Salla

Salla is a municipality in south-east Finnish Lapland. It has a ski resort, part of the Oulanka National Park, the Tuntsa Wilderness Area and the Värriö Nature Reserve. The Karhunkierros hiking trail has its northern end here, while the UKK Trail continues northward.

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Naruskajoki in autumn
  • Salla tourist information, Savukoskentie 12. Office hours M–F, July closed. Also public computer. 

In the 16th century hunting for furs was the main industry in the area, then called Kuolajärvi. In 1857 a local parish was formed. Forestry got important. Logs were driven downstream along the Kemi river (Kemijoki). The name of the municipality was changed to Salla in 1936. Much of Salla was lost to the Soviet Union in the peace treaties of WW2 (“Old Salla”). As the parish village Kuolajärvi was lost, a new parish village was built in what was Märkäjärvi, near the geographic centre of what was left .

The population grew from 1.500 in 1860 to 11.000 in 1966. After that it as declined, first with migration to Sweden (which then was much richer than Finland and needed workers in its industry), later with domestic urbanisation. Now the population is some 3500 (2018), still declining, of which 1500 live in the parish village.

This is northern inland, north of the Arctic circle. Check what to expect. The minimum temperature meassured in Salla is below −50 °C (−58 °F).

Map of Salla

There are buses from Rovaniemi, Kemijärvi and Kuusamo. A coach ride from Kemijärvi takes an hour, from Helsinki 17–22 hr.

There are rail services from the south to Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi. The journey from Helsinki (14 hr to the latter), Tampere or Turku is quite comfortable in a sleeper. Cars can be taken on the train to Rovaniemi.

The nearest airports are in Kuusamo and Rovaniemi. A flight from Helsinki takes about 1½ hr, the bus connection 2 respectively 3 hr.

If you drive yourself, reserve at least all the day for the 900 km journey from the south and check road and weather conditions. You could reserve more time and do some sightseeing along highway 4 (E75). Wintry conditions are possible late in the spring or even in early summer. Studded tyres are allowed if you think the road may be slippery (otherwise to one week after Easter).

There is a border crossing to Russia in Kelloselkä, with the gravel road continuing to Kandalaksha (Finnish: Kantalahti, Russian: Кандала́кша) on the Murmansk railway. There is a twice-weekly coach connection Kandalaksha–Kelloselkä–Kemijärvi–Rovaniemi.

The railway through Salla to Russia has mainly been used for small scale domestic freight, never for passenger traffic across the border.

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