Things to see in Kuopio in 2 days. Visiting museums, markets, the tower and interesting places of Kuopio.
11 August 2022
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I lived in Kuopio for 7 years before I moved to Spain. And now, after another 7 years, I came back to visit old friends and looked at everything with completely different eyes! Definitely, Kuopio is worth a visit and spend at least two days here!
Kuopio is located in a picturesque North Savo region. The locals have a strong character and speak their own dialect, which they are able to instantly switch to if they meet a neighbor. The Savo region has interesting historical roots, gastronomic habits and customs.
Market square of Kuopio
The market square of Kuopio is the heart of the town. In summer life is in full swing here. People eat Hanna Partanen´s pies and drink coffee. Traders sell fresh berries and mushrooms. You can smell vendace fried with butter everywhere.
Must buy things on the Kuopio market square:
- Local strawberries / raspberries / peas
- Forest mushrooms
- Kalakukko – fish pie
- Kuopio´s hot dog – hodari 1 tai 2 nakilla (with one or two sausages)
- Fried vendace
Speaking of hot dogs. You have definitely never tried such a dish, and you can buy it only in this region. I’m talking about Hanna Partanen‘s meat pie. It is filled with a sausage (or two), pickle salad and spices. Interesting phenomenon: there is always a long queue at the original kiosk of Hanna Partanen, when there may be no one in others. People are willing to wait.
Hanna Partanen started her bakery business selling fish pies on the market square in Kuopio. In 1931 the bakery obtained an official business license. After Hanna’s death, her family members continued her work, and their pastries have always had a huge success. Over the years, in addition to fish pies, the range of products has grown to meat, trout and vegetable pies, as well as rice pies and doughnuts. All products are still handmade from start to finish, using the freshest ingredients from nearby areas.
This unique Art Nouveau building covered with animal figures is an indoor market (Kauppahalli) located on the market square. The building was designed by Johan Strömberg, the same architect who designed the Kuopio Museum (more info below). The market has been open since 1902, and more than 30 enterprises operate in it. As in any market, you can buy local goodies here, as well as drink a cup of coffee with homemade, melt-in-your-mouth sweets.
Pikku Pietarin Torikuja
You will find this idyllic market place called Pikku Pietarin Torikuja in the center of Kuopio, near the market square. The wooden complex itself was built in 1903. It was purchased by the city and made into a market in 1987. There are 14 enterprises operating on the territory of this small market. Of course, this is a perfect place to drink your first or fourth cup of coffee, buy interesting handicrafts or find an unusual gift to your beloved. The market is open from June to August, as well as two days on Christmas.
Pikku Pietarin Torikuja
Snellman Park is the oldest park of Kuopio. It is a popular picnic place in summer. In 1800 the park was named after Johan Wilhelm Snellman, a Finnish philosopher, writer and statesman. He significantly influenced the status of the Finnish language and the implementation of the Finnish mark. He is considered the national philosopher of Finland and one of the most important national revivalists.
Cathedral of Kuopio
This remarkable cathedral and the Finnish church in general have a rather interesting history. The first few churches in Kuopio were made of wood, and they were all destroyed by fire. Many people died in fire inside the churches, and all because in a panic they did not realize that the doors opened … in the other direction! The first drawings for the stone church were brought from Stockholm and construction began in 1806.
The church is made in the neoclassical style, although it has some features of the Empire style, including in the decorations of the pulpit and the altar.
Magic and witchcraft have coexisted with religion since 1600. There are many references of how sacrificial altars were set up in the churches of Kuopio in the historical documents of Kuopio. Some churches had more importance for sacrifice than others. The sacrifice was especially popular on Christmas and on Midsummer Day (Juhannus). Bonfires were kindled on Midsummer Day (to this day).
Generally, the objects of sacrifice were money, but also animal skins, flax and grain. Sacrifice tradition came to its end when on Christmas morning in 1669, an elderly woman was trampled to death by a crowd of people in the church. Sacrificial altars have been prohibited since then.
Cathedral of Kuopio at night
People followed witchcraft traditions for a long time, and even as early as 1900 there were magical objects found in the Kuopio Cathedral. For example, coffins with a frog… This item was associated with superstitions, when people either tried to catch fishing luck or steal it from a neighbor. The coffin was pushed with a pole through an air vent in the stone pedestal of the church. The closer the coffin was moved to the altar, the more powerful the spell became.
