Tampere – The lively city in Finland

With over 200,000 inhabitants, Tampere is the second largest city in Finland after Helsinki. At first glance, however, you wouldn’t think so, as it exudes a lively small-town charm.

Here the Finns love their art, theater and good coffee. If you want to learn more about this interesting city, you should take a few days to do so.

Tampere in Finland
Tampere in Finland, source: Ranlan/bigstockphoto.com

Tampere and its history

The city of Tampere has two historical highlights to offer, which certainly not everyone knows. Indeed, Finnish industrialization can be traced back to the Tampere region. For example, Finland’s first electric light once illuminated a cotton mill in Tampere.

The global company Nokia was also founded in Tampere in 1865 by engineer Fredrik Idestam.

Tampere has always been known for its diverse cultural offerings, ranging from performing arts to original architecture to historical collections of all kinds.

The location of the city

The southern Finnish city of Tampere is located about 170 kilometers north of the Finnish capital Helsinki. By car, it takes just 1.5 hours to travel from one city to another.

Tampere is picturesquely nestled between the two lakes Näsijärvi and Pynäjärvi on a narrow isthmus. The lakes are connected by the Tammerkoski Rapids.

Tampere in Finland
Tampere in Finland, source: ElenaNoeva/bigstockphoto.com

A must see in Tampere

If you spend your vacation in Tampere, you should not miss the unusual museums, the two most beautiful churches and the Finlayson factory area.

Popular museums

  • The Lenin Museum: In the 2.5. The second floor of the workers’ hall in Tampere is home to this quirky museum. In 1905, Lenin and Stalin first met in this building. In the exhibitions, visitors learn about this period, Finland’s independence in 1917, as well as the ensuing civil war and the Russian-Finnish relations during the Cold War until today.
  • The Spy Museum: The world’s first spy museum is located beneath the Finlayson factory site. Here visitors can experience a large collection of spy equipment as well as stories from around the world and even take an aptitude test for the KGB Cadet School. The subsequent funny diploma is a nice memory.
  • The Moomin Museum: The new Moomin Museum has been located in Tampere Hall since 2017 and delights Moomin fans of all ages. Author Tove Jansson created the funny characters, called Mumins, in her popular children’s books that conquered the world. In 1986 she donated a unique collection of her original drawings to the Tampere Art Museum, which can now be seen in Tampere Hall.
Exhibition at Vappriikki Museum in Tampere
Exhibition at the Vappriikki Museum in Tampere, source: Herraez/bigstockphoto.com

The Old Church Vanha kirkko and the Orthodox Church

Probably the most beautiful church in Tampere is the Vanha kirkko (translated: Old Church) on the main square Keskustori. The yellow wooden church was built in 1824 in the Empire style and got its bell tower four years later.

Also worth seeing is the Orthodox church with its small onion domes, located near the main train station.

The Old Church in Tampere
The Old Church in Tampere, Source: Estea/bigstockphoto.com

Finlayson factory site

Under the reign of King Gustav III of Sweden, modern Tampere was founded in 1779 as a new commercial and industrial city. Soon after, in 1783, Finland’s first paper mill was built here.

But it was not until the Scotsman James Finlayson opened a small workshop for the textile industry on the Tammerkoski River in 1820 that Tampere’s real industrial era began.

Today, the historic industrial site enjoys great popularity with businesses and is home to a colorful mix of museums, stores, cinemas, restaurants and pubs. In addition, in one or the other former industrial building there are small stores with Finnish designer pieces.

Historic factory buildings in Tampere
Historic factory buildings in Tampere, source: dani-samuel/bigstockphoto.com

Excursions in Tampere

If your head is buzzing from all the culture, the immediate surrounding area offers some nice excursions.

Pyynikki and Pispala

A popular place for excursions is the Pyynikki forest area on the Pispala land ridge between the two lakes. Pyynikki is the largest park in the city with many hiking and biking trails. The highlight of the park is the 30-meter high observation tower, which houses a café and serves the best donuts in Tampere.

Immediately adjacent to Pyynikki is the pretty district of Pispala. The colorful wooden houses as well as the streets with their steep stairs are a popular photo motif. In the past, these houses, with the beautiful view of the lakes, were built for the working class people. Today, they are among the most sought-after properties in the city. Not least because the Pispala district was officially voted the most beautiful residential area in Finland.

Hatanpää Arboretum Park

A visit to Hatanpää Arboretum Park offers a break from the hustle and bustle of the city for a short time. Just a half-hour walk from Keskustori is this charming park, home to a collection of exotic trees and roses. The café in the middle of the park invites you to take a break with good coffee, while the scent of roses beguiles the senses.

Tampere hiking view
View while hiking in Tampere, source: pixabay.com

Amusement park Särkänniemi

If you’re traveling to Tampere with kids, a visit to Särkänniemi Amusement Park is a must to keep the little ones (and grown-ups) entertained. Just a stone’s throw from the city center, the park attracts both adrenaline junkies and families with a variety of attractions.

While the rides are open only in summer, the aquarium and planetarium can be visited all year round. In the off-season, various family events take place, such as Halloween or the Doghill Christmas.

