Taking a sauna like the locals, swimming in the crystal clear lake and dancing under the midnight sun – welcome to Ruka-Kuusamo. It’s the endless summer nights that make a holiday here in the far north so special.
Ruka-Kuusamo combines the fascination of the untouched nature of Finnish Lapland with a certain tourist infrastructure. Ruka is a popular ski resort and so there are mountain railways here in summer too, and above all great accommodation and restaurants.
What awaits you in Ruka-Kuusamo in summer, which highlights we can particularly recommend and which restaurants you shouldn’t miss – we’ll tell you all that and much more in this blog article.
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1. Ruka-Kuusamo Overview: First travel tips & things to know
Where is Ruka-Kuusamo and how do I get there?
We jump north on the map, roughly in the middle of Finland, near the Russian border: Here lies Ruka-Kuusamo.
The name already gives it away: Ruka-Kuusamo is the merger of two places – Ruka and Kuusamo, which are about 20 kilometers apart. The airport is in Kuusamo, Ruka is the tourist center at the foot of the fjell (hill) – so this is where the mountain railways are located.
Since the airport is conveniently located directly in Kuusamo, arrival is very easy. There are currently no direct flights from German-speaking countries in summer (as of July 2022), so you usually travel via Helsinki. Several times a week planes take off from Helsinki towards Kuusamo. The flight time from Helsinki is just one hour.
In order to be as flexible as possible on site, we would recommend a rental car . We will give you more tips for booking and driving in this blog article: Travel tips Finland in summer.
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What can I expect in Ruka-Kuusamo?
Ruka-Kuusamo is a very popular winter travel destination and well developed for tourism compared to other regions in Finnish Lapland . (Please don’t compare it to a ski resort in the Austrian Alps – they are worlds apart!)
At least what we mean by that: There are a few mountain railways, some restaurants (some of them are even quite hip) and of course really great, sometimes very stylish accommodation. (We will reveal our recommendation later.)
In Ruka-Kuusamo you can experience even more than in other regions. The downside: While less crowded in summer than winter, the area doesn’t feel quite as isolated as other regions — at least not around the two big towns of Ruka and Kuusamo.
Once you leave the town center, you are immediately surrounded by nothing but pure nature. So don’t worry if you’re looking for the seclusion of Finnish Lapland : Of course you can find that here too without having to search for it!
Speaking of pure nature: one of the many natural highlights around Ruka-Kuusamo is the Oulanka National Park. You should definitely pay a visit to this gem. In the course of this blog article we will tell you which hike we can particularly recommend.
Are mosquitoes really that bad in summer in Finland?
The short answer: It depends. The detailed explanation: First of all, one has to say that all Scandinavian countries have a “mosquito problem” in summer.
The mosquitoes cavort in particular around stagnant water, swampy areas and also forests. And yes, Finnish Lapland is known to have plenty of that.
Now comes the good news: the mosquito season is shorter than expected. The peak in Ruka-Kuusamo is around midsummer, around late June/early July. From the end of July, the situation will be much more relaxed again.
Yes, the little nuisances can be really annoying and we didn’t just curse them once. You can read our detailed experiences and how we were (almost) mosquito-free on the road in this blog article: Travel tips Finland in summer.
How warm/cold is it in Ruka-Kuusamo in summer?
Summer in Finnish Lapland is often milder than you might think. Daily temperatures of 20 degrees are common. We even caught a real hot spell with maximum temperatures of 27 to 28 degrees.
But: The weather can of course also be very unstable . So 10 gad and rain are also possible. You should have both summer and warm clothing in your luggage. In our general blog article about Finland in summer you will find tips on the right equipment: Travel tips Finland in summer.
2. Activities & Experiences in Ruka-Kuusamo
Oulanka National Park: Little Bear Tour
Let’s start with one of the absolute natural highlights around Ruka-Kuusamo, the Oulanka National Park. Located about half an hour’s drive north of Ruka, it is one of the best known and most visited national parks in Finland.
The national park stretches along the Oulankajoki River . This is making its way towards Russia. Sometimes it runs rapidly, sometimes very calmly, sometimes over a waterfall, then again across a lake. The landscape here is very varied.
The most popular day tour in the national park is the Little Bear Tour (“Pieni Karhunkierros”). It is the mini version of the big bear round (“Karhunkierros”), which lasts several days. If you want to see some of the most beautiful spots in Oulanka National Park in one day, we warmly recommend the Little Bear Tour.
