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    Finland

    Taking the family on a bit of a Baltic tour this year for our summer holidays. The original plan of going from Helsinki to Tallinn via 3 days in St Petersburg, however, seems to have collapsed due to certain issues, which means we have a few days which we didn't expect. Any recommendations for places to go in Finland (other than Helsinki)? Or indeed places in Estonia other than Tallinn.

    #2
    Porvoo (medieval town 50km east of Helsinki) is a nice day trip

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      #3
      We enjoyed both Tampere (which has the Moomin museum in the library, a strong lefty tradition and a number of other museums in a repurposed mill) and Turku (cathedral, castle, etc). One can also spend the better part of a day on Suomenlinna, the fortress island in Helsinki harbour. We had a really nice dinner there in a craft brewery with your fellow Wednesdayite Ball Comrade, who I strongly recommend contacting for other tips.

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        #4
        I spent a few days on the islands towards Sweden. A couple of really nice B and B's with boats you could hire. Suomenlinna ia also a good tip.

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          #5
          We went out to Suomenlinna - it was a very interesting trip, so second that. Also gives you an excuse to sit and eat out at the harbourside market, the only place we found in the city where you could eat for under a tenner.

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            #6
            Or you could have a coffee and pastry at the spectacular Aschan Cafe Jugend on the street that runs along the edge of the harbour. If you are fans of Jugendstijl, there are a number of tours (self guided and not) that are very worthwhile.

            Don't miss the animal street signs in that area.

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              #7
              Thanks very much all. Ball Comrade has indeed been in touch to offer advice too (he obviously still reads OTF but has lost his login details)

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                #8
                Porvoo is a good day out, as DG says. You can go out by boat and then get a bus back to save time at the weary end of the day. Another vote for Suomenlinna. There's an outdoor museum on Seurasaari island, north west of the city centre, which is good too; like a smaller Skansen with examples of Finnish architecture that have been moved there.

                Without knowing what is already set in the schedule, if you've got an extra three days to fill you could go on to Riga. There are very good transfer tours by minibus between Tallinn and Riga that take a full day but stop in lots of places that you might not make it to under your own steam.
                Last edited by Benjm; 12-05-2019, 13:39. Reason: transport detail

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                  #9
                  I went to Joensuu in North Karelia in 2015. I was on an Erasmus training course arranged from school. Joensuu and its surrounds were pleasant enough, though I wouldn't make a special trip. It's a fair old way from Helsinki.

                  However, we also had a one-day excursion to Koli National Park, and this was superb. It was over 100km from Joensuu along roads through forests, so I've no idea how you'd get there without a car. It was memorably beautiful though.

                  https://www.nationalparks.fi/kolinp

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                    #10
                     

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                      #11
                      One thing for Talinn.

                      If you can avoid the ferry on a weekend/holiday, that will significantly reduce the number of Finns who are only on the boat to buy industrial qualities of alcohol (both en route and at the Costco-type places on the quay in Estonia).

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by ursus arctos View Post
                        One thing for Talinn.

                        If you can avoid the ferry on a weekend/holiday, that will significantly reduce the number of Finns who are only on the boat to buy industrial qualities of alcohol (both en route and at the Costco-type places on the quay in Estonia).
                        The ferry I went on did a nice buffet. Tallinn wasn't as cheap as I expected though...

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                          #13
                          I'll repeat what others have said about Suomenlinna, Turku and Ball Comrade. Indeed, if you can get Ball Comrade to get you into a football match for free and then take you out drinking with some of the fans and players afterwards, Turku becomes even more enjoyable.

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by Tactical Genius View Post

                            The ferry I went on did a nice buffet. Tallinn wasn't as cheap as I expected though...
                            I got a morning ferry which was doing a breakfast buffet that seemed to consist of 50% tiny sausages.

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                              #15
                              Sounds nice, ad hoc. Porvoo is good although you could easily do it in a couple of hours. It's a wonderful stop on the way to elsewhere, though. Perhaps Lake Saimaa might be worth a go in that direction? Lappeenranta is a lovely summer city. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lappeenranta

                              Tallinn's nice enough, although as others have said, it's not significantly cheaper than anywhere else these days.

                              Hyvää matkaa!

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                                #16
                                Thanks very much to everyone. Very helpful. Sadly Ball Comrade will not be in Finland at the time we are there, so that will have to wait for another time.

                                Benjm Yes, we're heading on down that way, all the way to Vilnius in fact. Helsinki and Tallinn will be the new bits for me, but it will be all new to the rest of them (actually, no, Mrs Hoc's been to Finland a couple of times on projects)

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                                  #17
                                  Very good holiday (well mostly, obviously a family of four living cheek by jowl 24 hours a day for two weeks does have its challenges). Just thought I would fill in some details for future use by anyone wanting a Finland trip

                                  Helsinki - very calm and efficient. Water everywhere (I'm a big fan of water, so this was good for me). Eating in the market down by the harbour is great, the small city museum is worth a visit, Suomenlinna was good too, a nice day out, public transport very good and easy to get around. Loved the art nouveau bit, though Finnish art nouveau is about as understated as everything else there. One afternoon when it was drizzling we did our own hop on hop off bus tour just by travelling around the city to points far and wide by tram. (We had 2 day passes that made this effectively a free activity). In general the weather wasn't great, but that aside (and the cost of everything) all was great.

                                  From there we went to Turku, where we met up for a drink with a couple of friends of mine who work at the university, and there was a medieval festival going on which was kind of fun (especially when we worked out that a number of stallholders were Hungarian, chatting we discovered that they do summer tours of various Nordic medieval type events where they can sell their jewellery, pottery etc at ten times the prices they can ask in Hungary.) Next day we took the water taxi over to an island (could have been a peninsula) in the archipelago sea which was very enjoyable, and then in the afternoon took the public bus out to a place called Naantali, which I loved. Small harbourside town, with wooden houses and a great vibe. It felt like coastal Maine without the rampant commercialism (no 40 foot high neon signs advertising lobster rolls)

                                  Onward to Tampere, where we had only a day, but managed to visit a spy museum (my daughters' choice) which was nothing special, the tower overlooking the town, a lakeside beach, and the Lenin Museum (my choice) which was excellent. The spot where Lenin and Stalin first met, and a really informative and well laid out little museum. I learned a lot. It managed to present communism without sugarcoating anything and without the opposite (shit-coating?). Plus it was fascinating to see how Finland managed to retain its independence during the cold war

                                  Early morning train back to Helsinki and the first ferry of the day to Tallinn, and from there the 3 Baltic capitals. Tallinn was lovely and the old town is as beautiful as everyone says it is. Riga, I'd been to before, but had no real positive memories of (mostly because it was pissing down and freezing when I was there). This time however i really liked it. Not only the old town, but also the less old part around it, and in particular its art nouveau section, which frankly was brilliant, and maybe my favourite part of the whole trip. Found out that one of the leading architectural lights of that district (occasionally called "Riga's Gaudi" though that doesn't do justice to either man) was Mikhail Eisenstein, father of Sergei of Battleship Potemkin fame. Then Vilnius which was very good too (and had the best beer of the trip), and a very different look to Riga and Tallinn, a much more imperial style (as befits its history). Though my favourite bit was the artist colony the "Republic of Uzupis"
                                  Last edited by ad hoc; 11-07-2019, 08:48.

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