The long coast of Western Finland provides travellers with a veritable smörgåsbord of Finnish culture and history, across the full range of Finnish landscapes - from the scattered islands of the archipelago in the south, over the cultivated plains of Ostrobothnia, to the rolling hills and fells with their unique aapa bogs as you draw closer to Lapland. The brackish waters of the Gulf of Bothnia offer excellent fishing, and the waters are perfect for exploring by kayak or canoe, while there are numerous trails and routes for cyclists and hikers to explore. And for those who prefer to take it easy, the coast can lay claim to Finland's finest beaches.
Boasting remnants of the Stone, Bronze and Viking Ages and a UNESCO World Heritage Site at its very heart, Rauma is a vibrant town with a wealth of culture to share with visitors. Over the calendar year the town hosts numerous festivals including Klustermus, the Rauma Blues Festival, Festivo, Rauma Summer Jazz, Rauma Lace Week, Blue Sea Film Festival, and the Rauma Biennial Balticum. Further up the coast lies Pori, where the 6km long Yyteri beaches are among the best in Europe. Famed for the international Pori Jazz Festival, it also hosts an international festival of folk culture and the delightful Lainsuojattomat Festival.
Situated by the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Kvarken Archipelago, Vaasa provides visitors with a rich mix of culture and history. With around 20 museums and a calendar of events that includes the Vaasa Choir Festival, the Korsholm Music Festival, the Jorma Panula Conducting Competition, and its Night of the Arts. The town's natural bounty can be explored at Terranova, Meteoria Söderfjärden or the nature trail at Öjberget. In the town of Kokkola it seems that there is always something happening, every year it celebrates a Festival of Dance, the Winter Accordion Festival, Spring, Fish, Summer and Autumn Markets, Kahakka Day, Old Kalle's Summerweek, Mustakari in Memories music festival, Kokkola Opera Summer Festival, Kokkola Rock Festival, Venetsialaiset, and a Scandinavian Blues Party!
Known as the Town of Sea Winds, Raahe is a cosy welcoming town with a fine guest harbour where tourists can charter a topsail schooner, visit a handful of museums, or enjoy festivals such as Raahe Music Week, Jazz on the Beach Festival, the Brahe Classica and Pekka's Day. One of the largest northerly cities in the world, Oulu has developed from an ancient trading post to a modern, vital city packed with museums and a rich cultural calendar. Among other things, Oulu hosts a Music Video Festival, the International Children's Film Festival, the rock festival Qstock, Jalometalli Metal Music Festival and Jalometalli Winterfest, the Festival of Irish Music, the Oulu Music Festival and the Oulunsalo Music Festival.
The inland towns of Western Finland are no less interesting. Seinäjoki is a delightful mix of old and new, with numerous museums and the Aalto designed Cultural Centre blending nicely together. The town hosts 3 of the biggest music festivals in the country; Provinssirock, Vauhtiajot and Tangomarkkinat. Most visitors to Kankaanpää come to enjoy the natural beauty of the Hämeenkangas and Pohjankangas ridges and the nature trails around them, only to be surprised at the sheer volume of art placed throughout the town - there are over 100 pieces here!
One of largest northerly cities in the world, Oulu has grown from an ancient trading centre to a modern city, packed with museums and galleries, and host to numerous cultural and music festivals every year. These include the Oulu Music Video Festival, the International Children's Film Festival and the Musixine Music Film competition, the rock festival Qstock, Jalometalli Metal Music Festival and Jalometalli Winterfest, the Festival of Irish Music, the Oulu Music Festival in winter, the Oulunsalo Music Festival in summer. It is also famed for hosting the Air Guitar World Championships!
With almost 20 museums, numerous art galleries and a city orchestra, Vaasa can lay claim to being the cultural heart of Ostrobothnia. A visit to Vaasa is always a rewarding experience, especially when you arrive during the Vaasa Choir Festival, the Korsholm Music Festival, the prestigious Jorma Panula Conducting Competition, or on Vaasa's popular Night of the Arts. Nature lovers know Vaasa for Terranova, which introduces the wonderful Kvarken Archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and will delight in the Nature Trail at Öjberget which takes in the Öjbergsmossen bog, a giant's pot hole, a 'devil's field' and a dwarf pine-covered meteorite crater. At Meteoria Söderfjärden, among other things, is a bird-watching tower in the middle of the most important resting area for cranes in Finland.
Situated on the west coast of Finland, tourists have long enjoyed Pori's mix of unique natural and cultural attractions. For travellers who love the seaside the beaches of Yyteri, with 6km of rolling dunes, are among the finest in Europe. Incredible views can be had from the Yyteri Observation Tower (63m high), of the nearby islands of Mäntyluoto, Reposaari and Ahlainen. The unique wetlands nature of Satakunta is explored in the Ark Nature Centre, just one of many fine museums in the area. Pori also hosts the world famous 5 day Pori Jazz festival, the Pori International Folk Culture Festiva and the charming Lainsuojattomat Festival.
Situated on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, Raahe is a seaside town famous for its old wooden town centre. Known as the Town of Sea Winds, Raahe is a cosy, welcoming town with much to offer visiting tourists. There are five museums to visit, Raahe Museum, Sovelius House, Saloinen Museum, Ojala Museum and the Old Pharmacy. Raahe has a fine guest harbour and you can charter the Fiia of Raahe, a 21,5 meters long topsail schooner, or other more common craft. Highlights in Raahe's events calendar include Raahe Music Week, Jazz on the Beach Festival, the Brahe Classica and Pekka's Day.
This delightful town in Southern Ostrobothnia manages to mix the old and new to surprisingly pleasant effect. The old is best represented by the many museums, especially in the historic area of Törnävä where the Regional Museum of Southern Ostrobothnia has 20 separate parts; the new by the Alvar Aalto designed Seinäjoki Cultural Centre, comprised of six buildings including the impressive Lakeuden Risti Church. It also hosts 3 of Finland's biggest music festivals - Provinssirock, Vauhtiajot and Tangomarkkinat.
Situated at the crossroads of the Hämeenkangas and Pohjankangas ridges in the Satakunta region of Western Finland, some 55km north of Pori, Kankaanpää is a small town with a big heart. The most surprising aspect is the sheer volume of art that abounds - over 100 works are distributed throughout the town - and the Church of Kankaanpää by C.L. Engel wouldn't be out of place in a far bigger town. However, it is the natural beauty of the region that keeps tourists returning here, the nature trails of Hämeenkangas alone are worth the trip!
A town rich in history, Kokkola seems to pass each year moving from one celebration or festival to another. Beginning in February with its Festival of Dance, through the Winter Accordion Festival, Spring Fish and Summer Markets, Kahakka Day, Old Kalle's Summerweek, Mustakari in Memories music festival, Kokkola Opera Summer Festival, Kokkola Rock Festival, Venetsialaiset, Scandinavian Blues Party and the Autumn Market; there's always something happening in Kokkola!
Featuring the living, breathing museum that is the medieval Old Rauma lying in the heart of the new town, Rauma is a little known gem that rewards all visitors. There are remnants of the Stone, Bronze and Viking Ages here, access to the gorgeous archipelago, and a host of festivals such as Klustermus, the Rauma Blues Festival, the weeklong Festivo classical music event, Rauma Summer Jazz, Rauma Lace Week, Blue Sea Film Festival, and the Rauma Biennial Balticum which showcases art from around the Baltic.