The city center is on the right bank of the river around the main square, and this is the place to find sights, restaurants, hotels and shops. Joensuu has square town plan. From the main square a bridge leads across the island Ilosaari to the train station.
Joensuu ("River's mouth" in Finnish) is situated at near the point where the Pielisjoki river flows into the Lake Pyhäselkä. It is one of the relatively fast growing centres in Eastern Finland. The University of Eastern Finland supplies a constant stream of fresh student meat from all over the country and exchange students from abroad. Joensuu's industry, as well as a large part of the University programs, is dominated by forestry.
Many daily flights from Helsinki provided by Finnair to Joensuu Airport (JOE), about 11 km northwest of the centre. A bus runs between the airport and town (the university and downtown) before and after each flight. The bus takes 10 minutes and costs €5. There are also taxis at the airport.
Direct connection from Helsinki via Lappeenranta, several trains a day. Travel time is about 5 hours. If coming from Russia, transfer at Kouvola. There are also trains from Pieksämäki. The station is small and open only during the day. It's located on Railway square on the left bank of the river. For more information see the website of Finland's national railway company.
From Helsinki several departures a day with a traveling time of about 7 hours, in addition there's an overnight bus almost every day. There is a daily connection from Petrozavodsk (started in summer 2013). Joensuu bus station is located on the Railway square.
If coming from Russia, after Nuijamaa in Lappeenranta you turn on the main road 6, which leads to Joensuu. Main route 6 goes from Helsinki via Lappeenranta and Kouvola in Joensuu and further Nurmes and Kajaani, although the route via Mikkeli and Varkaus is shorter.
The local bus terminal is located one block south from the main market square, a 10 minutes' walk from train and the bus station. There are ten bus lines which serve traffic inside the city of Joensuu. Departures are usually every hour per line, most traffic runs in work/school days and there are less departures in Saturdays and Sundays. Some bus lines continue to countryside outside the city.
An one-way ticket on Joensuu local buses costs currently (2012/01) €3,20. If you travel frequently, a 10-journey card or a 40-journey card, both sold by the driver, will offer a discounted rate. If you are a Joensuu resident there are even 30-day cards and 40-journey student cards available at the bus station.
Timetables and routes(available in Finnish only)
Many locals ride their bicycle all year around. You can rent one for example at Joensuun kansalaistalo in the city centre.
- Carelicum, Koskikatu 5, ☎ . The North Karelian Museum displays a wide range of stuff from karelian folklore dresses to maps and photographs of places nowadays forgotten behind the Russian border. If you have made the effort to go to Joensuu, it is well worth a visit. If you are a student of Finnish Culture (e.G. in Helsinki University), you might get in for free, try! Open daily, Mo-Fr 10 - 17 Sa-Su 11 - 16, except on national holidays.
- Joensuu Bunker Museum (Joensuun bunkkerimuseo) (in Marjala district, 7 km towards Kuopio), ☎ . Tue-Sun 11AM-5PM. As part of the Salpa-line protecting Finland from the threat of Russia during WW2 the museum displays several models of concrete bunkers fully equipped with original guns and gear. A bizarre but worthwhile visit. During summer some local history students will hang around geared up as soldiers serving tea and are willing to answer all your questions. Open only during the summer.
- City Hall (Kaupungintalo). on the main square in the Art Nouveau style by the famous Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. Saarinen is also the author of the Helsinki Central Railway Station (1909), and they resemble each other remarkably. The theater of the city also functions in the same building.
- Joensuu Arena, Mehtimäenaukio 2. Joensuu Arena, the largest wooden building in Finland offers a magnificent setting for various types of events in Joensuu. The Arena is suitable venue for a wide variety of events from fairs to exhibitions, concerts and from small-scale meeting to large confrerences. In sports use, the Arena is suited for football, Finnish baseball, athletics, boxing, climbing and many indoor sports.
- City Center (Keskusta). Wooden 19th century houses close to the Pielisjoki river. Some other remains of the wooden Joensuu remain here and there, but the old town as it was is now mainly lost due to construction speculation in the 1960s up to present. The center anyhow follows the town plan that was made in 1848. Streets were made wide to prevent fire in a wooden town, and the trees in the streets are birch for the same reason, for example in Kirkkokatu (Church St.) that has a church in both ends, Greek Orthodox and Lutheran. Otherwise the centre is a rather ugly grid system post war concrete collection of houses with the typical shops and bars and restaurants you will find in any Finnish city. Most important modern buildings are the new library and Metla building in the university campus (There is a cafe inside).
- Ilosaarirock. The Ilosaarirock Festival is an annual rock festival held in Joensuu on the second weekend of July. Founded in 1971, Ilosaarirock is the second oldest rock festival in Finland still active, and one of the oldest in Europe. Ilosaarirock gathers about 21,000 daily visitors and has been sold out in advance every year since 1998.
