Hiking and history
A fascinating museum, welcoming hotel, and world-class hiking make Hetta in Finland an ideal destination for adventurous travellers
Hetta is a small village nestled at the edge of the vast Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park – Finland's third largest.
It's a good jumping off point for hikes in the national park – either day-long wanders or longer, multi-day treks. The latter includes the popular 55km-long hike from Hetta to Palastunturi in the centre of the park – a route that's particularly beautiful during the country's autumn ruska season, when the flame-like colours of the park's forests are a stunning sight. From Hetta, a short boat trip across Lake Ounasjärvi gets you to the start of the trail.
Hetta – also known, and often signposted as, Enontekiö – doesn't just offer fabulous hiking though. A fascinating Sami museum, spectacular natural surroundings, and an authentic Finnish family hotel make the town a worthwhile place to stop for a night or two.
Hetan Majatalo is a welcoming, modern hotel with a historic twist. Centrally located, it offers spacious, and spotlessly clean, wooden-clad family rooms that are light and bright – thanks to uniquely designed pyramid-shaped skylights. The galleried area in each family room is great fun for children, who can clamber up the stairs into their own little cosy nest.
There are several communal areas where guests can relax – including an attractive lounge, with open fireplace, in the reception area – and a large upstairs library with comfortable sofas and a wide selection of books and children's games and toys. Guests can also use the Finnish sauna each evening.
Hetan Majatalo has been run by the Vuontisjärvi family for four generations – offering comfortable, peaceful accommodation in beautiful surroundings since 1924.
The original guesthouse building was destroyed in the Lapland War (1944-1945). But Kalle Vuontisjärvi and his wife Maija were undeterred by this setback, rebuilding the guesthouse and continuing the family business.
In the 1980s, the third generation of the family – Matti Vuontisjärvi, with his wife Tuula – built a new hotel building next to the guesthouse.
This was extended in the year 2000, and now the hotel consists of 27 smart modern guest rooms, with seven hostel-style rooms in the guesthouse. Matti and Tuula's daughter Tiina, and her husband Petri, are the fourth generation of this family heritage, and now work alongside Tuula.
“I am proud to continue the traditions of previous generations,' says Tiina (pictured above). “It's a lovely way of life, and we see the people who visit us as guests rather than customers.”
The ethos of Majatalo has always been to offer the real character of Lapland – welcoming guests into a family atmosphere, and making sure that their stay is an authentic Lappish experience.
Take a boat across the lake to reach the national park
Aunt Hanna's delicious cookies; the spacious guest rooms are ideal for families
Sámi clothes; Lapp pole tent; the trail to Jyppyrä Hill
A short distance from Hetan Majatalo is the excellent Fell Lapland Visitor Centre. Here visitors can learn about the nature of Lapland, and nomadic Sámi culture. Inside, the circular, organically curved design of the main exhibition hall creates the ideal backdrop for displays about Lappish wildlife and landscapes through the seasons.
A superb exhibition about Sámi life includes a traditional Lapp pole tent – a wigwam-shaped structure, complete with fire pit and furnished with cosy reindeer skins. There's also a display of distinctive, colourful Sámi clothes.
A number of hiking trails radiate out from the Fell Lapland Centre. One of the most popular of these is an easy 800m climb up through attractive open birch and pine forest to the summit of Jyppyrä Hill.
As you follow the path up through the woods, the views – glimpsed through the trees – become more and more stunning. At the top of the hill, the vista opens out, and rocky outcrops provide numerous places to perch and admire the scenery.
Food is an important aspect of this exceptional hospitality – and this is evident at breakfast, where lots of locally produced and prepared ingredients and dishes are offered. Aunt Hanna's delicious homemade cookies are particularly popular, and there's always a selection of fresh bread, which has been baked by Paula and Pekka at the local bakery.
A campfire shelter at the summit offers a comfortable place to rest and features a fire pit for cooking on. The view from here is spectacular: a sweeping panorama of endless forest and lakes stretching right into the heart of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park – a wilderness just waiting to be explored.
Green Adventures February 2018