The roads of Lapland are something else
Lapland is the largest and most rarely populated region in Finland. You'll find some of the most beautiful, harsh and surprising drives following the long and narrow northern roads.
The most beautiful road of Finland
The most beautiful road and 100 km of Finland is situated in the northernmost Lapland. On the road Tenontie, from Karigasniemi village to Utsjoki center, the route follows the mighty river Teno. It is made based on the old walking path that followed the river shore. The road rises up to extremely beautiful mountain and river scenes, offering a closer look than the road on the Norwegian side.
The best road trips of Lapland
In addition to the most beautiful road, there are other northern musts. There are amazing lists on the internet, but I'll base this on my own experiences. I would like to recommend "Revontultentie", which in English is "The road of northern lights". I had an atmospheric experience going down the road to Kilpisjärvi, which is one of the most beautiful places in Finland for sure. In the arm of the Finnish Maiden, the fell views are at their most rugged. Revontultentie is a travelling road that passes Finland, Sweden and Norway. Going up there, it was dark and night time. Can you guess what was in the sky throughout the road? The auroras. Like it was promised in the name. Going back in daylight wasn't too bad for the eyes either!
I strongly recommend taking the drive along "Nelostie" a.k.a the route 4, E75. You can take it through the whole country, from Helsinki to Utsjoki. On the road you can see how the scene slowly changes into more arctic and where the real Lapland nature begins. I'd suggest either taking the road to Karigasniemi and continuing all the way to Nordkapp in Norway (the northernmost place in Europe, reachable by car) or at least to Lakselv, where the ocean starts from. Or , driving through Nuorgam (the northernmost village of Finland) and continuing to Varangerbotn to see the beautiful fisherman villages of the fjord.
There are many amazing roads surrounded by fells, endless swamp areas and national parks like "Pokantie" or the "Pyhä-Luosto fell route". None of the roads will be disappointing. Also, when ever you are crossing Saariselkä, remember to drive up on the Lapland mountain "Kaunispää". The road goes to the top and offers great views. There is also a restaurant up there. Road trip in Lapland could be described as a once in a lifetime must!
There is also a comprehensive forest road network in the wilderness of Lapland. They might not be maintained during winter though.
The obstacles of the wintery roads
The roads of Lapland are nothing to be scared of but certainly more icy and snowy than the southern ones. The weather can get stormy, slippery or misty like in the picture. In the mist and even without it, you have to take in consideration, that there is a high risk of bumping into reindeer on the road, as well as moose or birds like the willow grouse. These animals make the experience, but they also make it more dangerous. It is important to be aware, stopping isn't fast on the ice. Parking in the middle of the road to take pictures is not well received, so please remember not to create any unnecessary safety hazards.
There are things like the cold weather and the reindeer, that have to be taken into consideration with the road maintenance. For example, don't expect salted roads like in the southern parts of the country.
There are spots on the highland routes, that are surrounded by an open space and a lot of snow. Those spots can be difficult during snow storms. The wind can create insurmountable snow dunes "arctic dessert style". It is always important to take warm equipment along the way. The wait can be several hours for the help to get there or the obstacle to be cleared off.
There is basically one bus, that drives all the way to the northernmost Lapland regularly - Eskelinen. In Utsjoki area, you'll have a chance to get on the bus once a day, but you certainly can't get everywhere with this bus. Sometimes there are trucks fallen of the road or cars pulled on the side. It is always important to stop to help, the traffic can be non-existing. The long and empty roads sometimes encourage drivers to go a bit faster and maybe out of their own lane, so look out for the opposite traffic too.
Try this out; start your car and head to North with good company. Take on snacks and warm equipment (the gas stations are rare). When the rugged scenery presents itself, put on an atmospheric yoik. Stop at the parking spot that has the most amazing views and take pictures of each other. This you'll never forget.