Eating! The taste of Autumn
Autumn is a season with many tastes. First of all, there are still many wild blueberries and lingonberries left in the forests for picking here in HaparandaTornio. They often grow next to each other, which comes in handy to pick both of them since lingonberry season (late summer) is a little bit later than blueberries. Making lingonberry jam or baking a blueberry pie is mouth-watering even just thinking of it.
Besides berries, you are going to see thousands of mushrooms popping up all over the places from our front yard to the forests. Penny Bun (Karl Johan in Swedish/ Herkkutatti in Finnish) and Chanterelle (Kantarell/ Keltavahvero) are hands down the most popular ones among the edible mushrooms. But make sure you pick the mushrooms that you are 100% sure they are safe to eat.
Speaking of the flavour of fungus, they are not only our favourite findings of the season. Reindeers increase their body fat in Autumn since they have been eating mushrooms from the forests. Then reindeer herders usually sort their reindeers out and send the male ones for butchery in September. That said, the reindeer meat tastes much richer at this time of the year. Why not make a booking at Cape East’s restaurant and enjoy their reindeer fillet from the Autumn menu?
There’s no better way to explore HaparandaTornio than by bike. The area is flat like a pancake, so there are no hills or potholes no matter whether you’re in or out of the city. From Suensaari, the island in the central HaparandaTornio, you can rent a bike or electric fat-bike from Nordic Safaris.
From there you can start your journey in any direction. For example you can head west and start your journey to the other side of the island where the Museum of Tornio Valley is located, if you are keen to get to know more about our rich culture through hundreds of years. From there you can keep on riding towards the west through the modern Haparanda Church on the street Köpmansgatan all the way to Vuono. Here you ride over the farmlands which is totally contrary to the urban landscape that you just left behind. From Vuono, you can carry on with pedaling to Nikkala via Salmis. This part of the route you have to ride on to the highway E4. Don’t worry, there’s a bike lane by the side that takes you to Nikkala. Haparanda Harbour is at the tail end of Nikkala. You can stop your journey here and join one of Innala’s boat tours. If you want to keep up your adventure to Seskarö, ride onto Brovägen. You will meet the main road Industrivägen which leads you all the way to Seskarö. On the island, feel free to find your way around those small biking trails and enjoy the colorful season in the forest.
If you decide to head to the north, you are able to bike through a bike lane beside route E8 in Finnish side or mainly beside the main road on the Swedish side. However, the view on both sides is amazing, especially in autumn when you are surrounded by beautiful colorful trees and beige meadows. The road goes along the river bank and you can enjoy the view of Tornio river. You can bike all the way to the Kukkola rapids from either side and if you have enough time and energy, you can bike as far north as you wish and visit all the local small cafes and rest stops along the way. For example there is a beautiful shop and cafe called Paperivalo in Karunki, Tornio alongside the north route E8.
Hiking trails in HaparandaTornio
There is no better way to spend a sunny fall day than outdoors! Here we have listed a couple of our favorite outdoor and hiking spots in the area.
Riekkola is a nature reserve and a very popular outdoor place for the locals due to its location. It’s situated in the south of the Haparanda city and it takes literally 10 minutes to walk from Haparanda Railway Station. You can come here not only for jogging and skiing but also hiking follow the 3.5 km long waymarked trail. In Riekkola you are allowed to pitch a tent and make fire. Just make sure not to damage the environment since it’s a natural forest and it’s home to many animals and birds.
Perävaara is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Struve Geodetic Arc in HaparandaTornio. If you come from the city, you will see a sign of Perävaara on the Swedish road 99 after passing Kukkola Rapids. Follow the signs and you will come to a car park. The trail is about 5 km long. You will pass through a small lake and a grill cot on your way to the measurement point. Don’t forget to bring your picnic food plus coffee and follow the geodesist Wilhelm von Struve’s expedition.
Alkunkarinlahti is a diverse bird sanctuary bay about 9 km south of the center of Tornio. The Alkunkarinlahti nature trail is a wetland suitable for day trips and a bird watching area. Based on its nesting birds, the area is classified as a nationally valuable bird water.
The hiking paradise of Alkunkarinlahti is home to one of Finland’s northernmost brown hawk nests.
