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.
Rauma is the third oldest town in Finland, founded in 1442, and currently home to some 40,000 people. At the heart of the town is Old Rauma, the largest unified historical wooden town in Scandinavia which contains 600 buildings in an area of 28 hectares, and one of Finland's 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the 14th century, prior to it being declared a town, Rauma was the site of a Franciscan monastery and a Catholic church, and its location on the coast saw it develop into one of Finland's most important seafaring towns; by 1897 the town had the largest fleet of commercial sailing boats in Finland, totaling 57 vessels.
There are four museums in the town where travelers can familiarise themselves with Rauma's rich history. In the former Town Hall, built in 1776, you'll find the Rauma Museum with much of the content on display relating to the lace for which the town is famed. The lace theme is continued on the premises of Pits-Priia, where you can watch the lace making process, learn all about bobbin lace, and purchase handmade lace and lace making materials. During the summer you can learn about the life of a seaman by visiting Kirsti, and Marela gives a glimpse into the lives of a ship-owning family, while the Potter's Workshop shows the workroom and home of a stove tile maker from the early 20th century. The Rauma Maritime Museum affords the visitor the opportunity to use the only navigation simulator in a Finnish museum. Art lovers will appreciate the exhibitions on display at the Rauma Art Museum and the Lönnström Art Museum, which also offer such activities as art workshops, lectures and concerts.
Other attractions in the town include Kiikartorni, a wooden tower that overlooks Syväraumanlahti bay. The Observation Tower, which also functions as the town's water tower, affords the visitor some splendid panoramic views of the town, and the opportunity to buy souvenirs. The Church of the Holy Cross, on the site of the former Franciscan monastery built in the 15th century, features medieval murals and frescoes, and its white steeple has served as a landmark for seafarers since it was built in 1816. In the middle of the old cemetery in Rauma you'll find Alfred Kordelin's Burial Chapel which was designed by Lars Sonck and completed in 1921. In 1924 it was donated to the parish of Rauma by his family. There is a Tourist Information Centre in Vanha Raatihuone where you can get information on the many archipelago cruises which depart from the Poroholma Camping site, and much more.
Travelers can also visit Sammallahdenmäki, a Bronze Age burial site which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and which dates back over 3,000 years. It is situated on a hill just off the road from Tampere to Rauma. In the nearby village of Vasarainen you'll find the homestead museum of Muina, with a collection of 1,600 items that were a part of rural life in the 19th and early 20th century. On a similar theme, there are two museums in Kodisjoki, some 18km from Rauma. Alongside the homestead museum in an old granary there is a Smith's Croft which houses a complete shoemaker's workshop. Finally, on the furthest islet in the Rauma archipelago you'll discover Kylmäpihlaja Lighthouse Island which now has hotel and conference facilities, and a restaurant and café.
There are numerous festivals held in and around Rauma every year, most taking place in the summer. These include Klustermus, an event dedicated to alternative music, the Rauma Blues Festival, the Festivo classical music event which lasts a week, and the Rauma Summer Jazz festival. Perhaps the most popular event, at least with locals, is Rauma Lace Week which takes place at the end of July. This popular festival is not just about lace, there are concerts and children's events, a midsummer ice hockey match, and culminating with Black Lace Night, a wild celebration held throughout Old Rauma and the surrounding lanes and streets. The Blue Sea Film Festival serves up a fine selection of Finnish and international movies, while the Rauma Biennial Balticum showcases art from around the Baltic every two years.
The Old Town of Rauma is just one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites in the area, the other being Sammallahdenmäki, a Bronze Age burial site. There are also numerous museums and galleries, and the town hosts blues, jazz, classical and rock music festivals during the year.
The region offers a wealth of choices for the visitor, and in particular has some of the best fishing in Finland, whether it be on Lake Pyhäjärvi, the rapids of Kokemäenjoki River, or sea fishing from Luvia and Merikarvia. You can also choose to play golf, tennis, go swimming, canoeing, birdwatching in the delta, or cross country skiing in winter.
Fish is a speciality in Rauma, but other local delicacies include casseroles, beef and dumpling soup, barley bread, lobscouse, and a variety of chicken and turkey dishes. There are numerous restaurants, to suit every budget and palate, and at night the Old Town has a fine selection of bars and clubs where you can relax and enjoy good music and company.
Visitors to Rauma can choose between hotels, rural cottages, holiday villages, self catering apartments, the Summerhotel Rauma hostel, the well equipped Poroholma Camping site, seaside villas, or bed and breakfasts.
Anyone visiting Rauma should take the opportunity to buy some of the lace products for which the town is renowned, but if lace doesn't appeal you'll find plenty of other souvenirs, crafts, and bargains in the many boutiques both in the Old Town and the newer shopping streets.
Most visitors to Rauma arrive by bus, as there is no direct rail service to the town. The nearest airports are in Pori, to the north, Tampere in the east, and Turku to the south. Visitors from abroad will usually arrive in Helsinki and get a bus from there. Many Finns arrive on their own boats as there are a number of guest harbours in the town.