Utsjoki is the northernmost municipality of Finland and Finland’s only municipality with a majority of Sámi population. Utsjoki offers an opportunity to experience modern, everyday Sámi culture: a culture you can live, see, hear, taste and feel. Utsjoki is a place where the traditional Lappish costume is still worn at many festivals and events. In the municipality of Utsjoki, there are three lively villages – Utsjoki, Karigasniemi and Nuorgam. All destinations can be enjoyed year-round. As the northernmost region in Finland, here both the polar night and the midnight sun are the longest, and the Northern Lights are dancing on the sky often.
The village of Utsjoki is guarded by the Ailigas fell. The border river Tenojoki can be traversed at the Sámi bridge to get to the Norwegian side. River Tenojoki is famous for its salmon, and both up and downstream from the village is excellent for salmon anglers and rowers.
The best way to reach Utsjoki is by car or bus. The closest airports are in Ivalo Finland and Kirkenes, in Norway. Many accommodation companies have a pickup service from and to the airport, and rental cars are available at the airport. There are bus connections from Ivalo and Saariselkä to Utsjoki.
Local sights in Utsjoki
The River Teno is one of the largest and best salmon rivers in Europe. The first fly-fishing enthusiasts discovered the river in the 19th century, which can be considered as the beginning of recreational fishing tourism. Teno – Deatnu in Northern Sámi and Tana in Norwegian – is the border of Finland and Norway and therefore forms also the northern border of the European Union. The beautiful river valley of Tenojoki with its hidden sandy beaches is overlooked by rugged fells, creating unforgettable arctic scenery.
The most beautiful road in Finland
The route 970 takes you from Karigasniemi to Utsjoki following the 100 km journey alongside the River Teno continuing from there to Nuorgam. This “Route Teno” has been given the title of the most beautiful route in Finland as it travels alongside the river through breathtakingly beautiful river valley – you cannot find anything like it elsewhere in Finland.
Kevo Strict Nature Reserve
The Kevo Nature Reserve, with its magnificent canyon, is among the most rugged hiking attractions in Finland. The heart of the nature reserve consists of a canyon spanning 40km in length and in places 80m in depth, at the bottom of which flows the River Kevojoki. The rest of the nature reserve is fell highland crossed by gentle slopes of ravines. There are also large tundra-like open mires. There are two marked, rather demanding hiking trails of 63km and 86km and a two-kilometre long nature trail at Sulaoja. The unique area is a prime habitat for rare birds, which is why access is restricted to signposted trails.
The municipality of Utsjoki has three fells named Ailigas, all of which are located near the Tenojoki River. The highest of the three is located in Karigasniemi, near the area where the Inarijoki River turns into Tenojoki. This particular Ailigas stands an impressive 620 metres high. The second highest fell rises straight up from the shore of the Tenojoki River by the Nuvvus village. Indeed, this 535-metre high fell goes by the name of Nuvvus-Ailigas. The smallest of the three fells stands at 342 metres in height, protecting the village centre of Utsjoki.
Parish huts and Utsjoki Church
The Utsjoki parish village consists of 14 huts dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Sámi families owned the huts, and they were inhabited up to the 1930s during market days and church ceremonies. The buildings are located on a beautiful spot on the shores of Lake Mantojärvi, 6km from the Utsjoki village along the highway 4. These church huts and the Utsjoki stone church are the most important cultural-historical sites in the Utsjoki region. The Utsjoki church was built upon the commission of Nicholas I of Russia in 1853.