You might have heard of Old Rauma, but did you know it’s not the only reason to travel to this beautiful seaside town? To prove this, I created an extensive list with 30+ suggestions what to do in Rauma during your visit.
Finland is pretty hot right now, as you might know. Unfortunately, most foreign tourists travelling to Finland only visit Helsinki or Lapland (or perhaps both), and that’s it. Every summer all blogs, travel media and news websites create fancy lists of “10 Best Places to Visit in Finland” but only exceptionally rarely they include my hometown Rauma in their listings.
And I’m seriously pissed off because of that; Rauma SHOULD be on those lists.
Rauma isn’t the biggest town in Finland, not by size or population, and that’s one of the reasons why I prefer Rauma over other Finnish destinations. Rauma is a picturesque small town where you don’t even need a car, but if you have one, you can park it anywhere for free. How many cities do you know with zero paid parking spots?
But is there anything to see here? What to do in Rauma – except for walking through Old Rauma, the UNESCO-listed old town?
When tourists arrive at Rauma, they usually come for Old Rauma, the largest coherent wooden old town in the Nordics. And it’s not a bad reason at all. But guess what!? Rauma has much more to offer than the old town; it would be a huge sin to travel all the way to Rauma and only visit the old town. Shame on you for even considering such move.
On this post, I’ll provide you with 2 x 10 reasons to visit Rauma BESIDES the wooden old town. As you shouldn’t either miss Old Rauma during your visit, at the end of this post I’ll share with you 10 local pointers to our old town; such detailed tips you wouldn’t necessarily know otherwise.
Let’s get started with my extensive list of tips on what to do in Rauma BESIDES drifting around the old town.
1 – Rauma is the only town in Finland with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites
At least by now, you know that our wooden old town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But did you know that Rauma is the only town in Finland with two UNESCO sites? The second site, Sammallahdenmäki, is an ancient burial site dating back to the Bronze Age. Sammallahdenmäki was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 as the first prehistoric archaeological site in Finland.
Along the 1,5 km nature trail, you’ll see all 36 granite burial cairns of Sammallahdenmäki. Some sections of the path are a bit challenging due to rocky ground, so prepare yourself with proper shoes. As there are no information signs next to the cairns, you’ll get the most out of your visit if you get a brochure from Pyyrman, the Rauma Tourist Info, or by downloading this guide for Sammallahdenmäki on your phone. After all, you don’t want to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site and end up staring at huge piles of rocks without knowing the intriguing stories behind them, am I right?
Additional tip: Have a tasty shopping at Kivikylä factory outlet
Sausages and other delicious bbq dishes belong to summer. You think so too? Well, then I have great news for you; the producer of the very best sausages and cured meat in the whole of Finland (and their factory outlet) is based right next to the southern entrance of Sammallahdenmäki. Kivikylä (which literally means ‘Stone Village’ – can you see the connection with the ancient cairns?) is a local family business that has been operating since 1970 and their meat products are famous throughout Finland.
2 – Rauma Archipelago is massively underrated – don’t make the same mistake!
For me personally, Rauma Archipelago is the dearest of all places in Rauma. Unfortunately, it’s massively underrated and can never be found on any of the ‘top spots to visit’ lists even if it should. Besides beautiful beaches, boating and kayaking routes, we have several tourist islands worth visiting; try the lighthouse island of Kylmäpihlaja, Kuuskajaskari fortress island, Reksaari nature island or Nurmes-Aikonmaa which is the largest island in Finland with no bridge or regular ferry connection.
Kylmäpihlaja and Kuuskajaskari both belong to Bothnian Sea National Park. To find out more about the attractions, islands, routes and boat connections, check out this map of Rauma Archipelago.
If I had to find one con of our archipelago, it would be the poor connections for boatless people. In summer, you can find several daily cruises to Kylmäpihlaja and Kuuskajaskari, but unfortunately, the boat won’t go to any other islands. To improve the situation, I’d wish for much better collaboration between the local entrepreneurs. Having regular boat connections would be beneficial to everyone; the entrepreneurs themselves as well as the tourists visiting Rauma, but also locals who don’t have a boat of their own.
