Kuopio began with a church and a parish in the 1550s and was officially established in 1775. From 1809 to 1917 it fell under Russian rule which opened up the waterways and rail links, south, to the Baltic Sea. Today, the city is 4500 square kilometers, half of which is forest and a sixth, water. It is built on islands, surrounded by Lake Kallovesi, and is the cultural center of east Finland. Every second street is set aside for pedestrians and cyclists. It has a subarctic climate. Summers are short and mild. The lake freezes over in winter and maximum temperatures remain below freezing from November to March.
Puijo Tower is on the top of Puijo Hill, within walking distance of the city center. The hill has been used as a ski jumping venue since the latter half of the 1800s. The observation tower is the third to built on the hill. The first, a three story high square wooden structure was built in 1856. It was replaced by a 24m high cylindrical brick tower in 1906. The current, concrete tower was built in 1963 and is 75 m high. There is an observation platform and restaurant near the top which affords panoramic views of the city, woodlands and lakes.
Puijontie 135, 70300 Kuopio, Phone: 04-49-75-02-25
2.Kuopio Art Museum
© Kuopio Art Museum
The museum is situated in a former bank building in the center of Kuopio. It was established in 1980. In the permanent exhibitions there are approximately 7000 pieces of visual art from East Finland. The works, from the late 19th century to the present, are displayed by subject. Topics include nature and the environment, urban life and portraits. There are paintings, graphics and photographic material on display. A biennual contemporary art exhibition is held in collaboration with other art museums. On Thursday evenings, lectures are presented by art historians and practitioners. There is a teaching room, café and museum shop on the premises.
Shopping Center 35, 70100 Kuopio, Phone: +358-17-18-26-33
3.Cruise to Savonlinna
Finland is known as the Land of a Thousand Lakes. Cruising on the waterways is a popular summertime pursuit. Cruises operate as long as the lakes are free of ice. Savonlinna is the terminal point for exploring Lake Saimaa, Finland's largest lake. Short trips around the wooded islands take approximately 90 minutes. Longer, day-long trips are also offered. The steamboats sail past intriguing rock formations, colonies of seals and the medieval Olavinlinna stone castle. There is a café on board each of the boats. Group lunches and themed cruises can be arranged.
4.Monastery of Valamo
The history of this monastery dates back to the 12th century. The current buildings were built in 1716. After World War I the monastery found itself in Finnish territory and changed from Russian orthodoxy to the Orthodox Church of Finland. The complex includes a library, museum, café, gift shop and wine store. Day trips are arranged for groups. These include a guided tour, a buffet lunch, a visit to the vineyard, shopping and coffee on departure. A program of creative workshops and live performances of music and opera is offered throughout the year. Overnight accommodation is available.
Valamontie 42, 79850 Uusi-Valamo, Phone +358-17-57-01-11
5.VB Photographic Centre
This small photographic gallery is housed in a bright yellow wooden building. The center's mission is to promote the photographic culture of eastern Finland. Exhibitions change regularly throughout the year and focus on Finnish photography. Themes that cross international boundaries are also showcased, for example National Geographic's top 50 images. Lectures, seminars and workshops are held on the premises. Meeting rooms, exhibition space, photographic exhibitions and camera kits can be hired. Education groups are welcome and a kit has been developed that helps teachers to make the most of an exhibition. There is a small shop on the premises.
Kuninkaankatu 14-16, Kuopio 70100, Phone: +35-84-47-44-64-24
6.Kuopio War Veteran Museum
© Kuopion Lentäjät
East Finland saw much of the country's fighting during World War II, starting with the Winter War against the USSR, from November 1939 to March 1940. Thick snow lay on the ground and the temperature dipped to -40°C. These and other prewar, post-war and wartime experiences are memorialized in the museum, which is housed in old army barracks. There are permanent exhibitions of life at the front and at home, for the period 1881 to 1963. It is open between noon and 4 pm on weekends between June and August. It is not suitable for young children.
Tulliportinkatu 37, Kuopio, Phone: +358-0-1-72-81-11-30
7.Wife-Carrying World Championships
Each year in July, since 1997, this contest has taken place in Sonkajärvi, about 100 km north of Kuopio. Its title is Eukonkanto, inspired by the historical tradition of young men who would raid neighboring villages to steal food and women. Befitting a world championship, there is an opening parade, heats, the final and an awards ceremony. The main race is a 253m obstacle course and there is a short sprint event as curtain raiser. There is a full program of entertainment throughout the two day event, including an arts and crafts market, karaoke, live music, evening parties and activities for children and seniors.
