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Cycle Tour Iron Curtain Tour, part 1: Klaipeda-Grense Jakobselv

Travel report: Litauen-Letland-Estland-Rusland-Finland-Norge



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Elevation profile Cycle Tour Iron Curtain Tour, part 1: Klaipeda-Grense JakobselvOdenseSchloss KronborgKristianstadKlaipeda Old TownLiepājaJūrkalnes stāvkrastsVentspilsRiga Daily Bike ToursLimbažiPärnuKirche in SelisteKirche in KaruseLihula BurgRidala KircheHaapsalu AltstadtSutlepa - traditonelle LebensweiseZisterzienserkloster PadiseWasserfall Keila valdTallinn Old TownJägala-WasserfallNarvaKatharinenkathedraleBurg KoporjeSchloss PeterhofKonstantinpalastSankt-PeterburgWyborgLappeenrantaImatrankoskiVirmajärviGrænsevagtmuseet RaateVinterkrigsmuseetSodankyläSiida0100200300400500050100150200250300350400450500550600650700750800850900950100010501100115012001250130013501400145015001550160016501700175018001850190019502000205021002150220022502300235024002450250025502600265027002750280028502900295030003050310031503200325033003350340034503500355036003650370037503800385039003950400040504100415042004250

Added on 15 Dec 2012,

on 22 May 2019

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by Ottocolor on 12 Feb 2017

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Start location

Odense, Region of Southern Denmark, DK (12 m NHN)

End location

South Varanger, Ruija region, NO (1 m NHN)


Planned cycling holiday in May / June 2017.

It's an old dream of mine to ride my bicycle along the former "Iron Curtain through Europe" (the term is coined by by then former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a famous speech), that is the dividing line between Western and Eastern Europe, NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. As its child, born in 1962, a few months before the Cuban missile crisis and thus the Cold War's "hottest" phase and as a trained reserve officer in the NATO country of Denmark with Russian language and the Warsaw Pact airforce, loving to cycle long distance trips, it was an obvious idea. I take on this journey as both a great physical challenge and an exciting experience in terms of history, contemporary history, nature and culture.

Geographically, I'll ride through the Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the Leningrad region and St. Petersburg of Russia, along the long Finnish/Russian border in Eastern Finland (including the country's and the EU's easternmost point!) and the north-easternmost Norway.

The bike holiday's main theme is naturally the Cold War, including the Baltic republics' fate as incorporated into the Soviet Union and the complex Finnish-Soviet relations, concluding with the Norwegian-Soviet border, the only, albeit short, land border between a NATO country and the Soviet Union. Here my bike-odyssey will end, where the Iron Curtain through Europe also ended, or began at Grense Jakobselv at the Arctic ocean. Other themes lie temporally before and after this period, as the Baltic republics' independent period 1918-40, atrocities during the Nazi German occupation of 1941-44 and the three Baltic republics' secession from the Soviet Union, the resurrection as independent countries and their actual relations with the big neighbour to the east. In Russia, I will concentrate on the contemporary situation and the Russian view of the conflict with the West and their relationship with the Baltic countries and Finland. In Finland a natual theme is the country's difficult position between Scandinavia and the Soviet Union/Russia throughout history, both under the Finnish grand duchy as part of the Russian Tsar-rich 1812-1917, the independent Finland's road to true independence between the wars, the loss of parts of Karelia after the Winter War and the Continuation War during WW2 including Finland's flirtation with Hitler Germany and its final position as a neutral power during the Cold War. The long Soviet-Finnish border and the long Paasikivi-Kekkonen period of Finnish appeasement and adaptation to its situation, the so-called Finlandization, will occupy my for a long time as well, almost three weeks.

I will focus on the themes by cycling through historic regions, visit museums and the like and by talking to local people, how they experienced the time under Stalin and his caretakers near the Iron Curtain. By the way, they did not see temselves living behind it. On the contrary, they saw us doing so. I will ask people, how they saw the fall of the wall and the following life between the East and the West. In Finland I'll get close to the Russian border (not too close, that is). Furthermore, I will visit some of the Winter War battlefields of 1939 and the central Winter  War Museum near Suomussalmi. Finland is a country that lies close to my heart, and I've taught me some Finnish, "huvin vuoksi", that means for pleasure. In the far North I want to examine environmental problems in Norway near the huge Russian nikkel works and former Soviet Northern Fleet naval bases. Are they still an issue up here?

