Käsivarsi Wilderness Area Travel Guide

Discover the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and eat in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, and tips for a safe and enjoyable trip.

Introduction to Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

Käsivarsi Wilderness Area is a vast natural reserve located in the Enontekiö region, in Finnish Lapland, Northern Finland. Covering over 2,200 square kilometers of untouched wilderness, Käsivarsi is one of Europe’s last untouched wilderness areas, offering a rare opportunity to explore a pristine Nordic environment.

The wilderness area is famous for its stunning snow-capped mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes, and unspoiled forests. This area is also dotted with quaint Sami villages, which are steeped in local culture and traditions. The awe-inspiring beauty and seclusion of the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers from all around the world.

List of Places to Visit in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Sámi Museum and Nature Centre Siida: This world-renowned museum showcases the Sami culture, its traditions, and history.
  • Kautokeino Church: With its wooden structure and quaint design, the Kautokeino Church is an excellent example of indigenous architecture. This has a significant historical significance for the Sami people in the area.
  • Peruskurssikeskus: Located in the heart of Enontekiö, Peruskurssikeskus offers courses of Finnish languages, spirituality, folklore, crafts, and many more. It is an ideal place to learn and interact with the locals.

Natural Attractions of Käsivarsi Wilderness Area: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Halti Mountain: With an altitude of 1,324 meters above sea level (4,344 ft.), Halti Mountain is the highest peak in the whole country, providing a jaw-dropping view in every direction.
  • Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness Area: In the far north of Finland, Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness Area is an idyllic location to embark upon a wilderness expedition. The glaciers and expansive tundra generate a panoramic view.
  • Ounasjoki River: This river benefits from crystal clear water that provides a perfect opportunity for canoeing and paddling. It also offers a serene view of the countryside.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

The Käsivarsi Wilderness Area is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts; there are a lot of opportunities to hike and bike in the area. Here are some of the best hiking/biking routes to check out:

  • Kalottireitti Trail: With a length of over 300 kilometers, this trail runs through Sweden and Norway while offering a panoramic view of the countryside.
  • Käsivarsi Wilderness Trail: The Käsivarsi Wilderness Trail is a challenging long distance hiking route that covers the entire wilderness area. This is a perfect way to explore Käsivarsi for those who want to enjoy an extended trek in nature.
  • Vätsäri Trail: With its varied landscape cut through the rolling hills, rivers, and wetlands of Northern Lapland, this trail is a perfect way to experience the region’s natural beauty.

Best Things to Do in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area: Activities and Tours

  • Northern Lights Hunting: Käsivarsi’s wilderness area is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. Take a snowmobile tour or go on a dog sled journey equipped with a cozy cabin to witness this marvel of nature.
  • Reindeer Sledding: Enjoy a reindeer sled trip through the wilds, and appreciate the Sami’s sustainable way of life.
  • Fishing: The crystal-clear lakes and rivers of the region attract a lot of fishers who would love to spend some time fishing in peace.
  • Snowshoeing: A perfect way to trek through snow and enjoy the serene landscape in the winters.

Week-Long Itinerary for Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

Here is a suggested week-long itinerary to help you plan your stay in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area:

Day 1-2: Explore around the Halti Mountain and witness the panoramic view of the landscapes.

Day 3: Hike the Käsivarsi Wilderness Trail, and if you are up for it, plan a long trek through the whole trail.

Day 4: Spend the day exploring Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness Area.

Day 5: Take a guided snowshoeing trip through the wintery landscape and connect with nature.

Day 6: Spend the day fishing or reindeer sledding.

Day 7: Wrap up your trip with a memorable Northern Lights tour.

Food and Drink Scene of Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

Must-Try Dishes

  • Reindeer Stew: A must-try delicacy in the local culinary experience.
  • Smoked Arctic Char: This locally caught fish is a real delicacy and can be found in practically every restaurant and market in the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.

