INARI straggles along the bony banks of the Juutuanjoki River as it tumbles into the freezing-cold, islet-studded waters of Lake Inarijärvi. There's nothing remarkable about the village itself, but it's a pretty little place with several appealing diversions and it buzzes in the summer season with transitory visitors taking a break from the Rovaniemi– Nordkapp beaten path. The bus stops outside the tourist office (daily June– Aug 9am–6pm; early to mid-Sept daily 10am–5pm; mid-Sept to May Mon– Fri 9am–5pm; Tel:016/661 666, Web: www.inarilapland.org ) on the one and only main road, where helpful staff can advise on accommodation, trips to Russia and organize a fishing licence (from 10 for one week) and daily excursions to Kirkenes in northern Norway. Close by lies the Sámi museum and nature centre, Siida (June– Sept daily 9am–8pm; Oct– May Tues– Sun 10am–5pm; 8), the best museum in Lapland. An excellent outdoor section features a re-sited nineteenth-century village and various reconstructions illustrating aspects of Sámi life – principally handicrafts and hunting or fishing techniques – while the indoor section has a comprehensive and well-curated ethnographic exhibition on Arctic life.
Many travellers pass through Inari during the summer, so it's best to reserve accommodation during this period. One of the most enjoyable places is to stay is AVilla Lanca (Tel:040/748 0984, Web: www.villalanca.com ; Price: 76-100), run by an effusive Finnish-Sámi couple who rent out charming apartments across several floors just opposite the tourist office, as well as a nearby cottage on a secluded peninsula. Elsewhere in the village, the Inarin Kultahovihotel (Tel:016/671 221, Web: www.hotelkultahovi.fi ; Price: 51-75), Saarikoskentie 2, offers 29 comfortable rooms with river views and an excellent, reasonably priced restaurant; the Lomakylä Inari (Tel:016/671 108, Web: www.lomakyla-inari.fi ), Inarintie 26, has well-kept wooden cabins ( 50); while the campsite, Uruniemi Camping (Tel:016/671 331, Web: www.uruniemi.com ; June– Sept), 3km away on the southern outskirts of the town, has smaller cottages ( 25). The ASiida Ravintolarestaurant at the Siida museum is very good – go for the scrumptious hollandaise Lake Inari trout and whitefish platter with boiled potatoes ( 18). If money's tight, stick to the popular Ranta-Mari restaurant and café, beside the bus stop, though be prepared to share the place with drunken locals at weekends.