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'''Saariselkä''' [] is a largish winter sports center high up in [[Finnish Lapland]], some 250 km north of the Arctic Circle and nearly 1000 kilometers away from the southern capital [[Helsinki]].
Nestled in a valley, Saariselkä is a compact strip of a village with one gas station, one main supermarket, one liquor store and a slew of hotels , shops and restaurants, but it's quite manageable on foot and located only 30 km away from the town of [[Ivalo]] and its airport. The fell fells of '''Kaunispää''' and '''Iisakkipää''', both equipped with ski lifts and , are the primary center centers for winter sports, looms nearby.
The gold rush slowly faded away, but in the 1960s the area started to gradually develop into a tourist attraction. Hotels and restaurants were built, skiing lifts were put up, and in 1983 the region stretching from Saariselkä to the Russian border -- favorite hunting grounds of former president Urho Kaleva Kekkonen -- were turned into the [[UKK National Park]].
These days Saariselkä is a part of the municipality of [[Inari]], which has some 7,700 inhabitants (including some 2,200 Sámi) on 17,321 square kilometers of land. Not too crowded, eh?
==Get in==
===By plane===
The easiest method is to take a Finnair flight from [[Helsinki]] to [[Ivalo]] airport (1:40, price €100-250 depending on the season), and then a connecting 20-minute bus ride into town. UK tourists may arrive at the airport at Kittilä, and take a three-hour road trip to Saariselkä, via [[Sodankylä]].
===By bus===
==Get around==
Once in Saariselkä, you can pretty much walk anywhere you want to, but if you have gear in tow just hop aboard the (free!all day ticket €5) '''Ski Bus''', which shuttles between the village and the slopes approximately once an hour or so.
* Many tourists, especially the Japanese, come to Saariselkä to gawk at observe the '''aurora borealis'''. While they occur with a probability as high as 75% every night in season (November to March or so), they are all too often obscured behind a bank of clouds so don't count on it.
* But there's plenty of standard Lappish tourist fare to keep you occupied during the day as well, ranging from '''husky safaris''' and '''reindeer-pulled sleighs''' to '''snowmobile''' and '''snowshoe''' treks through the countryside.
* For extreme sledding, the legendary 1.5 km track down from Kaunispää can't be beat. Hold on tight and steer well!
'''Snow mobiles'''
If you want to get away from a group and go out on a snow-mobile with a private guide, there are quite a few operators to talk to ; Lapland Delights is one of them and offers ice-fishing in one of the local lakes which includes a snack reindeer lunch cooked in a hunter/fisherman's cabin, great !!
They also arrange viewing the ''''Northern Lights'''' with a private guide, a wonderful way to spend an evening in the Tundra ( if only the lights could be guaranteed ! )
*<do name="Top Safaris" alt="" address="Hotel Laanihovi" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">A safari company that offers a wide variety of safaris and is owned by the same people that run the Hotel Laanihovi.</do>
* <buy name="Supermarket Kuukkeli" alt="" address="Saariseläntie" directions="" phone="+358(0)16668741" email="[email protected]" fax="+358(0)16668680" url="" hours="9-21" price=""></buy>
* <buy name="Partioaitta" alt="outdoor equipments" address="Honkapolku" directions="" phone="+358(0)105494800" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price=""></buy>
Food in Lapland is expensive and fairly unimaginative, although if you haven't tried '''reindeer meat''' yet then this is your chance. For a more memorable experience, try a set dinner in a Lappish '''kota''' tent, offered by a number of hotels and tour operators.( with respect to the above poster, found the food in Saariselka to be tremendous, great dishes, friendly service and the meals really complemented the holiday experience of being in Lapland - quite special - see below )
* '''Kaunispään Huippu''', atop Kaunispää, []. Offers panoramic views of the mountains around and is a good option for a lunch or just a hot drink. I agree, do try the Reindeer fillet with peppercorns, worth taking a drive up for a meal.* '''Supermarket Kuukkeli'''. The little canteen inside offers one of the cheapest eats in town. Reindeer hash, cranberry jam and mashed potatoes will set you back less than 12&euro;14,90.* '''Siulan Riista ja Kala'''. Game and Fish Delicatessen in the Siula shopping center - including a café which offers one of the cheapest meals in town. Daily (including weekends) "Lounas" (lunch) from 11 to 18h &euro;9,90 is excellent value.* '''Teerenpesä''', Restaurant and Pub, good value.* '''Pirkon Pirtti''', most famous restaurant in Saariselkä. Hard to find vacant table- delightful log fires and delicious traditional dishes,a great place to dine.
