Kuusamo is a town and a municipality of same name in Northern Finland. The high season for tourism is the winter when people head to the 1 Ruka skiing resort 20 km north of the town. However, the 2 Oulanka National Park 20 km farther to the north is also very popular and can be visited around the year.
With its neighbouring municipality Taivalkoski Kuusamo forms Koillismaa sub-region.
Kuusamo is located on Koillismaa highlands. It is a watershed as rivers in the northern part flow northeast to the Arctic Ocean and in southern part toward west and the Baltic Sea. The views consist of steep forested hills (Finnish: vaara) and large, pristine lakes. Bogs and mires are common especially in southern Kuusamo. River Oulankajoki belongs to the official list of National landscapes of Finland.
Even though Ruka is often referred as a fell, there are no true fells in Kuusamo area as none of the hills around reach the tree limit. The area has (almost) continental climate. Mean temperature vary between −15°C in January and +15°C in July. the coldest temperature, −48 °C, was measured in January 1985. Annual snowfall is among highest in Finland and ground is covered by snow up to 200 days a year!
According to archaeological evidence Kuusamo area has been inhabited at least for 4000 years. There were nomadic Sami tribes until the Finnish-speaking settlers arrived here during the 1670s. Most of them came from south by following the labyrinth of lakes from Finnish Lakeland. Therefore the local spoken dialect belongs to the Finnish Eastern dialect group. (Contrast to Lapland where people speak Western dialect.) As the lands weren't part of Kingdom of Sweden the Sami tried to sue the settlers for illegal hunting and fishing, but as the number of Finnish settlers had grown to over 200 people by 1687, there was little what the court could do. The last Sami left the area before 1760s. Kuusamo was separated into an independent parish in 1675, and got its own church in 1680.
Population grew quickly but subarctic agriculture is dodgy. During bad years in 1800–1802 up to 40 per cent of Kuusamo population died in famine. In the 1940 peace treaty between Finland and Soviet Union, Finland lost 1700 km² of land from eastern Kuusamo to Soviets. In September 1944 the area suffered heavily from the scorched-earth policy of retreating Nazi German troops. In the next year, Soviet troops briefly occupied Kuusamo, demolishing the little infrastructure left. This is why you'll find very few old buildings from the area.
Today Kuusamo lives mostly from tourism. The number of summer cottages is the 5th largest in Finland. Finns coming from cities to spend their holidays at their private cottages are a significant source of income. So far there isn't any mining industry, but international mining companies are interested on the area. There is especially uranium ore and copper. The municipality has slightly over 15 000 inhabitants out of which 8400 live in the town. The population trend is declining.
Most people travel to Kuusamo by car. Expect about a 10-hr drive from the southern part Finland, more in the winter when there is snow, ice, and lowered speed limits. The town of Kuusamo is at the intersection of highways 5 and 20. The Ruka resort and the road to Oulanka National Park are also by the highway 5, north from the town.
1 Kuusamo border crossing (Kuusamo-Суоперя) is open daily 09:00–20:00. In 2021, it served cargo traffic, and Finnish and Russian citizens returning home. The nearest town in Russia is Kestenga (Кестеньга, Finnish: Kiestinki) in Russian Karelia.
The nearest train stations are in Kemijärvi (135 km) and Rovaniemi (180 km). Often Oulu (205 km) is more convenient, with connecting buses timed to train arrivals. You can also go by train to Rovaniemi or Kemijärvi and then continue to Kuusamo by bus, check bus schedules in advance.
It takes 3 hr by coach from Oulu to Kuusamo and about ½ hr more to Ruka. The one-way ticket cost €30–40/adult and there are 2–3 departures daily. If you are heading to Ruka, for most departures you need to change bus in Kuusamo centre. This may require some waiting at the 2 coach station.
There are regular connections from Rovaniemi (3–3½ hours, €30–40), Kajaani (3½ hours, €26) and Kemijärvi (2½ hours, €21). From Rovaniemi airport (via the coach station) there is a connection to Ruka every morning on weekdays. The trip takes 6½ hours and requires changes at Pudasjärvi and Kuusamo centre. Price ca €60/adult.
See Matkahuolto for details.
Having your own car is the most practical way of getting around in Kuusamo. Aside from a few intercity buses and school buses a day, public transport is non-existent. You can also get around by taxi, but given the distances, it is pretty expensive.
Local bus traffic consists of two lines serviced a few times per weekday during the school year, but not in weekends or summer. Information about local and regional buses can be had from the municipal office (timetable links). Matkahuolto route planner includes the local and regional routes.
You can also use coach lines for travelling in Kuusamo: coaches towards Oulu for the south-west, towards Kajaani and towards the Kuusamo border crossing ("raja-asema") for the south, towards Rovaniemi, Salla and Kemijärvi for the north. Timetables from Matkahuolto.
There is also a dial-a-ride service available, which services mainly as a connection between Kuusamo and Ruka, but which can be used also for rides within Kuusamo. It can be ordered using Matkahuolto Trip Planner and Tickets mobile app. The passenger can pick up the ride up to five days and can check availability at any time, and secure the ride as well as the seat only by ordering transportation. The app always shows the final binding price before confirming the order.