Alkunkarinlahti has two trails, north and south. Both of them have a bird tower and a resting point with a wooden shelter where you can enjoy a picnic. The north side trail runs for about 700 meters along a wide wooden track and at the north shelter the trail branches off into a wide extension to the bird tower. The trail and lower level of the bird tower is also wheelchair accessible. The south side trail is about 300 meters long. Part of the south trail has wooden tracks and there is another shelter and picnic spot located at the end of the trail. You can also find an outdoor toilet at the parking lot as well. Unfortunately there is no winter maintenance, so visiting after snow is a bit challenging.
Last but not the least: if you are looking for a beautiful outdoor place with just a mesmerizing view, then we recommend you to visit a forested hill called Nivavaara at Korkikylä, Tornio. From the top of the hill opens up a magnificent landscape of the Tornio River.
Nivavaara is located about 30 km from Tornio city center. Drive the route E8 to the north and at road Jokivarrentie 3320 turn right. Drive over the railway track and right after turn left. Drive along the track about 800 m to the north to the starting point of the hiking trail.
From the starting point there is a 700 m hike to the top of the forested hill of Nivavaara. The trail is well guided and wooden stairs in the woods are in good condition. On the top you are surrounded by a beautiful view of the valley and you can find a resting point and a wooden shelter where you can grill your picnic snacks (but remember to bring your own wood with you). The rest area and observation deck are in a fenced area and there is no risk of falling.
Kayaking and rafting
Kayaking and rafting along the Tornio River are the most popular activities in HaparandaTornio. In the early Autumn, the air is fresh and water temperature is warmer compared to Spring. This is why you should still come here for paddling. Another paddle sport that is getting popular in recent years is Packrafting. It’s a lightweight, portable and inflatable boat that you can bring to almost everywhere. Especially there’re many lakes and creeks in HaparandaTornio. That comes in handy if you combine packrafting with other activities such as hiking or cycling. Another ideal spot for kayaking or pack rafting is Seskarö, rent a boat and paddle small islands around there. Please contact the tour operator or business before you sail out for the voyage since winter’s arrival varies each year.
You can find different kinds of rental options from Nordic Safaris, Seskarö havsbad & camping and from Norrlands Academy Packraft .
You may think that swimming outdoors in fall, water below ten degrees, is one of the last things you’d dream of doing. Still we do recommend you to try it! Jumping into cold water during fall and winter seasons is an everyday activity in Finland and about 150 000 people regularly enjoy outdoor swimming in colder seasons. Cold weather- and ice swimming is an old tradition in the north and there’s significant health benefits attached to it. Ice swimming is a whole body cold treatment used in rheumatic diseases and recovery in athletes, among other things. It can also help you recover from your workload. You dip yourself or if you dare you can even swim in cold water for around 30- to 60-seconds and after that you start to feel intense warm sensation all over your body.
There is no precise starting or ending point of cold weather swimming. Basically many people in the north swim all year round. We start to call it ice swimming around the time the ice starts to appear and it’s needed to saw a open water area into the ice. The ice swimming season varies every year, but usually it starts around October.
Pack a swimsuit and a wool hat with you, and we do recommend you to wear neoprene gloves and boots or swimming shoes as well. Take warm clothes and a big comfy towel or bathrobe with you. There is a warm changing cubicle alongside the Tornio River in the middle of Tornio city. The local ice swimming spot is located at Pakkahuoneenkatu, Tornio. If you want to use the warm changing cubicle and the ice swimming spot, it costs 3€/per use. Be sure to book it no later than the day before. All the inquiries, instructions and the changing cubicle key you can get from: Sari Juntura +358 40 5100 186. You are also able to book the use for the whole season from Tornio Latu ja Polku RY.
If you are really adventurous, you can surely swim in the seaside as well in fall. The sea shore doesn’t form ice so early, so you are able to walk to the water later in the year than the river or lake. But there are no warm changing cubicles there, so you need to make sure you have very warm clothes with you and perhaps a warm car waiting for you when you are done! We also don’t recommend cold weather swimming only just by yourself, especially if it’s your first time. It’s always good to have company in these types of activities. Take a friend with you and you get to experience this very unique northern fall activity together!