Kajaani is one of the many sweet spots of Finland that stay unknown and undiscovered besides the main attractions in Lapland and Helsinki. Located 9 hours by train northerly from Helsinki and around 8 hours southerly from Rovaniemi, Kajaani is pretty much the middle of these two. Accepting the invitation of a close friend who grew up there, I decided on spending a weekend there in June.
Coming from Tampere which is a rather young city, I was curious about the history of Kajaani. Main remains of the town built in the year 1651 are the ruins of the northernmost castle in the world. Nowadays popular spot for hanging out of the youth and in my opinion, extremely clean and well-preserved ruins. In addition, the author of the Finnish epos Kalevala, Elias Lönnrot has lived in the city many years working as a doctor and researching on Karelia. You might not know Kalevala, but you most certainly know „Lord of the rings“ which was inspired by it. And near Kaajani it is the town of Talvivaara, which literally translates to „Winterfell“. So, no wonder that deep inside me I hoped to see men in leather and fur, horses and direwolfs. In one of the forests, I saw a hedgehog, close enough ^^
Of course, another difference for me coming from the south of the country was the daylight which around this time of the year lasts forever and it seems that there is no sunset at all. I was in awe taking pictures in the early hours on the Kajaani River:
I was happy to discover also wonderful places to get drinks like the Finnish movie-themed bar Ulrika which serves also excellent local beer and the living-room like wine bar Maria P. A legendary place to try out the best rye bread Finlands is the bakery Pekka Heikkinen & Klump, founded in 1913!
With the opening of the national park Hossa (one hour drive from Kajaani) and the upcoming festivals of poetry, theatre and music, I’m sure it will attract even more curious visitors.
A little update after I visited one second time: do not miss a chance to visit the Land of the giants (Jättiläisenmaa) 60 km in the North and enjoy this view:
Since Finland barely has any mountains, the hills of Paltamo are instantly refreshing. You can also stay in a beautiful holiday house there and drink your coffee on these chairs.