Museum of Kuopio
This unusual castle looking building, the Kuopio Museum, is one of the gems of National Romantic Art Nouveau architecture (as well as the Helsinki National Museum). The museum was built in 1907.
The main character of the museum is a lifesize model of a mammoth. The mammoth was created by the artist Eirik Granqvist on the basis of a frozen mammoth found in 1799 in the valley of the river Lena by a local hunter and gatherer O. Shumakhov. Presumably, the mammoth was 30 years old and weighed 5 tons.
Orthodox Church Museum
The Orthodox Church Museum of Kuopio is an unusual museum that you will not find anywhere else. Orthodoxy came to Finland and Karelia more than 1000 years ago. The Finnish Orthodox Church endured all the hardships of war and evacuation. The Winter War began unexpectedly in 1939, and church property was collected in a hurry. After the end of the war, the Karelian Isthmus, Ladoga´s Karelia and the region of Pechenga were ceded to the Soviet Union. Most of the church property remained on the territory of the Soviet Union. There are currently three Orthodox dioceses in Finland: Karelian in Kuopio, Oulu and Helsinki.
You will find valuable exhibits from the Valaam, Konevsky, Trifonov-Pechenga monasteries in the church museum. Also you will find here a plenty of icons, including miraculous ones, sarcophagi and robes of church servants.
The picturesque Valkeinen Pond in the center of Kuopio is an amazing place for summer walks and picnics. The park and its surroundings offer a variety of opportunities for play, exercise, swimming and even fishing.
The Valkeinen pond is rich in perch, pike and whitefish. The pond is home for Siberian sturgeon and naturally breeding tench, which are caught by fishermen who come from afar. Rainbow trout is also bred in the pond. Valkeinen belongs to the city’s free fishing zones, which means that you can fish with a fishing rod there without any fee.
Take advantage of a good weather and lift to the Puijo Tower, the symbol of Kuopio.
In 1856, a merchant Dahlström built a 16-meter-high wooden tower in the area to enjoy the landscapes. The building material for the next 24-meter tower was brick and it was completed in 1906. The current tower was influenced by the architectural trends of television and observation towers from Central Europe. The modern 75-meter tower was built in 1963.
There is a rotating restaurant and a cafe in the tower where you should definitely try a cinnamon roll with an aromatic Finnish coffee.
Cruise in Kuopio
One of the must-experience summer activities in Kuopio is definitely the 1,5 hour cruise. While enjoying a glass of wine (or whatever you want), you will see many different islands, a picturesque new district of Kuopio, and will just enjoy a Finnish summer day. You can buy tickets directly at the port of Kuopio before the cruise itself.
My favorite and most beautiful place (in my opinion) of Kuopio is the Väinölänniemi area. It is a perfect place for swimming or just walking around in summer . You will find an urban beach with a 10m high jumping tower, cafes, ice cream kiosks and extraordinary landscapes on Väinölänniemi.
Where to eat or drink coffee in Kuopio
In addition to the places mentioned above, I would like to recommend a few more unusual restaurants / cafes in Kuopio, which should not be missed.
1) Sampo vendace restaurant
You seem to be transported back in time in this restaurant, because the restaurant has not changed since 1931. The restaurant specializes in vendace, which is loved by all the Savo´s people. There are other dishes in the restaurant as well if you don’t like fish. The menu is written in the local Savo dialect. The simplest dishes taste like haven.
2) Viking restaurant Harald
Well, here is the same story, only you will be transported to a more distant past. I recommend taking sets of several types of meat. A set for two would be enough for four. Be sure you taste their own beer: smoked and honey. If you really want to, you can wear a Viking helmet.
3) Cafe Kaneli
Well, back to the past again! Cafe-museum with antique furnishings. Here you can drink coffee or tea of any taste and enjoy homemade cakes. They also serve fit-lunches: salad, soups.
4) Cat cafe Tiramisu
This is probably the most wonderful news for cat lovers. Who can resist having coffee with furry friends? By the way, the cafe offers you a unique opportunity to spend a night with cats… for 200 euros! Yes, spend a night in a cafe … with cats. Well, a demand creates an offer!