Central Finland (Finnish: Keski-Suomi, Swedish: Mellersta Finland) is a historic province and modern administrative region in the Finnish Lakeland. The region is characterized by steep, forested hills and numerous lakes, which are often deep compared to their size.
The region is unilingually Finnish speaking.
- 1 Jyväskylä – University town, the local administrative capital, and one of the most important transportation hubs in Finland. The only truly urban settlement in the province.
- 2 Jämsä – Only town around mentioned already in the medieval documents.
- 3 Keuruu – Town with some military history.
- 4 Saarijärvi – Rural town with archaeological past from 8000 years ago.
- 5 Viitasaari – Crossroads of the highway Lisbon-Nordkapp (E75) and the Blue Highway.
- 6 Äänekoski – A small town with strong industrial background.
To be exact Central Finland is not in the center of Finland (which actually is within the Northern Ostrobothnia) but it is the central part of southern half of Finland.
There is no distinctive border for Central Finland in the east but Suomenselkä drainage divide clearly separates the region from Ostrobothnia, and it is actually easy to see how flat landscape turns into hilly one when arriving from west or southwest. Indeed those steep hills, narrow valleys, and numerous lakes are the principal elements of the Central Finland landscape. For those interested in geology the Central Finland offers wide variety of different post-glacial formations such as eskers, terminal moraines, glacial erratics, and kettles. The lakes are often surprisingly deep.
Historically, the Central Finland has been a hunting grounds for Tavastian and Savonian Finnish tribes, and - at least according to local tradition - clashes between them could have been even bloody at times. This history can be still heard in spoken language as the local dialects belong to Savonian dialect group but bears some notable Tavastian features (the more Tavastian the south you go). Even though there are archaeological findings and rock paintings dating back some 8000 years the area got permanent villages relatively late. Oldest major settlement has been Jämsä which was mentioned first time in 1442.
The area has been important for trade as the lake Päijänne and its adjacent lakes have formed a natural expressway between the southern Finland through the forests, hills, and mires to the unlimited resources of such products as game, fish, fur, tar, and wood.
The Central Finland has got reputation as a leisure travel destination quite early. A printed guidebook Keski-Suomi Matkaopas (A Guide [for] Central Finland) was published in 1899. It describes four routes through the region in a quite detailed way. For backpackers the Ahvenlampi Camping in Saarijärvi was established in 1947. It is still operating which makes Ahvenlampi one of the oldest camping areas in Nordic Countries.
Even nowadays Central Finland is mostly sparsely populated and has reputation as a rural area where nothing ever happens. (Except traffic accidents.) A Finnish expression Pihtiputaan mummo, the "Grandma' from Pihtipudas", is a common verbal metaphor for an uneducated listener to whom one needs to be precise and simple. The towns Jämsänkoski and Äänekoski have got their names in the history of Finnish industry but most municipalities live from agriculture and forestry. The first Finnish-speaking Teacher Training College in Finland was established to Jyväskylä in 1863 (until then all university-level education had been in Swedish only) and laid the foundation for the modern-day University of Jyväskylä.
There is an airport in the largest city, Jyväskylä, with flights to Helsinki. The 1 Jyväskylä Airport is the only airport in the Central Finland province having regular passenger traffic. There is no public transportation from Jyväskylä airport but taxi. However, the nearest bus stop is by the highway 4 about one kilometre from the terminal.
You can get to Jyväskylä by train from directions Tampere, Seinäjoki, and Pieksämäki the last one being important railway hub in Eastern Finland. The 2 Jyväskylä railway station is very conveniently in the middle of the city the coach station being in the same building! In 2020 trains also stop at Jämsä, Haapamäki, Keuruu, Petäjävesi, and Hankasalmi but stops at Haapamäki and Keuruu are going to end in future.
As many highways pass through the province there are good intercity bus connections in all directions. For some minor towns the nearest bus stop might be by the highway few kilometres off-town though.
Trains of national operator VR are possible to use for travelling inside province.
Matkahuolto has a dense bus network covering most of the province.
Onnibus offers discount bus service by few routes.
Google Maps includes timetables of trains, long distance buses and local transport of many cities and towns. Other useful route planners are Matka.fi for trains and local buses and Matkahuolto Reittiopas for regional buses.
- Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi, Menevä, Taxi Booker (iTaksi)
- Keski-Suomen aluetaksi offers taxi service in Central Finland region
- The 1 wooden church of Petäjävesi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also old wooden churches at Laukaa and Pihlajavesi village in Keuruu.
- The 2 Finnish Air Force Museum in Tikkakoski, north of Jyväskylä, and the 3 Hallinportti Aviation Museum in Halli.
- The 4 Alvar Aalto Museum at Jyväskylä represents work of the world famous Finnish architect.
- The 5 Saraakallio rock paintings, ancient pictures drawn to the rock at Laukaa.
- The wall paintings in the 6 Toivakka church are perhaps among the most psychedelic ones you can find in any church on Earth. Come and meet the Disco-Jesus!
- Hike in Salamajärvi National Park in Kivijärvi or along Muuramenjoki trail in Muurame.
- Drive along small unpaved roads and watch the hilly lake landscape.
- Playing golf at GolfClub Tammela which is location in the middle of nature what makes the landscape particularly beautiful. Opening the horizon of Central Finland lake landscape is a vision which is quite harmonious and soothing. Tammalan Golfklubi [dead link]
- Watch the WRC Rally of Finland, held around Jyväskylä each July.
- Buy liquorice and chocolate at the Panda factory shop in Jyväskylä.
- 1 Himos at Jämsä is one of the busiest skiing resorts in Finland. Also some summer actitivies like MTB routes and a golf course.
- Joutsan Joutopäivät: 5–8 July 2018. A summer music festival in Joutsa (date needs updating)
- Jysäri: 6–7 July 2018. A music festival focusing on eurodance arranged in Himos Ski Center, Jämsä (date needs updating)
- Traktorijatzit: 6–8 July 2018. A jazz festival in Viitasaari that is kicked off with a tractor parade. (date needs updating)
- Pipefest: 27 July 2018. A well known hiphop and rap festival at Vuokatti Sotkamo (date needs updating)
- RiihiRock festival: 21 July 2018. A rock festival in Pihtipudas by the Lake Elämäjärvi (date needs updating)
- [dead link] Satama Festival: 10–11 August 2018. Music festival in the Laukaa Port area (date needs updating)
Central Finnish food culture is a mixture of western and eastern Finnish traditions. Traditional foods show the influence of abundant fish-rich lakes. Especially vendace, perch, and pike perch are considered as delicacies. The forests are rich in berries and – as an eastern feature – mushrooms are a common ingredient. Don't expect to find local specialties easily in restaurants.