Iisalmi

photo © Iisalmen kaupunki

Tourism Iisalmi & Iisalmi Guide

This idyllic town in Northern Savonnia attracts outdoors enthusiasts, in summer and winter, who enjoy watersports and exploring nature, skiing and toboganning, as well as those seeking to simply relax and get away from it all. Among Iisalmi’s unique attractions are the the Runni Health Spa, which has the historic wooden channel of Saarikoski, and the Neulatammi natural massage streams, and the Olvi brewery. The regions culture and history are well represented in the Iisalmi Cultural Centre, the Local History and Culture Museum, the Juhani Aho Museum, the Church Museum, and the Nature Museum.

Formed around 1627, Iisalmi is situated in Ylä-Savo, or Northern Savonia, at the headwaters of two major Finnish lake systems, the Saimaa and Päijänne. Iisalmi is a vibrant town surrounded by lakes, rivers, and hilly terrain. Historically, the area had great significance as a battlefield in the war between Sweden and Imperial Russia in the mid 18th century, and was the scene for one of the great Swedish victories, although eventually the war was lost and Finland was ceded to the Russians.

Tourist attractions Iisalmi

One of the most important historical sites in the town is the Karelian Orthodox Cultural Centre, which allows visitors to admire the frescoes, stained glass, statues, icons, and tsasounas which remained after the war. Nearby, you’ll find the Church of St. Elijah which features paintings that cover almost 450 square metres, and are unique in Northern Europe.

Iisalmi has other unique attractions, like the Runni Health Spa, which has the historic wooden channel of Saarikoski, and the Neulatammi natural massage streams, and the Olvi brewery – the last great Finnish brewery which hasn’t been bought out by a major international corporation. The Iisalmi Cultural Centre, The Local History and Culture Museum, the Juhani Aho Museum, the Church Museum, and the Nature Museum are all worth visiting, and between them give a fine overview of the history of the region and its most important citizens.

Located as it is at the meeting point of two large lake systems, Iisalmi is a haven for those who love the water in summer, and in winter the region boasts 200km of ski trails, and trails for snowmobiles. Although Paloisvuori Ski Resort is quite small, it does have some great tobogganing hills alongside the two main ski slopes, and is perfect for beginners. Not far from the town you’ll find the Talaskangas Nature Reserve with over 12km of incredible trails through its marvelous scenery, and resident birds like owls, capercaillies, and woodpeckers, and mammals such as flying squirrels, wolves, bears, and even lynx. Or visit the Tiilikkajärvi National Park, known for its sandy beaches, nature trails, and canoing and kayaking options.

Nearby is the town of Sonkajärvi, which was once best known for the fine stone church there, but has recently gained an international reputation as the home of the World Wife Carrying Championships, one of the best humoured competitions held anywhere, and one which attracts more and more couples from across the globe every year.

Finally, no visit to this town would be complete without a visit to arguably the world’s smallest restaurant, although getting a table might be just a little bit difficult!