To visit Rauma Archipelago, you can always call a taxi boat, but especially for solo travellers, the expenses of a two-way taxi boat journey might be a deal breaker. To find out more about taxi boats, contact Blue Camp that runs the services in Reksaari Island or wilderness and fishing guide Eräheppu who uses Nurmes Island as one of his bases.
Waikiki Beach on the island of Nurmes-Aikonmaa in Rauma Archipelago.
The sunny summer terrace on Reksaari Island.
You can visit Kylmäpihlaja Island by boat, one of the daily cruises or if the weather is nice, even by kayak.
Additional tip: Row to Reksaari Island for free
The town of Rauma has two rowboats that you can borrow for free of charge for visiting Reksaari. All you have to do is to book the boat in advance and pay a deposit of 10 euros to get the key. You’ll get your money back once you return the key to the tourist office. One of the boats is resting in Mustalahti marina whereas the second boat hides along Omenapuumaa Nature Trail. Reaching the second boat requires a little hiking but trust me, the nature trail itself is worth the effort.
3 – Discover the natural attractions near the centre of Rauma
Not a friend of seaside adventures? Don’t worry; Rauma conceals numerous stunning natural attractions and nature trails on the mainland. Many beautiful destinations hide just a stone-throw away from the town centre. Climb to the top of Kokkovuori Mountain, hike in Omenapuumaa or Ryssänkallio and Lähdepelto cliffs, discover the mysterious old bomb shelters and the old defence fortress Karhulinna.
Fancy a longer hike? Head a bit further away from the centre and hit one of the two trails of the Seven Lakes (both of which will have their own story on this blog soon).
Kokkovuori is a hidden natural attraction that even many locals don’t know about.
Karhulinna defence fortress stands in the middle of the neighbourhood of Merirauma, yet hidden from bypassers’ sight.
Additional tip: Want to try mountain biking in Rauma? Check out these tips!
If you prefer mountain biking over hiking, check out this page for some of the best mountain biking trails in Rauma area. In case you’re a beginner and would enjoy some guidance plus a relaxing biking trip with like-minded people, reach out for Rauman Latu, an organisation that arranges easy mountain biking trips every Thursday evening during the summer season.
4 – Adrenaline junkie, try these activities in Rauma!
If you’re looking for more extreme activities, Rauma gets you covered. Previously known as Poroholma Wakepark, Otanlahti Fun Park is a cable park where you can try wakeboarding. If you’re too scared to try cable ski with a wakeboard, choose a rubber tube that is also suitable for children. If wakeboarding doesn’t give your adrenaline level a boost, give a call to our wilderness guide Eräheppu who organises abseiling adventures at Kylmäpihlaja Lighthouse. Of course, you can do abseiling at the water tower too, but having the open sea sparkling on the background lifts this extreme experience to a whole new level.
In case you’re still longing for more after abseiling, gather your friends for a game of laser tag in authentic surroundings in the bunkers of Kuuskajaskari military island. Believe it or not, Rauma is also a great diving destination; maintained by the local diving club Rauman Laitesukeltajat, Riskonpöllä Diving Park hides a schooner Siivo sank in 1898, a trawler swamped in the 1990s, a diving bell and an underwater obstacle course.
Photo: Esa Urhonen / Länsi-Suomi
Abseiling down Kylmäpihlaja Lighthouse is one of the coolest activities in Rauma.
Additional tip: Explore Rauma Archipelago by kayak or stand-up paddleboard
If water sports are your thing, you should know that you can rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at Otanlahti Fun Park. Stand-up paddleboarding is also possible on Reksaari Island. How about exploring Rauma Archipelago with locals on very affordable price? If you’ve already gained some kayaking experience, aim for Tuesday evening when our kayak club RSM (Rauman Seudun Melojat) arranges few-hour kayak excursions on the sea. Even if you’re not a club member, you can participate in these excursions for a ridiculously cheap 5-euro fee.
