West Coast

photo © Visit Finland / Elina Manninen – Keksit

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!