Slow down and relax in North Karelia
Head east towards the border with Russia to get a taste of quintessential Finnish lake and forest landscape. This is the region of North Karelia, surrounding the compact provincial capital of Joensuu.
No exploration of North Karelia is complete without a visit to the Koli National Park, one of four in the region, popular with skiers in winter and hikers in the snow-free months. Koli is best loved for the staggering panoramic eastward views across Lake Pielinen from the trails lining its rugged, thickly wooded ridge. For those who prefer not to walk to the top of the ridge, a funicular lift transports visitors directly to the perfectly located Break Sokos Hotel Koli »
The market place in the easy-going lakeside city of Joensuu is a good place to sample the local karjalan piirakka (Karelian pie), a tasty rice- or potato-filled snack. In the city's restaurants, as in others across the region, you'll sample the natural riches of the lakes and forests in the form of fresh fish, game, and seasonal mushrooms and berries.
Head further north to experience the unique traditional Karelian village of Bomba, near the town of Nurmes, centered on the magnificent timber Bomba House at the recently renovated and Break Sokos Hotel Bomba » , soon to be expanded with 93 new lakeside rooms. There is no better place to drink in the revitalising, magical beauty of Karelian lakeland, to sample invigorating sauna bathing, and to dine on local delicacies. The hotel's renewed Spa Bomba is perfect for recuperating after a day of cross-country skiing or hiking.
Another highlight of North Karelia is the Valamo Monastery near the town of Heinävesi, a functioning centre of Finnish Orthodox religion and culture, and a haven of tranquility in the midst of exquisite lakeland scenery.