5 – Poroholma – one of the rare five-star camping sites in Finland
Not everyone enjoys extreme adventures; I get that. If you’re the type who loves to chill out on a sunny terrace admiring sea views while sipping a cold drink and listening to live bands, the seaside camping site Poroholma is a place for you. You don’t have to be a caravaner to visit Poroholma; as one of the very few five-star camping sites in the whole of Finland, their services are available for everyone. Have a sauna and dip in the sea on the child-friendly Otanlahti beach, dine or spend a night on a sailing boat and challenge your friends for mini golf or other relaxing games.
Poroholma is also the harbour for cruises to Kylmäpihlaja and Kuuskajaskari islands.
Bands often play on Poroholma terrace. Even if there’s no live music, the sky knows how to organise a stunning late night show.
Additional tip: Get around Rauma by Kake the City Train
Our city train Kake Kaupunkijuna runs between Poroholma and Old Rauma starting from the end of June until mid-August. If you’re too lazy to walk or bike, hop on Kake and enjoy the ride for a 5-euro fee.
6 – Take a stroll in the largest small-boat marina in Finland
At the north end of Suvitie, the road passing by Poroholma, you’ll find Syväraumanlahti bay with the largest small-boat marina in the whole of Finland. While taking a stroll along the brand new pavement and admiring the hundreds of boats (unless they’re all sailing at sea), in Syväraumanlahti you’ll find café and restaurant Merijakamo with one of the rare seaside summer terraces in Rauma. Merijakamo is also the home dock to the sauna boat that you can rent for an unforgettable sauna cruise in Rauma Archipelago. If you’re looking at the opposite shore, you’ll spot Saharanta, another popular and child-friendly sandy beach.
Additional tip: Climb up to Kiikartorn Tower or have a picnic on the surrounding rocks
Why do you feel like you should be doing something all the time? How about doing nothing instead? Right next to Merijakamo, you’ll spot Kiikartorn Tower surrounded by rocks that are ideal for a relaxing afternoon. Take a blanket, pack some lunch and chill out on the rocks admiring the bypassing boats. If you really have an urge to do something, you can climb up to the tower for some of the best views in Rauma.
7 – Visit the attractions of Rauma by rickshaw
This summer Rauma organised a unique summer entrepreneur experiment for teenagers dreaming of running their own business. One of these young promises is Akseli Koskela, whose summer business is called Aksun Riksa = Aksu’s Rickshaw. Yes, in summer of 2018, you have a chance to explore the attractions of Rauma by rickshaw. Find Aksu and his rickshaws on Facebook.
Additional tip: Get a rickshaw ride to see what’s on in one of the many summer theatres
Rauma has many summer theatres of which the main one is located in atmospheric surroundings in Fåfänga, almost opposite Otanlahti Beach. I do realise that all summer theatres here operate in Finnish, but as attending an outdoor summer theatre show is a traditional Finnish way of spending warm and light summer evenings, you should consider giving them a chance. Discover the summer theatres in Rauma area, pick the closest one and enjoy the show.
8 – Fall in love with the museums of Rauma
Even if our old town is a kind of free outdoor museum itself, Rauma has some interesting museums telling stories about the town’s maritime and lace-making history dating back hundreds and hundreds of years. The old Town Hall of Rauma, the bright yellow eye-catcher standing at the edge of the market square, hosts a museum describing the long history of Rauma and the lace-making tradition that is still very much alive. In Old Rauma, you’ll also find Rauma Art Museum, Home Museum Kirsti presenting how people lived in Old Rauma from the early 1900s to 1970s and Marela, a museum showing a wealthy shipowner’s lifestyle at the turn of the 1900s. A little walk away from the old town, Rauma Maritime Museum is a fun and exciting place to visit with the whole family.
You can find all museums in Rauma here. And don’t forget to visit the local museums in the villages, even if they’re located a little drive away from the town centre.
Additional tip: Take part in one of the many guided tours in Rauma
In Rauma, you’re able to participate in guided tours IN ENGLISH. Amazing, right? In case you can handle the complex Finnish language (or even more complex Rauma language), you’ll have many more options for guided tours in Rauma. The very best one is a drama tour in Old Rauma every Thursday in July starting at the market square at 17.30. I promise you; if there was a reality TV show called ‘Finland’s best tour guide’, no one could compete with Pirjo Jaakkola, a local guide in the picture below who truly puts her heart in her tours.
