Places to visit in Uusimaa
Since everyone living in the Uusimaa region are stuck within the confines of Uusimaa for the time being due to “border closing” I decided to look at interesting places to visit in our region. Naturally, this time of self-isolation may not be the best time to make trips even within our region, but this can be used for future reference. I am not including Helsinki in this post because it deserves its own post(s) at some point.
One of my absolute favorites is Porvoo located some 50 km east of Helsinki. Porvoo is one of the six medieval towns in Finland, first mentioned as a city in texts from the 14th century. The Porvoo Old Town is known for its well-preserved 18th and 19th century buildings and the 15th century Porvoo Cathedral. The Old Town together with Porvoonjoki River Valley is recognized as one of the historically and culturally significant National landscapes of Finland. There are several museums in Porvoo, but to me the best part is just strolling around the old town, popping into small shops and cafes and enjoying the scenery. The Cathedralis also worth a visit. For a relatively small city, Porvoo has an active restaurant scene with both higher-end and more casual options. My favorite cafés and restaurants include: Bar & Café Porvoon Paahtimo, Bistro Sinne, Gabriel 1763 Bar & Restaurant, SicaPelle Wining & Dining and Tea and Coffee House Helmi. If chocolate is your thing, you should visit Petris Chocolate Room. If you end up spending the night in Porvoo I recommend either Boutique Hotel Onni or Hotel Pariisin Ville. There are also many apartments you can rent for your stay. Here you can find several accommodation options: https://www.visitporvoo.fi/accommodation.
A true summer destination is Hanko, a port town on the south coast of Finland, 130 km west of Helsinki. Hanko is a beach-town with a coastline of approximately 130 km, of which 30 km are sandy beaches. Hanko is also Finland’s southernmost town and its famous for the magical light created by the endless horizon. Hanko is really all about the sea, so any water activities are high on your to-do-list here. You can also take various cruises from Hanko. Hanko is full of events in the summer, but none as famous as the Hanko Regatta. It is a three-day sailing competition that has been arranged since 1945 and is one of Finland’s largest sailing events. The town offers a versatile selection of restaurants with the archipelago and sea playing a major role in many of the menus. I like Makasiini, Skiffer and På Kroken. So far, I’ve only made day trips to Hanko, but if I were to spend the night I would love to stay in one of the villas or in Hotel Regatta.
The town of Ekenäs was merged with Pohja and Karis to form the new municipality of Raseborg in 2009. It is located an hour away from Helsinki and Ekenäs old town is a charming neighborhood of old wooden houses that spreads out to the seashore. Most of the buildings in the old town date from the late 18th and the 19th century, but the area grew out of a 16th century fishing village. Today, Ekenäs is a small town where shops, cafés and restaurants still provide personalized service. During summer, the terraces in Stallörsparken park and the guest marina swarm with people. I have only visited Ekenäs for a few hours and never eaten in the restaurants or used the accommodation services. Here you can find a list of restaurants and accommodation options in the region.
Fiskars is located in the town of Raseborg, an estimated one-hour drive west of Helsinki. Fiskars Ironworks was founded in 1649, when a Dutch businessman, was granted a privilege to build a blast furnace and a trip hammer along the Fiskars River. The natural waterpower could be harnessed and made it possible for the village to develop. Soon workshops and other shops were founded in the ironworks. Today, the workshops have been refurbished into various artists’ ateliers and studios. Fiskars is a great destination either for a day trip or an overnight stay. The village has many cute shops, great cafés and restaurants and even a brewery and distillery. I’ve visited Cafe Bar Pesul, Fiskars Wärdshus and Ägräs Distillery Tap Room and enjoyed them all. We’ve stayed overnight at Hotel Tegel and at Fiskars Wärdshus, both were lovely for a one-night stay. Just 10 km from Fiskars you can find another old ironworks village, Billnäs. The history of Billnäs is almost 400 years long and the oldest residential and commercial buildings in the village are from the 1700s. Billnäs caters more to conference and meeting guests than private tourism but is still worth a visit for its scenery.
Loviisa is a town on the southern coast of Finland. Loviisa was founded in 1745, as a border fortress against Russia. Most of the fortifications have been preserved. Loviisa is home to the Svartholm sea fortress, which is a sister fortress to Suomenlinna in Helsinki. The construction of Svartholm started in 1748. Most of the work was carried out in the 1750s. Another place worth visiting in Loviisa is the Strömfors Ironworks. The ironworks was founded in the westernmost junction of the Kymijoki River in 1698. In 1790, the 31-year-old Virginia af Forselles took over the iron works and managed the ironworks for almost 60 years. A large part of the well-kept environment and constructions currently on display at the ironworks are from this period. In addition to the museums and handicrafts shops, the area has restaurants and cafés. The old town of Loviisa has one of Finland’s oldest wooden houses from the 17th century. The houses in the old town survived the great fire of Loviisa in 1855.
Raseborg castle ruins
The Raseborg Castle Ruins in Snappertuna take you back in time to the Middle Ages. Raseborg medieval castle is one of the grandest castle ruins in Finland. Raseborg Castle was built in the 1370s on a rock that used to be surrounded by water. The castle was constructed as the administrative centre of Western Uusimaa and was meant to keep watch over the shipping and trade in the Gulf of Finland. The castle was an important military base, and was presumably meant to defend Swedish interests against the successful Hanseatic town Reval (Tallinn, Estonia). The heyday of Raseborg was in 1450 to 1460. The castle was abandoned in 1558 and it laid deserted for more than 300 years, until the first restoration began in the 1880s. You can explore the castle on your own or participate in a guided tour. The castle grounds come to live in summer when e.g. ancient markets, medieval events and high-class concerts are arranged.
Lake Tuusula or Tuusulanjärvi is located half an hour from Helsinki. The lake has an area of 6.0 km2. Since the beginning of the twentieth century the shores of Lake Tuusula have been an artists’ colony. The golden age of Finnish art is brought to life at home museums, which take the visitor back to the heyday of the Finnish National Romantic era at the turn of the 20th century. The homes include those of painter Venny Soldan-Brofeld and her husband, writer Juhani Aho, poet J. H. Erkko, painter Eero Järnefelt, composer Jean Sibelius. and the wilderness studio of painter Pekka Halonen. There are also other museums in the Tuusulanjärvi area. A great way to take in the scenery and visit the various museums is to cycle around the lake.