Check out the best sights in Joensuu and Eastern Finland. National parks, museums, and even the famous rock music festival made it to the list.
Have you seen any? Which one would you like to visit first?
1. A real winter experience: around a meter of snow
If you dream of a magical, snowy winter, Joensuu is a great place to come. You should expect a huge amount of snow, close to a meter deep even in the town. The best months to experience it are from January to March, but usually, the snowy part of the year starts in December, and sometimes it stays up to April.
Best Timing: January-March
2. Eastern Finland is a lesser visited yet beautiful part of the country
No, Eastern Finland is not Lapland, but still full of wonderful landscapes and national parks. There are significantly fewer tourists than in Rovaniemi or Helsinki. If you prefer sightseeing and hiking without heaps of tour groups, that place is for you.
3. It is located on the northern edge of the Saimaa lake system
Saimaa is the biggest Finnish Lake(system) and the city is just at the northern part of it.
4. You can try ice swimming in Pyhäselkä
Ice swimming is a popular sport/hobby among Finns, and by visiting the polar bear club (link), you can try it too. First, you enjoy the sauna at the Pyhaselka lake, then dip into the refreshing water and swim a bit. A refreshing start or end of the day. Don’t miss it!
Best Timing: December – March
5. You can visit the old Finnish defense lines
During the WW2, the front was in this region. In the forests around the city, you can spot several ditches and forts. The Bunker Museum is open during the summer and has a short display about the war times. You can also walk around the place (even outside of opening hours) and see the war tunnels and fort remains.
Location: Marjala, Joensuu
Distance from Joensuu center: 10 km
6. Learn more about the history of the Finnish Karelia Region
The Carelicum Museum has an exhibition about the Karelian region and its people. Karelia got divided by the war and only the northern part belongs to Finland.
Entrance fee: ~5€
7. Finns say people are very friendly and talkative around here
You probably read about the stereotype of cold and distant Finns. Well, in Joensuu, most likely will find smiling and talkative ones.
8. The world famous biathlon stadium is here (in Kontiolahti)
For every biathlon fan, it is a must. The stadium is located 20 km from Joensuu, and hosts world cups yearly, and a few years back even the world championship. Furthermore, you can ski at the stadium too, if there is no competition.
Distance from Joensuu: 15 km
9. The city and its surrounding is full of cross-country skiing trails
Whether you already know how to master cross-country skiing or not, it would be petty to skip this activity. There are trails for all level, flat ones and those scary slopes on the hills too. The trails are maintained roughly from Xmas until the snow melts.
Length of the skiing trails in and around the city: 100+ km
10. Ilosaari Rock festival during the white nights
Do you like Finnish rock music? Ilosaari Rock festival is a perfect way to get to know some more bands and enjoy your favorites. Several international stars give a concert too on the 3 days long ‘weekend’ every summer.
11. The easternmost point of Finland (and the continental EU) – Ilomantsi
About 2 hours of driving away, at the last kilometers driving along and inside the border zone next to Russia, you will find yourself on the shore of Virmajärvi, facing Russia. That calm place is the easternmost point of Finland and the continental European Union as well.
Location: Hattuvaara, Ilomantsi
Distance from Joensuu: 130 km
12. Koli National Park is just next door & approachable by boat
One of the most iconic places in Finland is Koli National Park. The granite rocks stretch above lake Pielinen. This landscape inspired poets, painters, and other artists.
If you are planning a romantic getaway, you can sail up to the park from Joensuu during summer months.
You can read more about how to get there and what to do during the winter or the summer season.
Location: Koli National Park, Lieksa
Distance from Joensuu: 65 km
13. Mires of Patvinsuo National Park
The mires show a different face in every season. During the winter there is thigh snow-cover that allows you passing through easily on top of everything. During spring the mires are usually underwater, only the wooden boardwalks let you explore this area and the birds that enjoy welcoming warm. The summer brings drier conditions and the different berries about to be ripe. Autumn is the most spectacular one with all the colors and hues. In early September you still can collect blueberries, cranberries, Linton berries, and with some luck cloudberries as well.
Location: Patvinsuo National Park, Lieksa
Distance from Joensuu: 80 km
14. Rafting on Ruuna rapids
Rafting in Finland? It is possible on Ruuna rapids. The adventure is suitable especially for beginners, as the current is not too strong and the rapids are rather small. If you come with a family or don’t fancy rafting, you can take a boat tour only, or just hike in the park.
Location: Ruuna Rapids, Lieksa
Distance from Joensuu: 120 km
15. Petkeljärvi ridges
Would you like to walk on narrow ridges between picturesque lakes? This national park offers a variety of walks, from short to long ones. on how to get there and what to do during the winter or the summer season.
Location: Petkeljärvi National Park, Ilomantsi
Distance from Joensuu: 90 km