Eastern Finland (Itä-Suomen lääni) is a province of Finland.
Eastern Finland is divided into three provinces.
- Kerimäki — the world's largest wooden church
- Koli National Park
- Ruunaa National Hiking Area, Lieksa
- Punkaharju scenic road on top of a small ridge with spectacular lake views on both sides.
Eastern Finland is a land of lakes: seen from above, the region consists of an endless patchwork of lakes and low rolling hills, originally gouged out by sheets of ice during the Ice Age. This also makes it Finland's top destination for summer cottages, and there are countless spots to indulge in the Finnish national obsession for sauna, sausages and a dip in the lake.
Culturally, Eastern Finland is the home of the Savo people and their close cousins the Karelians, although much of historical Karelia was absorbed into the USSR after Finland's defeat in World War II.
The Savo dialect is wordy and stretched out, with consonants doubling and diphthongs mutating in various ways. According to the stereotype, Savonians talk much more than the average taciturn Finn, yet despite this (whisper it quietly) almost Russian habit for speeches and gesticulation, they're also masters of the vague non-reply. Indeed, the canonical Savo response to any question is suattaapi olla, vuan suattaapi olla olemattannii, or "it might be, but it might also be that it's not".
Joensuu, Kuopio and Savonlinna have small airports with limited service to Helsinki only.
All main cities in Eastern Finland are served by train. Trains are usually faster and slightly cheaper than the bus, but on some routes bus schedules may be more convenient.
Buses fill in the gaps where trains don't go.
Distances are long and public transport outside the main cities varies between limited and non-existent. If you're planning on staying at a cottage, having your own car is pretty much obligatory.
- Saimaa (Saimen in Swedish) is a lake in Southeastern in Finland. At 1,147 square km (443 square miles), it is the largest lake in Finland, and the fifth largest in Europe. The lake is famous for its endemic ringed seal.
- Koli, Joensuu. (Koli National Park), at 347 meters, the tallest hill in the southern half of Finland, provides one of the most iconic Finnish sceneries combining hills and lakes. The peak can be reached by car. In winter Koli is good for downhill skiing (2 lifts, 6 slopes, maximum altitude difference 230 meters.) (63.05,29.48) edit
- The monastery of New Valamo, Heinävesi, . The eastern (originally: Russian) orthodox monastery of New Valamo is open for visitors all year round. The monastery was established in 1939 when 190 monks from the Valamo monastery in the now-Russian Karelia were evacuated before the Soviet forces took the area in the Winter War between Finland and Soviet Union. There is a buffet restaurant on the premises (14 euros per person; check website for opening hours which vary seasonally). Also, there is a shop selling souvenirs, eastern orthodox religious items, including hand-painted icons, as well as wines and liquors produced at the monastery. The monastery offers basic accommodation in dormitories and cottages (20 to 80 euros per person per night (including breakfast) in summer.) Visitors in the area are expected to dress modestly, with knees and shoulders covered. edit
- Lintula Holy Trinity Convent, Heinävesi, . Close to New Valamo monastery, Lintula convent is the only eastern orthodox convent in Finland. There is a cafe on the premises, and a shop selling religious items. It welcomes visitors every day to services. During the summer there is also basic dormitory style accommodation (23 to 27 euros per person per night) in the convent area. edit
- Olavinlinna, Savonlinna, . A true medieval castle on a small island within a walking distance from the centre of Savonlinna. Venue for 'Savonlinnan opperajuhlat opera festival in July. edit
- Itäpiste, Ilomantsi. The easternmost point of the European Union on the European continent is located in the Ilomantsi municipality and can be visited by a car. The road takes you to fenced area at the shore of the lake where you can see the point laying on a small island. Taking photographs and video is allowed. Notice! This place is located inside the Finland-Russia border zone and leaving the fenced area may lead you to serious problems. edit
There are nice spa hotels in Imatra, Kuopio and Savonlinna. They offer large swimming pool departments with jacuzzis, children's pools, saunas, steam rooms and spa treatments also for day visitors. Spa hotels also organize many activities.
As the lakeside area and one of the most rural areas in Finland after Lapland, Eastern Finland has a lot to explore. There are five National Parks in the region, of which scenery of Koli National Park is one of Finland's National Landscapes and Linnansaari National Park is The Place if you wish to spot the Saimaa ringed seal.
- Hike. From National parks and other hiking areas you can find several shorter and longer hiking trails with clearly marked paths, from easy to demanding. Hiking is also allowed anywhere thanks to everyman's right.
Fried vendace (muikku
) fresh from the market, Pieksämäki
There are a couple of eastern Finnish specialities worth sampling:
- Kalakukko, a type of large rye bread pastry with fish and meat stuffed inside, can be eaten warm or cold.
- Lörtsy, a large, flat variant of the ubiquitous deep-fried meat pie (lihapiirakka), can also be stuffed with apple jam
- Vendace (muikku), a type of small freshwater herring, most commonly coated with rye flour, quickly fried and eaten while piping hot
- Karjalanpiirakka Karelian pie is a special kind of pastry made from rye flour and filled with rice porridge or mashed potatoes
The best place for eating any of these is at the market, found in the center of any larger town.
There are nice spa hotels in Imatra, Kuopio and Savonlinna. The room price isn't much more expensive than in normal hotels but it includes a free use of large swimming pool departments with jacuzzis, saunas etc.
In summer, an excellent option is to stay at a cottage (mökki), thousands of which dot the lake shores. See the main Finland article for tips and the city articles for listings.
|This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!