Tampere is a highly popular destination for visitors to explore the beauty and attractions of the real Finland. Although blessed with sweeping scenic views Tampere is certainly not lacking in social and cultural distractions thanks to the population of fun loving students. A particular charm of the city lies in that fact that although plenty of chain stores are present they are far outnumbered by the vast collection of funky, independent stores and restaurants.
Tampere has no shortage of good hotels with Hotel Cumulus (Koskikatu 5) coming high up the list. Moderately priced and very centrally located, choose a room overlooking the Tammerkoski River for the best views of Tampere’s strangely picturesque redbrick factories. The towering Sokos Hotel Ilves (Hatanpään valtatie 1) is also excellently located, with the modern décor and clean lines expected of a country with such design heritage. Pop to the sauna and Jacuzzi to wind down after a day’s exploration. On a slightly lower budget? Try Hotel Victoria (Itsenäisyydenkatu 1), conveniently located next to the train station. Rooms are basic, but breakfast is a lavish banquet of breads, fruit, eggs and salads.
Tampere has international chains, but the city’s charm lies in its quirky independents. Stock up on fabrics at the Finlayson factory (Kuninkaankatu 3), where the former textile mill has been repurposed into trendy shops, galleries and cool cafés. Slightly further out of town, a the restored 19th-century Tallipiha Stable Yards are now home to a daily outdoor market and small shops – try Tallipihan Suklaapuoti (Kuninkaankatu 4) for row upon row of enticing chocolates. Families shouldn’t miss a visit to the Moominvalley museum (Hämeenpuisto 20) – not only to see original Moomin prints by Tove Jansson but to visit the gift shop too.
Finnish food hasn’t got quite the reputation of its Scandinavian neighbours, but there are some gastronomic gems around Tampere. Food using traditional Finnish ingredients like reindeer and lingonberries is done well at Ravintola Astor (Aleksis Kiven katu 26). For high-end dining, Ravintola Näsinneula (Särkänniemi) is one of the best spots in the city. If you’re not floored by the food, you will be by the view – it’s a revolving restaurant set 120m high, atop Näsinneula tower. Back down to earth, the Finns do great snack food – try doughnuts from the Pyynikki observation tower café (Näkötornintie 20), or some delicious korvapuusti (cinnamon cardamom buns) which are sold everywhere.
Tampere Film Festival
Finnish film takes centre stage at this five-day festival promoting films from around the country. Documentaries, animations and experimental films are all screened, while film buffs can geek out further at the seminars, panel discussions and workshops.
Mänttä Art Festival
Set in the small town of Mänttä, 1 hour and a half from Tampere, this art festival has run for the past 20 years. Each year a curator is given free reign to choose Finnish artists according to a theme. Exhibits run the gamut from painting and photography to sculpture and performance art.
Music lovers will be in their element at Tammerfest. The urban festival is spread over four days in July during which visitors can stumble across gigs happening right across the city. With over 20 venues to choose from, there’s no excuse not to dance the night away.
Tampere Floral Festival
The end of July sees Tampere celebrate all things floral. There are a host of events to choose from. Watch dances by local performers, taste food from the best restaurants in the city, and head to ‘Wine Village’ to sample wines from across the globe.
Finnish Handicrafts Fair
The annual Finnish Handicrafts fair sees 30,000 visitors descend on Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre for one of the biggest events of its kind, with stalls selling everything from knitwear to jewellery. Open to the trade and the public, shopaholics beware: this could end up costly.