Why You Should Visit Finland's Rokua Geopark, the World's Northernmost UNESCO Global Geopark

Shore of Manamansalo in Rokua, Finland.
Shore of Manamansalo in Rokua, Finland. | © VogelainenMikael / WikiCommons
Jessica Wood

Of all of Finland’s natural sites, the Rokua Geopark near Oulu is not only one of the most beautiful but also the most significant for its natural history. There are 127 UNESCO global geoparks of great geographical significance in the world, each with its own theme. The theme of Rokua, the northernmost of all the world’s parks, is the Ice Age since the area is a great example of a landscape shaped by the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago – although the geology of the area goes back much further.

Forest trail in Rokua Geopark, Finland

An ancient land

Throughout Rokua you will see many huge exposed rocks jutting out seemingly at random all over the landscape and still containing scratches left by glaciation. These rocks are so ancient that it is almost difficult to imagine. The park contains some of the oldest rocks in Europe, including the oldest known individual rock in the European Union at 2.5 million years old, and the oldest bedrock in the European Union at a whopping 2.7 billion years old (making it nearly half the age of the Earth itself). The pine forests are also ancient and largely untouched, a great rarity in Finland.

An example of an ‘isokivi’ (big stone) left over from glaciation.

Archaeology and old buildings

The human history of the area is far more recent by comparison, but still ancient by our standards. Rokua contains archaeological sites dating back to the Stone Age, not long after the Ice Age ended, including housing foundations and game trap pits. The area also has buildings dating back to the 17th century and many attractive wooden churches, the oldest being Muhos, which dates back to 1634.

The old wooden church in Muhos, dating from 1634.

The power of water

Like all of Finland, Rokua is dominated by bodies of water that have been forming for millions of years. Lake Oulujärvi is the fourth largest lake in Finland (an impressive feat considering the country has 187,888 lakes) with over 650 islands dotted across it. The Ice Age has also left many kettle holes – shallow bodies of water filled with sediment. Rokua contains Finland’s deepest kettle hole called Syvyydenkaivo or ‘the Well of Deepness’, which is 50 meters deep.

Part of Oulujoki river, which runs through Rokua Geopark.

At over 100 kilometers in length, the Oulujoki river is one of the longest in Finland and is responsible for producing much of the country’s hydroelectric power with several power stations on the river.

One of the hydroelectric power stations on the Oulujoki river, Finland

Outdoor activities

These beautiful, historic surroundings make Rokua an attractive place for popular outdoor sports and activities, enough that the park was voted as the Finnish Outdoor Destination of the Year for 2018. In the summer visitors enjoy hiking, cycling, fishing, berry and mushroom picking, golf, and canoeing. Even in the winter people can explore the park on cross-country skis or snowshoes, or even cross the frozen lakes while Nordic walking.

Sunbathing next to Oulujärvi

Local arts

There is a lot of local arts and culture to be found in Rokua too. The Kassu Halonen Art House on Manamansalo island promotes folk art and music with regular exhibits and concerts. The Terttu Jurvakainen Art Gallery in Muhos hosts summer exhibits of paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and glassware. The Kankari Art Villa close to Lake Oulujärvi holds art exhibits in a converted village school building.

Kassu Halosen Art House in Rokua, Finland
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.