Locals refer to Tampere as ‘Manse’ – because they think of the city as the Finnish equivalent of Manchester in the UK. Both have their roots in industry and both are northern cities.
The oldest factory, Frecknel, a paper mill, and the Finlayson textile factory, sit in the centre near the river. There’s a prominent bridge that crosses that river decorated by four bold, boxy-looking statues. Finnish sculptor Wäinö Aaltonen designed these and they are called the Tax Collector, the Finnish Maiden, the Tradesman and the Hunter – the Hunter being most noticeable because he has a wolf thrown over his shoulder.
Two lakes border the city and as this is Finland – where the sauna experience is an integral part of life – it makes sense to have the Finnish Sauna experience on the banks of one of the lakes. There are five public saunas dotted round Tampere – if you visit tourist information near the central square, they’ll be able to help you plan which you’d like to visit and how to get there.
Finland is also famously home to the Moomins. Moominvalley in Tampere is situated in the basement of the City Art Gallery. It has a small collection of original prints and a 2.5m tall Moomin House (like a large quirky dolls house for Moomins) constructed with the help of the author Tove Jansson.
There are plenty of places to eat in Tampere and if you’re looking for reasonably priced pub food, head to Kustaa III, which also has a roof terrace. If you’d like an otherworldly eating experience, Viikinkirgvintola Harald (Harald’s Viking Restaurant) has servers dressed in modest Viking attire and a menu that includes a dish that is essentially a whole heap of meat on a sword. If that’s too much, the fish dishes are excellent. On the meat platter starter you’ll get a slice of Rudolph’s heart, sorry reindeer heart – smoked.
The city has lots of good pubs, including one on a boat called Suvi, where you can order a popular hard lemon drink. There are also a couple of nightclubs in the city, one called the Fat Lady which looks popular but wasn’t highly rated by locals I met, and the main one, Klubi, which by day is the theatre and café bar from which the annual theatre festival is organised from the offices above, and at night transforms into a dance floor with an outside seating area that usually has a very late curfew.
Money Saving Tips
- Walk everywhere. The city isn’t too big to walk around. If you want to go a little farther, just ask tourist information which bus can take you there.
- As with many places, wine, beer and cider are a lot cheaper than spirits and mixers
Did you know?
- Lenin and Stalin first met in Tampere in the Tampere Workers Hall – where one of the few remaining Lenin museums is today
- Tar (as in the black stuff made by pine trees and used to treat wood) is a popular ingredient in food, although nowadays usually synthetic for safety reasons. You can even get tar ice cream.
- Tampere’s 168m Näsinneula Observation Tower is the highest observation tower in the Nordic countries
My Personal Highlight
I really enjoyed lake swimming and sitting in the sauna. The sauna experience is an integral part of Finnish life, so it would be a shame to miss out while you’re here