Family Travel Times

Family Travel Times: December 2008

Thursday, 18 December 2008

A winter wonderland in Finland

  • Hämeensilta bridge, photographed by Petri Kivinen

My daughter’s cheeks had never looked quite so rosy. But then again, never before had she tried out a sauna. In Britain, six year olds aren’t encouraged to do such things. In Finland, where there’s one sauna for every three people, it’s a different story?.

We had never thought about coming to Finland before, and (shame on us for our lack of knowledge) hadn’t actually heard of Tampere, the country’s third largest city.

It’s actually less than two and a half hours away by plane (we flew Ryanair from Stansted), and with 200,000 inhabitants, isn’t exactly off the beaten track.

Keen to move away from being seen as a location for either a city break (Helsinki) or jolly Lapland adventure, the Finns are currently promoting Tampere as the perfect destination for an all-year round holiday. We arrived in winter to be greeted by a beautiful blanket of snow on the ground, but in the summer it’s hot, very green and perfect for outdoor excursions.

The city is small, pretty and easily walkable, with an array of beautiful churches, good museums and a selection of tempting shops (less tempting at present because of the pound’s disastrous slump against the euro).

Shopping options include a charming Christmas market and, nearby in Lempaala, the Ideapark, with more than 100 stores and a great children’s activity centre where you can leave the kids and shop to your heart’s content.
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