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.
- 1 Hankasalmi
- 2 Joutsa
- 3 Kannonkoski
- 4 Karstula
- 5 Kinnula
- 6 Kivijärvi
- 7 Konnevesi
- 8 Kyyjärvi
- 9 Laukaa
- 10 Luhanka
- 11 Multia
- 12 Muurame
- 13 Petäjävesi – the wooden church of Petäjävesi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 14 Pihtipudas
- 15 Toivakka
- 16 Uurainen
In 2021 Kuhmoinen joined the Pirkanmaa province.
- 17 Himos (Jämsä). One of the busiest skiing resorts in Finland. Also some summer activities like MTB routes and a golf course.
(South to north)
- 1 Isojärvi National Park
- 2 Leivonmäki National Park
- 3 Southern Konnevesi National Park
- 4 Pyhä-Häkki National Park
- 5 Salamajärvi National Park and Salamanperä Strict Nature Reserve
To be exact Central Finland is not in the center of Finland (which actually is within the Northern Ostrobothnia) but it is the central part of southern half of 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 southwest. 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, the Central Finland has been a hunting grounds for Tavastian and Savonian Finnish 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 bears some notable Tavastian features (the more Tavastian the south you go). Even though there are archaeological findings and rock paintings dating back some 8000 years the area got permanent villages relatively late. Oldest major settlement has been Jämsä which was mentioned first time in 1442.
The area has been important for trade as the lake Päijänne and its adjacent lakes have formed a natural expressway between the southern Finland through the forests, hills, and mires to the unlimited resources of such products as game, fish, fur, tar, and wood.
The 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 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, the "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 to Jyväskylä in 1863 (until then all university-level education had been in Swedish only) and laid the foundation for the modern-day University of Jyväskylä.
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 1 Jyväskylä railway station is very conveniently in the middle of the city, co-located with the coach station! 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 following OnniBus.com routes serve the region:
- M4 (Helsinki—Lahti—Jyväskylä—Oulu—Rovaniemi)
- M9 (Turku—Tampere—Jyväskylä—Kuopio—Kajaani)
- M13 (Helsinki—Jyväskylä—Kokkola)
- F24 (Helsinki—Lahti—Jämsä—Jyväskylä)
There is an airport in the largest city, Jyväskylä, with flights from Helsinki. The 2 Jyväskylä Airport is the only airport in the province of Central Finland that has regular passenger traffic. 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.
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, Keuruu and Hankasalmi.
- Keski-Suomen aluetaksi, ☏ +358 100-866-44, email@example.com. 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.
- Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi, Menevä, Taxi Booker (iTaksi)
- The 6 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 7 Oravivuori hill was part of Struve Geodetic Arc and is one of official UNESCO World Heritage Site locations in Finland.
- The 8 Finnish Air Force Museum in Tikkakoski, north of Jyväskylä, and the 9 Hallinportti Aviation Museum in Halli.
- The 10 Alvar Aalto Museum at Jyväskylä represents work of the world famous Finnish architect.
- The 11 Saraakallio rock paintings, ancient pictures drawn to the rock at Laukaa.
- The wall paintings in the 12 Toivakka church are perhaps among the most psychedelic ones you can find in any church on Earth. Come and meet the Disco-Jesus!
- Hike in Salamajärvi National Park in Kivijärvi or along Muuramenjoki trail in Muurame.
- Drive along the back-country roads to explore the hills and lakes.
- Watch the WRC Rally of Finland, held around Jyväskylä each July.
- Buy liquorice and chocolate at the Panda factory shop in Jyväskylä.
- Enjoy a fun summer's day at Nokkakivi Amusement Park in Lievestuore, Laukaa.
- Joutsan Joutopäivät: July. A summer music festival in Joutsa
- Jysäri: 6–7 July 2018. A music festival focusing on eurodance arranged in Himos Ski Center, Jämsä (date needs updating)
- Traktorijatzit, a jazz festival in Viitasaari, which is kicked off with a tractor parade.
- RiihiRock festival: July. A rock festival in Pihtipudas by the Lake Elämäjärvi
- Satama Festival, a music festival in the Laukaa port area in mid-June.
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.
Central Finland region is a safe place.