What can you do in Ivalo during summertime? A question asked by many and answering might take some thinking from the locals because there is so much to do. Ivalo is the largest village in Inari municipality, a place where cultures meet and where you find everything you need, at least in the northern hemisphere.

Now, let’s take a stroll in the village to see what it offers.

The road across Ivalo river takes you towards north

Spiritual ski jump hill and the golden river

The village offers a lot to discover if you are interested in architecture. A sweet mixture of the olden day feeling, retro and modern building can be seen in the village.

You should atart your journey from our village church built in 1966 which has a very unique structure and devides opinions about its looks. Among the locals it used to be called the “spiritual ski jump hill”. If you are lucky, the doors might be open and you can take a look inside. Stop to take a moment to admire the light flooding in through the windows and gaze upon the very special babtising bowl which has been designed by the famous artist Tapio Wirkkala. You might also notice the is no altar painting but a magnificent glass cross decorating the altar wall.

After visiting the church we can continue by crossing Ivalo river which has given its name to the village as well. The river is called by the names: the wilderness river or the golden river . Ivalo river has not been a water power source ever so that’s one of the reasons why many of the favorite fish species of the locals still swim in it. The nickname “Golden River” takes back to times of gold rush in Lapland. The river is 180km long and is excellent for paddling and river rafting. Looking out from the bridge you might also notice how steep the river banks here are. Many great floods used to take place in Ivalo but therefore the flood barriers where dug out to protect the buildings.

Something for the friends of art

After the bridge we just crossed you are able to see our village main street with three roundabouts which all have their unique centerpiece. In the first roundabout you see the northern lights in Sámi flag colors. In the second roundabout you will enter the gold panning theme with a massive gold pan and pick. The rock seitas placed in the third roundabout are reflecting being Sámi.

You can admire architecture right at the village centre. Culture space Kuulas has a unique architecture and inside you can see changing exhibitions.

By the riverbend there is a statue built in the honor of gold prospectors. On the other side of the road you can see the statue of evacuee road of the Arctic Ocean people.

Walking alonside the village main street you can see a blue wooden house with a retro style logo – Aslak. This is a movie theatre built in 1958. Its operations will move to our new educational and culture centre Kaarre. Kaarre is a place you should see from the river bank. More retro style logos you’ll find in the village, such as the old logo of Kela.

Energy from nature

Nature is present in the whole municipality of Inari which is the municipality slogan “Mighty by nature” You can notice the names of our streets have the same theme. Walking by our main library built in 1981 you might wonder the purpose of the pilars in front of the library. This art piece reflects the winter sleeping place called “Kieppi” that a willow grouse makes to stay hidden and warm.

If the village is now familiar enough, head to the walking route of Mukkavuopaja. There you’ll find many info signs that guide you true our nature and culture. One of the northernmost milk farms in Finland is located along the route. The easiest way to find to the beginning of this route is from Porotie across Hotel Ivalo, there the actual guided signs for the route begin.

In the middle of the village there aren’t actual view points but if you head to the sputh side of the village to Jänkkävaara you will find yourself in awe of the view. In jänkkävaara we have training stairs, outdoor gym, kilometers of outdoor training routes and a lappish Laavu with provided firewood. You can visit a bears den there too!

Lively village

The village has a selection of flea markets that surprises their visitors everytime. During your village stroll you should pop in to a local second hand store. Ivalo has a few of those, for example Ivalo Kirppis, Ivalo Pentecostal secondhand store or Ivalo region unemployed association secondhand store.

Ivalo is a lively village and its variety of events refresh the locals and travelers minds. During summertime the biggest events are Ivalo Watercross, Inari Weeks and Midsummer party at Ivalojoki river shore.

After a long day of walking you can feel it in your legs. What would be a better way to end your day than to dip in to the cool water of Ivalojoki river? Ivalo beach is loved by everyone, reindeer included. You can not miss visiting Ivalo’s sandy beach on your trip. Head for the golden river once more and enjoy summer feels.

©Irina Salomaa

Janka Mäkipää and Sofia Haka

Sámi educational institute

Vocational Qualification in Natural and Environmental Protection