Must-visit museums in Finland

5 minute read
Two women walking in the Kiasma Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki.

Credits: Harri Tarvainen

From art to history and science - here's a look at Finland's most interesting museums

Cosy cafes, enticing gift shops, and marvels of architecture – these museums are more than just the saviour of a rainy day. They provide a new perspective on the past and the future, allowing us to reflect on ourselves and the people around us. If you want to explore heritage, culture, science, and art in Finland, here you'll find our curated list of the must-visit museums.

Please remember that most museums are closed on Mondays, but not all. For the latest information, it's best to check the opening hours and accessibility directly from the museums' websites.

For a full list of the must-visit museums in the Helsinki metropolitan region, read our article Top 10 must-see museums in Helsinki region.

1. Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Helsinki

The Sea Fortress of Suomenlinna is a popular destination for locals and travellers alike. Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Helsinki's Market Square, you can travel back in time on this beautiful island. The construction of the fortress began in the late 18th century under Swedish rule.

Today, Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site that boasts a variety of attractions, including restaurants, cafés, art galleries and six museums, such as the Military Museum and the Suomenlinna Museum. However, the island itself is the biggest attraction – venture out and discover its hidden gems, from a historic submarine to the charming toy museum. Some attractions are seasonal, while others are open all year-round. For the latest information, please visit the Suomenlinna website.

During your visit, please keep in mind that around 800 people call the island home year-round. Suomenlinna can be challenging for people with limited mobility, as paths are paved with cobblestones or gravel. For information on the most accessible routes, visit Suomenlinna's accessibility page.

2. National Museum of Finland, Helsinki

The National Museum of Finland, Kansallismuseo, offers visitors a captivating journey through the rich history of Finland. In the museum, you'll find a collection of historical artifacts and archaeological discoveries that provide a peek into Finland's heritage. The architecture combines national romanticism and art nouveau – the building from 1910 with stunning Kalevala frescos in the entrance hall is reason enough to visit.

The museum is situated in the heart of Helsinki next to other landmark buildings, such as the Parliament and Musiikkitalo. The museum is accessible and is suitable for all ages.

Please note that the museum is closed from October 16th 2023 onwards for renovation. It is expected to reopen in 2027. But don’t worry – Amos Rex and Kiasma are both just 500 metres away.

Credits: Niko Laurila

3. Amos Rex, Helsinki

Amos Rex showcases the latest – often experimental – contemporary art, and new exhibits consistently generate a buzz in the city. Nestled centrally in Helsinki's Kamppi district, the museum blends contemporary design from 2018 with functionalist architecture from the 1930s. This fusion gives rise to a captivating environment, featuring an iconic underground gallery graced by domes that ascend from beneath a public square. For families with young children, it's advisable to visit the museum's website to confirm if the current exhibition is child-friendly, ensuring an enjoyable experience for all. The museum is fully accessible to all.

Credits : Tuomas Uusiheimo
Credits: Tuomas Uusiheimo

4. Kiasma Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki

Kiasma is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Here you can expect to see contemporary and modern art from several decades from the Finnish National Gallery’s extensive collection. Located across the street from Amos Rex, Kiasma's angular, glass-fronted facade boldly contrasts with the city's historic backdrop, making it a visual marvel. The museum was opened in 1998 and designed by world-renowned architect Steven Holl. In addition to changing exhibitions, Kiasma offers art workshops for the entire family, performances, and guided tours. Kiasma is fully accessible to all visitors.

Credits: Julia Kivelä

5. Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki

Ateneum Art Museum is the home of Finnish art and stands as the most renowned and iconic art museum in Finland. Like Kiasma, it showcases works from the Finnish National Gallery's collection, with a focus on art from the 16th century to 20th-century modernism. Within its walls, you'll encounter masterpieces from celebrated Finnish artists like Albert Edelfelt, Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Helene Schjerfbeck. The museum's collection boasts around 30 000 national treasures, including works by artists such as Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh.

Ateneum has been at the heart of Finland's art scene since 1888. Housed in a stunning Neo-Renaissance building, which served as an art school until the 1980s, it has nurtured many of Finland's famous artists. Even today, Ateneum remains a vibrant hub of art, inviting visitors to explore its exhibitions and events. The museum enjoys excellent connectivity to public transport: it is located next to the central railway station of Helsinki. For detailed information about accessible entrances and support, please visit the museum's accessibility website.

