North Karelia is located in the Eastern region of Finland along the border with Russia. It has its own personal Finnish culture and traditions, which makes this region unique to explore.
Finland is a magical holiday destination to visit during the winter and often visitors overlook that many of Finland can still be discovered in the winter time. It’s not only Lapland that looks stunning this time of year.
North Karelia is full of nature, national parks and wildlife which comes to life during the cold winter period. Its extreme conditions may be the adventure you seek.
North Karelia is home to thousands of lakes which makes the area popular during the summer time amongst Finn’s. It’s often overlooked that the lakes freeze over in the winter and become ice roads for husky sledges and snowmobiles.
I went to North Karelia, Finland as part of the Nordic Bloggers’ experience and visited this Finnish region over the course of 5 days.
I wish to share with you my journey and offer some helpful tips and advice on how you can visit North Karelia in the Winter time too.
How to get to North Karelia, Finland in the winter past time.
The easiest way to get to North Karelia is by train. VR is Finlands local railway company and they have daily departures from Helsinki to Kesälahti or Joensuu. The journey is around 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Alternatively, you can take a slower but cheaper local bus. Onni Bus, a new budget bus company in Finland has connections to Joensuu.
You can take advantage of Finnair’s direct domestic routes from Vantaa, Helsinki airport, which is the quickest way to reach Joensuu (Under an hour).
Enjoy StopOver Finland and head directly to northern Karelia for 5 hours or 5 days. You can use this blog post as an example to build your own pick and mix itinerary.
Experiencing Finnish ice fishing, a popular winter past time.
I have to admit, trying ice fishing has never been at the top of my to-do list, but when visiting Finland, do as the Finn’s!
This is a fun Finnish past time for many Northern Karelians and becomes part of an important food source during the harsh winter period.
Ice Fishing for Finnish families becomes part of a fun winter competition.
Who can catch the most Fish during the winter season.
Simply bring along your ice drill, carve a hole in the frozen ice lake below, pop your tiny arctic fishing rod in with a worm attached and try your luck.
Many Finn’s spend hours out on the ice trying to avoid the embarrassment of coming home empty handed. It can be a tough competition indeed.
For me it was nice to stay still for a period of time and take in the stunning surrounding Finnish nature. I almost lost my trail of thought and forgot about the fishing all together.
Out of all the bloggers who were fishing, we only managed to catch one fish (Which proves it does work).
I had to leave empty handed and retire from the sport of ice fishing. Maybe I might return soon to try my luck once more.
We had to head into the warmth after a while as my bottom started to go numb. Ice fishing isn’t easy on your backside in cold conditions. Time for a cosy fire.
A little video look into ice fishing
Keeping cosy and warm by the Finnish fire
One of my favourite traditions in Finland is relaxing and keeping cosy by a Finnish fire.
Winter may be extreme, but the Finn’s will always find ways to make things cosy and magical.
With so many trees in Finland, you’re never short on wood to supply a crackling Finnish wood fire to keep warm in the winter time.
One popular Finnish tradition is to grab a stick and grill sausages, I have no idea how this started but I’m all for it. Way better than those marshmallows.
You can even buy a Portable camping extendable grill stick to grill your Finnish sausages.
Of course the camping geek in me had to buy one.
Something cosy and magical about the wooden Finnish huts you discover around Finland.
It’s important to surround yourself with good company and a Kuksa with glögg (Hot mulled wine) in it and enjoy the experience with others.
Who said the Finnish winter was difficult hey! Just have to add a pinch of Finnish magic, they know how to enjoy extreme winter conditions.
Koli national park.
Northern Karelia is home to one of Finlands most popular national parks, Koli.
If you like walking and nature, koli is the perfect outdoor spot for you.
Hiking trails start and can be easily navigated from the Koli visitor centre.
You can either choose to go by foot, Snow shoes or even via pony!
Koli nation park has some breathtaking views from some selected viewpoints that can be easily accessed by short walking trails.
Visiting this region without stopping off at Koli national park would be a great shame.
Be sure not to miss the stunning vistas looking over the Koli National park from the top view points.
Join me on a Periscope walk around Koli national park.
Break Sokos Spa and hotel located in the heart of Koli.
Break Sokos Koli Hotel is located centrally inside of Koli nation park.
They’re one of the only hotels to be located inside a protect national park in Finland.
This gives the hotel a very special edge indeed as the views from there hotel rooms look over Koli National park and you can get the sense of being surrounded by Koli in your very own room.
As the hotel is surrounded by the nature of Koli, it makes a perfect spot for a Spa.
the relaxing spa facilities at the hotel are not to be missed after a long days walk around the area.
A Youtube video of Break Sokos hotel Koli
Traditional North Karelia pie cooking school.
Taking a trip to North Karelia would not be the same without trying a Karelia Pie.
Some consider the Karelia pie to be one of Finlands national dishes as its enjoyed all around Finland for Breakfast or Lunch every day by Finn’s
This has made North Karelia famous for its pastry making and put the region on the map.
We visited guesthouse Männikkölän Pirtti who hosts a Karelian pastry school for visitors to come and try to learn how to make local Karelian pie.
Karelian pie making is a tradition that’s been passed down generation to generation for centuries and now passed on to us.
I’m a big fan of the Karelia pie for breakfast in Finland and it was great fun to try and make them from scratch.
They taste way better home made and I think I ended up eating around 8 of them that very day (Don’t tell anyone!).
A little video look around the Karelia pie baking school
Dog sledge ride in North Karelia.
This was a wonderful experience to try in Finland the traditional Husky Dog Sledge ride.
The Husky dogs love to run and taking visitors around a Finnish ice track is great fun for them as they are used to going up to 50km a day when they are racing.
Today for the huskies this was a piece of cake, taking us around for a few minutes at a time.
The husky dogs sleep outside even in the freezing cold conditions, they have a thick coat to keep them warm in these extremes.
Be sure to try a husky riding on your next visit to Finland its great fun!
Join me in a Periscope Dog sledge ride.
Going on a North Karelia Snow mobile safari with Bomba Action
In the evening we were invited along to Bomba Action Snowmobile safari.
They run guided safari tours out on the ice roads around the North Karelia region.
This was something I’ve always wanted to do in Finland and couldn’t wait to get started.
The Bomba action is owned by a local guide who has been riding snowmobiles since he can remember around the Karelia region and knows the ice roads like the back of his hand.
A good guide to be with on a snowmobile that’s for sure!
All the winter gear, safety gear and training are included in the safari.
You can go out on the ice tracks for a few hours or even a few days along the frozen over lakes in North Karelia.
Many options to explore the region on a snowmobile.
The most enjoyable part of the snowmobile tour was the night safari.
Along the route we stopped off at a smoke hut to let the sun set and enjoy some Finnish smoked fish and rye bread.
After the feast had finished, the sun had completely gone down. Finland was covered in pure darkness and we turned on the snowmobile spot lights.
Honestly, the snowmobiles are way better to drive in the darkness as you can see the snow paths on the frozen over lakes much better.
In the sunlight all the snow is crystal white and its hard to work out where the tracks are.
Once the sun goes down you can hit some very impressive speeds and have more control along the paths.
To spend some hours out on the Ice paths on a snowmobile was a pure adventure and totally fun to do in a guided snow Safari setting.
Here is a video from the day we went on a snow Safari with Bomba Action.
Thank you for Reading about North Karelia!
Thank you for reading my Blog about North Karelia and what to do on a Finnish winter holiday.
I hope you enjoyed the post and if you have any questions, feel free to email me or post a comment in the comment section below.
Thank you and Happy Travels around Finland!