Besides history nature will play a prominent role. First the long stretch along the Baltic Sea east coast with lonely beaches and major port cities and small tourist resorts in the Baltics, the Gulf of Finland's south bank through Estonia and the world famous city of St. Petersburg. From Russia to Finland I will sail in a ship on the Saimaa Canal, originally located in Finland, but since 1940 it runs in both countries. In Finland I ride through some of the overall thinly populated country's most lonely areas. Here nature reigns, interspersed with small towns and villages. I plan a boat trip to the renowned mountain top of Koli in Northern Karelia. This is the most typical Finnish landscape. Naturally nature reigns also in that last stretch in Norway, where my bike holiday ends with the Jakobselv's mouth into the Arctic Ocean. On the other side of the small river mouth Russia begins. And it doesn't end until her coastline hits North Korea on the other side of the earth. Gosh, Russia is an incredibly big country. One must not forget that. She is a great country too and she's the super power that lost the Cold War. It's a wounded bear, if you like, and in that context one has to see the national resurrection under the new strong leader Vladimir Putin. Are we going to accept him as the Russian leader or are we going to confront him? Right now we've imposed economic sanctions and a cold political climate on Russia, but threats in that direction are far more outspoken, especially in those Nato countries, which were formerly a part of the Soviet power sphere, e.g. the Baltic states. And will Russia come to terms with the expanding West? So far Russia has had to accept that no less than 18  former Soviet republics or Warsaw pact countries have joined Nato. That happened after Gorbachev had agreed with Western Germany in 1990 that as a price for letting East Germany decide freely in which military organisation they wanted to be, Nato had agreed not to expand eastwards. A formidable contract breach. As a matter of fact. In Russian eyes it's an enormous defeat. These questions I intend to seek an answer to from ordinary people in all the countries, my iron horse will carry me through on the Iron Curtain route.

I also look forward to cultural highlights as the big cities of Riga, Tallinn and especially St. Petersburg, where I'll spend one or two days of rest in order to discover the cities, rest my pins and, if necessary, have my bike or equipment repaired. Or body looked after. Here history can also go a little further back in time as with the story of the Danish flag falling from the sky in Tallinn (literally it means "Danish castle") in 1219, or when Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg, his "Window to the West" and ousted Sweden from former Russian territory.

One last aspect about long cycling trips is the "cyclelogical", as I wish to put it.  To ride my bicycle is in the common sense a spiritual pleasure for me, as much as it is a physical exercise. I don't need a long or especially quiet trip, before my head goes into a special relaxing mode. I often get ideas for solving problems, which I didn't get at home or at work. By cycling long trips through lonely, unchanging landscapes as the seemingly endless Finnish forests without meeting other people for several hours, sometimes not even in cars is psychologically especially valuable for a person like me. I experienced that on my bike trip to the North Cape in 2010, when I also rode through Finland on the long end. It turned out a journey into myself and in the end i had found myself. I needed that kind of mental hygiene then after far too many far too short relationships to various women after my divorce from the mother of my children nine years earlier. When I came back home I was ready to meet the woman, I'm married to today. Everything fits neatly together for me. Luckily, I'm not in that kind of need this time, but nonetheless I look forward a great deal to seven weeks of "cyclelogigal" wellness before I'll meet my wife in Northern Norway. She'll fly up there and together we will visit the North Cape and the magnificent island it rises from before travelling slowly home by ship along the coast. Travelling that way I'll get my soul with me. And I look forward to watch the land sail slowly by instead of trampling through it.

The duration is planned for seven weeks. The first section is an introduction of four days from my home in Odense to Klaipeda in Lithuania through Scania (with one train ride and two ship crossings). From Klaipeda in Lithuania I plan to bike all the way to Grense Jakobselv. Apart from the canal ride between Vyborg in Russia and Lappeenranta in Finland, where I will go by boat on the Saimaa Canal.

As my home is in a Nordic Country I have chosen the northern part of Iron Curtain route, but in 2018, I plan to ride a more southern part of the Iron Curtain route from Klaipeda in Lithuania to Swinoujscie, Poland. Possibly, someday I will bike even further along the Baltic Sea and the former inner German border. But those are plans of the far future. For now it's the trip to the North.


11 nights at 7 different hotels/hostels. In the big cities of Riga, Tallinn and St. Petersburg, in Narva (Estonia) and all accomodation in Russia. Is booked in advance.

24 nights at 21 different camp sites. The natural choice in Denmark, Latvia and Estonia plus on rest days in Finland.

13 nights at 12 different sites for camping in nature. Common in Sweden, Finland and Norway plus once in Latvia and Estonia respectively. Planned as possibly well by way of Google Maps.

