Hey guys, skip Helsinki and Lapland and come to Tampere! If you ask me, Tampere is the ultimately best summer town in Finland, and despite the fact that the main street looks horrible at the moment (they are building a tram line there), there are plenty of beautiful places to see and things to experience in this largest inland town in the Nordics. Let me introduce to you, my home town Tampere!
Sometimes it is hard to believe that just a couple of hundred metres from the main street of Tampere, you are actually able to hear sounds of laying hens and ride on a horse carriage. In Tallipiha, all this is possible. The name in English means a stable yard, and the area was originally built for Finlayson factory owner’s horses and the staff who took care of the horses. Nowadays, the stable and old homes are turned into a relaxing haven with handicraft boutiques, a cute and cozy cafe and hands down the best chocolate shop in Finland. This is literally the first place I visit when in Tampere, and it should be for you too!
Read more about Tallipiha here.
Laukontori and Viikinsaari
There are two summer ourdoor market squares in Tampere, Laukontori and Tammelantori. Laukontori is located by the water, and from there you can take a boat to a nearby island called Viikinsaari. In Viikinsaari you can relax with your family and friends, visit a beautiful wooden villa that hosts a restaurant, swim or have a picnic. At least once a summer I have to go to Laukontori for a “market coffee” like we Finns call it. PS. In Laukontori you also have a chance to taste the famous (notorious) blood sausage that is a local delicatesse in Tampere. You traditionally have it with lingonberry jam and cold milk.
Pyynikki Observation Tower
Pyynikki Observation Tower is famous for it’s family owned café and amazing doughnuts. Don’t forget to climb up to the tower where you will have a 360-degree view over the whole Tampere and neighbouring towns. And taste the doughnuts, they are well worth their reputation!
Take yourself to Pispala
Have a Sunday stroll in Pispala! Pispala is a suburb of Tampere, once inhabited by factory workers and known for it’s bad reputation and restless life. Pispala grew without any proper building plan, which resulted in unique building solutions and styles. Now the wooden houses are protected and beautifully restored. Pispala is located on Finland’s largest esker, so you will have stunning views over the two lakes big lakes in Tampere. If you feel hungry, try Café Pispala‘s famous brunch – booking almost necessary.
Read about my brunch experience here!
Bike around the lake Pyhäjärvi
As said, Tampere is located between two lakes, Pyhäjärvi and Näsijärvi. You can rent a bike and cycle a tour around Pyhäjärvi and visit three towns, Tampere, Pirkkala and Nokia (yes, the mobile phones are named after this place) and see some of the best landscapes in Finland.
Read about my biking challenge here!
Visit Kauppahalli (market hall)
Tampere Kauppahalli is one of the best market halls in Finland by any standard. Visit tiny and traditional shops and boutiques, taste some Finnish delicates, like cured salmon or reindeer or have a great lunch for example at restaurant Four Seasons, Neljä vuodenaikaa that has been voted as the best lunch place in Tampere.
Visit Vapriikki museum
If you get a rainy day, no worries, Tampere has still a lot of things to do. I am a museum lover, and my favourite one is Vapriikki that actually hosts several different museums, ranging from exhibitions on games, ice-hockey, toys, Finnish civil war in 1918 or the history of Tampere. Tampere has also other interesting museums, like the Moomin museum, Lenin museum or Spy museum.
Have a picnic at Arboretum
Arboretum is a botanic garden located a couple of kilometres outside the city centre. Take your picnic gear with you (don’t forget to bring some old bread to feed the ducks), pick your spot and enjoy. The optimal time to visit the park in in the early August when the rose garden is at it’s best.
Learn about the history of Tampere + enjoy great food at Finlayson and Kehräsaari areas
Finlayson is the heart of Tampere, the soul where the city started it’s industrial development. Nowadays the old factories are turned into restaurants, bars, offices, cinemas, art galleries, museums and cafeterias. They are full of life, just like back in the old days. My tips are to see the old steam engine, visit Finlayson Art area (free or charge) and try out local brewed beer and Finnish pub food at Plevna.
Another great place is Kehräsaari that is located just next to Laukontori. The place is maybe a bit hidden from a tourist radar, but there you can find several handicraft shops, a good steak restaurant Stefan’s steakhouse and a chicken wings’ restaurant Hook. If you want to see a movie, visit a tiny cinema Niagara that specialises in international quality movies. They have different theme weeks and special days when you can get movie tickets for only 6 euros.
Have drinks at Café Europa
When I was studying in Tampere, my favourite café / bar was Café Europa. The place has a corky decor with antique furnitures and old paintings. The place is popular among students and foreign people living in Tampere so the atmosphere is quite international. They serve a variety of coffees, tees, wine, beer and cocktails and some food too. They also have live music or dj on some evenings and some pretty good discounts for students. This is one of the best places to start your evening with friends before heading to the Tampere night life (or to home, like old people, myself included, do nowadays).
Tampere has so much things to do that it was hard to pick just 10 favourites. I will probably have to write another ten or twenty tips soon!