8.Pikku-Pietari Torikuja Market
© Pikku-Pietari Torikuja Market
From June to August each year, the large red, wooden barn on Little St Peter's Square is converted into an arts and crafts market. The former stables house 14 small enterprises that sell hand made items, antiques and rural furniture. There are additional stalls in the alleyway next to the building. Some of the crafts are demonstrated on site. Paintings by local artists are exhibited on the upper floor. The café offers light refreshment which can be enjoyed indoors or on its terrace. Accordion and other local music can usually be heard. The market also opens for two weekends prior to Christmas.
Hatsalankatu, 24 / Puistokatu 21, Kuopio
9.Jätkänkämppä logging lodge
© Jätkänkämppä logging lodge
In the grounds of the Spa Hotel Rauhalahti, is a reconstructed lumberjack lodge. It is an authentic example of the accommodation provided to those working in the logging industry in the 1950s. It was moved from its original location, in Nurmes, about 130 km to the north east. A large smoke sauna was built close by out of similar reclaimed wood. It is one of the top 10 saunas in Finland and can accommodate 70 people. There is an option to dip in the lake nearby. In winter, this is done through a hole in the ice.
Katiskaniementie 8, Phone: +35-83-06-08-30
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10.Hanna Partanen’s Bakery
© Hanna Partanen’s Bakery
Hanna Partanen started making her signature kalakukko on the family farm and later moved to commercial premises on the Market Square. In 1931, she was granted a business licence. The business is still trading from the same building and is now run by her descendants. Translated to English, the word 'kala' means fish and 'kukko' could mean rooster or pie. The bacon-wrapped, fresh water fish is baked for 10 hours in a loaf of bread. Making the crust is a skill as it has to be just the right thickness. Meat and trout options are also available.
Kasarmikatu 15, 70110 Kuopio, Phone: 01-72-82-16-09
© Musta Lammas
Musta Lammas means Black Sheep. Possibly this restaurant is named after the brewery that once occupied the vaulted cellar in which it is housed. The restaurant opened in 1982 and has built a reputation for its Nordic cuisine and fine dining. The four-course, surprise menu is based on seasonal availability. The chef has a rooftop garden where root crops and other vegetables are grown. Berries are foraged, and meat and fish are obtained from local butchers, hunters and fishermen. The wines in stock are chosen to complement the dishes. The restaurant is open evenings only, from Tuesday to Saturday.
Satamakatu 4, 70100 Kuopio, Phone: +35-81-75-81-04-58
© Jätkänkämppä Restaurant
This restaurant is part of the lumberjack lodge complex in the grounds of the Spa Hotel Rauhalahti. It can seat 150 people. Each Tuesday evening, year round, and on Thursdays during summer, there are Lumberjack evenings. These include buffet dinners of Robber's Roast on Tuesdays and salmon on Thursdays. Entertainment is in the form of traditional accordion music, a singalong and dancing. For a month before Christmas, the restaurant offers a traditional festive menu. The lodge, smoke sauna and restaurant can be booked for private functions. They are accessible by water in summer and by road all year round.
Katiskaniementie 8, Phone: +35-83-06-08-30
13.Puijo Tower Revolving Restaurant
This was the first revolving restaurant to be built in the Nordic countries. It is near the top of the Puijo Tower and seats 100 people. The restaurant revolves once every hour, giving diners a 360 degree view of the city, forests and lakes, 224 m below. The restaurant is open for dinner only. The tower café on the floor below, serves coffee, pastries and light snacks. Both have been extensively renovated in 2019. The souvenir shop sells handcrafts, jewelry, toys and postcards with the tower's postmark.
Puijontie 135, 70300 Kuopio, Phone: 04-49-75-02-25
© Karanov images/stock.adobe.com
The Albatross is a mega-party venue, in the passenger harbor. It has been in operation since 2001. The event venue has space for 500 inside and a further 500 outside, on the terrace, and hosts 100000 visitors each summer. In collaboration with Spare Tire, a group of nine restaurants, the management team organizes weddings, student parties, business functions, firework displays and music concerts. Packages that include a cruise or sauna can also be arranged.
