Nordic Reisen

The port city of Vaasa – Finnish cultural history on the archipelago

The port city of Vaasa is deeply rooted in Finnish and Swedish history. Besides the rich cultural history, the adjacent UNESCO World Heritage Site is reason enough for a visit. The unique world of the archipelago with its contrasting nature enchants in both calm and rough seas.

Love Vaasa sign, Finland
Source: makasanaphoto / bigstockphoto.com

Profile

  • Population: 67,551
  • Location: Western Finland on the Gulf of Bothnia
  • Language: Finnish (71%), Swedish (25%)
  • Currency: Euro
  • Climate: Highest temperatures in summer up to 20°degrees, Lowest temperatures in winter -10°degrees

Vaasa – the history of Finland and Sweden is linked here

The city of Vaasa was founded in 1606 during the reign of the Swedish King IX Wasa and named after the royal family.

In the 17th century Vaasa flourished due to the sea connection, shipbuilding and trade. The tea trade in particular was an important source of income.

In the 18th century, the port city managed to gain great importance. Vaasa became the seat of the court and received the first public library in Finland.

However, in 1852 there was a catastrophic fire that destroyed almost the entire city. One of the few buildings that survived the fire now houses the Old Museum of Vaasa.

After the city fire, the city was rebuilt and the consequences of the fire were taken into account. The present city is divided into five sections by wide avenues.

During the Finnish Civil War, Vaasa was the capital of Finland for about a month in early 1918. Helsinki was occupied, Vaasa offered a strong position and good contact with the West. Today, a Statue of Liberty in Vaasa’s town square commemorates the city ‘s role in the Civil War.

The Swedish language occupies an important position in the city. There is a large minority in Vaasa, and some of the surrounding municipalities have a Swedish-speaking majority. Vaasa is considered the most important cultural center for Finnish Swedes.

Red brick building, Vaasa Finland
Source: makasanaphoto / depositphotos.com

The archipelago off Vaasa

The Kvarken archipelago is the narrowest part of the Gulf of Bothnia between Finland and Sweden, more precisely between the cities of Vaasa and Umeå.

Kvarken Archipelago Vaasa Archipelago, Finland
Source: makasanaphoto / bigstockphoto.com

With its lush green forests and barren rocky landscapes, the archipelago represents a unique natural landscape. The widest distance between two islands in the entire region is only 25 kilometers.

Parts of Kvarken have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and charm locals as well as tourists every year. Many parts of this unique region can only be reached by kayak, canoe or SUP board, which promises a unique experience!

6 TOP varied activities in Vaasa

Gamla Vasa

The former town, which was almost completely burned down in the great town fire in 1852, has been located about 6 kilometers southeast of the present town. Some ruins are still visible here and are accessible to tourists.

Gamla Vasa Ruins, Finland
Source: Hivaka / depositphotos.com

Söderfjärden

About 10 kilometers south of Vaasa you can see a large round flat area. This is a crater formed by a meteorite impact about 520 million years ago. In the center of the crater is the Meteoriihi Visitor Center. The best view is from the hill Öjberget.

Tropiclandia Water Park

The water park and spa area is located on the island of Vaskiluoto, offshore from the city of Vaasa and accessible by car. Numerous slides and a spa with saunas and jacuzzis will delight the whole family here.

Ritz

In this nostalgic cinema in the center of the city there are many different events. Cinema, concerts, theater, stand-up comedy or open-stage evenings – if you want to have a relaxing evening and get to know the local artists, the cultural city is the place to be!

Musikfestspelen Korsholm

The chamber music festival is held annually in late summer and attracts national as well as international artists and visitors. In 2022, the festival will be held for the 40th time!

Tickets can be purchased on the festival’s website.

Wasa by Night

During the Pub Crawl, which takes place every autumn, you can get to know the city’s trendy pubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

3 exciting museums in Vaasa

Kuntsi Museum

The Museum of Contemporary Art is located in a former customs warehouse in the port of Vaasa.

Tikanoja Art Museum

The traditional art museum exhibits works by Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse or Pablo Picasso. Of course, works of art by Finnish masters such as Albert Edelfelt, Maria Wiik and Tyko Sallinen will also be on display.

