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Airport Manager at Kuusamo Airport: “The airport is a gateway to the land of national parks”

Article published
3.3.2021 at 09:51
Metsäretkellä Kuusamon lähistön lumisissa maisemissa.
Sari Päivärinta, Airport Manager at Kuusamo Airport, shares the latest news about the airport and the best tips for travellers to the area in Finavia’s My Lapland series.

Airport Manager Sari Päivärinta has lived in Kuusamo since the 1980s. Sari has been employed by Finavia for seven years, but she started to work at Kuusamo Airport for the first time already at the end of 1980s.

“There is nothing more enjoyable than meeting people or watching when people meet each other. The range of departing and arriving passengers, people seeing off and meeting passengers at the airport is absolutely fascinating. It is also nice to experience the atmosphere on the apron when a child, and sometimes even an adult, has their first touch of snow when leaving the airplane. In addition to the encounters on the apron, you can also enjoy the airplanes and the beautiful winter sun for the short period when it is above the horizon.”

Kuusamo Airport is known as the gateway to the land of national parks. There are four very different national parks that can be reached within two hours by car (Oulanka, Riisitunturi, Iso-Syöte and Hossa), which offer experiences also during the winter. From Kuusamo, it is also easy to travel to the Ruka, Pyhä, Salla and Iso-Syöte ski resorts as well as admire the winter miracles in Taivalkoski, Hossa and Posio.

Kuusamon jääsauna.

“Of my several favourite places, I would like to mention the Valtavaara hill next to the village of Ruka. It’s easy to access and, after the climb that will leave you nearly breathless, you will experience a breathtakingly beautiful view from the top. A familiar, far-reaching view that is nevertheless different every time. Naturally, the spring, summer, autumn and winter all add their own flavours.”

During this winter season, Finnair flies from Helsinki to Kuusamo 11 times a week.

“The winter is the busiest season at our airport, and you could say that our operations during the three other seasons aim, in one way or another, at preparing for the success of the winter season. Kuusamo’s winter is long; usually we get the first snow in September–October and it lasts until the end of May. Winter at the airport is full of the joy of work. For me, the first sign of the approaching winter season is our nearly three-metre high snowman, which is built by our maintenance professionals in November–December to bring us all joy.”

Sari’s Kuusamo travel tips

Enjoy delicious food

There are many different places to eat in Ruka, Kuusamo and the surrounding areas. Menus include both traditional delicacies as well as international flavours – from Riipinen Wild Game Restaurant through Ruka Peak to Hanko Sushi.

Metsässä poimimassa mustikoita.

RUOK Burger’s best charcoal grilled hamburgers in the fell taste delicious after an exciting day of skiing.

There are also several restaurants for private events in the area. I would like to especially recommend the Ravintola Tapio restaurant in Posio – magnificent experience and excellent food.


Kuusamo offers a lots to do and experience in the conditions created by nature – activities for all ages and preferences. There are plenty of alternatives for getting around in the snow: skis, snowboard, snowshoes, a sledge pulled by reindeer or huskies and snowmobiles. Or would you like to take a gondola lift up the hill and steerable sledge on the way down?  You can enjoy this speed on a couple of ski slopes in the evening when the slopes are closed to downhill skiers.

Water activities are popular in the snowless season: canoeing, rafting and fishing. Water is present even in the best hiking routes. Getting around nature can easily be combined with guided birding tours or photography.

Kitkajoki Kuusamon alueella tarjoaa paljon aktiviteetteja.

River floating is definitely also worth exploring. This experience is different in the spring, summer, autumn and winter – you can enjoy it through all seasons.

No matter which activity you choose, the day is not complete with a sauna. Kuusamo offer saunas that satisfy all needs, as well as ways of cooling off. Even yoga can be combined with the sauna experience.


The world’s northernmost light festival, Polar Night Light, is arranged annually in January–February. The festival lights up the polar nights of Ruka. Finland’s largest canyon lake, Julma Ölkky, offers new adventures for those not yet familiar with it. The steepness of the deep 50 m crevice can best be perceived by water, which is 50 m deep as well, and the 10 km long Ölökyn ähkäsy route is also worth seeing.

I would say that the most beautiful nature attractions (among many) are Kiutaköngäs Rapids, Pähkänäkallio cliff, Hossa’s Color Rock and Riisitunturi Fell with its beautiful snow-burdened trees. In Kuusamo, you can see the most beautiful places with the ugliest names. Did you know that Kuusamo has the ugliest place names in Finland?

Sauna: Visit Finland / Harri Tarvainen
Rafting: Visit Finland / Ruka-Kuusamo
Fell: Visit Finland / Harri Tarvainen
Blueberries: Visit Finland / Harri Tarvainen

Read also:

Airport Manager presents his favourites: the top attractions to visit and things to do in Rovaniemi
Favourite places and sights in Kittilä: “Experiences all year round”
Kiilopää, Tuulispää – are you already familiar with fells? See and experience the best places in Ivalo