Tampere is the most populated inland city in Northern Europe, the Sauna capital of the world and a great center for innovation in Finland, with a growing presence of leading companies, talented entrepreneurs, artists and international students.
Perhaps for those reasons, its public spaces distill diurnal and nocturnal activities: musical and cultural events, conferences, a large number of restaurants with their varied culinary delicacies, terraces and music pubs merge in this city with museums, monuments and the signs of the Finnish ancestral culture.
The 100 choirs music festival. Photo by Laura Vanzo.
This is an ancient city full of history, born from the ashes of a manufacturing factory center, but has managed to modernize and now looks to the future proud of everything it has to offer. Next, we will explain what you should not miss if you have the chance to spend a day in Tampere, the city where so many good things happen.
Forget about clichés
When it comes to touring the city in a short time, Tampere tourism experts recommend to head from the East end of the center towards the West.
It is important to note that Tampere is compact and, therefore, friendly to walk. Tourists have not taken over the city and, therefore, wherever you go -no matter if it is a cafeteria, an art gallery, a public sauna or if you take an excursion in the nature- you are bound to meet many locals doing the same things you do. Talk to them, because in this relaxed city you may discover that some clichés you've heard about the Finns are just that, clichés.
The Tampere Cathedral. Photo by Laura Vanzo - Visit Tampere.
Following the rapids
The tourist board of the city (Visit Tampere) suggests to start the exploration from the east side of the Tammerkoski rapids. Of course, your first stop should be the Tampere Cathedral. This is a historical location with Hugo Simberg’s unconventional church art and Lars Sonck’s impressive architecture wowing visitors.
Then follow along the Satakunnankatu street and over the rapids to end up in Finlayson area, also known as the old town of Tampere. This is the spot where it all began for the city: a textile factory being set up on the banks of the rapids. It is basically a city within the city: walking under its main entrance will lead you to the past and make you follow the footsteps of thousands of past factory workers.
Finlayson area by night. Photo by Laura Vanzo - Visit Tampere.
If you want to know more about the workers' history, you can visit the Finnish Labour Museum Werstas and enjoy its exhibitions free of charge. Do not miss the impressive steam engine of Finlayson, which still remains at its original place in the engine room.
Visiting the Finlayson church, built for factory workers and their families is also a good idea. As it is to go to the Finlayson Palace, now turned into a restaurant in the beautiful surrounding park. In the nearby Tallipiha Stable Yards -originally built to house the factory owner’s animals- there are handicrafts shops and a café with delicious baked goods and a homely lunch.
When you are in the Stable Yards, look up and you will see an impressive white mansion on the Näsinkallio rock. It is Milavida, the old house of one of the owners of Finlayson, now converted into a museum. If you think you do not have enough time to go inside, at least it is worth taking a walk around the building for the view that opens to Lake Näsijärvi.
Hungry already? Whether you have a whole day or just a couple of hours left to spend in the city, you might want to grab a bite to eat. When hunger strikes, the best is to go straight to the Tampere Market Hall.
Photo by Laura Vanzo.
The historical market hall is one of the main sights in this city. You cannot leave Tampere without trying the local specialty, the black sausage. That will definitely make your lunch experience local or tamperelainen. For more cosmopolitan palates, the Market Hall offers also sushi, French cuisine and top-notch burgers.
Now it is time for dessert. The cute cafeterias in the market hall offer plenty of options, but just around the corner at the Central Square you’ll be able to have your coffee with a famous Pyynikki doughnut. The original doughnut café is located in the observation tower on top of Pyynikki ridge, but if you don’t have the time to go there and enjoy both the doughnut and the gorgeous lake view, at least give yourself the whim to have this delicacy in the city center.
Pyynikki observation tower. Photo by Laura Vanzo - Visit Tampere.
Shopping and Moomin Museum
Are you one of those visitors who like to leave a new place empty-handed? Surely not, so if you didn’t spend all your money in the Stable Yards’ shops and in the Market Hall, explore some design stores for a truly local souvenir. PikkuPutiikit is a good option for hand-made jewelry, and Seele for the best of Tamperean design.
Last but not least, a couple of bonus tips:
Tampere houses the only Moomin Museum in the world, which shows the original artwork of Tove Jansson, the artist who created the beloved troll creatures. It is worth visiting, especially if you travel with your children. The Moomin library and gift shop will complete the experience.
To end your day, there is nothing better than a sauna session. If you never experienced a Finnish sauna before -or if you already did or you are a sauna fanatic- you are in the perfect place. Tampere holds the title of the Sauna Capital of the World.
Customers enjoying Rajaportti Sauna, the oldest Finnish public sauna still in use. Photo: Laura Vanzo - Visit Tampere.
Try Rajaportti sauna if you are in search for the tradition of the oldest Finnish public sauna still in use. Or go to Kaupinoja or Rauhaniemi to bathe in the lake between each entrance and exit. If you prefer to have a sauna in the city, that is possible as well: Tulli sauna and Sauna & Restaurant Kuuma offer heat in the middle of the town.