Photographer: Harri Tarvainen

North Karelia region


A journey of a thousand
memories begins with North Karelia.

It’s the North Karelian way

North Karelia is rich in culture and tradition: the most delicious food, friendly and joyful people, untouched nature, art, music and culture, and the best parties and festivals in Finland.

If you ask a Finn, North Karelia might be the most loved destination for Finnish people: almost everybody’s grandma or summer cottage is in North Karelia and the atmosphere is just so unique and relaxed. Time goes by like – yes, like in grandma’s place. You feel instantly like home. North Karelians are natural bridge builders between eastern and western cultures. They always welcome you with open heart and curiosity. As the traveller’s proverb says: always have your holiday there where the locals go. Come and feel the genuine Finland in North Karelia.

Top things to do in North Karelia

Siirry edelliseen
Siirry seuraavaan

North Karelia is well known for their hospitality and culture

North Karelia is the region where Finnish artists have always sought their inspiration. Exceptionally beautiful nature combined with great food makes anybody sing, paint or dance for happiness. In North Karelia you can combine active city holiday in Joensuu region with adventurous trip to wild nature. Easy to reach by train in four hours or by plane in one hour from Helsinki, and totally unique atmosphere.

In North Karelia we cherish and value deeply our Karelian culture heritage, pure waters, and clean nature. The originality and richness of Karelian culture can be seen in everyday life. North Karelia is a meeting place of eastern and western cultures. North Karelia renews your soul – here you can experience a real connection with nature, as the locals do – every day. At the same time, we are on the cutting edge of the latest technology and science as Joensuu is colourful and international university town.

Read more: Karelian Culture | Visitkarelia

Treasures of Nature

North Karelia provides excellent surroundings for recreation and relaxation for nature-lovers. Visitors to Karelia can find a broad spectrum of Finnish landscapes: rugged ridges, hills, marshes, backwoods, lakes and rivers with sandy beaches and islands galore. There are about 2000 lakes here, and about two-thirds of the area is covered with forests. If you’re looking for amazing scenery, the cleanest air in the world and untouched nature to enjoy without the usual throngs of tourists, a trip to the North Karelia could be right up your street!

Read more: National parks and nature attractions | VisitKarelia

Discover North Karelian’s nationalparks

Siirry edelliseen
Siirry seuraavaan
Photographer: Harri Tarvainen

Wellbeing from nature

In North Karelia, the ancient wisdom living in harmony with nature is still very vivid. The secret of Karelian style wellbeing comes from nature, silence, and a local lifestyle close to nature.

The wellness experience from nature is complemented by various traditional saunas, the best spas in Finland and healthy food. In North Karelia, you will also find a retreats that are based on connection to the nature, old oral traditions and local culture.

  • Koli Relax Spa is located in Break Sokos Hotel Koli. From Koli Relax Spa,Spa you have beautiful views out over the Lake Pielinen and Koli National Park. Enjoy your stay in various hot and cool pools and saunas. In the outdoor pool you will have a possibility to view the starry night and beautiful landscape.

    Koli Relax Spa
  • Bomba Spa is located in Break Sokos Hotel Bomba, in Nurmes. You can enjoy in the hot and cool water pools, try Finnish, and steam saunas and relax in massaging showers and streams. You can also take a look out over the Lake Pielinen and enjoy the starry sky in from a warm outdoor jacuzzi.

    Spa Bomba
  • Karelian and Finno-Ugric traditions and connection to the nature are a passion of Helena Karhu, The House of Bear entrepreneur. On her courses and retreats you will learn to listen to the wisdom of nature and find a balance with yourself.

    House of Bear

North Karelia rocks!

Finland has the most metal music bands per capita in the world. And many of them are born in North Karelia. North Karelia is home for internationally famous symphonic metal band Nightwish, metal band Insomnium and world music group Värttinä. It has been great inspiration for our composer Jean Sibelius and world-famous cellist Jussi Makkonen, who lives in Nurmes.  If you would like to know more, why this most easternmost region of Finland creates musical miracles, visit Nightwish Story exhibition in Kitee. Continuously changing, partly virtual exhibition presents the history and story of Nightwish, internationally the most popular band of the history of Finnish Rock music. There is also a fan shop stocked with Nightwish products.

If you want to learn more about Finnish traditional poetry singing and national instrument kantele, stop by the Parppeinvaara museum in Ilomantsi, where you can explore the traditional Karelian way of life and enjoy the kantele music. Or take part in the lovely Folk music Festival Kihaus in Rääkkylä in July, in the place where modern Finnish kantele and folk music group Värttinä were born.

Good things come to those who visit North Karelia.