1 night on the ship from Karlshamn to Klaipeda.



  • From Odense to Korsoer. To be booked with DSB

Ship crossings:

  • From Elsinore to Helsingborg. No booking needed.
  • From Karlshamn to Klaipeda. Is booked with DFDS
  • Vyborg-Lappeenranta. Is booked with Saimaa Travel


With assistance from the visa support service e.g. with Hostel Vyborg and then at the consulate at the Russian Embassy in Denmark.

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20 Sep 2014 - 17 Mar 2017

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Divided into eight parts, each of which ends with one rest day, except the 1st part, which has no rest days and the 4th part to Saint Petersburg, where I have two rest days. All in all 8 rest days (Riga, Tallinn, St. Petersburg (2), Lieksa, Sodankylä and Grense Jakobselv) 

  • 1st part:

    Stages 1 to 4 and days 1 to 4, Naesby - Klaipeda, 344 km/4 stages/days=86 km/stage/day.

  • 2nd part:

    Stages 5 to 9, days 5 to 10 Klaipeda - Riga, 490 km/5 stages=98 km/stage, 6 days=82 km/day.

  • 3rd part:

    Stages 10 to 15, days 11 to 17, Riga - Tallinn, 557 km/6 stages=93 km/stage, 7 days=80 km/day.

  • 4th part:

    Stages 16 to 20, days 18 to 24, Tallinn - St. Petersburg, 492 km/5 stages=98 km/stage, 7 days=70 km/day.

  • 5th part:

    Stages 21 to 23, days 25 to 28, St. Petersburg - Lappeenranta, 189 km/3 stages=60 km/stage, 4 days=47 km/day.

  • 6th part:

    Stages 24 to 28, days 29 to 34, Lappeenranta - Lieksa, 521 km/5 stages=104 km/stage, 6 days=87 km/day.

  • 7th part:

    Stages 29 to 36, days 35 to 43, Lieksa - Sodankylä, 735 km/8 stages=92 km/stage, 9 days=82 km/day.

  • 8th part:

    Stages 37 to 41, days 44 to 49, Sodankylä - Grense Jakobselv, 452 km/5 stages=90 km/stage, 6 days=75 km/day

Total: 7 weeks=49 days, of which 41 stages and 8 rest days, 3756 km/41 stages=92 km/stage, 49 days=77 km/day

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02 Jan 2016 - 08 Mar 2017

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Travel to and from ...


HOMEBOUND JOURNEY: By bike from Grense Jakobselv to Kirkenes. Via ship (Hurtigruten) from Kirkenes to Bergen, with a trip to the North Cape, together with my wife Susanne, who flies into Kirkenes. From Bergen to Copenhagen by plane and from Copenhagen to Odense by train. 

Sources of information




164 km



180 km



61 km



582 km



697 km



376 km



1.607 km



104 km



87 km


106 km


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65 km


82 km


58 km


114 km


130 km


125 km


16 km

Hviledag i Riga

103 km


111 km


102 km


84 km


67 km


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Hviledag i Tallinn

107 km


87 km


96 km


118 km


Beds4Cyclists, worth visiting and infrastructure

Name and address

Latitude / Longitude


Type of accommodation

Rating for cyclists

Route km
Dist. to route


3 km
0,4 km
22 m


DK-5000 Odense




3 km
0,2 km
26 m


DK-5000 Odense


Hotel without restaurant (garni)


3 km
0,6 km
13 m

DK-5000 Odense


Old town

Cathedral St. Canute
Cathedral St. Canute
Birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen
Birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen
Odense palace
Odense palace
Carved altar piece in the Cathedral
Carved altar piece in the Cathedral

Odense (Danish pronunciation: [ˈoðˀn̩sə]) is the third largest city in Denmark. It has a population of 168,798 (as of 1 January 2012) and is the main city of the island of Funen Wikipedia Icon. The city is the seat of Odense Municipality, with a population of 191,610 (as of 1 January 2012), and was the seat of Odense County until 1970, and Funen County from 1970 until 1 January 2007, when Funen County became part of the Region of Southern Denmark.