- Rokumentti Rock Film Festival. An annual film festival held in November.
- Taitokortteli Arts & Crafts, Koskikatu 1, ☎ . Handcraft and culture quarter, includes a café, boutiques and shops, craft centre and exhibitions.
- Levy-Eskot Record Store, Kauppakatu 27, ☎ . Mo-Fr 10AM-6PM, SA 10AM-3PM. Great selection of new and used CD's and vinyl.
- Tori (Market). In the centre of Joensuu and especially lively during the summer months. In the winter the two market cafes will close and most of the stands will not be there.
- Torikirppis (Flea Market). Huge outdoor flea market that is held every other Sunday during the summer.
- Market place and Market hall. In Finland so called grilliruoka (fast food from kiosks, usually meat pies, hot dogs, hamburgers etc.) is popular but not very healthy in the long run. For fish lovers, however, some stands will serve "muikku," a small fish that is fried whole in butter and coated with rye flour. It's eaten whole, head and all; it's small enough to not even feel the bones. A choice of these are around the town, including in both ends of the market hall Kauppahalli. At the market square you have a choice of local and ethnic (including Thai) food stands. For small snacks only, try local "karjalanpiirakka" pastry at the marketplace stands or from Marttakahvila's Piirakkapaja.
- Teatteriravintola, Rantakatu 20. At the combined city hall/theater, serving delicious Karelian style food.
- Rosso, Siltakatu 8. Rosso in the corner of the marketplace is a mainly family restaurant, but very popular all over Finland.
- University canteens. You can also have a meal in any of the University canteens or in the canteen of Joensuu Science Park (most busy and maybe best of them) Lunch menu starting from around €5.
- Kerubin Keittiö, Siltakatu 1 (Ilosaari), ☎ . Mo-Tu 11AM-2PM, We-Fr 11AM-10PM, Sa 2PM-10PM. In Karjalantalo building at Ilosaari. Lunch on weekdays 11AM-2PM, other times a la carte, good vegetarian menu.
There are plenty of pubs around the city center.
- Public Corner, Siltakatu 8. Beers and ciders. Also internet.
- Pub Palaveri, Siltakatu 4. The best selection of beers in Joensuu.
- BePop, Kauppakatu 28. Another night club in the city center, rather expensive.
- Night, Itäranta 1. The biggest night club in Joensuu, located inside Sokos Hotel Kimmel.
- Muru, Siltakatu 10. A small bar that serves both food and drinks.
- Gloria, Siltakatu 12. Beer and live music next to main square. Favorite "after-school" or "after-work" destination.
- La Barre, Torikatu 21. Beer and live music from rock/alternative bands.
- Kerubi, Siltakatu 1. Rock club and restaurant located at Ilosaari island in a centre of Joensuu middle of Pielisjoki river. Main venue for live music in Joensuu. Serves both food and drinks. Free wifi.
- Scouts' Youth Hostel (Partiotalon retkeilymaja), Vanamokatu 25. Affordable accommodation near the city center, university and the Joensuu Arena Hostel common room €10-€15.
- Linnunlahti Camping, Linnunlahdentie 1, ☎ . You can bring your tent or caravan, or you can rent a cottage. Next to the campsite is a small beach, should you whish to swim in the lake. Opens only for the short summer (June–August).
- Itä-Suomen Liikuntaopisto, Kalevankatu 8, ☎ . In the southern part of Joensuu, less than a kilometer from the center. Shower, toilet and cooking facilities in the rooms.
- Apartementos, Torikatu 47, ☎ . Opposite to the Liikuntaopisto (gymnastics school). Toilet, douche, cooking facility and bed sheets in the rooms, breakfast is not included. quad 69 €, triple 55 €, double 44 €, single 29 €.
- Matkakoti Aaro, Kirkkokatu 20 B, ☎ . In the city center. Shared toilet and bathroom, refrigerator and microwave oven. Breakfast is included in the room price. triple 63 €, double 48 €, single 34 €.
- Hotel Aada, Kauppakatu 32, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Single €68-€88, double €76-€105, triple €87-€115.
- Hotel GreenStar, Torikatu 16, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. In the city center. Douche and toilet in the rooms, separate beds, closet, water cooker, small refrigerator and a 32" television. Breakfast costs €5 extra, parking fee €5. €55.
- Hotel Cumulus, Kirkkokatu 20, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 80 rooms with TV, radio, pay-channel, minibar, hair dryer, free broadband connection, airconditioning and safety box.
- Sokos Hotel Kimmel, Itäranta 1, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 230 rooms with different equipment
- Sokos Hotel Vaakuna, Torikatu 20, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the more luxurious hotels in Joensuu, located next to the market square. The rooms seem to have been refurbished recently. There are three restaurants and a pub on the ground floor. double room €151.
Ski resort and national park of Koli north of the city. You can reach Koli ski resort by bus of Matkahuolto.