Tikanoja Art Museum in Vaasa, Finland
Source: MKubista / bigstockphoto.com

Brage Open Air Museum

This 19th-century farmhouse delights with interesting artifacts from the Swedish-speaking part of eastern Robotnia. It is a few minutes walk from the center of Vaasa.

Vaasa – convenient for transport!

Vaasa is connected by roads with the largest cities in the country. The state road 3 leads from Helsinki via Tampere to Vaasa. The state road 8 is a coastal road and you can get from Turku via Rauma and Pori to Vaasa, then on to Kokkola and Oulu.

Vaasa Airport is located 9 kilometers south of the city. From Vaasa you can be in Helsinki in 45 minutes and in just over an hour in Stockholm . There is a bus connection from the airport to the city center.

The ferry line between Vaasa and the city of Umeå in Sweden is the shortest shipping connection between the two countries. The ferry terminal is located on the island of Vaskiluoto, which is offshore from Vaasa and connected to the city by a causeway. The connection is daily all year round, the crossing takes about four hours.

There is a rail connection from Vaasa via Seinäjoki with connections to Helsinki, Oulu, Rovaniemi and Tampere. There is also a direct connection to Jyväskylä and a daily morning direct connection to Helsinki.

On the west coast, there are bus connections between Oulu via Vaasa to Turku, and there are also long-distance buses to Helsinki, Tampere, Pori, Kokkola and Hämeenlinna . Timetables can be found through Matkahuolto and OnniBus.

In Vaasa, most things can be easily reached on foot, but otherwise there is also an extensive bus network in the core city and the surrounding area.

One night in the port city of Vaasa

Accommodation Address Description
Original Sokos Hotel Royal VaasaHovioikeudenpuistikko 18, 65100 VaasaHotel in central locationConference rooms, fitness room, 3 saunas, lounge with poolLoan bicycles are included in the price.
Hotel AstorAsemakatu 4, 65100 Vaasa4-star hotelSome rooms equipped with whirlpool and private sauna
Scandic WaskiaLemmenpolku 3, 65170 Vaasa4-star hotelAssociated with Tropiclandia spaAt the breakfast buffet even a lot of choice for vegans

Trendy restaurants and cafes in Vaasa

Restaurant 1H+K €€-€€

In this restaurant with Scandinavian cuisine you can tell that the chefs are passionate about what they do! The dishes are seasonal, attractive and designed with love and some dishes are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Sweet Vaasa €€-€€

This café is the ideal place to study or read a book while eating a piece of delicious homemade cake.

Gustav Wasa €€€€

This restaurant with wine bar is a location for special days. The Scandinavian course menu with matched wines and the friendly ambience promise an unforgettable evening!

Other popular restaurants:

  • Strampen – Scandinavian cuisine
  • Pizzabistro Marco Polo – Italian cuisine
  • Magokoro – Japanese cuisine, sushi

Shopping and strolling in Vaasa

Rewell Center

Rewell Center is the largest shopping center in the area. 60 specialty stores invite you to stroll and browse right in the center of Vaasa.

Aspen Shopping Center

Espen is the newest shopping center in Vaasa. In addition to numerous boutiques, the center offers a number of restaurants and cafes where you can take a leisurely break during a successful day of shopping.

Kivihaka

The Kivihaka district is located east of the center of Vaasa. Here there is a large area with numerous stores, a small shopping center and two large supermarkets.

Vaasa market hall

The Gothic-style market hall is one of the few halls in Finland still in use today. Here you can find regional fresh products like fish or cheese, but also works of art and special souvenirs.

Conclusion

Vaasa is an exciting vacation destination for those who want to combine Finnish cultural history and a trip to a unique natural landscape. The archipelago in front of the city area opens the doors to a whole new world and invites you to marvel.

Vaasa Port and University, Finland
Source: tomplesnik@gmail.com / depositphotos.com

The most frequent questions from travelers

How to get to Vaasa in Finland?

Vaasa is well connected by transport. State roads 3 and 8 lead into the town, and there is also a busy rail and bus service. There is also an airport only a few kilometers away.

What are archipelagos?

Archipelagos are small rocky islands. Most often they are grouped in a few hundreds. They are found in northern Europe and North America.

Other cities in Finland