Local Beverages

  • Sámi Tea: This traditional, brewed tea contains aromatic herbs, which the Sami people believe provide benefits such as easing digestive stress and boosting the immune system.
  • Kilju Alcoholic Beverage: Made from fermenting sugar, yeast, and water, this alcoholic beverage is a staple in local celebrations and received runner-up in the XXL traditional drinks category at the 2018 Lapland’s Traditional Culture Festival.

Where to Stay in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Luxurious Accommodations

  • Lapland Hotel Hetta: This four-star hotel nestled among hills and lakes offers a luxurious stay with a view of nature.

Budget Accommodations

  • Nature Guesthouse Korpikartano: The guesthouse is a perfect location for backpackers or those on a budget.

What to Buy in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Sámi Crafts: Purchase handmade traditional Sámi crafts, such as pottery, jewelry, clothing, baskets, and other wares in the quaint Sámi shops in the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.

Local Culture and Customs of Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

The Sami people have inhabited the Finnish Lapland for over 9,000 years, and the culture has played a significant role in the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area. The locals continue to follow traditional practices such as reindeer herding, fishing, and hunting, and have preserved their traditional handicrafts and clothing. Visitors to Käsivarsi are highly encouraged to respect and learn from the cultural practices of the Sami people.

Best Time to Visit Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

The Käsivarsi Wilderness Area is open year-round, and the best time to visit depends on what activities you want to enjoy. For experiencing the Northern Lights, it is best to visit from October to March. Meanwhile, the summers are an ideal time to explore the region’s wilderness, while winters offer an opportunity for snow-based activities.

Do’s and Don’ts of Käsivarsi Wilderness Area


  • Respect the local culture and customs of the Sami people.
  • Dress appropriately to accommodate the weather conditions and come prepared to tackle the cold conditions.
  • Keep the environment clean.


  • Disturb the local wildlife.
  • Litter or cause damage to the local environment.
  • Ignore basic safety instructions when participating in outdoor activities, such as hiking and snowmobiling.

Safety and Health

Safety in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

  • Always bring the essentials of first aid kits and maps while going outdoors.
  • Check the weather conditions and the local regulations before embarking upon outdoor adventures.

Health in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

  • Being at high altitude, especially on the Halti Mountain, can cause altitude sickness, so take the proper precautions.
  • The Käsivarsi Wilderness Area is in a remote location, and it may take several hours to reach the nearest medical center, so take the right preventive measures and prepare accordingly.

Getting to Käsivarsi Wilderness Area: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

  • Enontekiö Airport: At a 10-minute drive from the Enontekiö town, Enontekiö airport has excellent connectivity with various Finnish cities.
  • Kittilä Airport: Located approximately 150 kilometers from the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area offers a range of direct and connecting flights to various cities worldwide.

Bus Stations Near Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

  • @Map Könkämäeno: A bus service proposed by Ylläs Express takes you through the enchanting Könkämäeno Valley and drops you off in untouched nature of Käsivarsi.

Other Options

  • Renting a car is a convenient way to travel to the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area and explore the region at your pace.

How to Get Around in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

The best way to explore Käsivarsi Wilderness Area is on foot or by bike. In addition, snowmobiles are readily available and offer an effective way to travel locally during the winter. Some tour companies also organize guided excursions on horseback or dog sleds, adding a real element of excitement.

Where to Go Next from Käsivarsi Wilderness Area: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Levi: Known as the largest ski resort in Finland, Levi lies just a 3-hour drive from Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.
  • Saariselkä: Saariselkä is located just 90 minutes from Käsivarsi Wilderness Area and is an ideal spot for dog sledding, skiing, or a spa day.
  • Inari: Take a day trip to Inari, which is the center of Sami culture in Finland, to explore the local museums, restaurants, and handicraft stores.


The Käsivarsi Wilderness Area is a unique and beautiful destination that offers a glimpse into the natural beauty of Northern Finland. From scenic hikes to adrenaline-fueled snowmobile rides, the wilderness area has something for everyone. Visit museums, historic places, and taste local dishes and drinks, and immerse yourself in the Sami culture and customs. While planning, be mindful of safety and health considerations. Be sure to plan your trip in such a way that ensures you make the most of your stay, get to experience the best activities, and witness the local culture and beauty.