The EuroVelo 13 trail from Lieksa’s center to Pankakoski is mainly smooth, but later turns hilly. In Lieksa’s Hatunkylä, there resides the defense line of the Winter War times known as Viisikon Linja, which was the best armed defensive line of Lieksa. In Ilomantsi’s Hattuvaara, Finland’s most eastern town, you will find Soldier’s Trail, the war time memorial trail. You will also find many other war memorials here. The Soldier’s Trail was built by veterans of the war, as well as the townspeople. In the town you will also find Makkola Museum Farm as well as Europe’s oldest Orthodox Chapel that is still in use. There are trips from Hattuvaara to the most eastern point of the continental Europe, which resides 18 km from the center of town.
Before Korentovaara, the Iron Curtain Trail dives towards dirt roads toward the eastern border. The trip to Möhkö is relatively easy, despite the lack of services along the way. The trail is mainly downward, which eases the trip. The Öykkösenvaara trail is full of war history spots, as you can find restored as well as original war time stations and other war buildings. Close to the eastern border you can find the Möhkö Ironworks Museum, where you are able to see old buildings and become accustomed to lumbering traditions. Ilomantsi’s wildlife is a combinations of esker landscapes, old primeval forests, swamps and different bodies of water, which the cyclists can enjoy for example in Petkeljärvi National Park.
Ilomantsi is known not only for its war history, but also for cherishing its Karelian culture. At Parppeinvaara Bardic Village, travelers are able to experience both as well as Ilomantsi’s landscapes. Rukapirtti, as in the Border General’s camp is a one of a kind war history spot, as its original furniture and old timber structures bring the war stories to modern day. Parppeinvaara Bardic Village has traditional buildings and history exhibits on display and Karelian traditional food can be enjoyed at Parppeinpirtti’s restaurant. For wine lovers, Hermanni’s Wine Tower can be found in Ilomantsi, where gorgeous views can be seen from top of the tower.
On your way to Värtsilä, the Iron Curtain Trail winds through birch and coniferous forests, occasionally passing through fields. Along the way there are hilly trails, but mainly the road descends slowly. In Värtsilä you can visit Arppe, the town yard, where you can find the Mill museum that has different old tools on display. Värtsilä is known for its bird watching spots, and there are also fantastic fishing and kayaking possibilities.
In Tohmajärvi, you will find many memorials from the Winter and Continuation Wars. Puun Sielun Koti (the House of the Tree’s Soul) hides diverse wood art. In Kitee you can see war history by visiting the local museum. Here you can also visit the Kitee Zoo or Aqua Park, which is a great spot for families.
The busy Kuutostie road is left behind and when you get closer to Kesälahti, the sparking river waters become visible behind the forest trees. The majority of the Iron Curtain Trail here is dirt roads, which curve through fields, forest and lakes. The terrain is partly hilly all the way until you reach Parikkala. During this section, there are hardly any services available.
In the town of Raikuu, which belongs to Kerimäki, there is Raikuu’s Salpa Station where cyclists can stop for a short walk in the idyllic forest scenery. Kerimäki is world known for the world’s largest (27 meters tall) wooden church. At Hotel Herttua you can find a permanent installment of war history, which showcases different Finnish wars, restored war graves and artillery equipment.
Savonlinna’s most famous sight-seeing spot is the most northern European stone castle from the Middle Ages, Olavinlinna, which is an important part of Finnish war history. Inside the castle there is an exhibit showcasing the different stages of the castle. The city is surrounded by water, which is fantastic for any water activity loving tourist. The summer is packed with tourists visiting the castle to participate in the official Opera Festival. In Tallisaari, there is a war memorial dedicated to the Kollaa battle.
Along the EuroVelo 13 trail near Punkaharju, the scenery is worth seeing. The area is filled with short hiking spots, which go interspersed through the ridges of pine forests. At the arboretum you can see many different species of trees. War history is a strong part of Punkaharju, as it is situated close to the border. A Salpa Line construct is found in Punkaharju Nature Reserve, where you are able to visit. One can truly feel the tranquility of Kokonharju primeval forest area as it’s in the middle of the old primeval forest.
Sight-seeing spots in Parikkala include the Statue Park, where you can find over 500 different concrete statues. If one has extra time, there are also idyllic village sights that showcase the cultural value of the area. One can truly feel the history bursting through the old buildings there. As Parikkala is situated near the old border, one can find many memorials dedicated to fallen soldiers of the war as well as those left in old Karelia.
From Parikkala, the EuroVelo 13 trail continues through Simpele to Imatra’s fields and lake scenery. The scenery here showcases quite a traditional Finnish farming area, as the scenery quickly changes from fields to forests. The road is partly hilly, but the incline is not too steep. Along EuroVelo 13, at Miettilä, one can find a garrison area where there is Kollaa museum as well as the local history exhibition. There are only a few buildings left from the 1880’s.
Imatra is best known for Imatrankoski, which is Finland largest rapids as well as Finland’s oldest tourism attraction. During the summer time, there are shows daily related to the rapids. At Imatra’s Border Museum, they have on display the history and operation of the Border Patrol from the last 100 years. In Imatra, one can also find the War Veterans and Nurses Museum, where one can see different outfits and artefacts from the Winter and Continuation War. You can also participate in a guided tour in Kruununpuisto or enjoy the sights on your own.
As you leave Vuoksi Rapids behind, the Iron Curtain Trail continues through green and open fields towards Nuijamaa and Vainikkala. One can sense the eastern border when the terrain turns into dirt roads and winds through forest, and almost touch the border in Nuijamaa, as the border is a mere 100 meters from the town. There is an option to continue to Lappeenranta along the Saimaa Canal or cycle straight to Vainikkala.
In Joutseno one can find South-Karelia’s Automobile Museum, where the cyclist can see old cars before continuing on to Lappeenranta.
During the summer in Lappeenranta, there is Finland’s largest sandcastle. Those interested in war history can find many war memorials. The city also has six museums, one being the Cavalry Museum, which is situated in the historically important fortification area of Lappeenranta. The fortification was erected in the mid 1600’s in defense of the Russians. A Crane Couple Statue is situated in the town center park in the memory of the killed or wounded of the Winter War.
Vainikkala is situated in the middle of beautiful countryside scenery. The fields, when green, when yellow, shine bright for passerby’s to enjoy. The terrain is fairly flat, but occasionally changes with a singular hill here and there. One should stop at Ylämaa and visit the Gemstone Museum where one can see different gemstones as well as different minerals and jewelry. In Ylämaa one can see a restored portion of the Salpa Line.
At Miehikkälä, there is a Salpa Line Museum, as well as Pioneer and Homeland Museum. At the Salpa Line Museum one can take guided tours along the fortress route and inside exhibition, which showcases the history of the Salpa Line. The 50 km long Salpa Line route from Virolahti to Miehikkälä is a grand way to view the war history of the area. The terrain of the EuroVelo 13 trail from Miehikkälä to Vaalimaa is fairly even and easy.
Virolahti is situated close to the border and sea, which brings its own tone to the area sights. From the area one can find a Bunker Museum, where the war history of the area is on display.