Until not too long ago, Tampere was a slightly gritty town that was better known for its industry than its beauty. But times change. Today, Tampere's old cotton mills have been turned into chic malls, its factories have been converted into galleries, and its grit and grime have been washed away to reveal an exciting, vibrant city that's ideal for a long weekend or an even longer week. If you're planning on visiting, you'll be spoilt for choice for top-notch activities and attractions. If you need a helping hand drawing up an itinerary, check out our guide to the 20 best things to do in Tampere, Finland.
20. Visit the Old Match Factory
The old match factory of Tulitikkutehdas was abandoned in the 1970s but soon found a new purpose in life when local graffiti artists decided its walls made a fine place to display their art. It's now become something of an unofficial graffiti gallery, with a vast array of murals and street art. If traditional galleries leave you cold, it's a great place to get your art fix.
19. Visit the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame
If there's one thing the Finnish are united in, it's their love of hockey. Strangely enough, it's actually a relatively new addition to the country's sports lineup - it was only introduced to the country in the '20s, and didn't really take off as a spectator sport until the first indoor arena was constructed in 1965. Still, they've been making up for lost time since, with their national team dominating at both the Olympics and the World Championships. If you want to find out what all the fuss is about for yourself, be sure to include the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame on your itinerary. Located in the Vapriikki museum complex, the museum celebrates the stars, the history, and the culture of Finland's national sport.
18. Admire the architecture at Tuomiokirkko
Named as one of the best attractions in Tampere by The Crazy Tourist, Tuomiokirkko is one of the best examples of National Romantic art nouveau architecture in the city, if not the entire country. The cathedral, which was designed in 1907 by symbolist artist Hugo Simberg, boasts a stunning area of frescos and stained glass. At the time, some of the features and images (which include a wounded angel being stretchered off by two children, skeletons tending over graves, and a precession of naked, cherubic apostles) didn't go down well, but while it's undoubtedly a very 'unique' place, it's also one that, controversy aside, is absolutely unmissable.
17. Enjoy a performance at Telakka
If you like jazz, comedy, and beer, don't miss Telakka. A favorite with locals and tourists alike, it hosts regular comedy evenings and music nights. The food, the drink, the entertainment, and the company are always first-rate, but if you're lucky enough to be visiting during the Tampere Jazz Happening, you're in for an even more special night than usual.
16. Pick up a souvenir at Taito Pirkanmaa
If you want to pick up some souvenirs to take home with you, head to Taito Pirkanmaa. This lovely boutique is piled high with gorgeous handcrafted Finnish products, including knitted jumpers, caps, scarves, cardigans, and babywear, along with a vast selection of textiles, confectionery, toys, and jewelry. Whether you want boiled sweets or tea towels, socks or blankets, this is the place to get them. It also has a beautiful assortment of handprinted cards, so be sure to stock up for future birthdays and anniversaries.
15. Try some blood sausage
You're not obliged to try blood sausage (or mustamakkara, as it's known locally) while you're in Tampere, but you'll be missing out if you don't. As Three Voices Media says, mustamakkara is considered a local delicacy here. Traditionally eaten with lingonberry jam, one of the best places to try a slice or two is at Kauppahalli, a fascinating indoor market with a vast array of colorful wooden stalls laden with baked goods, fruit, meats, and, of course, mustamakkara.
14. Enjoy a cocktail at Moro Sky Bar
If you like your mojito served with a view, take the elevator up to the 25th floor of the Solo Sokos Hotel Torni. There, you'll find Moro Sky Bar, the highest bar in Finland and as good a place as any to indulge in a cocktail or two. The floor-to-ceiling walls make the most of the dizzying views: in summer, take your drink outside to sit on Finland's highest terrace.
13. Take in the view at Nasinneula Tower
According to Finnish Architecture Navigator, Nasinneula Tower is the second tallest observation tower in the Nordic countries. Set in the heart of the Särkäniemi amusement park on the northern edge of the town, its design is based on Seattle’s Space Needle. If you've got a head for heights, take the high-speed elevator to the top of the tower to enjoy stunning views over Tampere's cityscape and the lakes and woodland beyond. If you're feeling peckish, pop by the revolving restaurant to enjoy some first-class Nordic cuisine.
12. Grab a coffee at Mokka Mestarit
The Finns love a good cup of java. Unfortunately (although don't tell them this to their face), very few have mastered the art of a good brew. Mokka Mestarit is the exception. Offering a good selection of very decent espresso, cold-drip and Aeropress variations, along with a vast assortment of teas, chai lattes, and matcha bowls, it's the perfect place to get your caffeine fix. By all accounts, the cakes are just as good as the coffee.
11. Check out the exhibits at Werstas
If you want to learn a little more about Tampere's past, be sure to pay a visit to Werstas. The labor museum features a vast collection of revolving exhibits that chronicle the social and industrial evolution of the city. The permanent collection consists of the steam engine and wheel that once powered the Finlayson factory, a shop and printing press, and a textile collection.
