Arctic Lakeland circular tour
NEW self-drive tour! Circular route from Kuusamo.
Enjoy easy driving on traffic-free roads and abundant offers of outdoor activities while travelling through the sparsely populated Arctic Lakeland -area in north-eastern Finland.
On this circular self-drive itinerary you’ll enjoy easy driving on traffic-free roads while travelling through the sparsely populated taiga forests of Arctic Lakeland -area in north-eastern Finland. There are four national parks with their hiking, canoeing and fishing possibilities easily accessible from the route.
Close to the Russian border you can participate in bear observation tour which give you a unique chance to watch and photograph these animals safely. Accommodation varies from hotel rooms to apartments and cosy cabins.
Finland self-drive holiday highlights:
• Easy driving on traffic-free roads
• Walks in the national parks
• Wildlife watching
• Small accommodations and local food
• Interesting sights (winter war history, Finnish wildlife)
price / person
May 1-Sep 30 (no departures July 8-22)
8 days/7 nights
Kuusamo (independent arrival)
860 €/person on twin sharing basis
810 €/person in triple room
Child 4-12 years sharing with two adults 680 €
Included in the price
* 7 nights accommodation with en-suite facilities. Days 1–2 in an apartment, days 3–4 in hotel room, day 5 in a guest house and days 6–7 in a cabin *Daily breakfast and dinner *Sauna daily *Tour information documents by email and online maps
Not included in the price
*Flights *Car rental
*Bear watching, prices 12-hour overnight safari 115 €, 6-hour safari 80 €. *Rapid swimming *Paddling excursion *Rafting
Day 1: Arrival at Kuusamo
Kuusamo–Juntusranta, approx. 135 km
Arrival at Kuusamo airport where you will collect your hire car. Approx. 2 h drive takes to the tiny village of Juntusranta next to the Russian border. Your accommodation for the first two nights will be at Arola, hosted by Seppänen family.
Day 2: Relax in the forest and brown bears
This is a day of leisure in Arola. Rent a canoe or bicycle or take a walk in the nearby forest. Just 30 minutes’ drive away is a great day out in Hossa national park, known for its beautiful ridges and crystal-clear ponds and lakes. In Hossa you can walk in the footsteps of Finland's Stone Age settlers, who made mysterious shamanistic paintings on the cliffs at Värikallio thousands of years ago. Hossa Visitor Centre offers information on trails and rents canoes and fatbikes. In the reindeer park you get to know better the semi-wild animals inhabiting the northern area of Finland.
In the afternoon it’s possible to join a bear watching safari, whether an overnight tour or a 6-hour evening tour, at Arola. During the safari, you will have the opportunity to observe and photograph the European brown bears from the safety of a small purpose-built log cabin. (Departure to the bear hide at 3 or 4 pm depending on the season).
Recommended self-guided trails in Hossa: Hossa nature trail 3 km, Ölökyn ylitys trail 5 km, Värikallion kaarros trail 8 km
Day 3: Winter war history
Juntusranta–Kuhmo, approx. 170 km
It is time to say good-bye to your hosts at Arola and continue on towards Kuhmo through some very sparsely populated areas following the Russian border. Some 70 km south of Juntusranta is the historical area of Raate which was the stage of some heavy battles during the Second World War. In Raate it is possible to visit the Winter War exhibition and the Raate Frontier Guard Museum.
Your final destination today is the small town of Kuhmo, world-famous for its annual chamber music festival. For the next two nights you will sleep at the cosy Hotel Kalevala, nestled on the shore of Lake Lammasjärvi.
Day 4: Activities in Kuhmo
There are many activities to choose from in Kuhmo and many more in the nearby village of Vuokatti (1 hour).
In Kuhmo you can visit Petola visitor centre which is an information centre for Finland’s largest carnivores – bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine – all of which inhabit the nearby forests. You can also tour Juminkeko information centre to learn about the Finnish national epic, Kalevala, and Karelian culture, much of which can still be seen today. The 7 km Lentua nature trail is located 15 km from the hotel. More hiking routes as well as plenty of other outdoor and indoor activities you’ll find in Vuokatti. You can eg. take a ride on a “Husky Mercedes”, do a hiking tour with huskies or visit a spa.
The hotel’s well-being suite offers a whole host of treatments including aromatherapy, traditional Finnish bone setting and a traditional peat sauna. For the water activities on Lake Lammasjärvi you could rent a rowing boat, canoe or a sup-board from your hotel.
Day 5: Hiidenportti and Tiilikkajärvi national parks
Kuhmo–Valtimo, approx. 80 km
Today you can choose between two national parks. Tiilikkajärvi national park offers quite easy routes, beautiful lakeside scenery and beaches. By contrast, the scenery at Hiidenportti national park is quite rugged; trails include more hills and are a bit more demanding. The heart of Hiidenportti national park is the majestic Hiidenportti Gorge with its vertical rock walls. Both national parks have some good hiking trails for a few hours’ day tour.
In the afternoon you can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at your accommodation Guesthouse Puukarin Pysäkki which is famous for home-made, organic Karelian food.
Recommended self-guided trails: Hiidenkierros 3-5 km, Kitulankierros 10,5 km, Uiton kierto 7 km
Day 6: Brown Bears and Winter War history
Valtimo-Kuusamo, approx. 335 km
Your longest day of travelling takes you back to Kuusamo where your base for the last two nights will be Ollila Holiday cottages, hosted by Tuomo and Marjo. The cottages are located on the shore of Lake Muojärvi, in the heart of Kuusamo’s lake-area and surrounded by beautiful pine woods. They have private saunas, wood-burning stoves and rowing boats. Breakfast and dinner are served in the Juomuskota, restaurant whose menu comprises of dishes of local, fresh produce and meats. You can spend the afternoon relaxing in the cabin, heating up sauna and rowing on the lake, or you can walk a 5 km circle route to Muovaara hill.
Day 7: Kuusamo – Oulanka national park and Ruka
Today you can head to Oulanka national park or Ruka, which is one of the most popular skiing resorts in Finland. Oulanka national park’s heart is the crystal-clear River Oulankajoki. Steep sided ravines and river valleys, which traverse the park, ensure that the views are unforgettable. There are many trail options available but a very nice, though demanding one, is the Small Bear’s Trail starting from the village of Juuma. The hanging bridges along the route will take you to the most impressive waterfalls in Finland. If you prefer canoeing, there are rental canoes as well as guided tours on River Oulankajoki. You could also try rafting, tours vary from easy family tours to speedy tours that will make your heart race!
At Ruka you can climb up to some of the hills and admire the beautiful views over forests and lakes. An easier way to get to the top is the Ruka Lookout Lift that takes you up to the hill.
Recommended self-guided trails: Small Bear’s Trail 12 km, Hiidenlampi nature trail 5 km,
Valtavaara nature trail 8 km.
Recommended canoeing route: Oulanka canoeing route 7-23 km
Day 8: Departure
Kuusamo airport, approx. 25 km
Free time until check-out and a short drive to the airport where you will leave your hire car.
Good to know
Book by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. See the required information here.
- This is a self-guided tour and no meeting with the tour operator is organized.
- Day by day tour information package and vouchers will be sent by email prior to the departure.
- This tour can be tailored according to your wishes.
- Read more about driving in Finland at www.visitfinland.com/article/driving-in-finland/
OPTIONAL WILDLIFE WATCHING EXCURSIONS (must be booked in advance)
-Bear watching (on day 4).
Season May 1–August 17
12-hour safari from 3/4 pm until 7/8 am
6-hour safari from 3/4 pm until 9/10 pm