Laplandsaariselka.com – A dream vacation in Saariselkä
Saariselkä is one of Finland’s largest winter sports centres in Lapland. The name Saariselkä can refer to Saariselkä village or to the wider fell area, which formally extends the Inari and Savukoski municipalities all the way to Sodankylä. The Saariselkä fells are part of the Natura 2000 nature reserve.
In fact, Saariselkä village is small: there is one petrol station, one good size supermarket, a dozen hotels and one Alko (off-licence).
Saariselkä village is only 25 km from the airport in Ivalo and you can make the journey conveniently with a shuttle bus or a taxi.
When traveling by train you should get off at Rovaniemi and then continue your journey by bus – the distance from Rovaniemi to Saariselkä is about 260 kilometres. Thanks to the great bus connections, you can travel up to the remotest parts of Northern Lapland and all the way to the Arctic Ocean!
Saariselkä – the Ski Resort of two Fells
Saariselkä Ski Resort, Ski Saariselkä, is built beautifully on the slopes of two different fells, Kaunispää (437.5 metres) and Iisakkipää (415.5 metres).
The slopes have been named after birds. Beginners prefer Naakka (jackdaw), Pöllö (owl) and Huuhkaja (eagle owl), while skiers craving a challenge choose Lunni (puffin), Varpunen (sparrow) or Tilhi (waxwing). The catwalks are named Kettu (fox), Poro (reindeer) and Naali (arctic fox).
At the top of Kaunispää fell, there is a cafe offering the best views of Saariselkä. At the base of the slopes there is a cafe called Sport Bistro Pilkku where you can enjoy coffee, soft drinks, and hot and cold snacks, as well as traditional soup lunch.
In summer, hiking is easy
Because the wilderness area around Saariselkä is easy to walk in, it is highly suitable for hiking in the summer. The wilderness area offers a wide network of wilderness huts that are either free or reservable, so hiking tours lasting several days are easily manageable. The hiking tours can start at Raja-Jooseppi, Kiilopää or Kemihaara.
Gold an important part of the history
Saariselkä is now completely focused on sports and relaxation tourism, but over the years the area has seen many different types of traveller.
In 1865, bailiff Konrad Planting found the first signs of gold in Saariselkä around Luttojoki area.
Only a few years later, in 1871, Johan Alfred Piponius made the first official takeover, digging up 329 grams of gold during the first summer.
The first gold rush lasted until about 1900, and the next big rush happened in 1936, when Aleksanteri Peltovuoma discovered gold in Tankavaara area. After the war, the gold began to be flushed from the remote parts of Lemmenjoki river.
Finland’s largest gold nugget, weighing all of 393 grams, was found from Luttojoki river close to Laanila.
The area still has strong traditions in gold panning in the 21st century, and some tourists come over only for the gold. You can also try gold panning yourself!
An interesting magnetic hill
A few kilometres north of Saariselkä village is the so-called Magnetic Hill, which according to the old belief is magnetic. It eats all the power from lorry engines, which then have problems when trying to reach the top of the hill.
Magnetic Hill is currently an open air museum.
Romance for couples
If the white fairy-tale wedding is your dream, Saariselkä is your destination. Especially in the middle of the beautiful winter, many couples want to enjoy husky safaris or reindeer sleigh rides before their wedding. The famous Pyhän Olavin Kappeli (St. Olav’s chapel) and the smaller wooden Tievakappeli are popular winter wedding venues. The reindeer farms also offer activity packages for newlyweds and for more seasoned couples.