Europe > Finland

Lake Inari: The Third Largest Lake in Finland

lakeLake Inari
surface area1,099 km2
maximum depth92 m
average depth15 m
lake typeNatural, dammed
length80 km
width50 km
catchment area13,050 km2
altitude105 m
volume16 km3
islands3, 318, including Hautuumaasaari and Ukonkivi
shore length1,604 km
mixing typeDimictic
residence time1,777 days
frozenNovember to June
trophic stateOligotrophic
average discharge103 m3 / sec.

Lake Inari Information and Facts

Lake Inari is located in the midst of Europe’s largest untouched wilderness, Lapland, and it is the 3rd largest lake in Finland.

Geography and Climate

Lake Inari is located on the Northern part of Lapland, North of the Arctic Circle, on the border of subarctic and temperate climatic zones. The lake basin is the result of local tectonic movements. Because the lake had virtually no contact with the Baltic Sea, no marine relics can be found in its waters. The lake is oligotrophic, with good water quality.

The lake is surrounded by forests mainly made up of pine and rarely of spruce. This area belongs to the sub-boreal vegetation zone and the palearctic geographical region. The surrounding forests and hills are inhabited by numerous bears, wolves, moose, and wolverines. Siberian jay and capercaillie also nest here.

Numerous uninhabited islands can be found on the lake, such as Hammastunturi, Muotkatunturi, Paistunturi and Kaldoaivi. Nearly 50% of the area is occupied by more than 3,300 islands. Hautuumaasaari Island, also known as Graveyard Island, used to be a cemetery for ancient Sami people. Ukonkivi Island is a historical sacrifice place of the ancient inhabitants of the area.

The lake’s drainage basin is sparsely populated. The River Lemmenjoki Conservation Area can be found here. The lake is fed by the Ivalo River, coming in on the southwest. Lake Inari empties northward, through the Paatsjoki River at the mouth of the Varangerfjord, a bay part of the Barents Sea. The Inari village, with a population of nearly 1000 inhabitants is located on the lake’s southwestern shore and is a Sami trading center.

Lake Inari is regulated at the Kaitakoski power plant, located on the Paatsjoki River in Russia. The plant started to function in 1934 and has been regulating water ever since, all the while serving as a threat to lake’s waters.

Visiting Lake Inari

The nearest airport can be found in Ivalo. Be sure to book ahead if you want to arrive by car to the lake. Inari is located at a 15-hours bus ride from the Finnish capital of Helsinki. The area is a renowned place from where one can admire the famous aurora borealis, from April to August. The average temperature in the summer months is around 17OC. The Midnight Sun can be admired from late May to late July.

The lake is an ideal destination for fishing, boating and canoeing. One can catch trout, lake salmon, arctic char, whitefish, grayling, perch and pike at Lake Inari. People also visit the area because of the stunning landscape and the possibility of horse-riding and sleigh riding. Numerous holiday and ski resorts await winter sports enthusiast.

Lake Inari Fish Species

Brown trout
Lake trout