the local hill and enjoy the views. Real fells will require some trekking, but some are reasonably close to the highway (have a compass, though, and note in what direction you are heading and any wetlands getting you off).
There are visitor centres for the national parks and wilderness areas in Hetta (year round) and Kilpisjärvi (in season). They give advice, have keys to some huts (which can be booked through them) and sell maps and fishing and hunting permits. They have exhibitions and films on the nature and on the Sámi culture, and also sell literature on the topics, and souvenirs, although the assortment isn't too wide.
For military history buffs, there is a partly restored German fortification by the E8, some 16 km past Karesuvanto.
- E8, the highway to Tromsø, and along the Swedish border southward.
- 1 Nordkalottleden – an 800-km wilderness backpacking trail through Norway, Enontekiö and Sweden, passing through several national parks and mostly keeping away from settlements. The Finnish part goes through the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, Kilpisjärvi and Malla to the tripoint. There are wilderness huts about a day's hiking apart, but the weather may turn demanding.
- 2Stuorrahanoaivi trek – Stuorrahanoaivi is by far the most remote of the points on the world heritage listed Struve Geodetic Arc, in the middle of Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area, about 29 km from the hamlet of Palojärvi on the Kautokeino–Hetta highway. Getting to the peak and back from major roads entails four days of hiking with daily distances of 15–20 km. You will follow footpaths much of the way, but there is no marked trail to the fell and nice weather is not guaranteed; wilderness backpacking skills and adequate equipment are needed. There are open wilderness huts halfway, at Salvasjärvi on the route from the Palojärvi side and near Syväjärvi on the route from Karesuvanto. You will probably also want to sleep in a tent near Stuorrahanoaivi.
- Hiking, cross country skiing, whitewater sports etc.
- Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, the most popular of the wilderness areas, with large areas above the treeline and nearly all of Finland's fells of more than 1000 m height. Requires serious wilderness backpacking experience in the company
- Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, one of the oldest, largest and most popular, with a 55-km trail from Hetta to Pallastunturi.
- Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness Area, with the Pöyrisjärvi lake with sand dunes and rivers for fishing and canoeing.
- Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area, where Yrjö Kokko at last found nesting whooper swans, when they were near extinction in the 1950s, and one of the Struve Geodetic Arc measuring points.
- Malla Strict Nature Reserve between Kilpisjärvi and the trilateral border point with Norway and Sweden (11 km one way, 7 km sidetrip possible to the Pikku-Malla fell, a wilderness hut near the tripoint, boat transport most way in season). Leaving the marked trail inside the reserve is not allowed.
- Snowmobile and husky safaris, fishing and polar light watching trips and other programme services at most tourist businesses.
- Käsivarren Luontopalvelut, Saharannantie 66 (Hetta), ☏ . Program services.
St. Mary's Days is a major culture event for the Sami people, held in Hetta in late March. Hetta also hosts Hetta Music Days for a week in early April. It is the northernmost classical music festival in the European Union. A Traditional Christmas market is held in Hetta in late November or early December.
The Midsummer Games in Kilpisjärvi is a sports event that include a famous (although not very serious) skiing competition.
Shops in Hetta, Kilpisjärvi and at some other locations. Alko stores are in Hetta and Kilpisjärvi. For souvenirs, check in advance. The park visitor centres have some, but most shops have mostly kitsch, if even that. There are artists, but many work from home and sell mostly from there, on the net and in design shops elsewhere. If you are willing to buy some Sami-related stuff, always check there is a Sámi Duodji patch indicating an original handicraft.
Eat and drink edit
Reindeer and fish usually feature on most menus. Food is expensive in this part of Finland, so expect to see this reflected in menu prices. Quite limited options.
There are few hotels, but quite some cottages, often by a river with fishing opportunities (check needed permits). You might have to search for these yourself. Check location, as many booking sites suggest accommodations a hundred kilometres or more from the location you searched for.
See the city and park articles for some accommodations and campsites.
For camping in the wilderness, right to access does not apply in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, Malla Strict Nature Reserve, nor in the other nature conservation areas. It does apply in the wilderness areas.