In My Heart

The Tana river of Lapland is the best salmon river in Europe

The Tana river of Lapland

There are three municipalities in the Tana river valley. They are all multicultural with the Sami language being a lingua franca (common language). Karasjok and Tana are in Finnmark, Norway, whereas Utsjoki is in Finnish Lapland.

Villages in the Tana valley

The Tana river runs through 3 municipalities. In the upper part of the Tana river valley is
Karasjok - the capital of the Norwegian Sami people.

On the Finnish side of the Tana river is
Utsjoki, the northernmost municipality in Finland. Utsjoki is the name of the municipality as well as of the administrative centre, which is about 110 km downstream from Karasjok.

The northernmost municipality in the valley is
Tana, the administrative centre of Tana municipality.


The Tana river is well known for its Atlantic salmon (salmo salar). It is the best salmon river in Finland and in Norway. And probably it is the best in all of Europe. The Finnish-Norwegian national border goes in the middle of the river.

Tana river salmon fishing 2 Tana river salmon fishing with salmon weirs
All photos in this article: Olav E. Johansen/Ossimellom.

The biggest Atlantic salmon was taken in Tana by Nils Mathis Walle in 1929 . It weighed 36 kilos. About 1000 kilometres of the river with its tributaries have salmon.

A specialty for the Tana river is the drift net fishery and the salmon weir fishery (see top right photo). There is a separate law regulating the salmon fisheries in the Tana river. The same rules apply on both sides of the national border. Read about the rules here.

Reindeer and moose

In the Tana river valley on both sides of the national border there are lots of reindeer. In summer time you will find there there are more reindeer in Utsjoki area than in Karasjok and Tana area. The explanation is that during summer the reindeer on the Norwegian side of the border has been driven to coastal areas. But still you may meet them even in summer. There are stray animals left. In winter reindeer can be everywhere

In the whole Tana valley, on both sides of the border, there are lots of moose. In winter you will, every now and then, see them crossing the river on the ice

You may want to take pictures of reindeer. Here are some simple reindeer photography tips.

When driving in these areas you have to be observant and take precautions. Read more about driving in Lapland. And here are some safety tips for your Lapland travel.

"The big river"

The Tana river is 348 kilometres long, including the Inarijoki (Anarjohka). It is the longest river in Lapland. In the Sami language it is called Deatnu and Teno in Finnish. The name means "The big river". (When you search on the web, you'll often land at sites in Africa where there is another Tana river). In Norway it runs through the municipalities of Karasjok and Tana. In Finland it runs through the municipality of Utjoki. About 256 kilometres of the river forms the border between Finland and Norway.

The drainage basin of the river covers 15.330 square kilometres. 70 percent of this being in Norway and the rest in Finland. The Tana river flows into the Tana fiord.

Read about the Tanamunningen nature reserve which comprises the famous Tana estuary.


The biggest tributaries are these:
Norwegian side:
Leavvajohka (Levajok)
Buolbmatjohka (Polmak river)
Masjok (Maskejohka)

Finnish side: Utsjoki (Ohcejohka)

"Jok" and "johka" means "river" in Sami.
"Joki" means "river" in Finnish.


There are 3 bridges across the river. The southernmost is at Karigasniemi in Utsjoki and Grensen in Karasjok on road no. 92 between Kaamanen in Finnish Lapland and Karasjok in Norwegian Lapland.
The next one is at Utsjoki on the E-75. This bridge is called the "Lapland Bridge" and was opened in 1993.

Did you, by the way, know that the E-75 starts on the Arctic ocean in Vardo and ends on the island Crete in the Mediterranean? Read about the Lapland part of the E-75.

The northernmost bridge is at Tana bru, still on the E-75. The first bridge at this place was blasted by the German troops as they withdrew before Sovjet troops in the autumn of 1944. The new bridge was built in 1948.

Tana river salmon fishing rod sculpture Beside the Tana bru bridge there is a 12 metre high fishing rod which was made from the remains of the old bridge found on the river bed adjacent to the new bridge.

Ice roads

In winter there are two socalled ice roads where you can cross the river. The road is made on the ice covering the river. Normally only lighter vehicles can cross legally (up to 2 tons).

