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Joensuu [9], the second largest city (population 115000) in Eastern Finland and the capital of North Karelia is located at the outfall of the river Pielisjoki in the Saimaa lake system.

The city center is on the right bank of the river around the main square, where the town hall, museum, hotels and restaurants, shops. Joensuu has square town plan. From the main square of the bridge leading across the island Ilosaari to the train station.


Joensuu is - as the name of the place translates - at the mouth of a river entering a lake. It is one of the fastest growing centres in Eastern Finland, with a university that educates a constant stream of new students from all over the country. There are also a number of foreigners doing their study exchange or post-graduate studies here.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Many daily flights from Helsinki provided by Finncomm Airlines and Finnair. Estonian Air has also direct flights from Tallinn [10]. A bus runs between the airport and town (the university and downtown) before and after each flight[11]. The bus takes 10 minutes and costs €5. There are also taxis at the airport.

NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 situation, flights from Helsinki to Joensuu are temporarily suspended

By train[edit]

Direct connection from Helsinki via Lappeenranta, several trains a day. Travel time is about 5 hours. If coming from Russia, transfer at [Kouvola]. Station is small, open only during the day. Located on Railway square on the left bank of the River.

By bus[edit]

From Helsinki several times a day on the road for about 7 hours, there is a night bus almost every day. See Matkahuolto. Bus station is located on Railway square.

By car[edit]

If you're driving from Russia and cross the border at Nuijamaa in Lappeenranta, turn on the main road 6, taking you to Joensuu. If you cross at Niirala, simply follow the main road 9 until it joins the main road 6. Main route 6 goes from Helsinki via Lappeenranta and Kouvola in Joensuu and further Nurmes and Kajaani.

Get around[edit]

Local buses[edit]

The local bus terminal is located one block south from the main market square, a 10 minutes' walk from train and the bus station. There are ten bus lines which serve traffic inside the city of Joensuu. Departures are usually every hour per line, most traffic runs in work/school days and there are less departures in Saturdays and Sundays. Some bus lines continue to countryside outside the city.

One-way ticket in Joensuu local buses costs currently (2013/02) 3,30€. If you travel frequently, a 10-journey card or a 40-journey card, both sold by the driver, will offer a discounted rate. If you are a Joensuu resident there are even 30-day cards and 40-journey student cards available at the bus station.

See more: Public transport in Joensuu


Many locals ride their bicycle all year around. You can rent one for example at Joensuun kansalaistalo in the city centre.

Joensuu has an extensively network of bicycle paths (shared with pedestrians), fully segregated from motorized traffic. Many paths run through the towns greenway corridors, so you can ride without ever encountering motorized traffic, with the exception of junctions between the greenway's links. A good example of a greenway is a network of paths linking the Mutala neighbourhood with the Utra neighbourhood in the east, well worth seeing. Bike paths also run along the riverside near the city centre, and also in Utra.

Cycling in Joensuu is extremely safe, the paths are generally extremely wide on a European scale, and one may safely allow their children to bicycle around the town. Bike trips within the city for the whole family are totally recommendable.

The cycling network in Joensuu does not end in the city itself. A popular route for cycling, rollerblading etc. is a cycle path route that leads from Joensuu to Käsämä in the country of Liperi, a route that allows one to see glimpses of actual Finnish countryside, not to mention Lake Kuorinka, a clearwater lake in Liperi (great for divers). Cycling to Kuorinka on a summer's day with your swimming gear is a trip you'll never forget. Beware though, the clearwater lakes are relatively cold even in mid-summer, so check the water temperature before swimming.

See[edit][add listing]

City Hall in the main square in the Art Nouveau architect. Eliel Saarinen (within theater), there is lore and art museums, a wooden block with cafes and shops.

Joensuu Arena, the largest wooden building in Finland offers a magnificent setting for various types of events in Joensuu. The Arena is suitable venue for a wide variety of events from fairs to exhibitions, concerts and from small-scale meeting to large confrerences. In sports use, the Arena is suited for football, Finnish baseball, athletics, boxing, climbing and many indoor sports. [12]

Street connects pseudogothic Kirkkokatu cathedral in the southern city and an Orthodox wooden church in the north, passing through the main square.

Ilosaarirock music festival [13] once every summer (30+ years and counting),

Do[edit][add listing]

Commerce at the Market Place
Vapaudenpuisto (Freedom Park) in central Joensuu
  • Bunker museum: As part of the Salpa-line protecting Finland from the threat of Russia during WW2 the museum displays several models of concrete bunkers fully equipped with original guns and gear. A bizarr but worthwhile visit. During summer some local history students will hang round geared up as soldiers serving tea and are willing to answer all your questions. Open only during the summer. 2007: 1.6. - 19.8. tuesday-sunday 11.00-17.00.
  • Keskusta (City center): Wooden 19th century houses close to the Pielisjoki river. Some other remains of the wooden Joensuu remain here and there, but the old town as it was is now mainly lost due to construction speculation in the 1960's up to present. The center anyhow follows the town plan that was made in 1848. Streets were made wide to prevent fire in a wooden town, and the trees in the streets are birch for the same reason, for example in Kirkkokatu (Church St.) that has a church in both ends, Greek Orthodox and Lutheran. Otherwise the centre is a rather ugly grid system post war concrete collection of houses with the typical shops and bars and restaurants you will find in any finnish city. Most important modern buildings are the new library and Metla building in the university campus (There is a cafe inside).
  • Tori (Market): is held in the centre of Joensuu and is especially lively during the summer months. In the winter the two market cafes will close and most of the stands will not be there.
  • Carelicum: The North Karelian Museum displays a wide range of stuff from karelian folklore dresses to maps and photographs of places nowadays forgotten behind the russian border. If you have made the effort to go to Joensuu, it is well worth a visit. If you are a student of finnish Culture (e.G. in Helsinki University), you might get in for free, try! Open daily, Mo-Fr 10 - 17 Sa-Su 11 - 16, except on national holidays.
  • Flea market (torikirppis): Huge outdoor flea market that is held every other sunday during the summer. Check info from
  • Arctic Trainers (watersports center): Cool place by the river Pielisjoki. You can rent SUP-boards or join guided tours. They are open during the summer.