Service line Kyytimatti is public transport open to all, running in the town area on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If necessary, the driver will pick you up or take you to your door. See timetables. You can book a ride by calling ☏ .
Driving around during weekend is popular among the youth. Snowmobiling is very popular in Kuusamo, so there are hundreds of kilometres of snowmobiling routes. In Ruka village and in Kuusamo centre there is no need for cars.
- Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi
Although Kuusamo is slightly south of the Arctic Circle, there is two weeks of midnight sun. Choose from were to watch, to avoid having the sun go hiding behind a hill at some point (and don't look at the sun!).
At the winter solstice daylight lasts about three hours, and the auroras can be seen all winter, although they aren't as common a sight as a few hundred more kilometres to the north.
- 1 Tourist centre Karhuntassu, Torangintaival 2, ☏ (general tourist info), (Metsähallitus), firstname.lastname@example.org. Tourist information, the Hannu Hautala Nature Photography Centre, cafeteria and a Metsähallitus’ customer service point giving information and hiking advice regarding the "nearby" destinations and selling fishing and hunting permits.
- 2 Kaamosgalleria, Kaarlo Hännisentie 2, ☏ , email@example.com. M-Th 11:00–18:00, F 11:00-16:00, Sa Su closed. Changing art exhibitions.
- 3 Local history museum (Kotiseutumuseo), Kitronintie 6, ☏ . Old farmhouses.
- 4 Oulanka National Park Visitor Centre (Oulangan Luontokeskus), Liikasenvaarantie 132 (some 40 km north from Kuusamo centre), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10:00–18:00 in peak season, Tu–Sa 10:00–16:00 off season. Information on hiking, camping and on the national park in general. Also an exhibition, films, fishing permits. Mostly accessible by wheelchair, pets welcome. Several hiking trails, including an easy 1-km trail, start here. Free; guided group tours €50/hr.
- Nature photo festival. mid-September. Free.
Out of townEdit
- Karhunkierros (The trail of the bear) (nearest starting point in Ruka). The most popular hiking trail in Finland having up to 60 000 hikers each year (though not all of them trek the whole trail.) The 80-km-long trail leads through two beautiful national parks. There are also several shorter variations of the trail. The trail is easily accessible from Kuusamo airport with a bus that takes you to the beginning of the trail. Although the trail is quite easy, you should still be prepared with a decent map and enough food. Water is not a problem, as there are plenty of rivers that have clean and drinkable water. There are several open wilderness huts (Finnish: autiotupa), where you can stay overnight for free, but huts tend to get full during peak season, end of June to beginning of August, so you really should consider bringing your own tent. It is possible to extend the hike all the way to Urho Kekkonen National Park by the UKK trail.
- 1 Näränkä Natural Forest. Virtually pristine nature, unique even in the scale of Western Europe (according to Finnish Forest Administration). By the Russian border, 30 km from Kuusamo town. Forests, natural small waterways, bogs, high hills with good views and a wilderness farm. The Hyöteikkö trail is closed as the duckboards are in bad shape; the Näränkä Vaaranpolku trail (3 km) is still reached via the Näränkä farm.
- 2 Ölökyn ähkäsy trail. Hiking trail (10 km) around the Julma-Ölkky lake. A shorter route, Ölkyn ylitys (5 km) takes a shortcut by a suspension bridge over the lake. Impressing canyon lake. Rock paintings. Both trails are fairly demanding; the terrain is rough. The trail is part of the Hossa National Park.
The Sukerijärvi Strict Nature Reserve is closed for public and any visits to the area require written permission from the Finnish Forest Administration. Such permits are given for scientific reasons only. You'll find quite similar mire ecosystem in the northernmost parts of Oulanka National Park.
There are many handicraft stores at the Ruka resort and in central Kuusamo.
- 1 Kuusamon Uistin, Professori Räsäsentie 1-2 (5 km towards Ruka), ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 09:00–17:00/18:00, Sa 10:00-15:00, Su closed. The famous spoon lure manufacturer Kuusamon Uistin has a shop on the factory premises. There is also a café.
- 2 Torikeskus mall, Ouluntaival 1. Small downtown mall next to the market square. Grocery store, pharmacy, clothes etc.
- 3 Supermarket Prisma Kuusamo, Huoparintie 1, ☏ . M-F 09:00–21:00, Sa 09:00–18:00, Su 12:00–18:00. Big S-group supermarket in Kuusamo city. Daily items, clothing, sport equipment, etc.
- 4 K-Citymarket Kuusamo, Luomantie 1-3, ☏ . M-F 09:00–21:00, Sa 09:00–18:00, Su 12:00–18:00. Big K-group supermarket. Here you can buy almost anything.
- 5 Lidl Kuusamo, Airotie 13. M-F 08:00–21:00, Sa 08:00–19:00, Su 11:00-19:00. Lidl.
