Driving north from Kongsvinger, then venturing further east towards the Swedish border, it is easy to see why the Finns who emigrated to this part of Norway in the 1600s felt right at home here. Forests. Lakes. More forests. The area that makes up Finnskogen, a 40km-wide belt along Hedmark and Värmland, would have reminded them of their native Finland - a natural place to settle down after fleeing from famine and hardship in their own country.
And here they lived, in relative isolation, until well into the 19th century - preserving a culture that has left its mark on the whole region to this day. Svedjebruk (slash and burn agriculture) and a little livestock helped sustain them, but it was their skills as hunters and fishermen that made their reputation. They were so good at it that local villagers were convinced they had supernatural abilities.
Photo: Marie Peyre
What to do
Little wonder then, maybe, that what draws many visitors to Finnskogen today is the excellent fishing, particularly pike fishing. There are a number of lakes in the area where big pikes can be caught. Fish over 100cm long are not unusual, with some occasionally weighing in over the 10kg-mark. You can fish from land or from a boat. Go with a local guide, who will know the best spots to cast a line. Come winter you can also go ice fishing here, which is great fun. Want to stay up late? Try fishing for burbot, a nocturnal species fished on ice from dusk and through the evening. Explore Finnskogen organise fishing tours in the area.
Photo: Morten B. Stensaker/Explore Finnskogen