Tampere, Finland is a beautiful city nestled on an isthmus between two famous lakes. The urban vitality combined with the convenient access to water make Tampere a popular destination. It should be on your list of must-visit if you’re in Finland.
Lakes Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi flank Tampere and help create its unique geography. The difference in altitude between the two lakes is 18 meters (59 ft). The water flows from Näsijärvi to Pyhäjärvi and creates the Tammerkoski rapids.
If you are new to Finnish culture, there are few things you need to know not to offend anyone. There are whole books written about culture shock about Finnish culture. When talking to locals, try never to interrupt anyone. In America and some western countries, suspending is commonplace and considered normal. In Finland, it is seen as weird and rude. Finnish people are often concise and direct in their conversations. Do not compare Finland to other countries, like Sweden or Russia. Finns are very proud of their country and its unique history and culture.
Are Finnish people are weird?
I got the first taste of this during my drive from Norway through Finland coming from Norway making my way to Tampere. I saw a hitchhiker and gave her a ride. The weirdest 6-hour drive I’ve ever done. I asked a few questions to start a conversation on the way, and she responded by giving me a quick glance. Not the response I was expecting. I got a look of acknowledgment at least to let me know she wasn’t deaf. But the thing was just strange like I’m talking to a wall.
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For the next few, hours I made more attempts at small talk but with the same no word response. Welcome to the Twilight zone. Later on, after dropping her off, I posted about the strange event on Facebook. One of my friends, who was dating a Finn, told me about the eccentricities of Finnish culture. I chalked it up and went on about my merry.
Silence is golden in Finland
When out on the town, it is good to know that tipping is not customary or expected at restaurants in Finland. If you are traveling with a romantic partner, limit your PDAs (public display of affection). Finns are not touchy-feely people and tend to avoid public touching at all. A firm handshake during a greeting is acceptable. Research Nordic walking before you go and do not stare when you see people practicing in the streets.
Staying the night in Tampere?
If hostels are where you like to lay your head, check out Tampere Dream Hostel. It is an eco-friendly hostel run by a family of travelers and won hostel of the year in Finland in 2011. If hotels are more your style, Scandic Tampere City is a reasonably priced hotel. Both have great locations near the railway station. In Tampere, the station is near everything, which means you will also be near food!
Everyone should sample traditional Finnish food when visiting Tampere. If you are looking for great fish and authentic local dishes, try Veijon Kokkitykki. In the heart of Tampere, Veijon Kokkitykki is a small restaurant serving homemade dishes by Veijon and his sons. The prices are fair, and the plates are full. For a quaint tiny cafe with friendly service, go to Vohvelikahvila. The place almost feels like someone’s living room. That is if the living room smelled like fresh coffee and waffles with soft jazz playing in the background. Their specialty is savory and salty waffles with meat, fish or vegetables, and sweet waffles with a variety of toppings.
Seasonal varieties are available to keep the menu new and exciting. Try one of the salty ones the smoked salmon waffles if you’re feeling adventurous. If you want to sample more Finnish waffles, check out Torikahvila Kahveli on Laukontori. If you didn’t grow up believing in Santa and Rudolf the red nosed reindeer. Try the sautéed reindeer or poronkäristys. A dish made of thinly sliced reindeer meat and fried in fat. Seasoned with salt and pepper with some cream added. Delicious!
All about the churches
What is a trip to Europe without visiting churches? The Tampere Orthodox Church and the Tampere Cathedral are both centrally located which makes them easy to visit. Tampere Cathedral is a majestic granite building that was built between 1905 and 1906 in a National Romanticism style.
Beautiful and unique murals and a stained glass window that adorn the walls. The 19th century Tampere Orthodox Church exemplifies the best Neo-Byzantine-style church in all of Scandinavia. The guilt crosses and onion domes are exquisite. It is especially unique as only 1% of Finland’s population are members of the Orthodox church. Looking for thrills and entertainment? Tampere delivers. Särkänniemi amusement park complex has an art gallery, an aquarium, a 5D horror cinema, and a planetarium among its attractions. Perhaps the highlight of the amusement park is the Nasinneula Tower. It is a 168-meter high commanding tower with a 360-degree view revolving restaurant at the top. Make reservations in advance as it can get full.
Embrace the culture
If you want to embrace the Finnish culture, visit their lakes and saunas. If swimming and sunbathing are your thing, then surely one of the 30 beaches in Tampere will suit your fancy. Want to check out the beaches? Visit Pyynikki beach, Kaupinoja beach or Rauhaniemi beach, which has a hot public sauna. Pyynikki park has a great little observation tower that has amazing views of Tampere. Looking for a sauna? Choose from a smoke sauna, ice saunas, sauna boats, old or new saunas, large or small saunas, or lakeside saunas. Finns have a sauna for every occasion.
A note to the first timers to Finnish saunas.
No swimsuits or clothing is worn inside. Nudism is not uncommon in Finland, and there are nudist beaches. So get weird and get nude! Did you have any weird experiences in Finland? Have a story about Finnish culture and customs you have learned about? Share below in comments!
If you are going to Tampere on your winter break, check out: Things to do in Tampere on a Winter Break.
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