From the village of Näätämö, next to the border between Norway and Finland, you will ride at a slight incline along the EuroVelo 13 route through wilderness and fells towards Inari. You will pass the third largest lake in Finland, Inarijärvi. Sevettijärvi, pure and original Sami village is one of the rare places, where you will hear Skolt Sami language in everyday use. The village’s heritage house acts as a museum to showcase the culture of the Skolts.
In Inari, you can see the Sami culture strongly presented in the museum and culture center Siida. One third of the population of Inari is Sami and one of the most important livelihoods is the reindeer industry, which the Sami people have practiced for centuries. Reindeer caretaking is a natural part of the fell and forest ecosystem. You will also be able to take a day trip to Pielpajärvi wilderness church. You will be able to see a lot of reindeer along the roads in Lapland so you do not have to ride along the EuroVelo 13 route by yourself.
In Ivalo, you will find Lapland’s most diverse services. Ivalojoki (Ivalo River) runs through the center of Ivalo, which is known for its gorgeous sceneries. Nowadays, you can also pan for gold there. Before Saariselkä, the Iron Curtain Trail has a challenging hill. Saariselkä Resort is next to Urho Kekkonen National Park – Finland’s second largest national park. In this park, you can see remains of the ancient Forest Sami’s life and admire the gorgeous fells, clear water and steep gorges. Saariselkä is Inari’s largest tourism center, it also is the most northern center in Europe. Services are within walking distance and the peacefulness of the wilderness is right around the corner. You can pamper yourself in the most northern spa, or go hiking the fells.
In Tankavaara Gold Village is the world’s only international gold museum, where you can pan for gold, even in the winter time. In the museum you can see Finnish gold history and the history of the whole world’s gold rush.
Finland’s most southern Sami village, Vuotso, is a small village in the middle of Sompio Nature Park and Urho Kekkonen National Park. Its east side rises with the fell area that is called Nattaset, where you can climb along the marked route to Pyhä-Nattanen and enjoy the gorgeous hills.
The Iron Curtain Trail continues to Sodankylä, which is known for its annual film festival. You should also visit the multiple nature trails in the area. The northern lights hut Pohjan Kruunu showcases the northern lights through photo and video shows, regardless of weather conditions or the time of year. You can learn about local design and ceramics in Sodankylä’s craft shops.
The Pyhä-Luosto area is the combination of Pyhä and Luosto’s fell centers, which are along the EuroVelo 13 route. You can rest in the amethyst spa and enjoy the beautiful scenery from the top of Lampivaara fell. At the Amethyst center you can dig out your own lucky amethyst. In the area, there are a lot of other activities and the rugged landscapes of the National Park are right next to you. At the Nature Center, you can read about the history of the fell area and explore its nature along the hiking nature paths. Finland’s biggest gorge, Isokuru, as well as the lake at the bottom of it are worth seeing.
In Pelkosenniemi, you can find a statue of Andy McCoy (famous for being the lead guitarist in the band Hanoi Rocks). People who long for peacefulness can enjoy the quietness of the little village. Beautiful scenery opens up form Valopilkku-bridge. The terrain is easy for a bike due to the low incline.
The wilderness of Savukoski is touchable. The traditions of the remote areas of Savukoski are extremely important to the area. There are also ten times more reindeer than people there. If you are interested in war history, you should visit the north point of Salpa Line, where you can walk along boardwalks. For the people who like nature, there are plenty of interesting and different hiking paths. In Savukoski, there are also plenty of historic monuments.
Towards Salla, along the Iron Curtain Trail, there are two war monuments. In Kuosku, there is a memorial monument of those who died due to tank and mine attacks. There are also well preserved war stations still visible from the winter war. The eastern border is only three kilometers away, which brings its own excitement to the EuroVelo 13 route. Before Salla, the Iron Curtain Trail route ascends in a zigzag way, but not too steeply. In Kelloselkä, there is an armor barriers trench as well as an area which was built during armistice.
Salla is located in the middle of the wilderness and offers memorable thrills to the cyclists of Iron Curtain route through different activities. From the Salla fell you can see all the way to Russia, if the weather conditions are in your favor. In Salla, you can see a lot of traces from World War battles. It is important and interesting area with its war history. In the center there is the Museum of War and Reconstruction that represents Salla’s history throughout the 1900’s. In Salla Reindeer Park, you can learn about reindeer, the surrounding area and its flora as well as the animals in its exhibits.
The Cellar of Sotka is the only building remaining from the Winter War and it was a very important place to stop by at that time. Along the EuroVelo 13 route there is also Oulanka National Park, which showcases breathtaking scenery, gorgeous steep rapids and the rugged hills can be experienced in Pieni Karhunkierros, which is 12 km long and the most famous hiking route in Finland.
Ruka is a very famous ski resort where you can find activities around the year. During the summer time, Finland’s longest summer sleigh course is a fast way to familiarize with the scenery. There are a lot of marked hiking trails at Ruka, and there are services to everyone in the village. The Juhannuskallio route, 300 meters, will take the hiker to vast open scenery.
Coniferous forests and ponds surround the Iron Curtain Trail on your way to Kuusamo and the road is mainly descending mildly. In Kuusamo, war history is vibrantly visible and there is, for example, the 3rd Army Corps Memorial, as well as a Revolutionary War Hero Memorial. At Karhuntassu Visitor Center, there is Finland’s first nature photography center, where you can see photographer Hannu Hautala’s life work on display. Cyclists in Kuusamo are able to meet Finland’s large carnivorous animals at either Kuusamo Predator Center or on a guided bear watching trip. The clear-watered rivers are great for both beginners and experienced kayakers, if you decide to go on a canoeing trip. Kuusamo is known for its gorges and canyons – the most famous of these, Julma-Ölkky, which at its steepest is over 50 meters tall, is situated south of Kuusamo.