10. Visit the Cultural Centre
Tampere might be charming and it might have a ton of top-notch tourist attractions, but this is an industrial town with an industrial past. It all started with Scot James Finlayson, who founded Tammerkoski, the city's first cotton mill, in the 1820s. Over the years, it grew and grew, eventually becoming the very first building in the Nordic region to boast electric lights. Today, the mill's been replaced with a mall, but you can still find plenty of remnants of its industrial past in its architecture. With tons of shops and cafes to explore, along with a cinema, a brewery, and several museums, it's a great place to while away an afternoon.
9. Watch a match at Hakametsä Ice Stadium
Tampere is the home of Finnish ice hockey. Join in the fun with a visit to Hakametsä Ice Stadium. Located around 2km east of the train station, it hosts regular matches from September to March. Even if you can take or leave ice hockey as a rule, the festive atmosphere is enough of a reason to go. Tickets cost between €15 to €35 depending on your seat.
8. Step back in time at Amurin Työläismuseokortteli
If you want to see what life was like in the Tampere of old, take a tour of Amurin Työläismuseokortteli. A living history museum that consists of a block of 32 apartments spread over five residential buildings, a shoemaker, a bakery, a public sauna, a cafe, and two general stores, it's designed to offer a glimpse of Finnish life between 1882 and 1973. Interpretive panels with English translations are scattered around the site so you can learn more about the history of the buildings.
7. Relax At Tullin Sauna
If you're in need of some serious R&R, take the advice of inspiredbymaps.com and book yourself a session at the Tullin Sauna. As the biggest and best sauna in Tampere (which is no small achievement - with over 20 public saunas peppered around the city, it's got a rightful claim to the title of the sauna capital of the world), it offers an incredibly indulgent experience that's sure to leave you feeling rested, revived, and raring to go. You'll find the sauna tucked away inside a slightly grim industrial building. Don't be fooled by the exterior - the interior is a vision of chic Nordic design and top-notch amenities. The price of admission is more than reasonable and includes everything you'll need (a towel, soap, and locker access) for your visit. Once you've sweated out all of your stress, pop by the attached bistro for some juniper berry popcorn, horse burgers (don't scoff till you've tried them), and a glass of something uplifting.
6. Feed the goats at the Doghill Fairytale Farm
The Doghill Fairytale Farm is, as its name suggests, a magical place. If you've got kids, it's unmissable. If you haven't, go anyway. Based on a series of famous books called Koiramäki (Dog Hill), the farm offer hours of fun. Wander around the old wooden buildings of the historic town, feed the goats, pet the mangalitza pigs, visit the alpacas... if you're lucky enough to visit over Christmas, you'll even get to enjoy a meet and greet with Santa Claus and his reindeer and as many gingerbread cookies as you can eat.
5. Admire the art at Sara Hildénin Taidemuseo
If you're an art lover, don't miss a visit to Sara Hildénin Taidemuseo. Set in the Särkänniemi amusement park, this fascinating gallery acts as a showcase to the exquisite (and vast) collection of international and Finnish modern art and sculpture gathered by local art collector Sara Hildén over her lifetime. Once you've finished admiring the art, you'll find some great coffee, great snacks, and even greater views at the museum cafe.
4. Check out the Moomin Museum
If you hadn't heard of Moomins before your Finnish adventure, it won't take you long before you do. Created by the Finnish author Tove Jansson, the Moomin books have now been translated into over fifty languages and turned into numerous TV shows. Despite becoming international stars, no one loves the Moomins quite as much as the Finns. They've even dedicated a museum to them, and according to Tripboba.com, it's one of the most unmissable destinations in Tampere. Located in the city's downtown, it's got a great collection of original drawings and plenty of activities and exhibits that tell the story of the cute little characters. Visit on a Saturday or Sunday to take advantage of one of the free tours.
3. Enjoy some family fun at Särkänniemi
If you've got kids, make their vacation by treating them to a visit to Särkänniemi. This huge amusement park is packed with family-friendly attractions, including a planetarium, an aquarium, an observation tower, an art gallery, a farm zoo, and more rides than you could fit into a month of Sundays. Younger kids will have a great time at the Angry Birds area, while teens and adrenaline junkies will have a blast on the Tornado roller coaster and thrilling High Voltage ride.
2. Take a lie detector test at Vakoilumuseo
Tampere boasts a vast selection of museums, but few are quite so quirky or quite so intriguing as Vakoilumuseo. It's not huge, but its collection of devices used in international espionage (with a particular focus on the Cold War era) is fascinating enough to warrant at least a few hours of your time. The interactive displays will make you feel like you've jumped onto a James Bond set - although think twice before taking the lie detector test if you've any secrets you'd prefer to keep buried. If you're traveling with kids, it's worth stumping up the €5 extra to see if they'd pass the suitability test for KGB cadet school.
1. Visit Vapriikki
Rated as one of the top things to do in Tampere by Lonely Planet, Vapriikki consists of a cavernous glass and steel exhibition space that boasts a constantly revolving lineup of exhibits and attractions. One week you might see a display of vintage bicycles, the next you might see Buddhist artifacts. Alongside the temporary exhibits are a permanent display showcasing Tampere's history, a mineral museum, and a slightly wacky but very wonderful museum dedicated entirely to shoes.
Written by Liz Flynn
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