Kainuu is a region in Northern Finland. For practical purposes, the easternmost parts of Northern Ostrobothnia are also included in this article. Natural landscapes are omnipresent – this is the region where people go to see wildlife of the deep forests. But there are also historical and cultural attractions; the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival draws a big audience from all of Finland and from abroad.
Kainuu and the Eastern Oulu region is a peaceful and natural place with little or no pollution problems. In fact, Kainuu was one of the first regions in Finland to start taking care of the environment and nature and stop consuming natural resources. Nature is omnipresent and outdoor activities in the wilderness are present in the daily life of most people. Even in the largest city Kajaani, you do not have to travel far from the city centre to the forest.
The winters can be harsh, with heavy snowfall and cold temperatures; in Kiutaköngäs −46 °C (−51 °F) has been recorded (typical winter temperatures are much more moderate, though). For wilderness adventures in winter, use a programme service or an appointed guide (check in advance whether you need any preparations yourself), or be sure you know what you are doing. Day trips along trails are often possible independently also in winter, in good weather (but check forecasts and what to expect from the trail itself).
Like in most of Finland, English is widely spoken. Since Kainuu region neighbours Russia, some places also offer service in Russian, at least near the Russian border.
There are flights from Helsinki-Vantaa to Kajaani and Kuusamo. The eastern north-south line of the Finnish train network connects Kajaani to southern Finland, and there are also trains from Oulu. Further north, intercity bus is the only mode of transportation if you aren't driving. The Finnish road network is dense and the roads are generally in good shape. There are border crossings from Russia in Kuhmo (from Kostomuksha) and Kuusamo (from northernmost Russian Karelia).
There are a couple of daily buses along the major highways. Most towns and municipalities have at least once per day bus connection from Oulu or Kajaani or both of them. During weekdays of school year bus connections are more frequent, but during weekends and summer time services are reduced. If you do not have your own car and need to get to a more remote place, you might need to take a taxi. Long taxi rides aren't uncommon in Northern Finland.
Trains of national operator VR are possible to use for traveling inside province.
There is a dense bus network covering most of the province, see Matkahuolto.
Onnibus offers discount bus service by a few routes.
Kajaanin seudun joukkoliikenne has public service obligation regional bus route timetable information.
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.
You will see endless forests and swamps and – if you're lucky – wildlife. Bears, wolves, wolverines, elk (moose) and wild forest reindeer (peura) all have significant populations in the area. For western bird watchers, there are some eastern species not easily spotted elsewhere.
There are also cultural sights:
- Skiing – three major ski resorts are located in the region; Vuokatti in Sotkamo, Ruka in Kuusamo and Iso-Syöte in Pudasjärvi. Around these there are also wide networks of cross country skiing tracks.
- Hiking. The 80 km Karhunkierros trail is legendary.
- Berry picking and mushroom collecting
- Wildlife watching (Eläintenkatselu).
- LankaFest: 5–6 July 2019. A music festival focusing on rock and heavy music (date needs updating)
- Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival (Kuhmon Kamarimusiikki): (Kuhmo). Leading chamber musicians transfix the town of Kuhmo every July with a skillfully designed festival programme, inimitable concerts, beautiful surroundings and sunlit nights that open the senses to new and sublime delight. The festival is the biggest chamber music festival in Finland (where most cities have their own), with some 70 concerts and 35.000 tickets sold. (date needs fixing)
Kainuu is a very safe region. Outside cities you should be aware of the implications of long distances and possibly cold weather.
If you're coming from the south you'll probably continue all the way to Lapland. If you have a valid visa (or don't need one), Russian Karelia is located east of Kainuu.