What if I told you that the largest wooden old town in the Nordics could be found right here in Finland? Could I entice you with promises of old-fashioned architecture, colourful facades and dreamy cobblestone streets? Do I have your attention? This is Old Rauma, a UNESCO world heritage listed wooden town on the west coast of Finland that can make you feel like you’ve just walked into someone’s Instagram picture.
I had been dying to visit this tiny destination for some time and finally got the chance to do so in December. And if you get the chance, I think you should visit, too. Consider this:
Rauma has a population of 40,000, but the Old Town itself is tiny and a great destination for a daytrip from one of the bigger cities around. You won’t find tacky souvenir shops and touristic knick-knackeries in the historical houses; instead, many regular businesses such as pharmacies, cafes, restaurants and handicraft shops use them as their premises. Because of this, Rauma maintains its charming, cozy vibe, instead of making you feel like you’ve been stuffed into a tourism snow globe.
Finnish cities have a reputation for only being good to visit at summer, but I am a great fan of travelling off-season. When I visited the town in early December, I didn’t need to share the streets with tour groups. While there might not be as many events during the winter, it is definitely better to enjoy the town in peace and quiet.
About 800 people reside in Old Rauma, and out of the approximately 600 wooden houses mostly are privately owned.
According to Old Rauma’s webpage, Kitukränn (above) is the narrowest street in Finland. I think this says everythign about personal space in the North.
One of my favourite things to photograph are cool doors and dope window displays. You can spot porcelain dogs like the ones above in a lot of windows in the town. Because of its location by the sea, Rauma used to be a maritime hotspot, which meant that most if the city men were sailors. These Staffordshire dogs from England were a popular souvenir sailors brought their wives, who in turn started using them to signal whether their husband was home or not. Porcelain dogs facing out meant that the husband was at sea – some say this was meant as a signal for the lonely wives’ lovers…
For a bird’s eye view over the town and its surroundings, head up to the old water tower. (And hope for good weather – could you imagine how cool a sunset from there would look?) It’s just a five-minute walk – really, you don’t have an excuse not to check it out. There is a small restaurant on the top of the tower that serves affordable lunch. Access to the viewing platform costs 2 euros.
If you’ve got a half an hour to spare, check out Kiikartorni by the sea. This lighthouse-esque building is a memorial erected in the honour of Rauma’s maritime days, and it’s open from 12 to 18 every day and free to visit. In case the doors are locked, you can request the key from the yellow cottage next door – which I unfortunately didn’t know, so I didnät get a chance to climb the tower. Apparently yoi can see all the way to the centre from there.
How to get there
Car – The ultimately best way to arrive to Rauma is by car. Driving in the Old Town is not recommended, but luckily all parking spots around the centre are free and most have 24 h parking limits.
Bus – Busses from bigger cities run pretty regularly.
Train – The nearest train station is in Pori, approximately 50 km north from Rauma.
Where to eat
Café Sali – Located next to the main square, this cozy café is an easy place to pick up your morning coffee. Its Scandivanian style and cute details made me instantly like it, and the cheesecake is delicious. However, the wifi doesn’t work very well, even when the café is nearly empty.
Goto – I saw this place praised in nearly every blog post about the city, so of course I had to check it out. They serve affordable lunch with a salad table, and the menu is filled with modern Scandinavian cuisine. (And no, the name of this restaurant doesn’t mean you should “go to” it. Goto is the Finnish word for home, ‘koti’, in the Rauma dialect.)
Wanhan Rauman Kaffe-Bar – Yeah, we spent about half of our time in Rauma eating. #sorrynotsorry. The beautifully decorated Old Rauma coffee shop has a selection of (rather pricey) cakes and pastries as well as special coffees to try, and if you want to save up a little, just get a delicious sugary donut. (Am I saying delicious too much in this post? My food critic idol is Homer Simpson.)
Torni – Cafe & Restaurant Torni is located on the top floor of the old water tower. They also have affordable lunch, plus afterwards you get to enjoy the view over the town.
Have you visited Rauma or are you planning to?
I admit that putting this post together was part laziness, like – oh, I’ll just slap togetehr some pictures, write some simple captions, I don’t have time for a full-lenght story time right now. Well, it’s 2 a.m. again. I did so well. Anyway, though, would you like to read more destination guides or see more photo-filled posts on teh blog this year? Let me know what you think – even though stories are my favourite thing to write, guide posts are sooooo easy to structure that even my 2 a.m. brain can handle them.
*proceeds to find every ‘the’ in the post misspelled*
As I was saying…