Makasiininkatu 1, Kuopio 70100, Phone: +35-81-02-71-47-03
© Wanha Satama
The Old Harbour restaurant is situated in the former customs clearing house on Lake Kallavesi. Parts of the cornflower blue timber building, with white trim, date back to the mid 19th century. It has space for 800 people inside and 300 outside, on the rear deck and terrace. The fish boat buffet is popular and there is an a la carte menu. Seafood is the star attraction but steaks, soups, salads, chicken and burgers are also served. There is a selection of alcoholic beverages from Europe and South America. On most weekends there are live music shows, featuring top local artists. The restaurant is closed in fall and winter.
Matkustajasatama, 70100 Kuopio, Phone: +35-85-03-42-92-76
16.Gusto Runin Restaurant
© Gusto Runin Restaurant
'Gusto Runin' is a play on the name, Gustav Ranin, that is painted on the historic building that the restaurant occupies. The multi-story building is protected, including the large white letters on the facade. The cellar dates back to 1776, a year after Kuopio was founded. The original cobble street runs through the restaurant. Gusto Runin started in 2017 as a tapas bar but graduated to an a la carte restaurant in 2019. The emphasis is on Italian cuisine, including a range of pastas and risottos, and gelato for dessert. There is also a tapas buffet.
Satamakatu 13, 70100 Kuopio, Phone: 04-47-06-38-34
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© Koivumäen Kartano
In countries where it snows much of the year, houses are traditionally painted in strong colors to make them visible in winter. Koivumäki Manor has yellow walls and a red roof. In the latter part of the 19th century, it was the home of Gustav Ranin, a wealthy shipowner and wholesaler. One of his companies imported alcoholic beverages and still has links to the manor house which is now a gourmet restaurant, owned by one of his descendants. It is open to the general public from June to August, and by appointment for groups throughout the year.
In summer, Koivumäki Manor is accessible to boat.
Koivumäenkuja 18, 70800 Kuopio, Phone: +35-81-73-61-42-91
© Muikkuravintola Sampo
Sampo's signature dish is the traditional Finnish vendace. Small whitefish are stewed or baked and presented whole on a bed of mashed potatoes, with precisely three slices each of tomato and cucumber, garnished with a slice of lemon. The family restaurant is very popular with locals. It is more than 80 years old and still occupies the same premises. The décor is reminiscent of a by-gone era, as if time had stopped. Other meals include wiener schnitzel, sausage and vegetable patties. Pancakes and ice-cream are options for dessert.
Kauppakatu 13, 70100 Kuopio, Phone: 02-07-62-48-18
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© Tirol Tahko
The Tirol restaurant opens when the snow starts to fall on the Tahkovuori Mountain, 65 km from Kuopio. The ski resort area is popular with cross-country and alpine skiers. Families are also drawn to the area because of the activities designed for children. The Tirol restaurant has a short menu of comfort food, featuring pasta, potatoes, burgers and waffles. Vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are also available. Live music evenings alternate with DJ sessions. Skiing races are shown on large screens inside the restaurant, where a blazing fire provides warmth. A sauna that accommodates eight people is attached to the restaurant.
Tahko Service Road 62, 73310, Phone: +358-04-00-88-21-00
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19 Best Things to Do in Kuopio, Finland
- Puijo Tower, Photo: h368k742/stock.adobe.com
- Kuopio Art Museum, Photo: Kuopio Art Museum
- Cruise to Savonlinna, Photo: JRJfin/stock.adobe.com
- Monastery of Valamo, Photo: RnDmS/stock.adobe.com
- VB Photographic Centre, Photo: VB-valokuvakeskus
- Kuopio War Veteran Museum, Photo: Kuopion Lentäjät
- Wife-Carrying World Championships, Photo: Volodya/stock.adobe.com
- Pikku-Pietari Torikuja Market, Photo: Pikku-Pietari Torikuja Market
- Jätkänkämppä logging lodge, Photo: Jätkänkämppä logging lodge
- Hanna Partanen’s Bakery, Photo: Hanna Partanen’s Bakery
- Musta Lammas, Photo: Musta Lammas
- Jätkänkämppä Restaurant, Photo: Jätkänkämppä Restaurant
- Puijo Tower Revolving Restaurant, Photo: Vincent/stock.adobe.com
- Ravintola Albatrossi, Photo: Karanov images/stock.adobe.com
- Wanha Satama, Photo: Wanha Satama
- Gusto Runin Restaurant, Photo: Gusto Runin Restaurant
- Koivumäki Manor, Photo: Koivumäen Kartano
- Muikkuravintola Sampo, Photo: Muikkuravintola Sampo
- Tirol Tahko, Photo: Tirol Tahko
- Cover Photo: Alexey Antipov/stock.adobe.com