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The Finnish town of Rauma in Satakunta on the south western coast is the third oldest town in Finland, dating from 1482. It’s almost fairy tale-like old wooden buildings in striking bright colours, some of the few examples surviving into the modern day, have earned the Old Town UNESCO World Heritage status. Rauma was once particularly famous for bobbin lace making, and this is still seen in the many traditional craft shops and the annual Lace Week event. It is because of this vibrant yet carefree atmosphere that Rauma locals are claimed to be happier than average. See for yourself why Rauma is the best town in Finland for that nostalgic feeling.
Rauma’s popularity with tourists means there are plenty of attractive and comfortable hotels and resorts in the town. The Poroholma Centre is a popular five star resort with an old time holiday camp feel to it. Accommodation options are an inn inside an 18th century lace villa, cabins, caravans, and a hostel inside a ship.
Other options are the Kylmapihlaja Lighthouse, a 1950’s lighthouse converted into a hotel and only accessible by a ferry, the privately rented Rustiholli farm house just outside of the town, or Hotelli Vanha, one of the few hotels in the Old Town area itself and located in a former fish warehouse.
The 600 buildings making up the Old Town are the main draw of Rauma. It is easy to get lost wandering through the thin, winding cobbled streets to see what you might discover. Of particular note are the Old Town Hall and its distinctive tower, the Church of the Holy Cross dating from 1512, Kitukränn – which is possibly the narrowest street in Finland, and the market square.
Tucked away between these buildings you can find many attractions such as the telephone museum, the maritime museum, the Torni water tower which offers panoramic view of Rauma, the Pits-Priia bobbin lace workshop, and the art museum. The more you explore Rauma, the more you will find.
The buildings of the Old Town hold many cafes, restaurants, and market stalls. Café Sali in the market square is a popular spot serving both tea and coffee as well as light meals and pastries, overlooking one of the most beautiful parts of Rauma. The café has a contemporary city influence yet still fits with the aesthetic and atmosphere of the town by becoming a public living room space with free wi-fi, a customer library, and complimentary newspapers.
Nearby, the Kontion Kahvilat has been operating for 50 years and has even published its own cookbook. The café’s vanilla doughnuts are especially popular. Gulf fish such as whitefish are staples of the region, as are locally grown vegetables such as cucumbers and new potatoes. It is worth checking the restaurant menus and markets to see what is currently in season.
Rauma is a craft lover’s heaven with multiple quaint stores selling handmade crafts, supplies, and even workshops where you can make your own lace. There are also interior design shops, antique shops, the Tmi Tuula Heininen silk flower shop, and many other old fashioned or quirky local merchants.
The many factory outlet stores are affordable places to buy Finnish brands. The Polar Honey store sells Finland’s most popular brand of honey while the family-owned Wooden Bail and Barrel Factory sells wooden products such as sauna paraphernalia.
As mentioned, bobbin lace making is an integral part of Rauma’s cultural heritage. The annual Lace Week is being held in the last week of July in 2017 and includes a contest for the town’s fastest lace maker, traditional food, folk music and dance, and exhibits by local artists. Again there will be workshops where you can learn to make lace the traditional way.
The event cumulates in the Night of the Black Lace, with late night markets and concerts from some of Finland’s top musicians and a festival atmosphere. The International Grand Market includes more than 1,000 merchants from 30 different countries. The Church of the Holy Cross will be hosting a special concert for the Suomi 100 event.
For something more contemporary, there is the mini-film festival at the independent Iso Hannu cinema, the Rauma Blues Festival in mid-July, and Rauma Rock in March.