Kittilä is a municipality and village in the province of Lapland, some 200km north of the Arctic Circle. The region has become a very popular holiday destination, especially in winter, thanks to the world famous ski resorts at nearby Levi and at Ylläs in the Kolari municipality, and the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park which surrounds Ylläs and reaches the 4 Fell Lapland municipalities of Muonio, Enontekiö, Ylläs and Kolari.
Kittilä is an area of outstanding natural beauty, regardless of the season, and perhaps this explains why the region has produced some of Finland's finest artists, despite its tiny population. For those who seek a momentary break from the exertions of the ski slopes and nature trails, a visit to the museums dedicated to these local artists provides the perfect relaxing and cultural counterpoint. South of the village of Kittilä lies the village of Kaukonen, home to the Särestöniemi Museum. Reidar Särestöniemi was a prominent Finnish artist and there are almost 500 pieces on display here, mostly oils on canvas and watercolours, but also etchings and woodcuts. In the nearby village of Pöntsö, which is even smaller than Kaukonen and lies just 18km from Levi, you'll find Gallery Raekallio which features, among other art, a permanent exhibition of art by Reijo Raekallio in various media and styles, including woodcuts, aquarelles, prints, and oil paintings. Back in Kittilä village there is the Einari Junttila Taidemuseo which has on display around 85 pieces, mostly watercolours, and almost all dealing with life and nature in his native Lapland. Unfortunately, at this time there is no permanent exhibition in the municipality of work by Kalervo Palsa, Kittilä's most controversial son. The region is not famed for its architecture, but there is a lovely church in Kittilä designed by C.L. Engel and completed in 1831. During the Lapland War it was the only building in the town not burned by the retreating German army.
Most visitors arriving in Kittilä are on their way to Levi, one of Finland's largest ski resorts, and two of only three in the country with a gondola lift. There are 45 slopes here, 15 of which are floodlit, most are suitable for beginners and intermediates but there are 4 black slopes for experts. The longest slope is 2.5km long, the highest vertical drop is 325m, and the resort also boasts one superpipe, one halfpipe, ten children's slopes, two snow parks, and 27 lifts. To cater for those who find the cold, fresh air has whetted their appetites there are seven restaurants on the slopes. Levi also has a village centre, packed with bars, shops, and restaurants. Visitors who want to do a little more than speed down a hill will be delighted to find that there are 230km of cross-country skiing tracks and 886km of snowmobiling tracks, and opportunities to take a husky or snowmobile safari, or visit a reindeer park. Nearby you'll find the Snow Village Lainio, reached by snowmobile, a delightful mixture of snow sculptures, an ice bar, ice restaurant, and a snow hotel.
The other main resort that can be reached from Kittilä is the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park and the two skiing centres Iso-Ylläs and Ylläs-Ski. Ylläs is Finland's tallest fell with ski lifts, reaching a respectable 718m, and at the summit lies Finland's highest restaurant and café. It also boasts the country's largest integrated cross-country skiing network, over 330km, and the largest gondola lift in the country, as well as a sauna gondola! Visitors to the region should take time to visit the Lappish villages of Ylläsjärvi and Äkäslompolo which are located on opposing sides of the Ylläs Fell and offer picturesque and traditional village landscapes on the banks of lakes. The villages offer local products and village events with international ambiance.
The vast majority of people travelling to Kittilä come for the excellent winter sports facilities, but should take a few moments to enjoy the galleries dedicated to local artists. Although the region attracts far more visitors in winter than in summer, there are excellent fishing, hiking, kayaking, and trekking facilities in the region.
This is predominantly a winter sports area, with some of the best skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and husky and reindeer safaris in all of Finland. However, the vast wilderness in summer also attracts hikers, fell walkers, fishermen, and kayakers and canoeists to this natural paradise.
Lapp cuisine is unique in Finland, changing with the seasons, and reflecting the natural bounty of the region. Depending on the time of year, you can enjoy such delicasies as whitefish, moose and cranberry, roe, reindeer and cloudberry, or freshwater trout and salmon caught locally.
Most accommodation in Kittilä is in and around the ski centres, with some cottages and cabins available for rent in the summer, and smaller hotels in the villages. The resorts offer a wide range of accommodation choices, from self-catering cabins to all-inclusive luxury hotel rooms.
The ski resorts all have their own small village centres where you can find just about everything you need. The small villages in the area also have shops where you can find locally made arts and handicrafts, and pick up some very original gifts and souvenirs.
Kittilä Airport is served by Finnair, Blue1, AirBaltic and FinnComm, with regular services connecting it to Helsinki, and charter flights to many other European cities. The nearest rail station is in Kolari, but bus services between there and Kittilä are quite limited.