Hämeenlinna is an inland town of around 68 000 people, located in the Southern part of Finland, 100 kilometers North of Helsinki, the capital. Hämeenlinna is known best for its’ landmark, the Häme Castle. Last weekend we made a quick weekend trip to Hämeenlinna. We visited the castle, of course, but there was something else that really charmed us. The beautiful nature that was so close you could just touch it.
I would say Hämeenlinna is probably one of the most beautiful towns in Finland. If you have ever visited this Northern country, you might know we have nature around us pretty much everywhere we go. But only rarely is nature so easy to approach as it is in Hämeenlinna. It’s right there in the centre of the town. You can literally just go and touch it.
The main reason for our weekend trip to Hämeenlinna was the Häme Medieval Fair that was traditionally organized at the castle park in the centre of the town. I have never before visited this kind of medieval event, even if many Finnish towns are having a fair like this every year. A three-day event was definitely worth visiting, and I will tell you more about it on the blog in a few days time. The Häme Medieval Fair really deserves its’ own post.
In case you know some facts about Finland, you might have heard our towns are not very big, especially if measured by the amount of people living there. A little bit over 68 000 people are living in Hämeenlinna, which makes it the 14th biggest town in the whole of Finland. The atmosphere is very cozy and ‘small-town-like’, and as mentioned a few times already, very close-to-nature.
246 square kilometers of the surface of Hämeenlinna is water. Why did I say the nature is right there in the town centre? Because a lake called Vanajavesi is flowing through it. The best part is, there is a track along the beach which is perfect for walking, jogging and cycling. The views are absolutely fantastic; the lake on one side, the town park on the other side. What a perfect reason to enjoy some fresh air. You can also cross the lake following a railway bridge, which highlights the experience as you can stop on the bridge and just admire the view on the lake, decorated with the silhouette of the Häme castle and the town centre.
Walking along the track by the lake I felt even I could go for a run every now and then if the setting was that perfect. (Yep, I love to run after a football, but I’m not much of a jogger, really.)
The Vanajavesi lake in the centre of the town is only a tiny little part of the big picture. Hämeenlinna is full of parks, forests, outdoor tracks, camping areas with places to build a campfire and beaches to swim. We choose Aulanko Nature Reserve for our camping destination.
I will tell you more about our camping experience in Aulanko national park in a few days. To make a quick summary, the area is full of amazing camping spots and we could have easily spent there a full week. Unfortunately our schedule was too tight for that, but at least we had some time for an adventure in an old castle ruins and to climb on the top of Aulanko viewing tower. And oh boy, was it worth it? The views were definitely worth … well, many many steps.
According to some sources, the nature of Aulanko was inspiring the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius when he was creating our national hymn Finlandia. Sibelius was born in Hämeenlinna and the town is celebrating his 150 years birthday this year.
Hämeenlinna had such a great impact on us that on Sunday morning, while walking in the town centre, we found ourselves stopping in front of realtor’s window checking the selection and the price range of houses on sale. Well, maybe moving to Hämeenlinna is not an option right now, but at least the local people can be damn proud of their beautiful home town.
Have you ever visited Finland? If you have, what is your favourite town in this Northern country? If you never have visited Finland, would you like to? Share your thoughts on the comments section below.