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 organised 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 have a fair like this every year.
In case you know some facts about Finland, you might have heard our towns are not very big, especially if measured by a number 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 cosy and ‘small-town-like’, and as mentioned a few times already, very close-to-nature.
246 square kilometres of the surface of Hämeenlinna is water. Why did I say 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 fantastic; the lake on one side, the town park on the other side. What an excellent 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.
The medieval camp took over the beach side of the castle park during the weekend.
When walking along the track by the lake, I felt even I could go for a run now and then if the setting was that perfect. (Yep, I love to run after football, but I’m not much of a jogger, really.)
Lake Vanajavesi 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 know worst places to spend a warm summer evening than this one. The sunset was just stunning.
You can read more about our camping experience in Aulanko national park here. To make a quick summary, the area is full of amazing camping spots, and we could have easily spent there a whole week. Unfortunately, our schedule was too tight for that, but at least we had some time for an adventure in 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 (2015).
Typical Finnish views, and yet so beautiful. This is what you can see from the top of Aulanko viewing tower.
On Sunday morning, while walking in the town centre of Hämeenlinna, we found ourselves stopping in front of a realtor’s window checking the selection and the price range of houses on sale. This is how much we fell in love with the town.
Well, maybe moving to Hämeenlinna is not an option right now, but at least the local people can be damn proud of their beautiful hometown.
The market square of Hämeenlinna was quiet on Sunday morning. It was a perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee and the late summer morning sun.
Even hotels in Hämeenlinna look like a castle.
Have you ever visited Finland? If you have, what is your favourite town in this Northern country? If you have never visited Finland, would you like to? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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