Surrounded by lakes and forests, Jyväskylä’s city centre is dotted with old wooden houses and dominated by straight lines of modern architecture. From a century-old shopping centre to a floating sauna, here are the best things to see and do in Jyväskylä, Finland!
For the best view over the city of Jyväskylä, head to Harju, a little hill just off the main shopping street. Harju is a popular spot for joggers, as there is a circular pathway going around the hill. There is also a sports field, a summer theatre, an observation tower, a natural history museum, and a restaurant. The best photo opportunity is at the magnificent stone staircase, Nero Stairs, which starts at the bottom of Harju and goes all the way to the top.
Toivolan vanha piha, or Toivola Old Courtyard, is a small complex of wooden houses in the city centre of Jyväskylä. Dating back to the 19th century, the Old Courtyard’s selective collection of artisanal boutiques is Jyväskylä’s most beautiful shopping centre. Apart from boutiques selling jewellery, home design, accessories and clothes, Toivola Old Courtyard features a popular coffee shop and restaurant called Muisto. Pretty during summer or winter, Toivola Old Courtyard is a must-see spot in Jyväskylä.
Located along the main shopping street of Jyväskylä, the Jyväskylä Art Museum is a great pit stop to explore the local art scene. For fans of retro, there is also a permanent exhibition called Oravien Aarteita (Treasures of the Orava Family), which is a fictional family’s living quarters from the 1960s. There is a gift shop in the lobby, showcasing local artists’ work such as art prints and earrings, and there’s also a sitting area to rest your feet after taking in Central Finnish art. It’s free to enter on Fridays.
It is time to put down the phone, pick up a pen, and send a postcard from Finland! For sending a memorable postcard, visit the quaint paper shop Harjun Paperi, which sells postcards by Finnish designers as well as cool notebooks, posters and paper for hand-written letters. The little paper shop is located only two blocks away from Jyväskylä’s main shopping street and opposite of Harju hill.
The best local experience in Jyväskylä is to rent a sauna – and not just any sauna, but a sauna boat. Palsau rents out sauna boats over the summer season to cruise along the city centre’s lake Jyväsjärvi. A captain is on board so you can concentrate on taking in the scenery, relaxing in the sauna, or sipping a beer in a jacuzzi! There is also a barbecue for preparing meals – just remember to bring your own food and beverages!
To get into the cosy and quaint Scandi feel in Jyväskylä, stay at Hotel Yöpuu. This boutique hotel is located in a yellow-stone building dating back to 1928, only two blocks away from Jyväskylä’s main shopping street. Each room has its own style, varying from countryside romance to modern Scandinavian decor, and features brands such as Marimekko and Alvar Aalto. The hotel restaurant is awarded for its cuisine and wine, and the recently refurbished sauna oasis doesn’t leave anyone cold!
The Craft Museum of Finland is located in the city centre of Jyväskylä, along the main shopping street called Kauppakatu. Visitors will step into a journey of 2,000 years of craft-making and see samples of Finnish national costumes. An English audio guide is available, where one can listen to a “shoemaker’s journey” as an introduction to the permanent collection. Changing exhibits showcase various themes, from cigar box guitars to Nordic collaborations in crafts. Next door, there is a Finnish craft shop called Taito that’s perfect for souvenirs.
Teeleidi – the Tea Lady that is – offers an exquisite cup of tea in a charming, old wooden house in the city centre. Located on a steep hill leading to the University of Jyväskylä campus grounds, Teeleidi welcomes young and old visitors with the light scent of tea lingering inside its salons. There are dozens of tea varieties to choose from, as well as sweet and savoury pastries. Nearby, there are a few art galleries and museums, such as Alvar Aalto Museum and Gallery Becker.
Alvar Aalto is a renowned Finnish architect and designer, and thousands of travellers flock to Finland to study and admire his work. Aalto spent much of his youth in Jyväskylä and he designed the Alvar Aalto Museum, which opened in 1973. Jyväskylä is a bit of an open-air museum too, as Aalto’s works can be found around the city. But when you drop by the Alvar Aalto Museum itself, you can get a solid grasp of it all. Apart from Aalto’s work in architecture, the museum also showcases Aalto’s work in glassware and modern Scandinavian design. There is a lovely café and shop downstairs as well.
The Jyväskylä city centre is dominated by one street, Kauppakatu, which runs from the shopping mall Kolmikulma, all the way to the University of Jyväskylä. The best way to start a pub crawl is at Vakiopaine, a popular hangout for the university students crowd. Then head towards the city centre, and on your left-hand side step into a tiny pub called Vihreä Haltiatar or Green Fairy. They sell absinth as well as a good selection of beers and wines. If you wish, you can continue the crawl and check out the dancing scene at Freetime, a popular rock-spirited nightclub located in Jyväskylä’s main shopping area. To finish off on a quieter note, head to Old Brick’s Inn, an English-style pub in a red-brick building.