Tourist attractions

Saint Canute's Cathedral Wikipedia Icon (Danish: Sankt Knuds Kirke) was formerly connected with the great Benedictine monastery of the same name, and is one of the largest and finest buildings of its kind in Denmark. It is constructed of brick in a pure Gothic style. Originally dating from 1081–1093, it was rebuilt in the 13th century. Under the altar lies Canute Wikipedia Icon (Danish: Knud), the patron saint of Denmark, who had planned to conquer England, then ruled by William of Normandy Wikipedia Icon. Canute was slain in an insurrection at Odense in 1086. Odense is also the see of the bishop of Funen. The cathedral has the skeletons of both the Saint/King and his brother on public display. A large fragment of Byzantine Wikipedia Icon cloth is displayed next to the two skeletons. The cathedral also boasts one of Denmark's finest altarpieces, a magnificent triptych Wikipedia Icon by Claus Berg Wikipedia Icon. Kings John Wikipedia Icon (Danish: Hans) and Christian II Wikipedia Icon are buried in the city.

Our Lady's Church, built in the 13th century and restored in 1851–1852 and again in 1864, contains a carved 16th century altarpiece by Claus Berg Wikipedia Icon of Lübeck Wikipedia Icon.

Odense Palace was erected by King Frederick IV Wikipedia Icon, who died there in 1730.

There is a theatre as well as a symphony orchestra, a zoo, and the Funen Village Wikipedia Icon (Den Fynske Landsby) which is an open-air museum with old houses typical of Funen.

The City Hall has a small scar from a battle between Germans and members of the Danish Resistance on 5 May 1945. The city's coat of arms – located above the main entrance to City Hall – is damaged. On closer inspection, it can be seen that the kneecap of Saint Canute Wikipedia Icon was penetrated by a bullet.

The 4 most visited attractions in 2007 were:

1. Odense Zoo Wikipedia Icon – 420,254 visitors
2. The Funen Village – 105,040 visitors
3. Danish Railway museum – 97,759 visitors
4. H.C. Andersen's House – 80,622 visitors

Other attractions:

Information about copyright

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Link to the description of the license

Input taken over from:

Wikipedia contributors, 'Odense', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 February 2021, 20:01 UTC, [accessed 12 March 2021]

taken over / edited on

20 Mar 2013

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3 km
0,6 km
13 m


DK-5000 Odense




3 km
0,5 km
15 m

DK-5000 Odense



Das Geburtshaus H.C. Andersens in Odense
Das Geburtshaus H.C. Andersens in Odense
Museum von der Gartenseite
Museum von der Gartenseite

H. C. Andersens Hus ist die dänische Bezeichnung für das Haus, in dem der dänische Dichter Hans Christian Andersen wahrscheinlich geboren wurde. Das Haus liegt in der Altstadt von Odense Wikipedia Icon in der „Bangs Boder“ Straße.

Obwohl der Geburtsort von Andersen nicht mit Sicherheit ermittelt werden kann, ist es wahrscheinlich, dass er in dem Haus geboren wurde. In diesem Haus wohnte die Großmutter von Andersen und 1805, als der spätere Dichter geboren wurde, wohnte die Tante von Andersen dort. Sie war die einzige Verwandte von Andersens Eltern, die in der Region wohnte. Andersen lebte auf jedem Fall nicht lange in dem Haus. Seine Kindheit verbrachte er in einem Haus in der Munke Møllestræde. Dort wurde 1930 das Museum „H.C. Andersens Barndomshjem Wikipedia Icon“ errichtet.

1905, 100 Jahre nach der Geburt von Andersen, beschloss die Stadt Odense, ein Museum im wahrscheinlichen Geburtshaus des Dichters zu errichten. Die Stadt restaurierte das Haus und eröffnete das Museum 1908 am Geburtstag des Dichters.

2005 wurde das Museum erweitert. Es besteht aus einem Neubau. In diesem wird anhand zahlreicher Dokumente das Leben und das Werk des Dichters dargestellt. Der alte Teil des Museums ist das eigentliche Geburtshaus. Dies ist so eingerichtet, wie es 1805 wahrscheinlich ausgesehen hat.

Information about copyright

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Input taken over from:

Seite „H. C. Andersens Hus“. In: Wikipedia, Die freie Enzyklopädie. Bearbeitungsstand: 1. April 2013, 08:52 UTC. URL: (Abgerufen: 6. April 2013, 20:47 UTC)

taken over / edited on

06 Apr 2013

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Hours of opening

1. Januar - 30. Juni, Dienstag bis Sonntag 10 - 16 Uhr
1. Juli - 1. September, Montag bis Sonntag 10 - 17 Uhr
2. September - 31. Dezember, Dienstag bis Sonntag 10 - 16 Uhr

Geöffnet am 2. Ostertag und 2. Pfingsttag sowie montags in den Wochen 7, 8, 13 und 42.
Geschlossen am 24, 25. und 31. Dezember sowie am 1. Januar.





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