Top things to do

Top Choice Fortress in Lappeenranta

Linnoitus

Standing guard above the harbour, this hulking hilltop fortification was begun by the Swedes and finished by the Russians in the late 18th century. Today it contains galleries, craft workshops and fascinating museum…
Top Choice Museum in Lake Pielinen

Paateri

Between Vuonislahti and Vuonisjärvi, Paateri was the home and workshop of Eva Ryynänen (1915–2001), Finland’s most respected wood sculptor – as well as her greatest work, Paateri Wilderness Church (1991). Carved flo…
Top Choice Finnish in Imatra

Ravintola Nuotta

Two sizes of bliny (Russian buckwheat pancakes), topped with hot or cold salmon, trout roe, crayfish tails, or sour cream, pickled cucumber, red onion and local herbs, are the speciality of this fabulous lakeside ba…
Top Choice Cafe in Koli National Park

Alamaja

Right on the lake's shore at Koli harbour, this rust-red, double-storey timber building has two terraces overlooking the water (or, in winter, ice) and some of the best food for miles around: reindeer steaks with li…
Top Choice Wine Bar in Ilomantsi

Hermanni Wine Tower

Blackcurrants, crowberries and white currants from the fields and bogs around Ilomantsi are blended by Hermanni Winery. At the top of the local 33m-high water tower, you can sample its local berry wines and liqueurs…
Top Choice Coffee in Lappeenranta

Lehmus Roastery

Crowned Finland's best coffee roastery at 2017's Suomen Paras Paahtimo awards, Lehmus occupies a red-brick former warehouse overlooking the lake. Behind the gleaming espresso machine, passionate staff roast four typ…
Top Choice Karelian in Ilomantsi

Parppeinpirtti

Ilomantsi's one foodie highlight is this traditional house in the Parppeinvaara village, which does a real-deal pitopöytä (Karelian buffet) complete with a kantele soundtrack. Heap your plate with vatruskoita (salmo…
Top Choice Karelian in Joensuu

Teatteri

Locally sourced ingredients prepared in innovative ways are served in the town hall's art-deco surrounds and on its beautiful summer terrace. Dishes span nettle ricotta with wild herb salad to liquorice-glazed goose…
Top Choice Bar in Joensuu

Kerubi

Joensuu's best bar-club occupies its own island in the Pielisjoki, linked to the city centre by a bridge. DJs spin techno, trance and electronica on Friday and Saturday; live bands and stand-up comedy take place in …
Top Choice Bar in Lappeenranta

Prinsessa Armaada

Built in 1902, this tar steamship, which once transported timber to St Petersburg (and briefly served in the Russian Imperial Navy in 1914) has operated as a bar since 1959 and has great ciders and craft beers. Its …