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.
First established by the son of King Gustavus of Sweden, John Duke of Finland, in 1558, on the banks of the Kokemäenjoki river, the city became an important trade centre though which whitefish, salmon and other products of the Gulf of Bothnia were exported to continental Europe. Exotic delicacies such as spices, fine wines and fabrics were imported to Pori. From here they were sent on to other parts of Satakunta and northern Finland.
The birth of Pori as an industrial city can be traced to the great fire of 1852 which saw the city razed to the ground in a single day. After the great fire, the city became more spacious in aspect; broad avenues crisscrossed the city centre, and blocks of fine masonry buildings were built along the riverbank. By the 1870s, the city had recovered considerably, and as well as a match factory and engineering works, Pori developed alongside the numerous sawmills that began to spring up towards the end of the 19th century, becoming one of Finland's key cities for lumber export.
Since Finland's independence in 1917, Pori has continued to grow as an industrial base in Western Finland. But it has also developed as a major centre of education in the country, with over 6,000 students enrolled in Satakunta Polytechnic alone, and thanks to the influx of students the city now enjoys a lively nightlife, and is home to countless art galleries, museums, and concert halls. The city is famous for the annual international Pori Jazz Festival held every July, which attracts the best international talent and music lovers from around the world every summer. The 5 day Pori Jazz festival also includes the free festival for kids with different types of musical workshops, concerts and performances on three different stages. Both are held in the small nature park of Kirjurinluoto island, situated in the middle of the river Kokemäenjoki opposite Eteläranta street, a very popular spot for picnics with both locals and tourists alike. Later in the summer, the traditional Pori International Folk Culture Festival is held, and in autumn the city hosts the Lainsuojattomat Festival, which is put on by the Rakastajat Theatre.
Thanks to excellent environmental management, Pori, Yyteri and the marine area around are wonderfully served recreationally. Every year thousands of bird watchers arrive in the delta to view local and migrant species. The beaches at Yyteri Sands are immaculately kept and the perfect spot for sunbathing or taking a dip in the Gulf of Bothnia, and just out in the Bay you can visit the beautiful island of Reposaari, or spend some time sailing in the archipelago of Luvia which is comprised of over 400 islands and skerries.
Culture vultures visiting Pori will find plenty of things to do. The Satakunta Museum is a must, as is the Pori Art Museum, and the Juselius Mausoleum, situated in the Käppärä cemetery. Nature lovers should make time to explore the Natural Heritage centre Arkki, and the islands of Reposaari and Kirjurinluoto.
Whether you enjoy indoor or outdoor activities, Pori has it all: bowling, shooting, fishing, golf, horse riding, pony and trap racing, surfing, boating, yachting, tennis, squash, or swimming. The town is famous for its successful Pesäpallo team, a form of baseball not unlike rounders that is popular in Finland, and also for providing contestants in the Strongest Man in the World competitions.
Pori offers the diner a decent selection of restaurants, but possibly the best of them all is the Raatihuoneen Kellari, or the cellar in the Old Courthouse. Be sure to try the local fare, particularly the seafood and fish, and the local delicacy of 'nahkiainen', which is lamprey or river eel.
There are plenty of hotels in Pori, ranging in price and luxuriousness from modest to sumptuous, or for the budget traveller there are hostels, holiday villages and plenty of rural camping sites, all with the latest modern conveniences. It should be noted that the town fills up for the Jazz Festival, so booking in advance is well advised.
Along with the usual department stores and large shopping malls, Pori has a fine selection of smaller stores and boutiques, especially in the streets running off the town centre. Be sure to visit the town's bustling market place where there are always bargains to be found, along with the freshest produce grown locally.
Getting to Pori is easy, the airport is just outside the city and is well served from Helsinki by FinnComm Airlines. Getting there by rail is also easy, although you may have to change at Tampere if coming from Helsinki. There are also regular bus services between Pori and other major cities in Finland.