7 Best War Museums in Finland

Restored Gloster Gauntlet of the Finnish Aviation Museum
Restored Gloster Gauntlet of the Finnish Aviation Museum | © Dave_S / Flickr
Photo of Jessica Wood
6 June 2018

Finland has experienced a lot of war and conflict throughout its history, particularly during World War II when entire towns were destroyed. This means that there are a lot of fascinating museums up and down the country that pay tribute to Finland’s military history and tell the stories of the people who lived through these conflicts. These are some of the best to visit in Finland.

The Lotta Museum

Museum
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Statue at the Lotta Svärd Museum | © Ilkka Jukarainen / Flickr
Operated by the Lotta Svärd Foundation, this museum in Tuusula near Helsinki documents the history of the World War II women’s volunteer association of the same name. The Lotta Svärd aided the military by providing medical care and food and were listed in air raid warning posts. The exhibits tell personal stories of Lotta Svärd members through archival videos and photos.

Suomenlinna

Archaeological site, Building, Natural Feature, Church, Historical Landmark
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Suomenlinna fortress in Helsinki, Finland, for best Instagram images.
Suomenlinna fortress in Helsinki offers perfect Instagram moments in winter and summer. | © Riku Pihanto / Visit Finland

The island of Suomenlinna off the coast of Helsinki was once a military fortress that saw fighting during the Crimean War, the Russo-Swedish War and the Finnish Civil War. Today, the island contains not only fortress ruins but several different museums. There is the Military Museum’s Manege full of military uniforms, weapons and other artefacts, the World War II submarine Vesikko, which is the only surviving submarine in Finland (and legally the only submarine which Finland is allowed to have) and the main Suomenlinna Museum, which details all parts of the fortress’ history.

Parola Tank Museum

Museum
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Hall 2
A collection of tanks at Parola Tank Museum, Finland | © Alexander Granholm / Flickr

For both children and the young at heart, Parola Tank Museum is a must-visit. It contains tanks, armoured vehicles and anti-aircraft guns of the Finnish Defence Forces from 1919 leading right up to the present day, some of which you can sit in. The collection includes a rare World War II armoured train and the world’s only surviving T-26 tank from 1933.

Helsinki Military Museum

Museum
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Anti-aircraft gun outside the Helsinki Military Museum | © Adam Jones / Flickr

Finland’s largest military museum consists of a collection of over 200,000 oartefacts including weapons, equipment, artwork, archival photos and the impressive tanks displayed at the front of the building. The museum’s main building is located n mainland Helsinki while the manege and submarine Vesikko are located on Suomenlinna. The museum café is also themed after a wartime cafeteria and sells excellent Finnish ‘munkki’ doughnuts.

Winter War Museum

Museum, Memorial
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Tank outside the Winter War Museum in Kuhmo, Finland | © Urpo Lankinen / Flickr

The Winter War of 1939 to 1940 lasted only 105 days yet resulted in over 300,000 casualties, loss of Finnish land and forced Finland to side with the Axis Powers for the remainder of World War II. The Winter War Museum in Kuhmo, an area that saw some of the war’s heaviest fighting, tells the stories of both the Finnish and Soviet soldiers and how the war affected local civilians. Exhibits include armoured tanks, reconstructed Soviet planes and the remains of the Purasjoki fortress. There is also a Winter War monument close by.

Infantry Museum

Museum
Map View
Lahti-Saloranta_m26_Mikkeli_3
Lahti-Saloranta m/26 light machine gun at the Infantry Museum in Finland | © MKFI / WikiCommons

A specialist museum for the Finnish infantry, managed by the Infantry Foundation. The collection, held in a former 19th-century barracks building, contains uniforms, photos, weapons and other artefacts donated to the museum. There are also scale model dioramas of some of the key battles in Finnish history. The museum’s café is held in a former House of the Guard building.

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