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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.


Map of Central Finland

In 2021, Kuhmoinen was moved to the Pirkanmaa province.

Other destinations[edit]

  • 17 Himos (Jämsä). One of the busiest skiing resorts in Finland. Also some summer activities like MTB routes and a golf course.

National parks[edit]

(South to north)


Typical natural harmony between lakes and forests in Central Finland

Central Finland isn't actually in the centre of Finland – which is within Northern Ostrobothnia – but it is between what are regarded as western, eastern, southern and northern 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 south-west. 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, Central Finland has been a hunting grounds for Tavastian and Savonian 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 bear some notable Tavastian features (the more Tavastian the farther south you go). Even though there are archaeological findings and rock paintings dating back some 8000 years, the area got permanent villages relatively late. The oldest major settlement is Jämsä, which was mentioned in 1442.

The area has been important for trade as the lake Päijänne and its adjacent lakes have formed a natural thoroughfare between southern Finland through forests, hills and mires to the unlimited resources of game, fish, fur, tar and wood.

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 the 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, "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 in Jyväskylä in 1863 (until then all higher-level education had been in Swedish only) and laid the foundation for the modern-day University of Jyväskylä.

Get in[edit]

You can get to Jyväskylä by train from directions Tampere, Seinäjoki, and Pieksämäki, the last one being an important railway hub of Eastern Finland. The Jyväskylä railway station is co-located with the coach station, a convenient transport hub. As of 2020 trains also stop in Jämsä, Haapamäki, Keuruu, Petäjävesi, and Hankasalmi, but stops at Haapamäki and Keuruu are planned to be discontinued.

As many highways pass through the province, there are good coach connections in all directions. However, for some minor towns the nearest bus stop might be by the highway a few kilometres off-town.

The the only airport in the region with regular passenger traffic is in Jyväskylä, with flights from Helsinki. The nearest bus stop is by highway 4 about 1 km from the terminal. The nearest airports with international service are Tampere, Helsinki, Vaasa and Lappeenranta.

Get around[edit]

Coaches cover most of the region, see Matkahuolto. The Linkki website of Jyväskylä has information about local and some regional routes.

Trains (VR) can be used between Jyväskylä, Jämsä, Hankasalmi and possibly Keuruu.

By taxi[edit]

  • Keski-Suomen aluetaksi, +358 100-866-44, . Operates in all municipalities except Kannonkoski, Karstula, Kinnula, Kivijärvi, Kyyjärvi, Luhanka, Multia, Muurame and Pihtipudas. Has also Taksinappi smartphone app. M–Sa 06:00–18:00 (1–4 persons) €4 + €1.31/km + €0.79/min, min €12; other times €7 + 1.36/km + €0.87/min, min €15; Su and nights 5–8 persons €10 + €1.94/km + €0.87/min, min €20.
  • Other smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi, Menevä, Taxi Booker (iTaksi)


A moose in a rock painting in Saraakallio
  • The wooden church of Petäjävesi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also old wooden churches at Laukaa and Pihlajavesi village in Keuruu.
  • The top of Oravivuori hill in Jyväskylä was part of Struve Geodetic Arc and is one of official UNESCO World Heritage Site locations in Finland.
  • The twenty-some-metres Kirkkovuori Observation Tower in Karstula is said to be the world's tallest log-framed building.
  • Those interested in museums can visit, amongst others, the Finnish Air Force Museum in Tikkakoski, north of Jyväskylä, the Hallinportti Aviation Museum in Halli, and the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä, which represents work of this world famous Finnish architect.
  • The Saraakallio rock paintings are ancient pictures drawn on the rock in Laukaa.
  • The wall paintings in the Toivakka church are perhaps among the most psychedelic ones you can find in any church on Earth. Come and meet the Disco-Jesus!


Cyclon rollercoaster at Nokkakivi



  • Liquorice and chocolate at the Panda factory shop in Jyväskylä.


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.


Stay safe[edit]

Central Finland region is a safe place.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Central Finland is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!