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The northernmost municipality in Finland is a place of contrasts and extremes, where you can enjoy both the longest midnight sun and the longest polar night. Explore the multicultural and multilingual villages, combine your bike trip with other experiences, and learn about contemporary Sámi culture. You will discover that in Utsjoki the summer nights are brighter, the silence is deeper, and the people are warmer than anywhere else.

The Tenonlaakso route follows Seututie 970 between the villages of Karigasniemi, Utsjoki, and Nuorgam. The total length of the route from Karigasniemi to Nuorgam is 145 kilometers. You can ride the entire route or choose the sections you prefer to explore. The route is fully paved and has minimal traffic. The magnificent uphill stretches offer challenges and reward you with views that cannot be found anywhere else in Finland. The route is moderately demanding and is suitable for cyclists with a good basic fitness level and who are accustomed to long rides.

You can complete the route briskly in a couple of days or take your time and enjoy it in smaller sections over 3-4 days. In Utsjoki, there is no rush, and you can truly sense the unhurried atmosphere in the villages. In addition to cycling, there are other activities worth experiencing. How about admiring the Teno River from a boat? You can do that with Guossi, Wild Salmon Adventures, Lomakylä Valle, and Nuorgamin Lomakeskus. It is a must to climb a fell to marvel at the silence and vastness of the landscapes. What about kayaking or paddleboarding on the Teno River or Lake Mantojärvi? Or visiting a reindeer farm near the Utsjoki village center? A fishing trip to a fell lake with a local guide is also a unique experience.

The Tenonlaakso route is part of the Arctic by Cycle network. Here you can find the GPX trail and more information about the route. Explore other Arctic by Cycle routes as well.

Route information - Explore Utsjoki

What’s the best starting point?

If you want to cycle downstream towards the north, it is recommended to start the journey from Karigasniemi, a multicultural village with a population of a few hundred. The scenery from Karigasniemi to Utsjoki is also the most impressive, and the route is easier to cycle this way. In Karigasniemi, you can find the holiday resort Guossi, a restaurant, a grocery store and a liquor store. If you have the time, it’s worth spending at least one night in Karigasniemi and perhaps hiking to Áilegas, which rises over 600 meters, or taking a boat trip on the Teno River.

In fact, Finland’s northernmost cycling route follows the famous Teno River, known for its salmon. For the locals, the Teno River has been an important environment and fishing place for hundreds of years, and the fishing methods have remained almost unchanged over time. Until the 1960s, the Teno River served as the main transportation route for moving between villages and transporting goods. The road from Utsjoki to Nuorgam was completed in 1971, and the road from Utsjoki to Karigasniemi in 1983. Long, narrow boats were used to navigate the Teno River during the summer, while in winter sleds pulled by reindeer were used as transportation. There have also been snowmobile and horse races on the frozen surface of the Teno River.

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Getting lost on the Teno Valley cycling route is quite unlikely: head from Karigasniemi towards Ylätenontie and continue straight as long as you can. At the beginning of the route, you’ll pass through pine forests and fields, after which the river views become more prominent. The route alternates between climbs, descents, straight stretches, and winding sections. On the left gleams the Teno River, and the fells greet cyclists from all directions, both from the Finnish and Norwegian sides. It quickly becomes evident that on this route, you can peacefully pedal in your own thoughts and let your gaze and mind rest in the scenery. There are hardly any oncoming cyclists or settlements.

The first steep ascent occurs at the 15-kilometer mark, followed by a pleasant descent all the way to Fierranjoki. Take your first break after the descent at the 19.3-kilometer mark and enjoy the sandy beach scenery.

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Seitala offers a cozy and atmospheric place to spend the night, located about thirty kilometers from Karigasniemi to Utsjoki. The surroundings of Seitala are spacious and rustic, situated right on the banks of the Teno River. There is plenty of space for tents by the water. Alternatively, you can choose cottage accommodation. At Seitala, you can also relax in the sauna and recharge your electric bike’s battery. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance by phone, please see more information on our Services page.

If you don’t stop at Seitala, a suitable place for a second break and rest is the Nuorpiniemi parking area (Nuorbenjárga, 33 km from Karigasniemi). Please remember to take your trash with you after the break.

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Things to see along the route

Between Karigasniemi and Utsjoki, there are smaller villages such as Dalvadas and Nuvvus. When you reach them, the landscapes are particularly awe-inspiring, and one of the eye-catching features is the majestic Nuvvos-Áilegas fell. It’s a great day trip destination for hiking, and you can recognize the mountain by the two masts on its summit.

A great place for the third break is at the 54-kilometer mark in Nuvvus. This rest area also has a table and benches, as well as a trail leading down to the riverside. Overnight accommodation is also possible, as you can find cottage accommodation about ten kilometers towards Utsjoki from Nuvvus.

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A stunning resting and photography spot is Báktevárri, which offers views towards the Rástegáisá mountain in Norway on clear days. Báktevárri is 27 kilometers from Utsjoki and can also be done as a round trip when coming from Utsjoki. Near Báktevárri, you’ll find the Tenon Tunturituvat, which offers accommodation and a café open from mid-June to late July. This is also a convenient place for recharging an e-bike battery if you have your own charger.

As the cyclist reaches the village of Utsjoki, they may sigh in awe as they see the Sámi Bridge appearing before them in the valley below – or breathe a sigh of relief, especially if they have already covered a hundred kilometers in one go. Utsjoki, with its approximately 700 residents, is the most populous village along the route. Upon reaching the village, the route continues straight towards Nuorgam. However, it is advisable not to rush, as Utsjoki offers plenty to see and explore for an extended period of time.

The Kirkkotuvat (Church Cabins) by Lake Mantojärvi, about six kilometers south of the village along Highway 4, are historically interesting and picturesque cultural landmarks. You can also refresh yourself at Nisulampi Beach or visit the 18-hole disc golf park, the northernmost one in Finland, located nearby. If you didn’t bring your own discs, you can rent them from Lomakylä Valle.

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The Village House Giisá is a popular café and handicraft shop among the locals. And if you’re looking for more outdoor activities, head on foot or on a fat bike to the Áilegas fell near the village. From its peak, you’ll enjoy a magnificent view of the village, the Teno Valley, and the surrounding wilderness. There are excellent opportunities for hiking. A 1-2-day hike is possible, for example, on the Utsjoki wilderness trail, which starts in the village. You can also visit the swimming hall and gym in the village. And be sure to make a stop at the Sámi Bridge, which marks the halfway point between Finland and Norway.

The distance from Utsjoki to Nuorgam is about 45 kilometers. The hills on this stretch feel more moderate, and there is slightly more traffic compared to the Karigasniemi direction. The first opportunity for refueling and accommodation comes after eight kilometers of cycling. A coffee break on the terrace of Aurora Holidays by the Teno River is truly exceptional.

As you continue the journey, marvel at the Veahčabákti waterfalls and make a stop at the atmospheric Välimaa Sámi farm. The gravel-covered Museotie road was originally formed as a detour route around the Alakönkää rapids.

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There are no designated resting areas specifically for cyclists yet, but at locations such as Alakönkää and Boratbokcá, there are widened areas with scenic views suitable for a break.

In the village of Nuorgam, with a population of a couple hundred, your attention may first be drawn to the number of Norwegian cars in the grocery store parking lot. Indeed, you will hear a lot of Norwegian, and cross-border trade is lively. The route ends at the national border, the northernmost point of the EU. However, it’s not recommended to just linger in the village. After refueling or a well-rested night, head up the paved road of Pulmankijärvi. The climb is grueling and sweaty, but at the top, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the wilderness. It is always a great idea to pack coffee and some snacks in a daypack and enjoy them at a beautiful spot along Pulmankijärvi Road. If you want to stretch your legs even more, head towards the Skáidejávri trail. Local companies in Nuorgam also offer guided hiking trips, boat trips on the Teno River, and canoeing on Pulmankijärvi Lake and River. Equipment rentals are available for various activities.

These landscapes have also been the backdrop for the successful film “Sisu,” and some of the set pieces are still in place along the road.

From here you can can easily continue to the Norwegian side and even pedal all the way to the Arctic Ocean.

Buorre mátki! Have a good journey!

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How to get there? When is the best time to visit?

You can reach Utsjoki by car, public transportation, or even by bike! The nearest train station is in Rovaniemi, from where you can continue your journey by bus. There is a bus transfer in Ivalo, and JBus operates to Utsjoki. It’s recommended to call in advance and confirm a spot for your bike on this bus (phone number: 0400 291 582). Timetables for trains can be found and tickets bought on VR’s website. Bus timetables and tickets are on Matkahuolto website

The journey to Utsjoki is more enjoyable when you take a break in Inari at the Sámi Museum Siida. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the north by listening to artists from Utsjoki. Make sure to add artists like Hildá Länsman, Ulla Pirttijärvi, Ailu Valle, Niillas Holmberg, Yungmiqu, and Jezebro to your playlist. 

The Teno River Valley Route doesn’t make a loop, so if you arrive by car and need car transportation from the starting point to the endpoint, this should be taken into consideration. Taxi companies and many accommodation companies, such as Holiday Village Valle, Lomatärppi, Nuorgam Holiday Village, and Aurora Holidays, offer transportation services.  The most affordable solution may be to drive to the planned endpoint by car, from where you and your bike can be transported to the starting point of the route. Usually, this can be done with one driver and one car.

There is a bus connection between Karigasniemi and Utsjoki, as well as between Nuorgam and Utsjoki. You can check the up-to-date schedules on Matkahuolto’s website.

The best time for cycling is generally during the summer, but in a municipality with eight seasons, each month has its own highlights. For example, the early part of June may still be a bit cool, but it is mosquito-free. The magical phenomenon of the midnight sun can be enjoyed from mid-May to the end of July. On the other hand, in September, you can experience the stunning autumn colors in Utsjoki! Or perhaps winter cycling under the Northern Lights is more your thing after all?

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Safety on the Route

The Teno River Valley Route follows a relatively narrow road on the right side, and there is no dedicated bike lane. Although the road has only little traffic, caution should still be exercised. In some parts of the route, internet connection may be poor. Cyclists should also be aware that weather conditions along the route can change rapidly. Rain showers are not uncommon, and even in the middle of summer, the Arctic region can have unexpectedly brisk weather.

Things don’t always go as planned. Before starting the route, it’s advisable to save the phone numbers of taxis and your accommodations on your phone, so you can call for help in case of a storm or if your bike breaks down. However, please note that the transportation services along the route are not included in the accommodation fee.

During the summer, there are many reindeer roaming along the route, and they may briefly trot alongside your bike. Reindeer are adorable and seem tame, but please do not approach or disturb them.

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