9 – Enjoy the diverse summer events of Rauma
Even if our biggest music festival RMJ has just passed by, the summer events of Rauma aren’t over. The real highlight of the summer is Rauma Lace Week at the end of July. Despite the name Lace Week, it’s neither only about lace nor just a week but nine days full of different kinds of events from open yards in Old Rauma to live concerts, street markets and more. The week culminates in the Black Lace Night traditionally taking place on the last Friday of the Lace Week. The streets of Old Rauma will be packed with people, and all women should (but aren’t forced to) wear black lace in their outfits.
Other popular summer events in Rauma are a free alternative music festival Klustermus and our August event series including the chamber music festival Rauma Festivo, Rauma Blues and Blue Sea Film Festival.
Additional tip: Rauma summer events also spread outside the town centre
Yep, you read right; summertime isn’t lively only in the centre of Rauma, but in Rauma’s villages too. All village events have a unique and cosy atmosphere, so don’t underestimate them. Try at least Lapin Löylypäivät (roughly translated as ‘Lappi Sauna Days’) and, if you’re a friend of traditional open-air dance events, you should now that Salamakallio in Lappi organises open-air dances almost every weekend during the summer.
10 – Enjoy the summer on the roof terraces of Rauma
I’ll soon share with you a special tip for the summer terraces in Old Rauma, but before that, let’s find out if Rauma has any roof terraces.
The answer is yes! The oldest and most legendary roof terrace hides at the edge of the old town, on top of an old bomb shelter that today houses a restaurant called Wanhan Rauman Kellari (‘Old Rauma Cellar’). Here you can literally dine in a cellar and enjoy some dessert drinks on a roof. All locals call this roof terrace as Kissan Katto = ‘The Cat Roof’ that’s inherited from the old name of the restaurant.
The newest roof terrace in Rauma is so new that I haven’t even had time to test it yet! Opened only a few weeks ago, restaurant and sports bar Tifosi has a roof terrace on top of the shopping centre Potkur right at the gate of Old Rauma. Knowing the location, I’m sure this roof terrace is a top choice for enjoying some refreshing drinks on a hot summer day (yes, we do have those in Finland).
Additional tip: The very best views in Rauma are included in the price when dining in Rauma water tower
Not many tourists know that you can go to the top of Rauma water tower to admire some of the best views in this town. Neither do they know there is a restaurant on the top of the tower. The name of the restaurant Torni literally means a tower, and it’s a perfect place if you’re looking for a place where to enjoy stunning landscapes while dining.
There you go, more than 20 reasons (other than the old town) to visit Rauma this summer. But wait, I didn’t run out of Rauma tips quite yet. As you shouldn’t skip our beautiful UNESCO-listed old town during your visit, I want to share 10 local tips for Old Rauma that you wouldn’t necessarily know or notice without a little help.
10 Local Tips for Old Rauma
1 – Peek into the courtyards
Even if you could think of Old Rauma as a massive and free open-air museum, it’s a lively neighbourhood where approximately 800 people live their everyday lives. Unlike in every other neighbourhood in Finland (or anywhere in the world), people in Old Rauma take pleasure in showing their secret courtyards and telling the stories behind their houses.
That said, if you see an open gate when strolling along the streets of Old Rauma, don’t hesitate to peek in. If you feel too embarrassed to do it on an average day, aim your visit for Rauma Lace Week. That’s when more than 40 families in Old Rauma open their gates and host flea markets in their gardens.
Pssst… If you only have time for one garden, look for a house called Wälmlä. The house, the garden and its additional buildings hide an extensive collection of ye olde items. Make sure to reserve enough time for this free home museum as the collection as well as the stories by the house-owners are absolutely incredible.
2 – Discover the secret courtyard terraces
Many of the cafés and restaurants in Old Rauma would feature cute and cosy summer terraces, even if it didn’t look like it when standing on the street. Sometimes you won’t even know about it when stepping indoors as the entrance to the terrace is most likely hiding around the corner. Only very rarely you’ll find a sign mentioning the terrace, so don’t hesitate to ask the staff if you’re wondering whether a secret courtyard terrace exists or not.
