When you venture into the middle of nowhere, you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime. The only problem is, where can you explore raw, magical wilderness, in today’s busy world? The beauty and peacefulness of untouched nature awaits, in Finnish Lapland. Salla, to be precise, right near the Russian border. Never heard of it? For instagram-worthy pics, high-octane thrills and incredible landscapes, now that you have, you’ll never forget it.
Here are 8 reasons to visit.
Oulanka National Park
Roaring waterfalls are the starring attractions of Oulanka National Park, highlighted by powerful rivers, wandering reindeer and peaceful pine forests. Here, you’ll find the first part of the 82 kilometre Karhunkierros Trail, for the thrill of hiking across hanging bridges, high above dramatic gorges.
Canoe and fish your way through natural wonders in summer, or snowshoe and ski when the park is cloaked in winter white. No matter what time of year it is, close your eyes and breathe in what might just be the cleanest air in the world.
The Oulanka National Park is so vast that it spans across two municipalities: Salla and Kuusamo. The breathtaking Oulanka Canyon, located on the Salla side, is just a leisurely 2 kilometres hike from the Savilampi Parking Area.
Tuntsa Wilderness Area
Humans are very few and far between, in the remote Tuntsa Wilderness Area. Among sparsely forested slopes, rocky river valleys, scenic landscapes dotted with miniature spruce trees, and abundant mires, you’re much more likely to spot birds – so bring your binoculars.
A national route, called UKK Hiking Trail, takes you through several days of spectacular scenery. Fishing in pristine rivers is permitted, but make sure you get a recreational fishing licence first.
Salla Reindeer Park
Salla Reindeer Park offers the best of Finnish Lapland, blending the peace and quiet of silent forests with action in the great outdoors. During winter, speed through wintry landscapes on a husky ride, take part in a relaxing reindeer ride – lasting anywhere between 2 hours and a few days – and explore secluded terrain with skis or snowshoes.
When the weather warms up, it’s time for hiking, canoeing in the midnight sun and learning how to survive in the wilderness, with local guides. For foodies, sample local delicacies like smoked salmon, lappish cheese and breads, in a replica Lappish Hut.
You can visit the reindeers at the park year-round.
Salla Ski Resort
According to Salla Ski Resort, stress and rush are the only things they can’t offer. The resort does, however, supply thrills a minute with 15 slopes and 160 kilometres of cross-country skiing trails. Everyone is catered for, with a family slope for beginners and challenging runs from the top of fells with panoramic views to Russia.
Ever heard of electric fat biking? You can try it here, to discover more of the scenery without breaking too much of a sweat, both in winter and summer time. The resort also offers a wide selection of summer activities such as hiking, angling, and frisbee disc golf. In addition, there are multiple Lappish huts on and in the vicinity of the slopes where you can rest or enjoy a packed lunch.
The Northern Lights
When you want to tick the Northern Lights off your travel bucket list, this region of Finnish Lapland is the perfect spot to do it. Aurora hunting isn’t just about staring at the sky and waiting for the dancing lights here, either.
Guided tours include snowshoeing and reindeer-pulled sleighs, through the long, dark night skies of January to March, in particular. However, your chances of seeing the lights are pretty good from anywhere in the region even earlier in the year, so keep your eyes peeled, especially on clear nights between 9:00 pm and 1:00 am from September onwards. Additionally, during September, you can soak in the vivid red and orange colours of autumn.
How would you like to snowmobile all the way to the Russian border? On a tour, you’ll receive lessons on how to ride one, before experienced guides of the Arctic Circle Safaris take you on safari into the wilds of snowy forests.
Along the way, you might get to try ice-fishing, discover cosy Lapp huts, visit a local reindeer farm and, yes, even ride along the Russian border. Please note that these are all done as separate guided trips. If you want to go it alone, as long as you have a driver’s licence you can rent your own snowmobile and follow dedicated routes.
Salla Museum of War and Reconstruction
Salla played a major role in the Winter War against Russia, and half of the municipality was lost, during World War II. This museum journeys through time from the beginning of the 19th century. Back then, the region was called Kuolajärvi, and photos, books and films depict life during the old times.
You’ll also learn of heartbreaking war stories and get inspiration from the great reconstruction. There’s a traditional tavern showcasing the history of travelling, an outdoor exhibit called ‘The Land of Gnomes’, and a cafe with souvenirs and historical books for sale.
What better way to top off a trip to a magical winter wonderland, then with a drink at an ice bar? Located just a hop, skip and a jump from the slopes of Salla Ski Resort, the family-run SnowLounge is built entirely from snow and ice from a local lake nearby by.
Sip on Finnish vodka from your ice glass, admire superbly crafted sculptures and soak up the atmosphere of white, candle lit walls that create a surreal, cosy atmosphere, despite the cold. Don’t forget to rug up though, the temps inside are a chilly, permanent 4°C.
For the 2018-2019 winter season, SnowLounge is expanding its services to accommodation! For a truly memorable Finnish experience, enjoy your stay in a room built out of snow and ice, eat a delicious dinner in the ice restaurant and visit the ice chapel. The chapel can be booked for a wedding and, if you so wish, the ceremony can be administered by the mayor of Salla municipality Erkki Parkkinen.