The tour runs as a circular route over about 12 kilometers. For the most part you hike through the forest, walk over several suspension bridges and footbridges, often over wooden stairs and pass beautiful lakes.
Anyone who has assessed Finland as flat will quickly be surprised here. It is (by Finnish standards) quite a lot uphill and downhill. But don’t worry: as a reasonably fit person, you can easily manage the hike.
Information about the hike at a glance
Starting point: Parking lot at address Juumantie 133, 93850 Kuusamo
Walking time: Total approx. 4 – 6 hours (It took us about 4.5 hours.)
Food/Equipment: Good shoes are important. Take provisions, water and mosquito repellent with you. If necessary, you can still buy drinks and snacks in the small café on the lake shore right at the starting point of the hike.
Route: Small bear tour (outdoor active)
E-bike tour around Ruka-Kuusamo
The Rukatunturi fell, which is almost 500 meters high, is known to be a popular winter sports center in winter. In summer, the cross-country ski runs turn into mountain bike trails and the ski slopes into bike parks. A total of 180 kilometers of mountain bike trails are available in the Ruka-Kuusamo region.
Our tip: We can warmly recommend the newly opened Ruka Trek & Hard Trek Café for renting e-fatbikes . A guided tour is also possible. We ourselves were traveling with the owner Antti, who put together a cozy, nice round around Ruka for us.
We definitely recommend a refreshment afterwards in the associated restaurant, the Hard Trek Café. It’s not just the ambience with all the wood that’s great, the food tastes great too. We had the pasta of the day followed by a delicious espresso. Definitely worth a visit!
Information about cycling in Ruka-Kuusamo
Rent e-bikes: Ruka Trek (official website)
Price: 50 euros for 3 hours, 70 euros for 8 hours (both excl. guide)
Overview map: Ruka Bike Trails
Reindeer visit in Ruka-Kuusamo
They are omnipresent in Finnish Lapland: reindeer! Hardly a car trip goes by that you don’t see them crossing the street. If you want to pay a visit to the fluffy companions , we can only warmly recommend the reindeer farm Kujala (“Kujalan Porotila”).
In the summer, most of the reindeer are “free”. Ie: They eat their way through the forests around Ruka-Kuusamo. That’s why you see so many reindeer in Finnish Lapland in summer. They all belong to one of the many reindeer farms. There are no completely “wild” reindeer.
If you want to learn more about reindeer herding in Finnish Lapland , we highly recommend a visit to Kujala Reindeer Farm. You can tell immediately how much heart and soul the owners put into their work.
The junior boss gave us a great tour of the area with lots of exciting information about the animals. Our favorite place: The new kota (hut) on the hill with a fantastic view.
We were particularly lucky because when we visited there were two reindeer babies on the farm. Their mothers tragically died, leaving them to be bottle raised. So fluffy – we wanted to take them with us!
In summer you can book a wide variety of activities at the Kujala reindeer farm, including reindeer yoga. How strange, isn’t it?
Find out more here: Kujala Reindeer Farm (official website)
Sunset hike Kontainen
Wanted: An easy, promising hike. Found: The short climb up the hill called Konttainen. Located about 10 minutes drive north of Ruka, it is the perfect spot to gaze at the midnight sun .
The short ascent leads up a forest path. After about half an hour you have already reached the summit. Once at the top, several places with a wonderful view over Ruka-Kuusamo await you. Although the Konttainen hill is forested, there are enough scenic spots.
Good to know: The path is laid out as a circular route . Just follow the green marker and you’ll end up back in the parking lot. It is important to know that the long-distance hiking trail “Karhunkierros” also runs here. So please do not follow these signs.
Information about the hike at a glance
Starting point: Parking lot at Virkkulantie 43, 93999 Kuusamo
Walking time: Total (ascent and descent) approx. 1 hour
Food/equipment: Take provisions, water and mosquito repellent with you. There is no possibility to buy anything on site. Good shoes recommended.
Route: Konttainen (Outdooractive)
Experience the tradition of the Finnish sauna at Pohjolan Pirtti
So special, so impressive, so unforgettable! Our evening at Pohjolan Pirtti is one of the most beautiful moments of our trip through Finnish Lapland. Like visiting friends – that’s how the sauna evening felt on this family-run country estate.