3 – Don’t get stuck in the market square and the two main streets of Old Rauma
Many tourists arrive at Old Rauma and walk through the two main streets, Kauppakatu and Kuninkaankatu, stops at the market square and think they’ve seen it all. They couldn’t be more wrong!
The most beautiful alleys, buildings and details hide on the narrow side streets, so don’t be afraid to get lost on them. Here even locals discover new features on every single visit; such details they never knew existed.
4 – Spot the names of the buildings
While wandering along the streets of the old town, pay attention to the name signs on the buildings. They’re much more than just random names; they tell stories about people who have lived in the house some centuries ago or perhaps the original purpose of the building. A dictionary might be helpful, though, as not even all Finns get what those signs say.
5 – Dare to be nosy
Despite the tip number 3, you should take a stroll along the two main streets and, most important, pay attention when you do. If you stumble upon with a large keyhole (or three), dare to peek in. You might get surprised!
Nosiness is something people of Old Rauma are very familiar with. Nothing indicates it better than so-called ‘gossip mirrors’; funnily shaped mirrors on living room windows that allow the residents to see what’s happening out on the streets without lifting their bums up from the couch. Clever, huh?
Lotta from Lanttimatkat YouTube Channel dared to be nosy during her visit in Rauma last summer.
6 – Walk along the narrowest street in Finland
Kitukränn is a short and narrow alley connecting the two main streets of Old Rauma. But it’s no ordinary street; it’s the narrowest street in the whole of Finland. There have been some disagreements with another coastal town Kristiinankaupunki that tried to claim their Kissanpiiskaajankuja as the narrowest street in Finland. However, empiric studies have proved that Kitukränn is 33,5 cm narrower and therefore indeed the narrowest street in Finland.
When strolling along Kitukränn, you’ll find signs in both ends of the alley instructing people how to behave when arriving at Old Rauma. Can you figure out what they say?
7 – Enjoy Pystökaffe (stand-up coffee) and participate in the ‘market parliament’
If you truly want to live like a local when visiting Rauma, head over to the market square early in the morning to enjoy a cup of Pystökaffe; coffee that you sip standing up while chatting with the locals. You might hear people of Rauma talking about ‘toriparlamentti’ (market parliament) which basically means going through all the town gossips over a cup of coffee.
As I mentioned earlier, Rauma doesn’t only have a dialect but its own language, Rauman giäl. Even if not many people correctly speak Rauma language anymore, Pystökaffe and the market parliament is your best chance to hear some.
8 – Rauma market square is lively also during the summer evenings
If you’re a fan of fresh and local groceries, you should spend all your summer mornings at the market square in Old Rauma. However, between the end of June and August, the market square is also lively on Tuesday and Thursday evenings between 4 pm and 8 pm when the evening market events take place. Besides shopping, you can enjoy the colourful entertainment from live music to Zumba, Ju-Jutsu and rescue training.
9 – Explore the ruins of the Church of the Holy Trinity
You could drift around Old Rauma for a day and still miss one of the most exciting attractions of our old town. The oldest parts of the ruins of the Church of the Holy Trinity date back to the 14th century. There aren’t many towns where you can explore church ruins this old in the middle of the centre, but in Rauma anything is possible. After an adventure at the ruins, don’t forget to visit our beautiful Church of the Holy Cross that also stands at the gate of the old town.
10 – Spot the lace
Rauma is famous for its lace. Here, the lace-making tradition has continued for centuries and is still going strong. In Old Rauma, you might stumble upon with lace patterns in unexpected places, thanks to our very own lace artist Tarmo Thorström. Among other lace-themed artwork, the stunning lace reflection surrounding the main door of the Old Town Hall is created by Tarmo.
Let’s share one more special tip for accommodation in Rauma: Thanks to the LiviHeri project, you can now live as a local and stay in one of the homes of Old Rauma. You can book your accommodation in the heart of the UNESCO Site through Airbnb. If you haven’t yet registered with Airbnb, do it through my personal link and earn 30 euros for your first booking worth 65 € or more.
Will I see you in Rauma this summer?
Watch a video of Lanttimatkat visiting Rauma (don’t forget to turn on English subtitles!)
More useful links and tips on what to see and do in Rauma: