We left Santa in Rovaniemi and initially drove west from Rovaniemi to Tornio river, the river that also serves as the border between Sweden and Finland (and apparently is great for those ones who like to fish). We hit the river at Pello, which didn’t seem to offer much, so we soon continued north driving through places like Kolari, Muonio and Karesuvanto. Kolari was as quiet as Pello but Muonio seemed inviting with a few shops, cafes and galleries but then the kids had just fallen asleep so we decided to do it on the way back. On the way back we were too tired… so, next time.
It was easy to cross over to the Swedish side: just drive over the bridge. Both sides of the river have coexisted for centuries and are similar. But it is funny how the short bridge also makes a difference in a number of details such as an hours time difference, different currency, traffic signs and shop chains… and even though I’ve told my husband the Swedish roads are the best ones in the world, which they are in the south, we found that there is a reason for even the Swedes to follow the river on the Finnish side. At least between Muonio and Karesuvanto the road in Sweden was in horrible condition and there was even less there to see. Just forest. Having said that, the Finnish roads up there are nothing extra ordinary either:
But seeing many snow mobile crossings was pretty exotic to me!
But it was worth popping over to the Swedish countryside to see the Swedish idyll, red wooden houses, and forest. Loads of forest.
We also saw one of the trips highlights in Sweden: 4 fox kits playing on the road. So cute!!! Unfortunately they got afraid and hid before I had time to zoom in.
Karesuvanto was a little township with character. The Swedish side of Karesuvanto, Karesuando, had a fair bit of services as well, a cute wooden chirch, a big library and swimming hall and they seemed to have a fairly big sami community. On the Finnish side there was Rajabaari, one of those great small town restaurant/cafe/gas station/ grocery shop/ souvenir shop/ anything you may need kind of places with character. From there we had another1,5 hours driving games until Kilpisjärvi, the last stop before crossing the border to Norway. Without stops it took us 5-6 hours to drive from Rovaniemi to Kilpisjärvi by the famous fell called Saana.
Ps Karesuvanto also was the last gas station before the Norwegian border, so you may want to fill up.