Not many foreign people have heard of Rauma, a town on the western shores of Finland. Nevertheless, Finns know about it, and many people from all over Finland visit the authentic old town of Rauma. As a local, I can assure you that in Rauma, there is much more than meets the eye. Rauma is the only Finnish city with two attractions protected by UNESCO - the Nordic largest wooden town and an ancient, prehistorical heritage site. Hence, it is not a coincidence that these two are the must-visit landmarks of the region.
The first of the World Heritage Sites is a lovely old town with its wooden houses. It welcomes you to walk into the old times with decorative buildings, colorful wood, cobbled streets, charming courtyards. You can walk in peace, enjoy the atmosphere and take your time since this area is the biggest preserved wooden town in all the Nordics.
Notable places to visit in the old town would be a Town Hall and the Church of a Holy Cross. Town Hall is a positive yellow baroque building with hints of medieval times. Inside, you will find a museum. This house is quite a relic since there are only two town halls in Finland dating back to the 18th century (another is located in Porvoo). The Church of a Holy Cross is even older - it was established at the beginning of the 16th century. Inside, it is full of medieval paintings and lace-like ornaments.
The second World Heritage Site in Rauma is a mystic place called Sammallahdenmäki. It is a burial site of the Bronze Age, including many granite cairns. Burned bones were found in the ancient graves, and not far from that place, the traces of prehistorical life were discovered. Samallahdenmäki is a very significant place. In fact, it was the first prehistorical discovery in Finland. Lucky for visitors, anyone is free to visit this ancient wonder, situated around 20 kilometers from the city center of Rauma.
Rauma is situated on the seashore which enables you to visit the islands around it. The cutest of them might also be the furthest one - Kylmäpihlaja Lighthouse Island. The lighthouse is an attraction of its own: it has a restaurant with an outdoor terrace, a hotel, and saunas. The upper floor of the lighthouse is the best place to view the sunset. There is also an art gallery on the island and a cute spot for some barbeque (firewood is provided). The wildlife on the island is interesting. Many birds and plant species can be found on these rocky shores. You can rent a kayak to visit the island or take a boat transfer from the mainland.
If you are into hiking, take a trip discovering other islands close to Rauma. One example would be Kuuskajaskari Island. The Kuuskajaskari trail takes just a couple of kilometers but offers magnificent sea views and a cafe on your way. On Kuuskajaskari, you can climb the watching tower and spot a known lighthouse staring at you from the other island. Back in time, Kuuskajaskari served the army, and now it is a touristic island full of military secrets. Today, you can discover cannons in local woods and take lunch in the old barracks.
The thing I like the most about visiting Rauma is that there are many ways to dive into local life. Many traditional things belong to the city and make the atmosphere original. The first is bobbin lace, something associated with the town due to its history. Many handicraft shops and museums of Rauma will tell you the story of bobbin lacing in the city.
Eventually, Rauma's lace became a term, which inspired a website and even a festival. Lace Week is held in Rauma every year and provides locals with exhibitions, music, and events.
Another purely local thing is a traditional food named lapskoussi. I must warn you, it does not look appealing but tastes pretty nice. The origins of lapskoussi are in the lives of mariners visiting Rauma back in the days. That is why the dish is not pretentious - it is easy to make in harsh sail conditions. Still, it is nourishing and simple and made its way into the hearts of locals.
Rauma is known for its charming Old Town, many traditions, and prehistoric heritage. As a consequence, everything in Rauma feels authentic. It is the Nordic largest wooden town and also a very original place to discover for a traveler.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.