Photographer: Lev Karavanov

Get to know the top 5 cities in Lakeland Finland

Lakeland Finland is a region that not only captivates you with its waters and forests, but also has vibrant and diverse cities to offer. Each has its own unique identity, so you can look forward to exciting discoveries and inspiring encounters.

1. Tampere – from industrial heritage to Sauna Capital of the World

According to the Finns, Tampere is the country’s most popular city for living and as a tourist destination. The compact city between the two large lakes Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi inspires with its very special attitude to life and with its originality. In the centre, the red brick buildings around the Tammerkoski Rapids still characterise the cityscape, bearing witness to the industrial heritage. The city was once known as the “Manchester of the North”. But Tampere is always looking ahead. The former Finlayson area is now used for a variety of cultural purposes. A new tram line was built and since 2021 Finland’s largest multifunctional arena, the Nokia Arena, has been the pride of the city.

Sauna-goers cooling off at Rajaportti sauna in Pispala district of Tampere.
Photographer: Laura Vanzo

Stroll through the market hall (“Kauppahalli”) and find out what Tampere tastes like. Try the speciality “black sausage” with lingonberry sauce, see the city from above from one of the modern rooftop bars or from the legendary Pyynikki Observation Tower, where you should try the world’s best doughnuts (“munkki”). After a morning coffee at Laukontori Market Square, take a boat trip to Viikinsaari island. There is a wide range of museums in Tampere. Here you will find, for example, the world’s only Moomin Museum. As the Sauna Capital of the World, Tampere has the highest density of public saunas, including Finland’s oldest public sauna, Rajaportti, which is still in operation. With views of both lakes from the Pispala ridge, you will fall in love with Tampere and its special vibe.

Find out more about Tampere

2. Jyväskylä – follow in Alvar Aalto’s footsteps in the university city

The dynamically growing Jyväskylä with its 145,000 inhabitants is a lively university town. Here, where the heart of Lakeland Finland beats, there is always something going on with more than 5,000 events of various sizes every year. Among the best-known events are Rally Finland, part of the world championship, and the City of Lights Festival, which illuminates Jyväskylä in autumn. Jyväskylä also has more than 100 permanently illuminated places and installations that put the city in a pleasant light even on dark autumn and winter evenings. Jyväskylä is the city of Alvar Aalto. In no other city in the world you will find so many buildings designed by the famous Finnish architect. The brand new Aalto2 Museum Centre brings Aalto’s work to life.

Lakeland Finland Holiday in Finland
Photographer: Atacan Ergin

Ski jumping legend Matti Nykänen is one of Jyväskylä’s best-known own boys, after whom Jyväskylä’s large ski jumping hill was named. Stroll through the idyllic wooden house district of Toivola Old Courtyard, climb the flower-framed Harju steps to the city’s recreation area with observation tower, or explore the city’s museums and galleries. Lutakko harbour becomes Jyväskylä’s living room in summer. Green meadows, landing piers and the harbour promenade with its cosy restaurant boats attract locals and visitors alike. After a steamboat trip on lakes Jyväsjärvi and Päijänne, a visit to the modern sauna restaurant Sataman Viilu might be just the thing.

Find more about Jyväskylä

3. Lahti – sports city and gateway to Lakeland Finland

Lahti is internationally known as Finland’s sports city, especially thanks to the competitions held on its impressive ski jumping hills. Ski jumping legend Janne Ahonen, who started his career here, is known all over the world. In the summer months, you can enjoy the fantastic panoramic view of the city, lakes and forests from the observation deck high up on the Ski Jump Tower. At the foot of the ski jumps, the open-air swimming pool is open and invites you to swim in an extraordinary ambience. The Lahti Ski Museum gives you an insight into more than 100 years of Nordic sports history.

But Lahti is not only a sports town. It is the gateway to Lakeland Finland, and the harbour promenade is one of the most beautiful places in Finland to stroll along the water. Pretty restaurant boats invite you to enjoy moments of pleasure, or would you like to be pampered on a boat trip across lakes Vesijärvi and Päijänne? Afterwards, taking a souvenir photo at the “LAHTI” letters is a must. The Sibelius Hall, world-famous for its unique acoustics, is located directly at the harbour. And if you are interested in wood as a material, visit “Pro Puu” just a few steps away. Besides admiring wooden artworks, you can also buy creative souvenirs.

Learn more about Lahti

4. Hämeenlinna – A trip to the Middle Ages at Häme Castle

With a population of just under 70,000, Hämeenlinna is a cosy town about halfway between Helsinki and Tampere. As the historical centre of the Häme region, the town looks back on exciting times. The most important sight is Häme Castle (“Hämeen linna”), built around 1260 of red brick and one of the very few well-preserved medieval castles in Finland. Situated on the shore of Lake Vanajavesi, it is surrounded by an idyllic park. You can explore the castle on your own or take a guided tour. Admire the old armour in the knights’ hall, for example.

Castle from the lake
Photographer: Miika Kangasniemi

Just 23 kilometres from Hämeenlinna’s city centre lies Iittala Village, where you can admire the art of glassblowing, visit the design museum or go shopping in the outlet and boutiques. To this day, the glasses, vases and bowls of the Finnish cult brand Iittala are handmade – the pride and joy of the Kanta-Häme region. A little further south, in Riihimäki, the Finnish Glass Museum and the glass studios Mafka & Alakoski and Lasismi invite you to gain new impressions.

Learn more about Hämeenlinna and the Kanta-Häme region

5. Joensuu – the joyful capital of North Karelia

Joensuu is the largest city in beautiful North Karelia, in the very east of Lakeland Finland. Situated at the estuary of the Pielisjoki River into Lake Pyhäselkä, the city delights with its warm-hearted people and lively atmosphere. Nature and culture go hand in hand here, there is always something going on and the gastronomy offers a wide variety. A good example of the joie de vivre in Joensuu is Ilosaarirock, one of Finland’s oldest rock festivals, which attracts thousands of music lovers to North Karelia every year.

If you want to know what Lakeland Finland is all about culinary-wise in this region, you have to try the traditional Karelian pies. It is not surprising that Joensuu is part of “Saimaa – European Region of Gastronomy”. The characteristic dialect of the people, filled with double consonants and vowel twists, pulps from the mouths of the townspeople like a song. Whatever the content of the words, there is always a smile in this language. Joensuu is a city where ancient Finnish mythology – North Karelia is the cradle of the national epic Kalevala, for example – meets vibrant life, and where nature is just a few steps away with well-maintained trails, deserted beaches and fishing grounds.

Learn more about Joensuu