* '''Restaurant Linnansali''', at Hotel Riekonlinna, expensive and fine. Specialities cod tongue and king crab.
* '''MuossiGrill''', snack kiosk in central square near Holiday ClubHotel, hamburgers etc.
* '''Kotipizza''', like it sounds, pizza, in Siula shopping center.
* '''Rakka''', ala carte, '''Rosso Express''', pizza and '''Houseburger''', hamburgers at Holiday Club
* '''Petronella'''. Specialities include Reindeer filet and Lake Inari whitefish.* '''Siberia''' Restaurant (and Café) - fine dine in exotic LapplandLapland.
There are quite a few possibilities for '''after-ski''' as well, all the
hotels have restaurants and discos, and there's even a local microbrewery with a side line in distilled spirits as well. However, Saariselkä has a deserved reputation for catering to the middle-aged market, standard musical fare is melodramatic Finnish tango and even the food is all reindeer and snow grouse. Hip snowboarding youngsters tend to head for [[Levi]] or [[Ruka]] instead.
* '''Saariselän Panimo''', []. The local microbrewery, which does more than just beer: try ''Jellona Terwasnapsi'', the home-brewed tar-flavored schnapps! A very authentically Finnish place in character.
* '''Bepop''', "Sportbar & Night", pub and nightclub at Holiday Club Saariselkä   Petronella Restaurant, Saariselka :  Only one word can describe this gastronomic experience - superb !! .
The ambience, atmosphere, warm Finnish greeting, excellent service, wide choice of dishes and cuisine that arguably is amongst the best to be found in Finland keep you returning to this delightful, cosy restaurant. '''Wines :'''
Highly recommended is the Reindeer Fillet and, amongst the best appetisers IHaving posted above on '''Petronella've come across in many years, are the 'escargots drizzled with gorgonzola', theyalso offer an excellent choice of wines if you're even better than those looking for the perfect accompaniment to be found in Paris ! the cuisine.
Another restaurant to make sure you visit in Saariselka is They also have a 'house cocktail' the 'PanimoPetronella' which has to be tasted to be believed ; here again the reindeer is excellent and do make sure you try the choice of berry liquers along with a glass of chilled Jagermeister great for warming up in minus 30 degrees C Finnish weather !
* Saariselkä Reservation Center, arrange all kind of accommodation.
* '''Saariselän Tunturihotelli'''
* '''Hotel Laanihovi''' (in Laanila near Saariselkä), rooms 79&euro; in the summer, 97&euro; in the high season &euro; []
* '''Vahtamapään Maja''' (in the center) []
* '''Hotel & Igloo Village Kakslauttanen''' []
* '''Holiday Club Saariselkä''', []. Europe's northernmost spa and the fanciest digs in town, featuring a large swimming pool/jacuzzi/waterfall/etc section. Still, this is more of a family resort than a romantic getaway, so expect to bump into hyperactive kids. Rooms start at 120&euro; in the off season, 150&euro; in the high season.
* '''Hotel Riekonlinna'''. International conference hotel, many of rooms have even own sauna and internet connection. Nice view towards the fjelds from most of rooms. Rooms 8687&euro; in the summer, 130-150&euro; in the high season.
* '''Hotel Gielas'''. From September 2008. Four star hotel with 84 rooms. All rooms have own saunas, bath, balcony and internet-connection.
==Stay safe==
Hiking Summer hiking in Saariselkä is safe if you follow safety advise and know your own limits. Routes near Saariselkä village are well marked and require only sneakers and clothes accordant with current weather. It's recommended to purchase an inexpensive map from your hotel reception or local market. Don't go alone into fields, at least without informing your hotel reception. Ask safety advises from your hotel reception if you feel unsure. Don't forget to report to your hotel when you come back. Weather conditions can change a lot even if it's warm and sunny when you leave.
Cellphone networks may not cover many places in between fields.
==Stay healthy==
Tap water is potableand of high quality.
In case of emergency call number '''112'''. If you need medical consultation less urgently, contact to MedInari health service at Holiday Club (nurse and doctor services) +358(0)207205830, address Kelotie 1, Saariselkä. It's managed by the Inari community municipality and some local travel-related companies.
==Get out==
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