Get PeakVisor App

❤ Wishlist ×


Eastern Finland

Eastern Finland is one of the six former major provinces of Finland that existed from 1997 to 2009, which is still synonymous with this part of the country on the border with Russia. The main feature of Eastern Finland mountains is the Karelides range, which consists of rocky hills that are the highest south of Lapland, that is, on two-thirds of the country. The most famous of these and most prominent is Ukko-Koli (347 m / 1138 ft), but the highest point is Välivaara (379 m / 1243 ft). In total there are 387 named mountains in Eastern Finland. The province is also equal to the Finnish Lakeland with its magnificent water and forest scenery, known far beyond the country's borders. It is also the home to the Kalevala, the main Finnish epic, in the plot of which, nature also plays a central role.

Lake Saimaa, Eastern Finland


As has become clear, the name of the region comes from its geographical location in the very east of Finland. In Finnish, it is written as Itä-Suomen lääni, in Swedish, the second official language of the country, as Östra Finlands län.

It is worth noting that for Finns themselves, the word “east” means much more than just geography. It's a shrinking region because its borders coincide with the Finnish Lakeland, which they call nothing else but the “Heart of Finland". From here also comes the main Finnish epic “Kalevala”. Eastern Finland is also home to the entire Karelian culture, the key subregion of the country, which includes a lot of things. The most obvious example is karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pies, open pies made of rye flour and filled with potatoes, rice, millet, and other stuffings.

Lake Saimaa, Eastern Finland

In other words, the Eastern Finland, rather than from Helsinki or Lapland, is connected with almost all the major vital things that form the basis of a nation’s identity.


Eastern Finland covers an area of 48,726 sq km (18,813 sq mi), but the six former provinces are about the same size, not counting the smallest, the Åland Islands (four others: Southern Finland, Western Finland, Oulu (modern North Ostrobothnia) and Lapland).

Internally, the province consisted and consists of three of Finland’s 19 smaller modern regions: North Karelia, North Savo, and South Savo.

Lake Saimaa, Eastern Finland

But if we consider the province as past of the Finnish Lakeland, which extends beyond its administrative borders, it also includes the Kainuu region to the north of North Karelia. In the same sense, in fact, the region also includes South Karelia at the southern end of the region, also with many lakes, including the largest, Saimaa, without which it would not be so vast.

The province also includes parts of four of Finland’s nine historic provinces: Savonia, Karelia, Ostrobothnia, and Tavastia on its western borders.

As a result, Eastern Finland equals about 1/4 of the country in all senses: geographical, administrative, historical, cultural, tourist, and some others.


There are six main features in the landscape of Eastern Finland, the main ones of which have already become clear before. Nevertheless, I will briefly talk about each of them again, including some new ones. To learn more about a particular feature, read the separate guides to the Eastern Finland regions (North Karelia, South Savo, and others):

  • The Karelides is the region's main mountain range, which no longer exists on the physical world map, but once reached the height of the Alps with their highest mountain, Mont Blanc (4808 m / 15,774 ft). Today all that remains of them are low rocky hills up to 400 m (1312 ft) high. The main one, Ukko-Koli, is one of the national landscapes of the country.
  • Finnish Lakeland is a huge system of lakes of various sizes, formed by the descent of the glacier, which covered the whole of Northern Europe, about 10,000 years ago. The largest of them after Saimaa in the region are Pielinen and Oulujärvi. In total there are about 188,000 lakes in Finland, most of which are located in Eastern Finland.
  • Punkaharju Esker Ridge is the main of several esker ridges in Finland located in South Savo. They underlie the lake system, separating some large bodies of water from others and creating unique postcard landscapes — otherwise, it would be one big body of water, or rather, a freshwater sea. The ridge is another national landscape.
  • Wild Taiga Forests are almost untouched by man vast forests, covering the entire Kainuu region, in which the main populations of large animals in Eastern Finland are concentrated. Primarily bears, but also wolves, bobcats, wolverines, and, as elsewhere in the country, deer, and elk. All this makes this micro-region a favorite destination for outdoor photographers.
  • Slash-and-burn Agriculture is formerly arable land formed by the burning of timber in the 18th and 19th centuries, which was a progressive method of farming at the time, but is not today. Nevertheless, the croplands with farms scattered over them have become another recognizable type of landscape in the region. For example, you can find it in the Koli area.
  • Kalevala Villages are about 10 old villages in the north of Kainuu region, where the author of the "Kalevala", Elias Lönnrot, collected the oral legends for the main Finnish epic. You too can visit them to learn more about the beliefs of the ancient Finns, starting your expedition just as the author did from the town of Kajaani, the capital of Kainuu.