Credits : Aleksi Poutanen
Credits: Yiping Feng, Ling Ouyang

6. Heureka, Vantaa

Heureka is a science centre with hands-on interactive exhibits. The museum invites visitors of all ages to embark on an exciting journey through the marvels of science and technology. The permanent exhibition showcases various physical phenomena, which can be tested using one's entire body and some exhibits demonstrate how our brain and senses magically work together. The museum also hosts several changing exhibitions. Here, young minds can ignite their curiosity and adults can rediscover the joy of learning.

Heureka is in Vantaa's Tikkurila district in the Helsinki metropolitan region. An easy way to reach Heureka is to hop on a local train from Helsinki's main railway station. The journey takes around 20 to 30 minutes. The museum is fully accessible.

7. Turku Castle, Turku

For nearly 300 years, Turku Castle stood as the most important building in Finland. Its oldest sections date back to the 13th century. Since then, it has witnessed numerous renovations and additions, with each layer of history contributing to its charm. During its zenith in the 16th and 17th centuries, this majestic stone castle by the Aura River was the place to see and be seen in Finland.

Today, Turku Castle ranks among Finland's most significant architectural and historical monuments, bearing witness to the rich histories of Turku, Finland and Sweden. The permanent exhibition focuses on the everyday lives and festivities of these times. It is a must-see attraction if you find yourself in the Turku region and a superb destination suitable for visitors of all ages. Please note that due to its cobblestone courtyard and medieval defensive structures, accessibility is limited. The castle is 3 kilometres from the Turku market square: to get to the castle, stroll across the city or hop on a local bus.

Credits : Visit Turku

8. Turku Art Museum, Turku

You can expect to see iconic pieces and the very latest contemporary work at the Turku Art Museum. Their collection offers a wide variety of artworks covering the golden age of Finnish art, Finnish surrealism, and pop art, along with a fascinating collection of self-portraits.

The museum is housed in a magnificent granite building dating back to 1904, showcasing the grandeur of national romantic architecture. Located just two blocks away from the market square, it's situated within the picturesque Puolalanpuisto park on a hill overlooking the city. This makes it an inviting destination for a leisurely day walk around the city center. The museum is fully accessible.

Credits : Vesa Aaltonen
Credits: Turku Art Museum, Titus Verhe

9. Åland Maritime Museum, Mariehamm

At the Åland Maritime Museum, you will discover how the sea has shaped the lives of the Finnish people. Founded in the 1920s by a local sea captain, the museum's collection has grown through contributions from local seafarers and shipping companies. It captures everyday items of sailors, from coffee pots to logbooks, from silk shawls to stoker's caps. Explore numerous historical maritime artifacts, some dating back to the 1700s – and even try some of them!

To reach this must-visit museum on the Åland islands, you first need to get to Mariehamn. Hop on a ferry from Helsinki, Turku, Stockholm or Tallinn. As Åland is situated in the middle of the Baltic Sea on Finland’s South-western coast, the trip will take several hours regardless of your departure location. In Mariehamn, the museum is conveniently located just 500 metres from the ferry terminal and one kilometre from Mariehamn’s centre. The Åland Maritime Museum Trust has received several awards, including one for its inclusive educational work. The museum is fully accessible.

Credits: Visit Aland

10. Vapriikki Museum Centre, Tampere

Vapriikki has something interesting for everyone in the family. Each year, the Museum Centre at Tampere hosts multiple exhibitions with themes spanning from history, technology and natural science. There's always something exciting happening and the museum aspires to push the boundaries of what a museum can offer in terms of experiential learning. Besides its ever-changing exhibitions, Vapriikki is home to several museums, including the Natural History Museum of Tampere, the Mineral Museum, the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame, Postal Museum and The Finnish Museum of Games.

Vapriikki is housed in the historic Tampella factory hall, with its oldest parts dating back to the 1880s. This former industrial site was transformed into a museum complex during the 1990s and 2000s. Conveniently located by the Tammerkoski rapids, it's within walking distance of both the railway station and the city centre. The museum was purposefully designed with accessibility in mind, ensuring that all visitors can fully enjoy its offerings.

Credits : Visit Tampere, Laura Vanzo
Credits: Visit Tampere, Laura Vanzo

11. Moomin Museum, Tampere

Credits: Laura Vanzo

Are you a devoted Moomin fan, or simply an art enthusiast? In that case, the Moomin Museum in Tampere is a must-visit destination that promises an enchanting experience like no other. Visitors will step into the magic of Moominvalley, where you can explore Hobgoblin's Hat and witness the awe-inspiring sight of a soaring comet. At the heart of the museum, you'll find the permanent exhibition showcasing Tove Jansson's original illustrations. Meanwhile, the Observatory hosts rotating exhibitions, offering something new to discover on every visit.

