Top things to do

Top Choice Karelian in Ilomantsi


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 high with vatruskoita (…
Top Choice Karelian in Joensuu


Locally sourced ingredients prepared in innovative ways are served in the town hall's art deco surrounds and beautiful summer terrace. Dishes span braised, smoked pork neck with wild boar sausage and rhubarb compote…
Top Choice Museum in Joensuu


Themed displays – on the region’s prehistory, its war-torn past, the Karelian evacuation, the importance of the sauna etc – cover both sides of the present-day border at this excellent museum.
Museum in Ilomantsi


Karelian traditions are celebrated at this little Bardic village, 2km south of Ilomantsi. It's named for bard and kantele player Jaakko Parppei (1792–1885), whose songs inspired the Kalevala epic. Listen to the harp…
Historic Building in Hattuvaara

Taistelijan Talo

The striking wooden Taistelijan Talo was designed by Joensuu architect Erkki Helasvuo in 1988 to symbolise the meeting of East and West. On the ground floor, the restaurant (buffet €17) offers an excellent all-day K…
Tower in Ilomantsi

Hermanni Wine Tower

Blackcurrants, crowberries and white currants from the fields and bogs around Ilomantsi are blended by Hermanni Winery – Finland's oldest, established in 1989. At the top of the local water tower, you can sample its…
Church in Hattuvaara

Orthodox Tsasouna

Hattuvaara has Finland’s oldest Orthodox tsasouna, a sweet white wooden chapel by the side of the main road. Built in 1790, it has several original Russian icons and its small tower became a watchtower during WWII. …
Winery in Ilomantsi

Hermanni Winery

Once you’ve discovered your favourite wines at the Hermanni Wine Tower, visit the winery itself (Finland's oldest, established in 1989) to buy bottles and chat about the fascinating wine-making process. You’ll need …
Karelian in Joensuu

Ravintola Kielo

At the high end of Karelian cuisine, artfully presented miniature starters such as whitefish escabeche with ratatouille and sour cream set the stage for mains like ravioli and pan-fried pike-perch in fish broth, and…
Hungarian in Joensuu


In a former girls’ school built in brick-Gothic style, this wood-panelled restaurant is a stylish affair with a Hungarian menu of paprika- and garlic-laced goulashes and hefty steaks complemented by Hungarian wines.…