Kemijärvi can pride itself on being the northernmost city in Finland, and the only one with the city center north of the Arctic Circle. Formerly quite off the beaten path, opening of a new border crossing to Russia in nearby Salla has brought more international visitors to the city.
The closest passenger airport is in Rovaniemi, some 80 km away.
The daily overnight train from Helsinki to Lapland goes all the way to Kemijärvi. The car train station has been decommissioned, so if you are taking your car with you, you will only get as far as Rovaniemi.
As is the case elsewhere in rural Finland, driving is probably the most practical way of getting in if you are in a hurry. The distance from Helsinki and elsewhere in southern Finland is about 1000 km, so prepare for a whole day of driving. From elsewhere in Lapland you can usually get to Kemijärvi in 4-5 hours by car. Remember to watch out for reindeer on the road regardless of the time of the year! From the Russian border at Salla you can drive to Kemijärvi in less than one hour.
The town isn't larger than that you can get from any place to another in less than 10 minutes by foot. You can get further out by intercity bus, and if your destination isn't next to a highway you will need to drive or take a taxi.
- Lake Kemijärvi. Kemijärvi translates to "Kemi Lake", and the city shares the name with the lake just east of it. The lake and the landscapes with fells (hills) around it is beautiful around the year.
- Kemijärvi church. Built in 1949, this is the most prominent landmark of the city.
- The snowmobile and sawmill museum, Varastotie 11.
- Kemijärvi museum. The regional museum shows how people used to live in the old days.
There are also a couple of galleries and workshops by local artists.
- Kemijärvi is more or less a town in the middle of the outback, so if you want to "take a hike" Kemijärvi is a good starting point.
- Suomu ski resort is administratively in Kemijärvi, about 40 km southeast along highway 5 (E63).
Kemijärvi isn't really a shopping destination. Most shops are located along Vapaudenkatu street, and there you can find basic stuff that you might need on your trip.
The hotels in the town also serve as restaurants and pubs. In the budget segment, the service stations' cafés offer meals from hotdogs and pizzas to schnitzel and fries.
The "everyman's rights" and the fact that it isn't that hard to get out in the nature makes wilderness backpacking a viable option in the summer months. Needless to say, it's free, if not always comfortable accommodation.
- Hotel Kemijärvi, Vapaudenkatu 4, ☎ +358 16 458 2200, e-mail: email@example.com. An aged hotel right at the main shopping street.
- Mestarin Kievari, Kirkkokatu 9, ☎ +358 16 320 7700, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A basic hotel in the city center, the rooms have been recently refurbished. TV and private bathroom in each room as well as unreliable WiFi. The hotel restaurant is also a good place to eat even if you don't stay there, they serve an extensive buffet for €11.50. double room €99.
- Rovaniemi - the largest city in Lapland and probably the most popular destination after Helsinki
- Sodankylä - ...and the rest of northern Lapland
- Kandalaksha - if you have a valid Russian visa or don't need one