Särkänniemi amusement park in Tampere
Särkänniemi amusement park in Tampere, source: ElenaNoeva/bigstockphoto.com

Culinary delights of the region

The local specialty in Tampere is mustamakkara, the Finnish blood sausage, also known as “black sausage”. This sausage is made of pork, blood and rye flour and tastes best warm from a market stall. If you want to do it like the real Finns, enjoy lingonberry jam and a glass of milk with it.

Moreover, Finns love their local specialty hot wings. There is no better place for the ultimate hot wings experience than SiipiWeikot restaurant in Tampere. Especially the hot sauce served with it is said to have addictive potential.

For lovers of good drinks, Moros Sky Bar at Sokos Hotel is definitely recommended. Here you not only get delicious drinks, but a spectacular view of Tampere and the lakes for free.

Popular activities

What could be better than spending time in nature when the weather is good? In Tampere and its surroundings there are many activities for the whole family.

Outdoor pleasure

The lakes around the city center offer countless opportunities for water fun, such as canoeing, standup paddling or a boat tour.

Equally popular is a lake and countryside tour by bike or a hike on the numerous trails through Finland’s nature.

In winter, a ride on a snowmobile is definitely recommended.

Snowmobiling in Finland
Snowmobiling in Finland, source: kobeza/bigstockphoto.com

Sauna – pure relaxation

The Finns are true sauna world champions. And with over 20 public saunas, Tampere is the sauna capital of Finland, so to speak. We recommend a visit to the Rajaportti sauna in Pispala. It is the oldest public sauna in Finland.

Probably the most popular sauna is Rauhaniemi Sauna at Näsijärvi to relax after an exciting day in Tampere. Swimming in the lake, sunbathing on the rocks and warming up in the sauna – a perfect sauna experience.

For those who can’t decide between the many saunas, a sauna tour might be just the thing. Such a tour lasts between 2.5 and 3 hours and you get to know the Finnish sauna culture.

Outdoor sauna in Finland
Outdoor sauna in Finland, source: mazzzur/bigstockphoto.com

Art and theater

Art and theater take up a lot of space in Tampere. Tampereen Taidemuseo presents art-historical themes and features of Finnish and international contemporary art. The museum is best known for its Young Artist of the Year event, held annually in mid-June.

In addition, Tampere’ s theater world includes the two large theaters Tampereen Työväen Teatteri and Tampereen Teatteri, which are open all year round.

The open-air theater Pyynikin Kesäteatteri is open only in summer and is located directly on the lake with its revolving auditorium – a very special experience. Also worthwhile there are the fire shows at dusk.

Shopping in Tampere

Tampere is a mecca for lovers of Finnish design. In the design district between the famous streets Hatanpään valtatie, Otavalankatu, Aleksanterinkatu and Verkatehtaankatu there is clothing, jewelry and decoration Made in Finland for true design fans to admire and store.

Tampere store
Store in Tampere, source: babble/bigstockphoto.com

Accommodation in Tampere

There are some really great design hotels in Tampere, as well as simple B & B or hostels for a lower budget. For those who want a little more space and freedom during their vacation, a vacation apartment or even a vacation home on the lake is a great option.

Travel options

  • By plane from Germany to Helsinki and then by plane to Tampere. Alternatively, you can travel further from Helsinki by train, bus or rental car.
  • With the own car one drives from Germany to Travemünde, from there further with the ferry to Helsinki and here again on the country further to Tampere.


To capture the special atmosphere of Tampere, you need some time to get to know this interesting place with all its facets . Here you can find historical architecture, culture, art, theater, Finnish design, culinary delights and many opportunities to explore the beautiful nature through outdoor activities.

Tampere in Finland
Tampere in Finland, source: Ranlan/bigstockphoto.com

Frequently asked questions

What makes Tampere special?

Tampere is the second largest city in Finland and still manages to exude a certain small-town charm. It is lively and friendly, and in addition to a city vacation, it also offers the opportunity to take some time out in the adjacent nature.

Where is Tampere?

Tampere is located in the south of Finland about 170 kilometers from the capital Helsinki. It is picturesquely nestled between the lakes Näsijärvi and Pynäjärvi.

What are popular sights in Tampere?

Must-sees in Tampere are definitely the old Vanha kirkko church, the Finlayson factory area with its small stores, restaurants and pubs, and the unusual museums, such as the Spy Museum.

What can you do in Tampere?

In and around Tampere there is something for everyone. From historic architecture, culture, art, theater, shopping and regional cuisine to outdoor activities such as canoeing, hiking, visiting an amusement park or even taking a sauna, it’s all here.

Where to stay in Tampere?

In Tampere you can stay in a hotel or in a bed & breakfast. However, vacation apartments or cottages, some even directly on the lake, are also very popular.

What are the travel options?

The best way to travel to Tampere is by plane from Germany to Helsinki and from there by plane, bus, train or rental car. Alternatively, you can arrive by your own car and take the ferry to Helsinki via Travemünde.

Other cities in Finland

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Ich bin absoluter Skandinavien-Fan und reise schon seit über 12 Jahren in die schönen Länder Skandinaviens. Hier teile ich meine Erfahrungen und Tipps zu den skandinavischen Ländern und der Ostsee-Region.