HomepageExploreNorth KareliaFacts for visitors

Facts for visitors

» Where is Karelia?
» Geography
» Short history
» People in North Karelia
» Languages
» Visa, passport
» Regional tourist information offices
» Everyman's right
» Climate
» Emergency number
» Health
» Phones and Internet
» Money and currency
» Public holidays
» Electricity
» Time zone

Where is Karelia?

» See on map


Karelia is exceptionally diverse in the choice of landscapes, flora and fauna, which it provides. There are rugged hilly ridges, marshlands, countless lakes and islands, rivers and rapids, green groves and evergreen conifer forests. The extensive wilderness reaches where no trace of human activity can be found and where, with luck, you might instead find the tracks left by a bear or a wolf.
There are approximately 2000 lakes in North Karelia, the biggest is Lake Pielinen, which is the 4th largest in Finland. Waters cover almost 4000 sq. kms of the area. Forests cover approx. 70 % of the region; The headquarters of the European Forest Institute is situated in Joensuu.
» Read more about Karelian nature

Koli is one of the Finland’s best-known national landscapes. The Koli hills are remain of the Karelids, a mountain chain that was formed two billion years ago. The highest peak of the Koli Hills, Ukko-Koli, rises 347 metres above the sea level. It is also the highest point in Southern Finland.
» Read more about Koli National Park

Short history

Finland became independent in 1917, but before this time Karelia was ruled by Russia and Sweden in turn. The Karelian border has been re-drawn again and again over the centuries, the last time being just over sixty years ago.

Nowadays Finnish Karelia, officially known as the Province of North Karelia, is the easternmost province of Finland and of the continental European Union. Guided tours are conducted to the very easternmost point on Lake Virmajärvi in Ilomantsi. The history of Karelia has seen several phases and you can discover these for yourself at such places as the North Karelian Museum at the culture, museum and tourist centre Carelicum in Joensuu.

People in North Karelia Karelia

Karelians are known for being jolly and hospitable people. Traditions related to music still run strong here, such as song, dance and playing the kantele (the Finnish zither).


Finland is officially bilingual country with Finnish and Swedish as the official languages. English and German are also widely spoken and in the eastern parts of Finland, as in Karelia, some also speak Russian.
» Read more

Visa, passport

Foreign nationals in the Schengen area can enter Finland with a valid passport or another travel document accepted by Finland. If you are from a country outside of the Schengen area, you must always have a visa when coming to Finland.
» More information about arriving in Finland from the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland

Regional tourist information offices

» See the contact information

Everyman’s right

There is a legal concept in Finland of everyman’s right that gives everyone the chance to enjoy nature and its offerings quite freely. You can pick berries and mushrooms and roam freely in the peace and quiet of the vast forests, lakes and rivers.
» There are although a few restrictions concerning for example of the fragility of the nature, so please take time to get familiar with the everyman’s right on the website of the Finnish Ministry of the Environment


In Finland four seasons give contrast to the nature uniquely. Karelia has the most continental climate in Finland and so the difference between the seasons is clearly marked. In summer the sun beats down and a heat wave can last for weeks. The temperature can rise even over 30 °C. Autumn is a time of auburn colours and shortening days. Winter brings snowfall, often arriving as early as November and forming a thick cover on the ground. Karelia is one of the areas in Finland that has the deepest snow cover in winter; average snow depth in March is from 75 to 100 cm. The coldest temperatures in winter can be even -40 °C. With the arrival of spring in March and April, the sunshine melts the glittering snowdrifts forming murmuring rivulets of crystal-clear water.
» Read more about seasons in Finland
» What’s the weather like in Joensuu right now?

Emergency number

In Finland we use only one emergency number, 112. The same number works in all EU countries. You can call the emergency number 112 free of charge from any phone with no need for an area code. You can also call 112 from a foreign mobile phone connection. You still won’t need an area code, just dial 112.


If you travel from another EU country you can receive free or reduced medical care if you have a European Health Insurance Card. » » Read more of the European Health Incurance Card and see how you can apply for it

For other nationals a comprehensive insurance is advised, but remember to check with your country’s health department if a reciprocal cover agreement is in place with Finland.

First aid, North Karelia Central Hospital, Tikkamäentie 16, Joensuu, tel. +358 (0)13 171 3300

Phones and Internet

In Finland there are public telephones only at airports and major train and bus stations. It is best to bring along a mobile phone, GSM and 3G networks work almost everywhere. If it is necessary to obtain a phone in Finland, the simplest models can cost less than EUR 40. A start-up kit for a prepaid subscription costs around EUR 17.
» Read more

Money and currency

Currency used in Finland is Euro.
» Convert from another currency

Public holidays

On public holidays most shops and offices are closed. Hotels, some restaurants and service stations are usually open always, even on public holidays.
» Here is a list of Finnish public holidays on 2011-2013


Voltage from outlets is 220-240 Volts. If your device does not accept this voltage, you will need a voltage converter. Electrical outlets are European standard types that accept two round pins: either ungrounded Europlug (Type C) or grounded Schukoplug (Type E/F).

Time zone

GMT +2 hours.
Finland uses Daylight Saving Time (DST) as do most European countries. On the last Sunday of March clocks are put one hour forward and on the last Sunday of October they are put one hour backward.