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.
Less than 100km south of Oulu, Raahe was founded in 1649 by Count Per Brahe the Younger, the Governor General of Finland, and has developed into a modern centre where Information Technology, the steel industry, and one of Finland's busiest ports all jostle comfortably with its historical Old Town. Following a devastating fire in 1810, Raahe was rebuilt using a Renaissance-inspired rectilinear town plan which features a central square (Pekkatori Square) with closed corners. The Old Town consists of 152 dwellings and 240 rear buildings, but it is not an open-air museum, rather it is a thriving, vibrant centre around which the more modern town revolves.
Old Raahe is one of the oldest wooden towns in Finland. At its heart is Pekkatori Square, where the Lang, Fontell, Montin, Frieman, Hedmansson and Kivi-Sovio houses show the influence of neo-classicism. In Myhrberg Park you'll see the oldest dwelling in Raahe, Sovelius House which was built in the 1780s and now acts as a museum. The ground floor is in the Art Nouveau style, with rooms for changing exhibitions, while the first floor has been restored in the form of a home for a wealthy shipowner and merchant in the 1890s. Elsewhere facing the park visitors can view the Sovio House which is owned by the town and contains Raahe's cultural office, its banqueting hall and reception rooms, plus four conference rooms that are rented out.
Even without the delightful Old Town, Raahe has a wealth of cultural attractions to captivate visitors. The Raahe Museum holds the distinction of being the oldest museum of cultural history in Finland, founded in 1862 by Doctor Carl Robert Ehrström, and housed in the Old Customs House. The museum's pride is 'the Old Gentleman', the oldest diving suit in world, made of leather and dating back to the 18th century. In the Saloinen Museum you'll find a collection of artefacts and pictures recording the lives of local inhabitants exhibited among 18 old buildings, mostly relating the history of fishing and agriculture. The Ojala residence, built in 1800, has been a farm house, a shelter for the sick and the old, an old folks home, and is now a museum. Local craftsmen use the museum for cultural events and exhibitions in the summer. Raahe also has an Old Pharmacy museum containing one of Finland's most valuable collections of apothecary jars, as well as equipment and instruments used in the preparation of medicines, and old pharmacy wrappings and packages.
Raahe boasts two churches designed by architect Josef Stenbäck, both completed in 1912. In the granite Church of Raahe you can view the altar piece 'Awakening Hope' which was painted by Eero Järnefelt in 1926, and in the Pattijoki Church the gold plated wooden altar piece, 'Crucifixion of Christ' is Tyrolean. In the Church of Saloinen, completed in 1932, you can view medieval pictures of saints and a Saint Cabinet from the 15th century which were rescued from the old church. The bell tower originates from 1783.
Raahe hosts a variety of different events throughout the year, starting with February's Raahe Music Week, the very popular Jazz on the Beach festival held every July, and the Brahe Classica festival held every autumn. In April, the town comes alive to the Raahe Spring Market, and the weekend following Midsummer the locals celebrate Pekka's Day. In October the Autumn Market is held, and there is also a Children's Culture Week.
There is plenty to charm and entertain the visitor to Raahe, especially the preserved Old Raahe and its many picturesque houses, parks and squares. Elsewhere there are museums and galleries to explore, and two churches designed by the talented Josef Stënback. Music lovers can enjoy classical and jazz festivals, and there is also a week dedicated to Children's Culture. View our Raahe Tourism list of top tourist attractions in Raahe.
Raahe has abundance of swimming pools, sports centres, and spas, where you can enjoy a diverse range of activities such as tennis, badminton, squash, swimming, bowling, baseball, ice hockey, and skating. There is a ski centre and opportunities to go diving, sailing or windsurfing.
There is a variety of restaurants and cafes in Raahe to cater for all budgets, with a la carte options specialising in the rich bounty of the seas. Nightlife in Raahe is likewise varied with a number of pubs, music bars, karaoke bars and nightclubs. View our Raahe travel guide to Raahe tourism.
As there are six conference centres in Raahe there are also high quality hotels in and around the town, and numerous bed and breakfasts on the outskirts. For the budget traveller there is a choice of excellent camping services or the modern hostel.
Raahe is the perfect place for any shopper looking for handicrafts and souvenirs, with many local artisans selling directly to the public through small boutiques. It is also well known as a place to hunt for bargain antiques.
Getting to Raahe usually means coming through Oulu 75km to the north, which has Finland's second largest airport and which is well served by connections from Helsinki. Regular bus services operate between the two towns, and Raahe is also one of the country's busiest ports with a well equipped guest harbour. View our Raahe Tourism list of tranportation in Raahe.