Located centrally in Tampere and within the Tampere Hall complex, getting to the Moomin Museum is a breeze. The museum is fully accessible, more information on the entrance and support can be found on the museum’s site.

12. Serlachius Museum Gösta, Mänttä

Explore masterpieces from the Golden Age of Finnish art and a unique collection of old European master paintings at the Serlachius Museum Gösta. This captivating museum offers a harmonious fusion of classic and contemporary art set against a picturesque lakeside backdrop. Housed in the former manor home of paper mill owner Gösta Serlachius, the museum has been showcasing the collections of the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation since the 1940s. This historic manor has been transformed into an art museum and its architectural design a testament to the work of Finnish architect Jarl Eklund.

Throughout the year, the museum hosts a diverse array of cultural events, including concerts, theatrical performances and seminars. The newest addition to the museum complex is the unique Art Sauna. Mänttä is a small town with long heritage. It is located in the picturesque Lakeland region of Finland and sits conveniently between the cities of Tampere and Jyväskylä. For detailed information on how to reach this cultural gem, please visit the museum's website. For local enthusiasts of art and culture, the museum is a cherished destination. The museum is fully accessible.

Credits : Serlachius Museums
Credits: Serlachius Museums

13. Aalto2, Jyväskylä

Aalto2 is a new museum centre for architecture, design and cultural heritage located in central Lakeland, Jyväskylä. The museum complex, opened in 2023, realizes Finland's most celebrated architect Alvar Aalto's vision of establishing a space that harmoniously brings together diverse forms of art. The museum connects two architectural creations by Aalto: the Museum of Central Finland and the Alvar Aalto Museum.

In addition to a deep dive into history, design and architecture in the exhibitions, the museum offers guided tours for groups, a design-themed shop, and an Aalto-inspired café. Aalto2 is fully accessible.

Credits: Alvar Aalto Foundation, Maija Holma

14. Finnish Forest Museum Lusto, Punkaharju

Finnish Forest Museum Lusto, located in the remarkable landscapes of Punkaharju in Eastern Lakeland, offers a glimpse into the unique relationship of Finns and forest. Forests are an integral part of Finland's identity, providing economic, ecological, recreational, and cultural benefits to residents and visitors alike. Lusto's exhibitions, extensive collections, engaging events, and themed days offer a rich and vivid portrayal of the integral role forests play in the lives of the Finnish people.

Lusto is closed for exhibition renovation until May 2024.

Credits: Finnish Forest Museum Lusto

15. Arktikum, Rovaniemi

Credits: Visit Rovaniemi

Open your eyes to the Arctic and immerse yourself in the world of northern nature, culture and history at Arktikum. Here, you can delve into the impact of global events, such as climate change and the evolving status of indigenous peoples in the North. Arktikum is dedicated to creating meaningful debate and to fostering a deeper understanding of the Arctic.

Arktikum serves as both a science centre and museum, making it a popular cultural destination in Rovaniemi, Lapland. It's approximately a 30-minute walk from Rovaniemi Station to Arktikum. You can also hop on a local bus. Whether you're a science enthusiast, history buff, or simply curious about the Arctic, Arktikum offers a captivating journey into the heart of the North. The museum is mostly accessible, find more information here.

16. Siida, the Sámi Museum, Inari

Get to know Sámi culture and the wonders of northern nature at Siida. This museum is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the spiritual and material heritage of the Sámi people. Its mission goes beyond the museum walls – it aims to foster Sámi identity and cultural self-esteem. Founded by a local Sámi association, Siida was the first independent Sámi museum in the Nordic countries when it opened its doors in the 1960s.

Siida's impact extends internationally, as it actively collaborates within the global network of indigenous peoples' museums. With a dedicated board that includes Sámi-born citizens, Siida remains a vital hub for preserving, celebrating, and researching Sámi culture as well as heritage.

Sámi Museum Siida operates in Inari and Sevettijärvi, but the main facilities are in Inari. Visitors can reach Inari from Lapland’s biggest city Rovaniemi with daily coaches covering the 330-kilometer distance. There also direct flights from Helsinki to nearby Ivalo. The indoor museum is fully accessible, but the outdoor area includes gravel path and may require assistance.

Credits: Siida Sami Museum

Other unique museums in Finland

Below are more must-visit museums around Finland for you to explore.

If you're craving for even more information about all the +300 Finnish museums, we suggest visiting

Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum, Turku

The history of one of Finland's oldest cities, Turku, in an authentic setting.

Map of the museums

See also