- 6 Alko Kuusamo Keskusta, Luomantie 1, ☏ . M-F 09:00–21:00, Sa 09:00–18:00, Su closed. Alcoholic beverages.
- Leipäjuusto, a regional fresh cheese. Also known as Finnish squeaky cheese because the cheese is "squeaking" when one's chewing it. Served often as a dessert slightly heated with cream and clodberry jam.
- Poronkäristys, sautéed reindeer. A speciality of Lapland, but also available in the northern part of the Oulu province.
- Kitkan Viisas, local form of vendace (a fish) living in the lakes at Koillismaa highlands. This true local speciality has a PDO product status in the European Union.
- Restaurant Mango (Ravintola Mango), Kylpyläntie 1, 93699 Kuusamo, ☏ . Different opening hours every day. The restaurant in the spa hotel offering healthy food.
- Spa Coffee (Spa Cafe), Kylpyläntie 1, 93600 Kuusamo, ☏ . 10:00-21:30. The restaurant has a la carte meals, pizza, toast, salad and different kinds of snacks on their menu.
- Sokos Hotel Kuusamo Restaurants, Kirkkotie 23, 93600 Kuusamo, ☏ . From 09:00 until at least 23:00 (some days until 04:00). Three restaurants: Torrero for really good meal, Ollin Baari for drinks and Hotku Club for dancing.
There are many bars and pubs in Ruka and Kuusamo, Ruka is famous for its dance and karaoke bar zone.
- SportBar & Arena (Sporttibaari), Kylpyläntie 1, ☏ . 15:00-22:00. This place is for sport fans. You can can go bowling, play billiards, watch sports or just enjoy a drink.
- 1 Holiday Club Kuusamon Tropiikki, Kylpyläntie 1 (5½ km from the town towards Ruka), ☏ . A large spa hotel. Bar and restaurant, Angry Birds theme park, bowling and gym.
- 2 Holiday Village Petäjälampi (Petäjänlammen lomakylä), Petäjälammentie 6, ☏ . Accommodation in cottages, camping area and hotel rooms (Hotelli Kuusanka). Petäjälammentie is some 4.5 km north from Kuusamo centre. Cottages for example in the summer time €120 per day.
- 3 Oivangin Lomakartano, Junganjoentie 3–4, ☏ . Oivangin Lomakartano has three log villas. They are near lakes known for their clean waters and variety of fish. Junganjoentie is some 13 km north-west from Kuusamo centre.
- 4 Ollila Holiday Cottage (Ollilan Lomamajat), Sossonniementie 216 (20 km south-east from Kuusamo centre), ☏ . 8 well-equipped cottages around the lake Välijärvi. Every cottage has its own sauna, boat and swimming area. €50–80/night.
- 5 Isokenkäisten Klubi, Heikinjärventie 3 (42 km north-east of Kuusamo centre), ☏ . Different kinds of accommodation in the peace of wilderness. Private restaurant, smoke sauna, meeting facilities and a typical Lappish hut.
Camping and caravanEdit
- 6 Iisakki Village, Myllylahdentie 4 (6 km from Ruka), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Holiday village with tent area and caravan site with electricity. Breakfast, restaurant and a lobby bar. Saunas by the lake. Lots of organized activities available.
- 7 Viipus Camping, Viipusjärventie 1 (5 km north from Ruka), ☏ . Some cabins and a caravan site. Own tents welcome. Shared showers and toilets. Kiosk and sauna.
- 8 Juuma Camping, Riekamontie 1 (46 km from Kuusamo, 20 km from Ruka), ☏ , email@example.com. Cabins and camping area in Juuma village by the very popular Small Karhunkierros hiking route and at the border of Oulanka National Park. Café-bar open June-September, cabins available year round.
- 9 Kuusinki Camping, Paljakantie 75 (45 km NE from Kuusamo center), firstname.lastname@example.org. Camping area deep in the wilderness by river Kuusinkijoki, next to excellent fishing and trekking resources. Small cabins, caravan area and site for tents. Café. Outdoor kitchen. Sauna.
Locals don't like arrogant tourists, especially when they are intoxicated, so be polite to them and they are polite to you.
- 3 Bene Finlandia Ruka, Shopping centre Kumpare, ☏ . Private health care company at Ruka has 24/7 emergency unit with on-the-spot X-ray ability. Also general medical service and basic laboratory tests. Check your insurance!
- 4 Kuusamo health care centre (Kuusamon terveyskeskus), Raistakantie 1a, ☏ . The Kuusamo public health care centre takes care with patients with acute illnesses or accidents. General emergency is open 24/7.
- 1 Oulanka National Park – Many trails, ranging from easy ones accessible by wheelchair and pram to the famous Karhunkierros. Also canoeing routes. Borders Paanajärvi National Park in Russia (border passing for wildlife only).
- 2 Ruka – One of the biggest ski centres in Finland.
- Finnish Lapland
|Routes through Kuusamo|
|Sodankylä ← Kemijärvi ←||N S||→ Suomussalmi → Turku|