View from the centre of Kilpisjärvi.

Kilpisjärvi (Sámi: Gibbesjávri) is a small village in Enontekiö on the top of Finland's "arm", the only real alpine village in Finland. Several sights are located in Kilpisjärvi or nearby. The village has about a hundred inhabitants.


The village is at the lake Kilpisjärvi, from which it got its name. The fell Saana above the village is the only fell in Finland over 1000 m not in the nearby Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.


Kilpisjärvi is one of the coldest inhabited places in Finland (and Europe), with an average temperature somewhat beneath freezing (average in January -14°C, in July +11°C). There is polar night for nearly two months in midwinter and corresponding midnight sun most of the summer. The maximum official Finnish snow depth, 1,9 metres, has been recorded at the Kilpisjärvi weather station. The snow in the fell birch forests usually melts in early June, the ice of the lake just before Midsummer.


The old Finnish bedrock meats the younger Scandinavian mountains in the area, which makes it geologically interesting.

There are signs of buildings by Saana from the 16th century, when traders stopped here on their way to the market in Skibotn. In the 17th century large scale reindeer husbandry was introduced in the area. Finns settled in the beginning of the 20th century. The village proper is the result of the road being built 1941, with customs and boarder guard stations. There has been a shop since 1978 and the village was connected to the electricity grid 1981.

The last fights of the Lapland War were fought here in 1945.

Kilpisjärvi has been popular among mountain hikers for a long time, but by the last turn of century also other people have started coming here, to spend vacations in cottages and caravans.

Get in

E8 and Saana.

Kilpisjärvi is on the European route E8, which comes via Finland from the southeast, passing by several border crossings (bridges) to Sweden, among them the one at the end of European route E45 at Karesuando/Kaaresuvanto; meets European route E6 in Skibotn in Norway 50 km to the west of Kilpisjärvi and continues to Tromsø. In winter the mountain pass between Finland and Norway might be closed temporarily, or traffic might be let through in single-lane convoys (kolonnekørning). From the western Finnmark of Norway national road 93 leads to E8 via the border station of Kivilompolo.

The nearest airports are in Tromsø and Hetta (the main village of Enontekiö). Rovaniemi is also an option, as is Kittilä.

Trains go to Kolari and Rovaniemi in Finland and to Luleå and Kiruna in Sweden. From there you have to continue by other means. Overnight trains have sleeping carriages (Sweden and Finland) and also take cars (Finland only).

There are daily bus connections from Rovaniemi (Gold Line, phone +358 16 334-5500). There is a line taxi from Hetta and connections from Alta and Tromsø in the summertime (Eskelisen Lapin Linjat, phone +358 16 342-2160). There are no direct connections from Sweden, but a transfer at Karesuando is possible, probably involving an overnight stay and a walk across the border – and there are of course connections via Haparanda/Tornio. There is a considerable distance between the first and last stop in Kilpisjärvi, check where to get off.

There are long distance snowmobile routes leading to Kilpisjärvi, especially the Victorialeden route by the Finnish-Swedish border and the track through Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, both accessible from anywhere in northern Finland. The latter requires a permit and is closed in the end of the season.

The Nordkalottleden long distance hiking trail passes by Kilpisjärvi. From Abisko at Kungsleden trail in Sweden there is a 190 km hike to Kilpisjärvi, and likewise from Kautokeino in Norway. Due to the Schengen agreement and close cooperation, one may pass the borders anywhere (if you have a dog or goods to declare, check with the customs in advance, also coming from Sweden the trail meanders via Norway, which is not an EU member).

For questions about passing the border and for the DNT key, contact the customs:

Get around

The village and lake Kilpisjärvi.

The village is built along E8 (here called Käsivarrentie) over a distance of a few kilometres. There are no other significant roads. In summer one can move by foot or bike, in winter by ski. The long distance buses can be used when they happen to pass. Boats and snowmobiles are available for rent (with and without driver/guide) and there is a boat connection over the lake towards the tripoint thrice daily in season, otherwise by request. There is a snowmobile track network (maintained by the tourist businesses) available for a fee.

When using trails and tracks some distance from the village, note that they often cross the border. This is usually no problem, but if you have a dog or goods that should be declared at customs, check the rules and keep them in mind.




View from Saana. The lower fells are in Malla nature reserve near the tripoint. Swedish and Norwegian fells in the background.


The tripoint in June, with high mountains in the background.
Trail with duckboards through fell birch forest, Malla nature reserve.
Bárrás seen from northwest.


In addition to Euros, Swedish and Norwegian kronor are usable at least at the Kilpishalli store, which also handles money exchange.

Credit cards are probably usable at least at the hotel and Kilpishalli, not necessarily at all businesses.

The nearest ATM is in Hetta (175 km). You can get cash at Kilpishalli.

There is a service and fuel station by Kilpishalli.


See also Sleep below.


View from an apartment hotel.

There are several accommodation services in the village including camping area, cottages and a hotel.

Wilderness huts

Wilderness hut at Ailakkajärvi.

There are many wilderness huts in the surrounding area, by the marked trails and elsewhere. They are not relevant for visits to the village itself, but many come here to hike.

Open wilderness huts in Finland can be used for free without reservation, but not for overnight stay by commercial groups or groups moving with motorized vehicles. The reservation and rental huts of Finnish Metsähallitus, which can be used also by such groups, can be booked at the nature centre (at the spot or in advance), where you also can get and leave the key. Visits at Norwegian DNT huts in Troms can be payed e.g. at the Kilpisjärvi customs or in cash at the hut (carry suitable notes), but you will need the DNT key, available to members and possible at the customs (see above) for a pledge. The Swedish huts have personnel in season, no key needed.


The postal code is 99490 Kilpisjärvi.

Mobile phone connectivity is probably weak in many locations, try to have the antenna at Saana in sight to get a connection.

Go next

Routes through Kilpisjärvi

Tromsø Skibotn  W  E  Ylläs Tornio

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 14, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.