Lake Saimaa, Eastern Finland

In total there are 7 of the 27 national landscapes in the region, including also Olavinlinna Castle and Pihlajavesi Lake in South Savo; Heinävesi Route and Väisälänmäki Village in North Savo, the Villages of North Karelian Hillside in North Karelia, and Imatrankoski in South Karelia.

Mountains of Eastern Finland

There are 268 named mountains in Karelides in Eastern Finland, which are distributed as follows by region: 137 in Kainuu, 169 in North Savo, 36 in South Savo, and 48 in North Karelia. Add to these 26 in South Karelia and you get 416 mountains. They are roughly evenly distributed across the region, which means wherever you go for a hike, you’ll find a rocky peak with a view of the forest and lake—think of it as the best viewpoint.

Lake Saimaa, Eastern Finland

If we talk about individual mountains, the most famous in all of Eastern Finland is Koli, as I said before. The new fact is that it is a series of three peaks: Ukko-Koli (347 m / 1138 ft), Akka-Koli (339 m / 112 ft), and Paha-Koli (334 m / 1095 ft). They are located in Koli National Park in North Karelia. Another great mountain in the park, Mäkrä (306 m / 1003 ft), offers less photographed views of the park from its interior.

Then, Eastern Finland’s highest peaks are all in the Kainuu region. It is also a series of three nearby mountains: Välivaara (379 m / 1243 ft), Iso Nuottivaara (370 m / 1213 ft), and Siikavaara (368 m / 1207 ft). However, they are difficult to reach because they are located in a nature reserve and therefore almost unknown to tourists. Much better known are another three summits, which host the namesake ski resorts: Vuokatti (326 m / 1069 ft), Paljakka (270 m / 885 ft), and Konivaara (166 m / 544 ft).

Lake Saimaa, Eastern Finland

As you can also see above, the greatest number of peaks are located in Savonia. The three most notable of these are Välimäki (314 m / 1030 ft), the highest peak of the region; Tahkovuori (296 m / 971 ft), which is known for the Tahko Ski Resort; and Puijo (232 m / 761 ft) in the center of Kuopio, the region’s capital. They are all located in the northern part of the historical province. But the second, southern part of it is also not without peaks. The highest of these is Tornikangas (281 m / 922 ft), but the more famous is Neitvuori (184 m / 603 ft), called the “Switzerland of Savo”, thanks to the view on the lake. Runeberg (100 m / 82 ft), the highest point of Punkaharju Esker Ridge, is also in South Savo.

Bottom line: Despite the relatively low altitude and the small total number of mountains in Eastern Finland, many of them surpass the “real” mountains from other regions of the world in popularity. For example, you probably do not know the second highest mountain in Europe after Mont Blanc or even the world—after Everest, but you know Koli in Finland for sure. (Well, certainly after reading this guide.)

Best Hikes in Eastern Finland

There are tens of different natural areas and long trails available for hiking and other outdoor activities in Eastern Finland. Given the size of the region, which covers 1/4 of not the world's smallest country (65th out of more than 200), I'll just list them here to help guide you. To learn more, follow the links:

Hiking Areas

Hossa National Park, Eastern Finland

Long Hiking Trails

The most famous among the long hiking trails in Eastern Finland are Herajärvi Trail (30–61 km / 19–38 mi), which takes you around the Koli National Park and national UKK Trail (893 km / 554 mi) named after the Urho Kaleva Kekkonen—one of the presidents of Finland, which stretches along the east of the country. I hiked the first trail in 4 days, it is a must-do in the region.

