As far east as one can possible get in Finland, lies a seemingly forgotten sight. Finland’s easternmost point is where Finland ends and Russia begins. This is also EU’s easternmost point on mainland. The sight itself might not be that mind-blowing, but as with many other places: it’s not always the destination, but the road that leads to it. The seemingly endless winding road to the border is a tour through the Finnish wilderness. Prepare to see swamps, forests and lakes and if you’re lucky you might even glimpse some wildlife. Today this is a peaceful and quiet place, but once this area was a battlefield where thousands lost their lives. Those interested in military sights will find a lot of interesting places to stop by along the way.
A Border With a Dark History
Photo: Driving towards the border, you’ll experience the Finnish wilderness at its finest.
Located 19 kilometres from Hattuvaara, Finland’s easternmost village, lies the border zone. Finland’s easternmost point is where Finland ends and Russia begins.
The border has held it’s current position since the war between Finland and the former Soviet Union ended in 1944. Before this, Finland’s border was further east, but as a result of the war Finland had to cede nearly ten percent of its territory to the Soviet Union, thus moving the border towards west.
Hattuvaara and its surrounding areas in Ilomantsi played a significant role during the end of the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union. In the battle of Ilomantsi the significantly smaller Finnish forces were able to fend off a major Soviet offensive. Almost 4.000 men died and thousands were wounded.
As a reminder of the wartime tragedies that took place in this region, there are numerous war memorials along the road. Those interested in military history can also stop by Hattuvaara Taistelijan Talo, a war museum.
The Former Easternmost Corner of EU
Photo: “May this post be a symbol of friendship, cooperation and peace”. The post was erected in 1996.
For a long time Finland’s easternmost point was also the European Union’s easternmost point. However, in 2004 this title went to Cyprus.
Finland’s easternmost point still remains the EU’s easternmost point on mainland.
Located in the Middle of Nowhere
Photo: This region has Finland’s most dense bear population. It’s pretty unlikely you’ll stumble upon one, but who knows?
About halfway along the road leading to the border zone we stop the car to admire the beautiful landscape. It’s so quiet and peaceful it’s impossible to imagine the wartime atrocities that took place here. Kilometre upon kilometre of forest, open swamp landscapes and lakes so still you can see your own reflection in them.
Either because of the fact we’re approaching the border or because we’re so far out in the wild, the mobile phone stops working. We continue towards the border, feeling our excitement grow. It’s almost a bit spooky being so far out in the wilderness all by ourselves.
Easternmost Edge of Finland
Photo: You’ll find lots of signs and warnings in several different languages when approaching the border. I highly recommend you follow instructions.
We arrive at the end of the road, park the car and continue by foot. Numerous warning signs line the way, strictly forbidding us from straying from the path.
And there it is at the end of the path, on the bank of the small lake Virmajärvi: Finland’s most eastern corner! The small lake nestled in between Finland and Russia is so narrow you could easily swim over to the other side – but don’t! It’s strictly forbidden to cross the border here and shenanigans and jokes are certainly not appreciated (although they do seem to occur every once in a while, usually involving alcohol).
In the middle of the lake there’s a small island, through which the border passes. The red-and-green boundary markers for Russia and blue-and-white boundary markers for Finland add a splash of colour to the landscape.
There are some nice benches and on a sunny day this might be a good spot for a picnic. As the gloomy day turns even darker with a heavy downpour we head back to the car.
Is it Worth Seeing?
Photo: Easternmost doggy, Bradley the amstaff. Bradley didn’t appreciate the rainy weather, but was super excited to go on a road trip and check the place out.
The easternmost point itself is perhaps not that much to see. But, as an overall experience it’s certainly interesting.
The border doesn’t pass through this area by chance and visiting the easternmost point without reflecting on Finland’s history seems impossible. Thinking about the events leading to both war and peace was at least for me part of the experience and in a way helped me visualize what I’d previously only read about in history books or heard from older relatives who experienced the war.
History aside, visiting the easternmost point was also a fascinating tour of the Finnish wilderness. The landscape visitors pass through on their way to the border is pure Finnish nature at its best!
However, if neither history nor wildlife interests you, then perhaps it’s not for you. It’s not a sight you can just quickly stop by, as it’s a nearly 40-kilometres long detour from the main road.
How To Visit
Photo: When you approach Hattuvaara, you’ll see a sign for “EU:n Itäisin Piste” meaning EU’s easternmost Point (I guess they didn’t feel like updating the signs after Cyprus joined the EU in 2004).
The easternmost point is open for all and you can visit whenever you like. As this is far from a touristy place there are no crowds to try to avoid. Visit when it suits you best!
However, I definitely recommend you visit while there’s natural light as it kind of loses its point if you can’t see across the border. Driving along the long, winding road in the dark is also something I wouldn’t recommend, especially since mobile phones didn’t work in the area (this region is also known for having one of Finland’s most dense bear population – just saying…).
I also suggest visiting while the lake is not frozen (in other words not during winter), as it looked pretty cool with the water dividing the two countries.
To get here you’ll need a car (assuming you’re not staying in Hattuvaara and feel like borrowing a bike or walking the distance). Most digital maps won’t find the easternmost point, but they’ll find the village of Hattuvaara. From Hattuvaara it’s another 19 kilometres and you’ll find your destination by following blue signs that say “Itäpiste” or “Itäisin piste”.
Visiting is free.