Fiskars was recently awarded the top emerging cultural tourism designation in Finland. Just a 90-minute drive west of Helsinki, this charming riverside village is a cultural gem. Founded in 1649 and best known for the iconic orange-handled scissors designed in 1967, Fiskars is a must see destination for art lovers, foodies and those seeking pristine Finnish wilderness. Nature paths, paddling along the Fiskarinjoki River or simply strolling in the quiet village will make you relax in no time. A brand-new Trail Centre with rental bikes offers marked routes, forest paths and country roads to explore for the whole family.
Fiskars is at its liveliest during summer months but there are events and things to do in every season:
- The Slow Food Festival, held the first week in October. It is one of Finland’s top culinary happenings.
- Unwind at Fiskarsin Panimo brewery for some rye juniper beer or spruce shoot ale. If you prefer gin, Ägräs Craft Distillery tap room is the ideal place for a cocktail. Kuura Cider is the newcomer on the block and Finland’s first producer of apple cider. Made from 100% Finnish apples, products range from traditional cider to ice ciders and even a sparkling cuvee.
- If you plan to stay over, Wardshus Inn, established in 1836, is a romantic place to spend the night in beautiful surroundings. Hotel Tegel is also lovely. Located in the old cutlery mill and designed to accommodate physically- challenged people, it even has a pet-friendly policy!
- The Fiskars Village Art and Design Biennale and a new museum of Finnish ceramics are both opening in the summer of 2019.
Strömfors, just a 60-minute drive east from Helsinki, is an attractive iron works village with several small shops, restaurants, guided tours, historic buildings and outdoor nature trails. A newly opened guesthouse, Krouvinmäki, has 8 rooms and a cozy kitchen where you can make your own feast. Café Ström & Fors is a delightful summer restaurant and Bed & Bistro is open year-round with an emphasis on locally-sourced food.
Water as an element is an essential part of Strömfors, from stand-up paddling and wild swimming to sea kayaking. Strömfors Outdoor Factory will connect you to the surrounding nature with events on water, meditation, yoga retreats, forest walks, cycling and much more.
Billnäs is a 10-minute drive south of Fiskars and is worth a visit as well. Industry is still very much alive in this 400 year old village where the Fiskars scissors are manufactured now. Rakennusapteekki, which is Finnish for ‘Building Pharmacy,’ is a treasure trove of building materials and interior design for slow living. The quality products are natural, made to last and in the vernacular style of the region.
There is an annual summer antique market in July and a festive Christmas market in December. Events, retreats and catering are organised upon request in the original factory buildings.
Mathildedal is an hour and a half drive west of Helsinki. Travel through endless fields, forests and countryside to this historic ironworks village by the sea. Charming wooden houses line the main road to Matilda Marina, a modern seafood restaurant serving delicious traditional food and the catch of the day.
Strolling through the village is simple. Everything is within easy walking distance, including Lake Mathilda, where you can have a refreshing dip and relax on a sandy beach after hiking the nearby nature trails.
There are local handicraft shops, galleries and even an alpaca farm which you can visit. If you are looking for a treat, the village bakery, Kyläleipuri, is famous for its sourdough breads and pizzas and the local brewery, Kyläpanimo, cleverly crafts their beer from the bakery’s leftovers! The village hangout, Bar Terho, bills itself as the “village living room” and is situated in the heart of Mathildedal. There is a lively beer garden in the courtyard during summer months but the cozy living room is open year- round.
Hotel Mathildedal is located in one of the original ironworks buildings. Enjoy a peaceful sleep and wake up to the sounds of birdsong. Breakfast is a delicious mix of local ingredients including typical archipelago dark bread, cheese, jam, salami, juice and eggs, all from the neighbourhood. The former village school house has also been recently renovated into a bed and breakfast, artisanal chocolate shop and cafe called PetriS Chocolate Room. Both Hotel Mathildedal and the bed and breakfast include saunas in their amenities of course!
Teijo iron works is a 10-minute drive north from Mathildedal, next to the Teijo National Park. Teijo is noted for its stone church and for the 18th century Manor House that is considered to be the most beautiful example of rococo architecture in the country. The Teijon Masuuni arts and crafts centre and gallery is free. There are new exhibitions every month and unique works by local and national artists are for sale.
For nature lovers, Teijo National Park is worth visiting any time of year, but if you are here in summer, the Tentsile Experience Eco Camp offers a unique take on camping where you can sleep in a tent perched in a tree. Canoe rentals and maps for hiking trails can be found at the Teijo Nature Centre, along with a calendar of events such as wild food by open fire.
Leineperi in the city of Ulvila on the Western coast of Finland is a vivid ironworks village of 250 people. The idyllic cottages serve as workshops of the local artists, making interior decors, textiles and woodworks or binding books. The workshops can be organized and booked for visitor groups on request. Taste a slice of traditional sourdough rye bread at Café Savipakari made by open fire in a worker’s bakery from the 1850s, visit the Kangasniemi Museum or go geocaching with the family. The seasonal antique fairs, a Christmas market and the annual metal art exhibition are all worth a visit too.
Verla, a 30-minute drive from the city of Kouvola, is one of Unesco World Heritage sites in
Finland. The groundwood and board mill founded in 1872 is today a well preserved factory museum and the village area is easy to explore by forest walks, garden tours, wine tastings, guided history-lessons or by visiting events or staying overnight at the cozy wooden cottages with a lakeside sauna. Craft shops, exhibitions, restaurant and the Verla Mill Museum are open during summer from May until September. During the winter, groups are guided by request. Nearby Repovesi national park is a heaven for excursions on still waters and magical forests. Or why not try rock climbing in Olhava, a 50-meter vertical cliff uprising from a blue lake?
Noormarkku works, also known as the Ahlström works is one of the largest and most impressive of the old industrial areas in Finland. The buildings at the area are heated by woodchips from the backyard forest while two generators at the hydroelectric plant provide the area with clean energy. The 29-room hotel, restaurant and saunas offer a memorable stay in a unique cultural landscape. For the art and architecture enthusiast there is also Villa Mairea, designed by Alvar and Aino Aalto. Noormarkku Club is a Rôtisseurs-awarded restaurant, specializing in local and wild food. Special courses and tours such as guided cultural tours, cooking, hunting, fishing or birdwatching are organized for groups upon request.