Welcome to the southernmost point in Finland with the midnight sun! This is Aavasaksa, a hill as well as a settlement in Finnish Lapland. Directly at the border with Sweden, the distinct hill makes it possible to see far into both countries. The hill has a height of 242 meters and is home to the resort Aava Sky Village, an observation tower, and is in itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A Short History of Aavasaksa
Aavasaksa has played its part in the world’s scientific history. The hilltop was one of nine measurement points during the French Geodesic Mission of 1736 to 1737. This was a mission to perform an arc measurement, a way of measuring the length of a degree of latitude at the Equator. Aavasaksa later became one of 34 sites of measurement for the Struve Geodetic Arc when it was established by the scientist Fredrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in the first half of the 19th century. These 34 points are since 2005 part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known by the name Struve Geodetic Arc.
Things to Do and See
There is plenty of nature around Aavasaksa and fishing and hunting are popular activities. There are also hiking trails, historical sights, and much more to see. Aavasaksa has developed into a popular tourist destination in Finnish Lapland.
The Midnight Sun
In June each year, it is possible to see the midnight sun from the top of the hill. That is the phenomenon that the sun never goes below the horizon. The elevation of the hill compared to the surrounding landscape makes this possible even though the site is far south of the Arctic Circle.
The Keisarinmaja, or the Imperial Lodge, is a museum. It is claimed to be the oldest building used for tourism in Finnish Lapland. It was built in 1882 and was originally a hunting lodge. Its current name originates from a visit that never happened. It was named the Imperial Lodge due to a planned visit by the Russian Tsar and the Grand Duke of Finland. However, the visit never happened.
Right at the summit of the hill is an observation tower. For anyone that decides to climb its many stairs, there is an exceptional view on offer. At the top of the tower, there is an observation platform. The platform is covered on all sides by glass windows. The view would probably have been even better without the glass, but it offers protection from most things except the heat of the sun. Sunny days can offer a different type of Finnish sauna than what is otherwise common in this country.
The tower is 13 meters high, built with red bricks, and was completed in 1969. The glass roof was added in 2004.
Around Aavasaksa Hill there is a four-kilometer-long hiking trail. The trail takes its visitors along the many viewpoints of the surrounding Finnish and Swedish landscape.
Aavasaksa Ski Resort
The Aavasaksa Ski Resort is also along one of the slopes of the hill. This is a small ski center that offers a height difference of 115 meters from the top down to the valley. It has three slopes made accessible by one ski lift.
How to Get to Aavasaksa
Flights: The closest airports are Kemi-Tornio Airport (KEM) 114 kilometers away and Rovaniemi Airport (RVN) 113 kilometers away. The latter is the third busiest airport in Finland and has both domestic and international flights. Kemi-Tornio Airport has mostly domestic flights.
Car: Aavasaksa is located along road E8 north of Tornio. It also has the Swedish border and Övertorneå a short distance to the west.
Train: Closest railway station is in nearby Ylitornio, 7 kilometers to the south. From there you can find trails to Kemi and Helsinki in the south and to Kolari in the north.
The driving distance from 5 major Finnish cities, according to Google Maps:
Helsinki – 805 kilometers (9 h 3 min) Turku – 816 kilometers (9 h 44 min) Vaasa – 518 kilometers (6 h 8 min) Oulu – 200 kilometers (2 h 24 min) Joensuu – 593 kilometers (6 h 54 min)
Find out more about other destinations in Finland by visiting our page Exploring Finland