Kuopio was founded in the 16th century, but most of its major development took place in the last hundred years. Even today, this provincial capital is quaint and unassuming, and it offers visitors a casual mix of Finnish lake scenery, cultural activities, and university-fueled nightlife. Hotels in Kuopio’s city center place tourists within walking distance of museums, parks, and historic churches.
Puijo Hill guards Kuopio and offers rewarding panoramas to hikers. Visitors can also drive or take a taxi to Puijo Tower at the summit. The scenery of the town and lake is spectacular, especially from the open-air observation platform at the top of the 75-meter tower. The two floors below host a café and a revolving restaurant.
Jätkänkämppä Smoke Sauna is Kuopuio’s tourism showpiece. This is the biggest smoke sauna in the world and occupies a converted logger’s camp on a lake. Patrons begin in dry heat of the wood-fire-fueled sauna room before plunging into bracing lake waters. The sauna is as much a tourist’s rite of passage as a weekly favorite with locals, and for intrepid travelers, it’s well worth investigating.
Accommodation in Kuopio spans the city center and near center, and the latter has more in the way of lake views and resort atmosphere. Flights connect from Helsinki to Kuopio Airport on a daily basis. Trains complete the same journey in five hours or less, or it’s possible to travel here by ferry from Savonlinna.