One of the ice roads is at Polmak near Tana museum and the Polmak Customs office connecting the E-75 with road no. 895 which goes between Skiipagurra and the Finnish border. See map.

The other ice road is at Rustefjelbma connecting road 98 with road 890. Road no. 98 goes between Tana bru and Lakselv. See map. Road 890 goes between Tana bru and Berlevåg on the Arctic Ocean coast.

The Tana river is also famous for its ice drifting the spring. See a small slide show of the drifting ice.

The Tana fiord

The river runs into the Tana fiord. The Tana river delta is one of the biggest untouched delta areas in Europe. At this delta you can watch many birds and flocks of seal and also fish sea trout from 17th July till 30th August.

The Tana fiord is 65 kilometres long and it is ice free all year round. This fiord is in the municipalities of Deatnu/Tana, Berlevåg and Gamvik. The biggest fiord arms of the Tana fiord are Vestertana, Tarmfjorden, Smalfjorden, Leirpollen, Langfjorden, Hopsfjorden and Trollfjorden.

From this map you can navigate in all directions of the Tana river and find all places and roads mentioned in the article.

Bird watching

Birdwatching in the Tanamunningen nature reserve is becoming more and more popular. Watchers come from all parts of the world. Read our article about birdwatching in Tana.

The light

All three municipalities in the Tana valley are good places to watch the northern light or the aurora borealis during autumn and winter.

The mayor of Tana has become a well known photographer in Norwegian Lapland (Finnmark) at least.
Here you can see some of his beautiful northern light pictures.

The right of public access

Did you know that in Lapland the Right of Public Access gives you the chance to enjoy nature quite freely? Everyone visiting us can roam nearly everywhere. Take time to study the simple rules.

The mountain code

If you go hiking in the mountains around the Tana valley, be sure to get a acquainted with the Mountain code. You will be safer on your hike if you just follow the simple code.

Getting to the Tana valley

People come from all parts of the world to have a look at us living here. Here is an overview of various ways of getting to the Tana valley - which is also one of the most peaceful corners of the world.

Music related to Tana

The band Deatnugatte Nuorat (The banks of Tana youth) from the Tana valley became famous from 1974 when they made their first LP.
Listen to their song about the Tana river Vuoi min Deatnu. They always sing in the Sami language.

And here is their song about the beautiful girl, Majja (Mary) from Tana. The song is called Deanu-Majja (Mary from Tana)

Accommodation in Tana

At this stage we'll include only accommodations with their own web sites:

At Polmakmoen Gjesteård you can stay in modern turf cabins. The site is only in Norwegian.

Hotel Tana is at the municiplality centre Tana bru. The hotel also has a campsite

Storfossen Camping is situated on the Finnish border at one of the best fishing locations of the Tana river. The site is only in Norwegian.

Another campsite is the Tana familiecamping at Skiippagurra. The site is only in Norwegian.

Tanabredden Opplevelser near the Polmak church has som nice cabins.

Half way between Tana bru an Karasjok is the famous Levajok Fjellstue.

Accommodation in Karasjok

The only hotel is near the Sapmi cultural centre.

Then there is a nice campsite near the Sami Parliament.

And especially if you like dogs, the Engholm Husky is a nice place to stay.

Accommodation in Utsjoki

The Hotel Luossajohka is situated a few kilometres south of the Utsjoki centre (on the E-74).

At Teno Salmon they have nice cottages just on the shores of the Tana river.

Camping Lapinkylä is located near the centre of the town of Utsjoki.

The cottages of Tenon Lomapalvelu and the center of services is located at Kaava about 10 km from Utsjoki town to the direction of Karigasniemi.

The Tenon Lohituvat are north of Utsjoki village (only in Finnish).

If you like to stay in a luxury cabin, the Luxuri Tenojoki is the place for you (only in Finnish. The English link doesn't work).

North of Utsjoki village you can stay in cabins at Vetsikon leirintämökit (only in Finnish).

Other resources

Here is a large descrition of the E-6 route Alta-Kirkenes, also with side trip possibilities.

Here you find an overview of mountains i Karasjok.

Here you find an overview of mountains i Tana.

Who can help with something similar for Utsjoki?

Where the Reindeer Roam