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I spent a few nights in Tampere, the 'wannabe' Eurovision city – and it put on the show of a lifetime

The Finnish city knows how to throw a party

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Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
May 9, 2024
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I've been following Eurovision for years now, through the highs and given I'm a British fan the many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many lows. But one country that also doesn't have a flawless record is Finland, who has only won the competition once, back in 2006 with the memorable Lordi and 'Hard Rock Hallelujah'.

Now while I'm fully backing Olly Alexander and his song 'Dizzy' to allow the UK to host once again when it comes to 2025, following my three-night stay in Tampere, Finland, I would not be mad if Windows95man brings the crown back to the Scandinavian country.

A lighthouse on a frozen lake© Matthew Moore
The views on the frozen lake were mind-blowing

After nearly snatching the title last year with Käärijä's 'Cha Cha Cha', Eurovision fever has really swept Finland and you could feel that just walking around the city, which was already going all out from hosting Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK), which is Finland's national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. National landmarks were lit up in pink and purple, UMK's signature colours, while tram drivers wore bows in the colours as well. Lights hung everywhere and if this is just for UMK, I can imagine the city throwing the biggest party in its history, if its bid to host Eurovision succeeds.

And even if the bid fails, following my time there in the blisteringly-cold winter, I can confirm that anyone travelling there will find plenty to do, after all Tampere is the capital of saunas, museums and Fairtrade bananas.

What to do

Tampere is a city bustling with life and features countless activities from amusement parks to museums to churches to concert halls and of course more saunas than you can shake a stick at.

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For culture lovers, one of the must-see things that Tampere has to offer is the Vapriikki Museum Centre. The multi-story museum is home to several museums in one, including the Natural History Museum, Ice Hockey Museum and the Museum of Games. On top of that, it features multiple rotating exhibitions from minerals to an in-depth look at Manserock. Tampere is also home to the only museum in the world dedicated to The Moomins, so if you love Tove Jansson's creatures, you should pop along to see dioramas of the iconic characters and some of the late author's original drawings.

An exterior shot of the Vapriikki Museum Centre© Visit Tampere
The Vapriikki Museum Centre is a must visit

For sight-seers, the best place to head would be the Pyynikki observation tower. The 26-metre tall building was the perfect vantage point to take in the city and really understand its size. During my February visit, you truly felt in a form of winter wonderland with a blanket of white as far as the eye could see, while also taking in the city's industrial past.

Aerial shot of the city of Tampere© Matthew Moore
The views from the Pyynikki observation tower took my breath away

As we're sure you're already more than well aware, Finland loves its saunas, and with 60 to choose from, Tampere has earned its title of 'Sauna Capital of the World'. The one I visited was Sauna Restaurant Kuuma, which came with two Finnish saunas of varying heat and was attached to a restaurant. The venue itself is very popular, with a dance competition being hosted during our time there. I love a relaxing unwind in a sauna and truthfully, nowhere did it better than Finland, and I even partook in the traditional Finnish way of heating up before heading into a much cooler pool of water. Alongside the shock to the system, it carries several health benefits and gives the unusual feeling of heading back to the sauna while still feeling numb, waiting a little bit before the warmth gets back to you.

A set of red kick sleds on a frozen lake© Matthew Moore
Kick sledding was the best way to travel across the lake

But the highlight of the trip had to be the frozen lake experience with kick-sledding. Frozen lake may inspire worries of falling through, but this ice is solid and is quite popular among the locals, and you will routinely see people walking, ice skating or biking across the ice. And this isn't ice rink ice either, and so while I had the idea of falling over and face-planting in my head, it was more akin to walking across a snowy field. When I got to the centre I was treated to the most magical views of the Siilinkari Lighthouse as well as the endless views of frozen water. The waters typically harden around December and January before thawing around April, so time is of the essence if you want this experience, which comes with a hot drink if you make it to the middle.

An interior shot of the Moomin Museum© Matthew Moore
Tampere is home to the only Moomin museum

Where to stay

While Tampere has main notable options, I truly could not find fault with my hotel, the Lapland Hotels Arena, which was located inside the Nokia Arena, which hosted UMK. The ambient traditional Finnish music filled lifts and rooms transported you back to a time of Vikings and open-wood fires.

A hotel room with a bed, armchair and cupboard© Visit Tampere
My Mystique Deluxe room even came with a personal sauna

The rooms themselves, while compact, featured everything that was needed and the only reason I knew it was -27C outside was because of my phone's thermometer, other than that, I was enjoying a toasty snooze in my hotel bed none the wiser.

And speaking of toastiness, my Mystique Deluxe room came with its own sauna in the bathroom. So, after a small lounge in the easily temperature controlled sauna, I could then head into the walk-in shower to wash away any sweat and then head down to watch UMK just a few floors below. No need to travel out into this Arctic temperatures!

Rooms at Lapland Hotels Arena start at £104 a night. Find out more here.

Where to eat

Tampere is full of culinary options and things not on British menus, like reindeer, which tastes surprisingly nice if you can get visions of Rudolph out of your head. One of the highlights for me was Villit ja Viinit, a small restaurant perfect for intimate dining while also capable of handling larger parties. With an everchanging menu and wine list, every visit will be different, but the vegan meal I had was one of the highlights of the trip.

A vegan dish with an orange sauce© Matthew Moore
The food was like nothing I'd ever had

My other culinary experience was courtesy of Tiima, and you could certainly envision a film noir experience there with the 60s-inspired interiors and quirky artworks. Nestled right next to a cocktail bar, which was serving Eurovision-themed drinks (what else?), the juxtaposition between loud night life and civilised dinner was stark but welcome. Excelling in vegetarian and vegan dishes, this would be the perfect spot for to dine.


A man with frozen facial hair© Matthew Moore
As you can tell from the ice in my beard, the weather was cold!

While Eurovision would be hosted in May, so you wouldn't have to worry too much about the temperatures, my February visit managed to coincide with a cold snap in the region, which saw me waking up in temperatures of -27C. And given the frozen lake experience would be fully thawed by May, it might be the winter months that you want to visit in, so make sure you bring several layers, gloves and hats when heading out.

How to get there

London doesn't have direct flights to Tampere and you should expect stopovers before arriving at your final destination. So, if you don't fancy waiting around in airports, then your best option might be what I did, which is to fly to Helsinki, and then catch a train from the airport to the city, with the train taking roughly an hour to get there.

Book flights from London Gatwick here

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