This beautiful small town in Northern Ostrobothnia, located on the shores of the Iijoki River, is a perfect holiday destination for outdoors enthusiasts and nature lovers in summer, and for winter sports enthusiasts in winter. To the northeast lies Syöte National Park, almost 300 square kilometres of forests and fells, with hilltop bogs unique to the region. There are two skiing centres adjacent to it, Iso-Syöte and Pikku-Syöte, as well as Ranua Wildlife Park where visitors can discover all the large mammals native to Finland along with much more. The region claims the oldest dated rock formations in the EU, in Siuruankylä, where the trondhjemite gneiss has been aged to 3.5 billion years.
One of the principal reasons tourists flock to Pudasjärvi is Syöte National Park, and the two skiing centres adjacent to it, Iso-Syöte and Pikku-Syöte, which have the advantage of being located in the region of Finland which gets the most snow. Syöte National Park is a chain of ancient forests, some at high altitude, and bogs, that has become a paradise for hikers. Most of the bogs are the aapa bogs common to North Ostrobothnia and nowhere else, but there are also hanging bogs on the hill slopes. Aapa bogs are classified as habitats of prime importance, and Finland is taking measures to protect and conserve these regions, even restoring the drained peat lands in the area. As a result, nature trails with wooden walk-ways and bird-watching towers and hides have been constructed throughout the park.
Adjacent to the National Park are the ski centres of Iso-Syöte and Pikku-Syöte, and the holiday village of Syötekeskus, which have between them two dozen slopes and almost 120km of ski trails. Snowboarders can enjoy their own street, DoublePipePark which consists of two Olympic standard half pipes, almost 1km long. There are slopes for beginners, for intermediates, and for the expert, and cross-country skiers have almost 20km of illuminated tracks for their use. However, there is more to do than just skiing, with snowmobile safaris, husky safaris, visits to reindeer farms, snowshoe hikes, wilderness get-togethers, and ice fishing trips all available for the visitor.
Another very popular destination for tourists is the Ranua Wildlife Park, located a little north of Pudasjärvi, where you can see Nordic and Arctic animals in their natural environment throughout the year. Over 50 species are kept here, including the large carnivores like brown and polar bears, wolves and wolverines, lynx, raccoon dog, and red and arctic fox, as well as numerous other species who make their homes in the north, like musk ox, moose, beaver, otter, and 5 types of deer. There is also a domestic animal park where children can enjoy contact with farm animals. The centre is very well equipped, with shops, restaurants and cafés, barbecue facilities for families picnicking, and a wide range of accommodation for those who plan to stay overnight.
Of local interest is the cruciform Pudasjärvi Church, built in 1781, where you can view the pleinair paintings by Mikael Toppelius on the outside walls. Nearby is the Museum of Local History & Culture, one the largest museums in Finland with an extensive collection of over 7,000 items exhibited in 17 different buildings, including a granary from 1859, a forestry museum, a windmill, and a drying barn.
Visitors to Pudasjärvi will find that the town has few distractions other than its Museum of Local History & Culture. The attractions here are natural, the rugged beauty of Finland's most southern fell, the small lakes and ponds that abound, and Syöte National Park.
Pudasjärvi is one of the most popular winter destinations in Finland, with the highest average snowfall in the country, due to the excellence of the resorts at Iso-Syöte and Pikku-Syöte resorts. In summer the National Park provides excellent hiking opportunities, and the river is ideal for fishing and canoeing.
There are plenty of dining options available in the ski resorts, at Ranua Wildlife Park, and within the town. The resorts provide live entertainment most nights, and the bars in the village are always a lively distraction.
Most of the accommodation is provided by the resorts, where visitors can rent log cabins or furnished apartments, stay in top class hotels or use the camping and caravan facilities, or stay in a holiday village.
Most of Pudasjärvi's shops are around the town centre, with most of the usual brands and outlets you find throughout Finland, as well smaller boutiques and handicrafts stores. The resorts and parks also sell local handicrafts and souvenirs.
The nearest airport is in Oulu, with daily flights from Helsinki with Finnair and Blue 1, and flights from Europe with Air Baltic. Buses from Oulu to Pudasjärvi are timed to connect with trains arriving from Helsinki, and the journey takes approximately 90 minutes.