Skiing in Eastern Finland

Due to the low altitude of the mountains, Eastern Finland is not the main ski region of the country, being inferior to Lapland, where the tops of the same Karelides mountains reach almost 1000 m (3280 ft). However, due to its closer location to the Finnish capital, Helsinki, this part of the country is also not neglected. In Eastern Finland, you will find more than a dozen small ski resorts with ski slopes of all levels.

The best known among them is the same Koli Ski Resort (6 km / 4 mi of slopes and 3 lifts), but Tahko Ski Resort (20 km / 12 mi of slopes and 15 ski lifts) in North Savo and Ukkohalla Ski Resort (13.1 km / 8 mi of slopes and 5 ski lifts) in Kainuu outdo it in total length of slopes and are the best in the region.

Lake Saimaa, Eastern Finland

Learn more about ski resorts in Finland at World Mountain Lifts section of the site.

Tourist Information

Before or after hiking in the mountains of Eastern Finland visit one of the official tourist offices of the province, which are located in all of its five capital cities:

Kajaani Tourist Information

Pohjolankatu, 13, 87100, Kajaani, Finland

Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 16 pm, on Fridays from 9 am to 15 pm


Kuopio Tourist Information

Kauppakatu, 45, 70110, Kuopio, Finland

Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm, on Saturdays from 9 am to 3 pm


Mikkeli Tourist Information

Maaherrankatu, 22, 50100, Mikkeli, Finland


Cultural and Tourism Center “Carelicum”

Koskikatu, 5, 80100, Joensuu, Finland

Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm


Lappeenranta Region Tourist Information

Brahenkatu, 5, 53100 Lappeenranta, Finland

Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm


Lake Saimaa, Eastern Finland


The most popular type of accommodation while hiking in Eastern Finland is an ordinary tent that you carry with you and can pitch anywhere, even on private property. This is thanks to the special "Everyman's Right" law. The same law allows you to pick mushrooms and berries and other gifts of nature all over the province and just wander wherever you want.

But if you want a more stable roof over your head for a night, you can reserve a place in a hut or rent an entire one. For example, there are as many as 11 rental huts in the Koli National Park. They cost about € 43 to € 85 per day for a whole house for two, four, or more people. But you need to book them a few months in advance—in summer they are always rented.

In the north of the province, in Kainuu you can also find the southernmost open wilderness huts (of Lapland), which, as the name suggests, are free, they do not need to be booked in advance. For example, in Hossa National Park, the most popular in this region, there are 5 such huts, but also 12 rental huts similar to those in Koli.

Lake Saimaa, Eastern Finland

Cities and Resorts

As it has already become clear, the five main cities of Eastern Finland are the capitals of its constituent regions: Kajaani in Kainuu, Kuopio in North Savo, Mikkeli in South Savo, Joensuu in North Karelia, and Lappeenranta in South Karelia as a part of larger Lakeland.

Cities in Eastern Finland, as well as in the country as a whole, are different in that they are small and cozy, even in the case of capitals. They are more like towns, which, in turn, are more like villages, which—again—are usually located in the middle of the wilderness.

Kuopio, Eastern Finland

Nevertheless, the main towns and resorts of the province with an even greater amount of tranquility in the bosom of nature are Suomussalmi and Kuhmo in Kainuu; Tahko in North Savo; Savonlinna and Pieksämäki in South Savo; Heinävesi, Ilomantsi, Juuka, Lieksa, Nurmes, and others in North Karelia; and Imatra, Parikkala, Rautjärvi, Lemi, Luumäki, and the wonderful Savitaipale, which I consider one of my Finnish homes, in South Karelia.

Do not forget about the aforementioned Kalevala Villages, which will be interesting in terms of culture. These include Paltamo, Puolanka, Rimpi, Kianta, Lonkka, and several others.

The official tourist site of Eastern Finland:

Joensuu in North Karelia, Eastern Finland

Explore Eastern Finland with the PeakVisor 3D Map and identify its summits.

Register Peak
Peak Name
This 3D model of Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal was made using the PeakVisor app topographic data. The mobile app features higher precision models worldwide, more topographic details, and works offline. Download PeakVisor maps today.
 Download OBJ model
The download should start shortly. If you find it useful please consider supporting the PeakVisor app.