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!
The first settlers arrived here in the 1560s but the town wasn't officially founded until 1865, in 1967 it was granted market town status, and gained its full town charter in 1972. Today it is home to a population of 13,000, and has grown to become the administrative and commercial heart of the region. Twice has the king of Sweden visited here, in 1614 King Gustavus Adolphus passed through, and in 1752 King Adolf Frederik stopped at Kuninkaanlähde spring, which was named for the event and which can still be visited today.
Thanks to a forward-looking collaboration between a group of artists called Kankaanpää Colony, the Kankaanpää School of Arts, and town planners, the town has transformed from a 1950s rural town into a modern art town, resulting in the Kankaanpää Circle of Art, a collection of over a hundred public works of art placed around the town. The local Tourist Office provides a map, and visitors can choose to walk the Art Path, or the longer Art Route. More art can be enjoyed in the Gallery of Kankaanpää Art School and in the Postelli Galleria, and also in the Town Museum where the art collection features sculptures and paintings by Kauko Räike and Sinikka Räike. The museum also has permanent exhibitions exploring the development and use of trade and craft over the last century of Kankaanpää history. Other cultural gems include the Church of Kankaanpää which was designed by C.L. Engel and completed in 1839. An example of empire architecture, it sits atop a hill with a marvelous view of Lake Ruokojärvi.
Other places of interest in Kankaanpää include Kuninkaanlähde, the Spring of the King, where King Adolf Frederik stopped to rest and take refreshment while on his way to Ilmajoki to Hämeenlinna, and where visitors can still enjoy the pure spring waters today. Just outside the town you'll find the Garrison of Niinisalo which began as a tiny camp for military exercises and has grown to a modern, efficient centre for military training, and now is a base for the Military Band, the Finnish Battery, the Cavalry, the Artillery School and International Centre for U.N. Training. There's a fully licensed restaurant on the grounds, and a canteen famous for its dough nuts. Visitors to the area can get a glimpse of traditional village life by stopping off in Venesjärvi, or checking out the annual summer theatre performances by Veneskoski Village Society and the Youth Society Movement.
Culture is literally all around you in Kankaanpää, simply pick up a map and follow the route of The Art Circle, visit Kankaanpää Church, the Town Museum, or take a short trip to visit the Spring of the King, the picturesque Venesjarvi village, or enjoy the Summer Theatre of Veneskoski. View our list of top tourist attractions in Kankaanpää.
The citizens of Kankaanpää are by nature a sporting lot, so there's always plenty to do here, whether it be fishing, canoeing, swimming, playing baseball, tennis, golf, horse riding, trekking, dog-sled riding, ice hockey, snowmobiling, winter safaris, cross-country skiing, or even that most Finnish of lunacies, ice-hole swimming.
There aren't too many choices for diners in Kankaanpää, with just a few restaurants and a couple of fast food joints and some cafes. Likewise bars and clubs, so don't expect to be spoiled for choice when you go out in the evening.
There are a few hotels in Kankaanpää, including a cosy six room hotel situated next to the nature trails. Other options include B&B, holiday farms, and the holiday cottages in Venesjärvi. There is also an excellent caravan park and camping site with every possible convenience available including a swimming pool.
Kankaanpää serves the entire northern Satakunta region so the town has plenty of specialised shops alongside a wide variety of smaller boutiques and supermarkets. Also the town has quite a bustling market place held every Thursday.
Kankaanpää is reached easily by bus or car. The nearest airport is located in the city of Pori which also has a railway station, as does nearby Parkano. From Pori and Parkano there are regular connections by bus to Kankaanpää.