West Coast (Finland)
The West Coast of Finland is a geographically flat region bordering the Gulf of Bothnia. Being the westernmost part of Finland, this is where western influences such as Christianity first arrived in Finland. As a result of this, here you can find some of Finland's oldest cities and towns as well as a sizable part of the country's Swedish-speaking minority. This article comprises the pre-1997 Turku and Pori as well as Vaasa provinces.
Central Ostrobothnia is both geographically and population-wise one relatively small. Most things of interest can be found in the region's largest city Kokkola.
The region of Ostrobothnia has a large Swedish-speaking population and a quite interesting archipelago — the Kvarken archipelago — which is slowly rising up from the sea due to post glacial rebound.
This remarkably flat region is home to several music related events and the country's most famous hard alcohol brand, Koskenkorva.
This region hosts two UNESCO world heritage sites; Rauma's old town and the Sammallahti bronze age burial site. The sand beaches of Yyteri are also quite popular in the summer.
The southwesternmost part of Finland is called Finland Proper for historical reasons. The largest city here, Turku, is the oldest city of Finland and hosts a castle and a cathedral that are amongst the oldest in the country. The archipelago that reaches all the way to the Åland islands is another popular destination in the region and especially beautiful in the summer.
- Turku/Åbo: the former capital city of Finland
- Naantali/Nådendal: Moominvalley, the home of the Moomins
- Rauma (Raumo), beautifully preserved old town which is on the UNESCO world heritage list
- Närpes (Närpiö), tomato capital of Finland with their own special Swedish dialect
The region Ostrobothnia, as well as the southern archipelago (bordering to Åland), has a Swedish speaking majority. Also Turku is bilingual, with the only Swedish university in Finland.
After Helsinki, cities in Western Finland have the best international connections.
Turku offers flights some cheap flights on several other budget airlines. In addition there are direct flights to Vaasa from Stockholm, Copenhagen and Riga. Tampere airport is the Finnish hub for low-cost airline Ryanair and fairly close and well connected to Satakunta, Southern Ostrobothnia and Finland Proper.
Trains between the three major cities of Turku, Tampere and Helsinki are very frequent. Seinäjoki and Vaasa are also accessible by train. If you are interested in the towns along the coast, train isn't the best alternative.
Major cities are connected to each other and to Helsinki by frequent buses and most smaller towns have a couple of daily buses to the nearest major city.
There are four daily ferries from Stockholm to Turku via Åland, Silja Line and Viking Line have one day and one overnight departure each. From Norrtälje (Kapellskär or Grisslehamn) there are connections to Naantali (for those with vehicles) and via Åland. Further north Vaasanlaivat's Wasa Express brings passengers from Umeå to Vaasa.
As elsewhere in Finland, driving is the most convenient way to get to remote places. Pay attention to the speed limits on highways — speed cameras are frequent!
Buses are usually the best form of intercity public transportation. The Finnish main north-south train route from Helsinki passes through Seinäjoki, Bennäs near Jakobstad and Kokkola so if you are moving about in these areas, or along the Turku–Tampere railway, consider taking the train.
- Turku castle and cathedral.
- The old town of Rauma, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Bronze Age burial site in Sammallahdenmäki, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Kvarken Archipelago, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Giant kettle Pirunpesä in Jalasjärvi, the deepest earth erosion in Europe.
- The plains of Southern Ostrobothnia.
- Kultaranta, the summer residence of the President of Finland in Naantali.
- Alvar Aalto center, the administrative and cultural center of Seinäjoki, designed by Alvar Aalto in the late 1950's.
- Sail around the archipelago near Turku.
- Go swimming at Yyteri sand beach near Pori.
- Enjoy music at Finland's oldest rock festival Ruisrock in Turku each July.
- Meet the characters from the Moomin stories in the theme park Muumimaailma in Naantali.
- Dance tango at the yearly Tangomarkkinat festival in Seinäjoki.
- Celebrate the ending of the summer cottage season with fireworks in Kokkola.
- Watch a local hockey derby in Rauma or Pori