The longest inland ice road in the whole of Europe goes through lake Pielinen in Eastern Finland. Starting from the village of Vuonislahti in Lieksa ending in Koli, the 7 kilometer road shortens the wintery drive by over 50 km one way. Quite a nice shortcut, especially if you’re working on the other side of the lake, right?
The ice road will be opened once the ice all the way along the road is at least 40 cm thick. This year the road was opened on Thursday the 14th of January. The timing was perfect, as we were driving to Koli on the following day, Friday the 15th of January, 2016.
Here we go, entering the Europe’s longest inland ice road on lake Pielinen in Eastern Finland.
We have three official ice roads in Finland. The total amount of ice roads is much larger, but the official roads are maintained by the Finnish Transport Agency. The longest ice road in Finland is 9 kilometers long and it goes from Oulunsalo to Hailuoto. The northmost ice road can be found in Kemijärvi, and thanks to its’ location, it’s normally the first one to open.
The one that we took, the one going between Lieksa and Koli on lake Pielinen, used to be the longest one in Europe (nowadays it’s the longest inland one). The longest of all ice roads in Europe can be found in Estonia; 26,5 km ice road combines the island of Hiiumaa to the mainland. The world’s longest ice road, or actually a network of several ice roads, can be found in Canada.
We chose the one on lake Pielinen and were extremely happy with the experience! Although there are some safety facts to remember when driving on this ice road; the speed limit is 50 km/h, so don’t expect it to be a fast winter rally! On the other hand this speed is just perfect for photographing, and you will still have time to admire the views otherwise than only through the camera. You’re not allowed to stop along the ice road, so the photographing must be done from the moving car.
You also need to keep safety distance of minimum 50 meters, and besides stopping, also overtaking is forbidden. Remember to enjoy the views; 7 km ice road with 50 km/h will pass by very quickly.
We chose the ice road instead of the shortest way, and it was worth it. After all, there is a chance that ice roads may be a disappearing winter activity as the climate continues changing. The ice roads in Finland are opened later and later each year due to warm winters and lack of ice; some winters the ice roads might not be opened at all.
So you should definitely add cruising on an ice road to your bucket list before it’s too late!
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