Ruunaa Recreation Area
Just 30km northeast of Lieksa, Ruunaa is an outdoor activities hub with 38km of waterways. Designated campsites (with fire rings) are also provided and maintained. Keep your eyes peeled as the area is home to otters, deer and sometimes bears. A hilltop observation tower at Huuhkajavaara offers a magnificent panorama over Neitijärvi.
Koli National Park
The magnificent 347m-high Koli inspired Finland’s artistic National Romantic era with artists including Pekka Halonen and Eero Järnefelt setting up their easels here. Koli was declared a national park in 1991 after intense debate between environmentalists and landowners, mainly about the placement of the Sokos Hotel Koli on the hill.
Patvinsuo National Park
This large marshland area between Lieksa and Ilomantsi is a habitat for swans and cranes, and if you’re exceedingly lucky you might see bears. Using the pitkospuu (boardwalk) network, you can easily hike around; there are 80km of marked trails in all. It’s an easy 3.