This place is so beautiful that sometimes it makes me cry.
These are the words Heidi Karpale, the entrepreneur of Aavasaksa Experience, ended our conversation with when I was interviewing her for a travel article earlier this year (the story is available in Finnish here).
That’s when I thought I really need to get to Aavasaksa one day. The soon the better.
On my August road trip in Finland, I finally got to make it happen. During my trip, I spent one night as Heidi’s guest in the Aavasaksa Experience holiday village by the river Tornionjoki. Heidi had prepared a cosy one person cottage for me. The cottage was equipped with a small kitchen and all. It was exactly what I needed.
Besides the holiday village and a small café, Heidi and her husband Brett are taking tourists for fishing trips and hiking trails in the surrounding nature.
During my quick visit, Heidi offered me a lot more than just a roof for the night. She gave me amazing expert tips for Aavasaksa, Finland. Because sharing is caring, I want to share these tips with you guys, so mark them down for your next visit in Finland!
Leave your car alone—you’re already there!
Heidi has lost her heart to Aavasaksa, which is located in Southern Lapland, right at the Swedish border. She says she can’t help wondering why tourists—no matter whether they are foreigners or Finns—have to push themselves to drive 200–400 km further to get to the Northernmost Lapland. “You’re already there! Lapland is closer than you thought”, Heidi says.
And she’s absolutely right! Aavasaksa, located in Southern Lapland, has equally cold and white winters, beautiful summers and plenty of clean air and pure nature. Yes, the fells might be a little bit lower than the ones in Northern Lapland, but they are for sure less crowded!
Another pro is that the distances are way shorter, and therefore Aavasaksa is a great holiday destination for everyone. The short and easy hiking trails are suitable even for kids; The shortest trail is only 400 meters long. If you’re looking for challenges, you’ll find them too! The longest hiking trail goes on top of the 200 meters tall fells and is 50 kilometres long in total.
If you’re a fan of day trips, Aavasaksa is definitely a place for you. You can find more information about the hiking trails in Aavasaksa area in English here.
First things first: Aavasaksa Fell
Let’s have a little look into Aavasaksa dictionary because all this can be so confusing even for a Finn. When talking about Aavasaksa, people might mean either the Aavasaksa hill (or fell), that is said to be Finland’s oldest travel destination, or a little Aavasaksa village located down by the river Tornionjoki in the municipality of Ylitornio (location on the map).
As said above, Ylitornio is a municipality in Southern Lapland in Finland, right at the Swedish border. As soon as you step over the border, you’re in Övertorneå (which is Ylitornio in the Swedish language). You can cross the border as many times as you want; It’s super easy, as the border is clearly marked on the Aavasaksa bridge that is crossing the river and taking you from Finland to Sweden.
And it’s a beautiful bridge!
You shouldn’t miss Aavasaksa fell, not even if you’re only passing by. You can drive all the way up, so it’s nice and easy to visit even if you’re not planning to step a foot on the hiking trails.
On top of Aavasaksa fell you can find a viewing tower, where you can climb to admire one of the official National Landscapes in Finland. Right next to the viewing tower, you can find the Maupertuis Monument. The spot is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a part of Struve Geodetic Arc.
There is also a building called Keisarinmaja Imperial Lodge on top of Aavasaksa fell. The lodge is said to be the oldest building in Lapland that has been built for tourism. Decorated with beautiful details, the Imperial Lodge also functions as a museum. The doors are open during the summer season for anyone to enter, and it’s a nice spot for a lunch break with its’ many chairs and tables.
Flyfishing and the white waters of Tornionjoki river
“Flyfishing is our thing”, Heidi says and opens a cupboard in the back of the main building. I see a cupboard full of small and colourful items that I’d just like to call as ‘thingies’. It looks like a kid’s treasure chest.
This is our fly tying kiosk.
You can try fly tying in the main building of Aavasaksa Experience holiday village. I didn’t, though, and even if I did I doubt I would have been able to make anything like the ones in the picture. The photo is from Aavasaksa Experience.
Aaah, ok then! I start to understand what the cupboard is all about! I’m really not much of a fisher girl; I’m only fishing with a simple rod, and normally catch only seaweed. In case you’re a fan of flyfishing, Tornionjoki and its’ white waters offer plenty of great spots for your hobby.
Even if you didn’t like flyfishing but love kayaking, photographing or hiking in nature, these are the best tips for the white waters in Aavasaksa area:
“Kattilakoski is the place to be when looking for white waters nearby Aavasaksa. You can find a magnificent place on the Swedish side; When following the river up north, look for a sign that says Maunu. On the Finnish side, the best place is a camping site called Tonko. There is a beautiful lean-to on the beach, and it’s fairly easy to access directly from the parking lot.”
The picture below is from Kattilakoski. The photo is taken by Heidi. See Kattilakoski on the map.
“Remember: It’s ok to go to Sweden!”
When living on the border of two countries, and Sweden is literally just one step away, eventually the whole border just fades away. Heidi wants to remind tourists that it’s ok to go to Sweden every once in a while.
Why wouldn’t it be? you might think. Well, we have a little thing here called love–hate relationship between us Finns and our dear neighbours, the Swedes. For Finns, it’s just sometimes necessary to say “it’s ok, it’s only Sweden, it won’t kill you”.
I would say it’s more than ok to go to Sweden when having a holiday in Aavasaksa. Did you read my story about the exciting Luppioberget fell yet? If not, you should definitely do it now! Perhaps this view gives you an extra push to do so (and then book your flights over to Sweden immediately).
Have you ever visited Aavasaksa? If not, would you follow these expert tips and go?
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