In a dream setting , you can immerse yourself in the fascinating world of the Finnish sauna . There are three saunas available. Owner Tanja accompanies the sauna ritual. On request, she can also carry out a very special treatment: the skin is gently “whipped” with tree branches. This is supposed to act like a massage. This scent that arises during the ritual – indescribable!
After the sauna session, continue in the historic main building . Husband Matti has already prepared dinner there at the same time . And then we were finally speechless. The setting in the wood-panelled room alone is so special – you simply have to experience it!
The excellent dinner was accompanied by incredibly exciting conversations . We really felt so comfortable and can only warmly recommend a visit to this magical place!
By the way: On a few days in summer, the property is transformed into a summer café with home-baked cakes and coffee. So if you just want to stop by, this is sure to be a great occasion!
Information on visiting the Finnish sauna
Duration: approx. 5 hours
Included: sauna ritual & dinner; all important things such as slippers, towels & bathrobe are provided on site – you really don’t have to bring anything with you
Booking & more information: Pohjolan Pirtti (official website)
Extra tip: Solstice Festival under the midnight sun
If you are traveling to Ruka-Kuusamo around midsummer, then we have a special tip for you: the Solstice Festival, an electronic music festival that is second to none.
The dancing takes place in the open air on the top of the Rukatunturi fell . So it really is the absolutely greatest festival location we’ve ever seen.
Countless national and international DJs play electronic music of all kinds. Honestly: Privately we are at home in other genres, but that doesn’t matter in this case. There are art installations between the stages and the whole festival is just so incredibly relaxed.
Find out more here: Solstice Festival (official website)
3. Eating & drinking: Our restaurant tips
The selection of great cafes and restaurants in the Ruka-Kuusamo region is significantly larger than in other areas of Finnish Lapland. In this chapter we present you our favourites.
Hard Trek Café: This friendly, newly opened café belongs to the tour operator Ruka Trek. Not only is the ambience great both inside and outside, there is a great selection of regional and international dishes with many vegetarian options. Perfect for lunch or coffee and cake. (A little tip: cloudberry tiramisu!)
Pizzeria Ruka: Probably the best pizza far and wide is served in Pizzeria Ruka. There are both classic Italian variants and creations inspired by Finnish cuisine. So if you want to try reindeer pizza, for example – this is the place. It’s very nice to sit on the terrace.
RUOK Burger: At RUOK we honestly ate the very best vegetarian burger in a very, very long time. Incredibly juicy, great flavor combinations and great fries – really highly recommended! Of course, there are countless variants with meat. The fast-food concept appeals to many young people in particular. Great value for money and rightly very popular.
4. Our accommodation tip: sleep in a glass igloo
An unforgettable summer adventure in Ruka-Kuusamo also includes unforgettable accommodation. And we found that with the Magical Pond . Wow!
These modern glass igloos are located in a wooded area on the shore of a lake, in absolute seclusion. Thanks to the huge panoramic windows, you really have the feeling of sleeping in the middle of nature. The flair is so amazing!
There is one downside to lots of glass: it can be really bright at night during the midnight sun. Darkening is not possible, so (if you are sensitive) you definitely need a sleep mask . Some are provided, but we would recommend bringing your own.
What you should also know: The huts are really very small. Two to three square meters more and a little more storage space would be good (especially for people who pack a lot like us). But the bed is incredibly comfortable, the linen bed linen is a dream and even in the small bathroom you will find everything you need.
The breakfast is served in the main building as a buffet and is very good. The selection is small, but fine and the quality is definitely right. We especially liked the daily changing smoothies and cakes.
The sauna is also in the main building . Unfortunately, access is chargeable. The sauna will be reserved exclusively for you for one hour if you book in advance.
Our conclusion: A very special, incredibly photogenic accommodation that is priced in the upper segment. A blackout option would be great! We could imagine that winter is even better suited to visit here. In any case, the flair is very special and the employees are incredibly courteous. We felt very comfortable.
You can book accommodation here: Magical Pond
5. Map: All summer highlights in Ruka-Kuusamo at a glance
For a better overview you will find all our experiences and excursions marked on this interactive map. A little tip: If you click on the rectangle at the top right, you can save the map in the Google Maps app on your smartphone.
Transparency: Advertising & Affiliate Links
Our trip to Ruka-Kuusamo and this blog article were created in cooperation with Ruka-Kuusamo and are part of the #getlappi campaign . Thank you very much for this wonderful trip! Of course we are free to report. This cooperation has no influence on our honest opinion.
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!