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Kuopio should be an essential stop on any tour of Finland or the Nordic countries. It has culture, sites, and food unique to Eastern Finland and some of the country’s most beautiful lakes and forests. If you are making a stopover in Kuopio, this guide will help you experience the best of the city in just 24 hours.
Start the day off with breakfast at Ramin Konditoria Kahvila, a bakery and café which is open from 7AM serving freshly baked pastries. If you get up a little later, you can have breakfast at the adorable Moomin Cafeteria in the Carlson department store, which serves delicious Moomin-themed sweet and savoury pancakes.
After breakfast, your first stop should be the iconic Puijo Tower, which overlooks the city from Puijo Hill. The morning is considered the best time to do this, as it’s when natural light is at its best. From the observation deck you can look over the entire city and the lakes which surround it, as well as get a good view of the neighbouring ski jump ramps, which regularly host international tournaments. If you want a mid-morning coffee, the tower also has a revolving restaurant for enjoying a drink while admiring the stunning views.
Arriving back in the city, take an hour or two to walk around and marvel at the architecture of this unique Finnish city. Of particular note are the city hall on the market square, the unusual but stylish Lutheran cathedral, and the tiny but impressive Orthodox cathedral.
Head back to the main square for lunch in the market hall, the centre of trade, food, and socialising in every Finnish town. Be on the lookout for a bakery or café selling kalakukko, a fish and meat pastry made with a rye bread crust that is particularly beloved in Kuopio. Don’t forget to take some time to wander around the market hall and take in the local culture. Kuopio’s market hall sells everything from books to luxury chocolate, so you are bound to find some unique souvenirs here as well. If you want to do a little more shopping, just five minutes away from the town centre is Pikku Pietarin Torikuja, a row of converted stables housing local artisan shops and a café.
Kuopio is the centre of culture in Eastern Finland, so you may well want to spend the afternoon wandering around some of the museums to experience this for yourself. The city museum is located in a beautiful, Romantic building which looks almost like a castle, and is notable for its full-sized mammoth replica. The art museum collects the best artworks of the Savonia region, as well as regularly exhibiting works from artists around Finland and the world, while the photography museum is small but filled with fascinating photos and insights into Finnish culture.
Kuopio is a very different city in the summer and winter. During the winter the sun sets early and the lakes are covered by ice, while in the summer the midnight sun lights up the city even into the early hours of the morning. At any time of year, the harbour is still the ideal place for an evening stroll, watching the sunset over the lake, and an evening meal or drink.
Gusto Runin is a wine and tapas restaurant just off the harbour, located in a restored factory building. Wanha Satama has a nautical theme in a delightful, blue Nordic-style building, and perfect for a meal and drink on the terrace during the summer.
Kuopio may not be as large as Helsinki, yet it still has a vibrant nightlife, especially during the weekends. You can enjoy a nightcap at Henry’s Pub, dance the night away at Passion Club, or, for something different and distinctly Finnish, you can even try the local heavy metal bar Ottopoika.