Deep inside northern Finnish Lapland
Not far from the border with Sweden and Norway, Enontekio is a winter wonderland in every sense. Step out of the plane and you’ll instantly know you’re inside the Arctic Circle. With 200 days of winter and average temperatures as low as -14 Celsius in January, it means guaranteed snow between October and, incredibly, May. Sleigh and skidoo riding, encounters with Santa and snowball fights are all obligatory.
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A steady trickle of Norwegian shoppers comes to Enontekiö to take advantage of its low prices, and there are a few decent souvenir shops with appealing local crafts to browse. Hetta Silver (Ruijantie 15) workshop sells intricate silver jewellery with traditional motifs, local wildlife and unique modern designs. Other handicrafts on sale include antler horn knick-knacks, from cheese slicers to buttons and clocks. Giftshop Lapin Katajajaloste (Ounastie 19) is another good source of crafts, from juniper-wood clocks and boxes to traditional hunting knives. The big hotels also sell a choice of handicrafts, postcards and the like.
Food & Drink
There is only a handful of dedicated restaurants in Enontekiö. Café Silja (Riekontie 1) is one of the few, offering drinks, cakes, soups and main meals that include a reindeer burger. Several hotels have good eateries, however. Hotel Hetan Majatalo (Riekontie 8) does a typical Lappish buffet, while Hotel Jussantupa (Ounastie 140) has hearty home-cooked fare. Alternatively, Supermarket K-market Rantakokko (Kustaavantie 1) has food for picnics and self-catering.
‘Mary's Days of Hetta’ is a big celebration of the native Sámi culture that takes place in Enontekiö each spring. Festivities include traditional music and song, art and craft shows, parties, reindeer racing and lassoing competitions.
The EU’s northernmost music festival, ‘Music Days of Hetta’ invites classical musicians to Enontekiö to perform in its church during Easter. Gregorian church song, chamber music and traditional yoik singing all have a firm place on the line-up.
Saami Snowboard Race
Snowboarding tricks, jumps and races are the order of the day at the Hetta Hiihtomaa (Hetta Ski Resort) in spring, when it hosts its annual snowboarding competitions.
Saami Ski Race
The world´s most northerly marathon ski race (aka ‘maratonhiihto’) pushes off from Enontekiö and follows an old postal path 90km over the arctic tundra to Kautokeino, in Norway.
Fishing fanatics migrate to Enontekiö year round for its rivers and lakes, but in winter they come especially for the ice-fishing. This annual competition riddles the frozen lakes – particularly Lake Kilpisjärvi – with ragged holes beside which the contestants shiver and wait.
A modest scattering of hotels and small resorts surrounds Enontekiö Airport and village. The reasonably priced Hotel Hetan Majatalo (Riekontie 8) is an unfussy and popular choice a short walk from Lake Ounasjärvi. A little pricier is Holiday Village Hetan Kota (Ounastie 583), which has rooms or cottages overlooking the lake and its private beach. Meanwhile, Hotel Jussantupa (Ounastie 140) channels familial warmth and friendliness. If you’re prepared to travel, Torassieppi Reindeer Farm and Cottages (Torassiepintie 212, Särkijärvi) is a unique spot located an hour’s drive south of Enontekiö, just outside Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park.