  • The Ilosaarirock Festival [14] is an annual rock festival held in Joensuu on the second weekend of July. Founded in 1971, Ilosaarirock is the second oldest rock festival in Finland still active, and one of the oldest in Europe. Ilosaarirock gathers about 21,000 daily visitors and has been sold out in advance every year since 1998.
  • The The Rokumentti Rock Film Festival [15] is an annual film festival held in November.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Taitokortteli Arts & Crafts, Koskikatu 1, +358 013 220140, [1]. Handcraft and culture quarter, includes a café, boutiques and shops, craft centre and exhibitions.  edit
  • Levy-Eskot Record Store, Kauppakatu 27, +358 13 228292, [2]. Mo-Fr 10AM-6PM, SA 10AM-3PM. Great selection of new and used CD's and vinyl. (62.6027,29.7625) edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

For Carelian food, try Karjalantalo restaurant, serving lunch menu all year round and evening menu at summertime. At the cityhall there is a restaurant as well serving delicious food. Rosso in the corner of the marketplace is a mainly family restaurant, but very popular all over finland. In Kauppatori marketplace you have a choice of local and ethnic (including thai) food stands. For small snacks only, try local "karjalanpiirakka" pastry at the marketplace stands or from Marttakahvila's Piirakkapaja. In Finland so called grilliruoka or Grill food is popular and definetly worth to try. For fish lovers, however, some stands will serve "muikku," a small fish that is fried whole in butter and coated with rye flour. It's eaten whole, head and all; it's small enough to not even feel the bones. A choice of these are around the town, including in both ends of the marketplace Kauppahalli. You can also go to eat in any of the University canteens or in the canteen of Joensuu Science Park (most busy and maybe best of them) Lunch menu starting from around 5 euros. Otherwise there are plenty of mixed restaurants all around the city center.

Drink[edit][add listing]

There are plenty of pubs around the city center. However, craft beer and other specialties can be rare outside the Alko monopoly store. A large portion of the city's nightlife is run by the nationwide S-ryhmä chain.

  • Jet Set Bar is a locally owned sports bar that is, of course, very popular among the local sportsmen, and there seem to be plenty of them. Small and good ambience, relatively low prices.
  • Public Corner, beers and ciders. Also internet. Part of the S-ryhmä chain.
  • Palaveri, The best selection of beers in Joensuu. Closed as of 2013.
  • BePop Another night club in the city center, rather expensive. S-ryhmä.
  • Night, The biggest night club in Joensuu, located inside Sokos Hotel Kimmel. S-ryhmä.
  • Muru, A small bar that serves both food and drinks. Locally owned.
  • Marks, Joensuu's rock bar that serves drinks and has live concerts every now and then. Locally owned.
  • Gloria, beer and live music next to main square. Part of the JKJ-ravintolat chain.
  • La Barre, beer and live music from rock/alternative bands. Locally owned.
  • Kerubi, rock club and restaurant located at Ilosaari island between the train station and the city centre. Main venue for live music in Joensuu. Serves both food and drinks. Free wifi. Owned by Joensuun Popmuusikot, the local organization that also manages the Ilosaarirock festival. The rock club was closed and dwindled down to a cafe during 2002-2011; the locals warmly welcomed the return of their city's main live music venue.
  • Teatteriravintola, the restaurant and bar of the city theatre. Downstairs is a rowdy club with occasional rock gigs, while ground floor has a calm restaurant atmosphere.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Scouts' Youth Hostel (Partiotalon retkeilymaja), Vanamokatu 25, +358 45 262 1631, [3]. Prices from 9,9 € in summertime (bed) and wintertime from 25 €(room)  edit
  • Hotel Aada, Kauppakatu 32, +358 256 2200 (), [4]. Single €68-€88, double €76-€105, tripple €87-€115.  edit
  • Hotel GreenStar, Torikatu 16, +358 010 423 9390 (), [5]. €55.  edit
  • Linnunlahti Camping, Linnunlahdentie 1, +358 10 666 5520, [6]. You can bring your tent or caravan, or you can rent a cottage. Next to the campsite is a small beach, should you whish to swim in the lake. Opens only for the short summer (June-August). (62.597,29.740) edit
  • Hotel Cumulus, Kirkkokatu 20, +358 13 511 2100 (), [7]. 80 rooms with TV, radio, pay-channel, minibar, hair dryer, free broadband connection, airconditioning and safety box."  edit
  • Sokos Hotel Kimmel, Itäranta 1, +358 20 1234 663 (), [8]. 230 rooms with different equipment"  edit

Get out[edit]

Ski resort and national park of Koli north of the city. You can reach Koli ski resort by bus of Matkahuolto.

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