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Visiting Kukkolaforsen - whitefish fishing and sauna culture

A visit to Kukkolaforsen, which rushes through the Torne River just north of Haparanda, is well worthwhile. The rapids are a natural attraction, and there is also a lot of interesting history to learn about. And then there are hotels, restaurants, camping, museums and various activities here ...


Kukkola Rapids

Kukkolaforsen is a rapids in the Torne River, on the border between Sweden and Finland. You can visit the rapids on both the Swedish and Finnish sides, but there seem to be more visitors and a much wider range of activities on the Swedish side. We drove here with our motorhome, as one of the very first stops in Sweden after travelling around in Finland for two months.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen

Kukkolaforsen is located about 15 kilometres north of Haparanda, in Norrbotten.

Visiting Kukkolaforsen

What we didn't know before visiting Kukkola Rapids was that we would be greeted by hotels, restaurants, camping and museums. The rapids are a very popular attraction, and during the summer they can be very crowded.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen

Kukkolaforsen Turist & Konferens is a conference, experience and knowledge centre in the Tornedalian world. In addition to being impressed by the rapids, you can eat at the restaurant here or book one of the many activities on offer, such as whitefish cutting, sauna, rafting or "dinner on the river", i.e. a dining experience in the middle of the wooden structure, "patan", in the rapids.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen

Interesting facts about Kukkolaforsen

The Kukkola Rapids are 3.5 kilometres long and have a head of about 14 metres. The rapids were formed sometime between the year 0 and the year 1000, when land uplift brought the area above sea level.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen - Peter från FREEDOMtravel
With a lovely view of the Kukkolaforsen lake

Fishing at Kukkolaforsen dates back to the 13th century and has been of great importance to the people who have lived here throughout history. Even today, fishing is done in the traditional way with long nets from "pator". In the past, up until the 1950s, a lot of salmon was fished, but since the availability of salmon has decreased, today they mainly fish for whitefish.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen

Whitefish fishing at Kukkolaforsen

Throughout history, Kukkolaforsen has not only been an impressive sight, but perhaps above all a place of important and unique whitefish fishing. Fishing here is done with a special method, dating back to the 16th century, which involves the use of a long-handled net. According to Kukkolaforsen Turism & Konferens, the method is only used here, in eastern Norrbotten, and in the Amazon River in Brazil.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen - sikfiske

When fishing, you stand on a 'pata', a long wooden structure that extends into the rapids. Only the fishermen are allowed to go out here, and it's probably a good thing that the tourists are not crowded out there ...

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen - pata

St James's Day (the last Sunday in July) is the time of year when the whitefish begin their migration up the river, and a traditional whitefish festival is held to celebrate the occasion, enjoying halted and smoked whitefish.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen

Kukkolaforsens cultural village

By the Kukkola Rapids is the Kukkola Rapids Cultural Village, with a clock tower, fishing sheds, ice shed, straw shed, two mills, saws, timber store and other historical buildings. The clock in the tower dates from 1887 and was used to keep track of the fishing teams' catch times in the rapids.
Att besöka Kukkolaforsen - kulturbyn

It is very charming to walk around the old houses and sheds, and here and there are signs telling you about the business and life in the past.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen
Att besöka Kukkolaforsen

Crafts and museums at the Kukkola Rapids

Many of the houses and stalls are open, with crafts, arts and crafts on display and for sale.


One of the houses also houses the Fishing Museum, where you can learn all about traditional fishing, life below the surface and the lives of people living along the rapids through the ages.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen - fiskemuseet

There is also a unique sauna museum. There are a total of 13 saunas in the area, from different areas and different eras. For example, you can see a smoke sauna and a large 'village sauna', where 65 people have taken a sauna at the same time.

Accommodation and camping at Kukkolaforsen

Those who want to visit Kukkolaforsen and stay overnight have several options. You can stay in a hotel, a cabin or a campsite.

Röda stugor

The campsite has around 80 pitches with electricity, and some of the pitches are particularly well situated on the riverbank. Of course, you can rent a sauna if you want. However, we did not stay here, but continued our adventure further.

Att besöka Kukkolaforsen - camping

More to see and do in the neighbourhood

From Kukkolaforsen it is not far to Haparanda and Torniowhere you can experience an interesting border destination. Haparanda is in Sweden and Tornio in Finland, but the two cities are largely intertwined. It's also not too far to Kalixwhich is known for its vendace roe, among other things.

All our best tips about Norrbotten: click on the image!

Have you visited Kukkolaforsen?

What a lovely place! Have you visited the Kukkola Rapids? How was your experience? Please tell us in a comment!

Facts about Kukkolaforsen

  • River: River Torne
  • Location: At Swedish Kukkola and Finnish Kukkola, on the border between Sweden and Finland, 15 kilometres north of Haparanda and Tornio.
  • Name: Kukkolaforsen in Swedish and Kukkolankoski in Finnish
  • Length: 3.5 kilometres
  • Drop height: Approximately 14 metres

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