Put a stop to the grumbling in the back seat! Take your family and head to Southeast Finland, the region that will put a smile on everyone's face regardless of the season. Here are our ten tips for a fun holiday!
1. Taste it and touch it at Maritime Centre Vellamo
So museums are boring, are they? Most certainly not! At Maritime Centre Vellamo in Kotka, children can taste, touch and smell the exhibits and try things out for themselves. The facility features more than 50 activity points that can be found by following the tracks of ship dog Vellu. During school holidays, Vellamo hosts a wealth of guided activities and tours that no youngsters will find boring.
2. See every Finnish fish at the Maretarium
Maretarium is an aquarium located in Kotka featuring Finnish fish in their natural habitats. It is always a thrill to see a diver plunge into the vast Baltic Sea pool to feed the fish at 3 pm every day during the holiday seasons. The Maretarium mascot Hanna the Pike often likes to get acquainted with the visitors, providing an excellent opportunity for a group selfie!
3. Fly for real at Sirius
At Sirius Sport Resort in Pyhtää, even 5 year-olds can safely try indoor surfing and real-life flying in a wind tunnel! In summer, the Norway Park rope and climbing park challenges the entire family to climb courses at heights of 3–9 metres. How high will you go?
4. Engage in music and arts at the Children's Maritime Festival
The wildly popular Children's Maritime Festival, which is held in conjunction with the Kotka Maritime Festival, features fun, magic, music, crafts and theatre – a diverse range of exciting activities for children of all ages from infants to adolescents!
5. Get with the beat at Junior Tattoo
As a new event for the summer of 2016, Hamina will host the Junior Tattoo (31 July 2016) on the eve of the international Hamina Tattoo military music festival (1–6 August 2016). At the Junior Tattoo, children and young people perform wind music and march to the tunes at the Hamina Bastion at 12 noon. Bring your family and friends to enjoy the free performances!
Shopping is a fun part of any holiday! Southeast Finland provides shopping opportunities for the whole family from a myriad of small boutiques to department stores and shopping centres. Those into recycling can also make excellent finds at the numerous second-hand shops, some of which specialise in children's clothes and accessories.
7. Enjoy sledging, skating and snowboarding!
There is nothing quite like fresh outdoor air! In winter, the municipalities in the region are chock full of excellent sledging slopes and outdoor skating rinks. One of the more popular spots is the Uuperinrinteet Ski Resort, which provides opportunities for downhill skiing, snowboarding and Telemark skiing, in addition to sledging.
8. Go swimming at a beach or indoor swimming pool
Once summer is here and the waters warm up enough for children to enjoy, you can take to the numerous wonderful seaside and lakeside beaches in Southeast135. Among the most popular outdoor swimming locations are the Pitkät Hiekat beach in Hamina, the Santalahti beach in Kotka and the outdoor swimming pool in Kotka. In winter, you can head to the indoor swimming pools of Kotka and Karhula or the warm and bubbly waters of the Linnoitus indoor swimming pool in Hamina.
9. Fishing and hiking
Should you wish to go for some fishing or outdoor recreation, the region is filled with excellent hiking routes in the summer. In Finland, angling is included in the statutory Everyman's Rights, so feel free to see if you can catch something in the ponds or lakes along the way! You can also try angling on the quays and piers along the seashore.
10. Take a walk in a park!
If you have limited time, one great way to spend it could be just taking a family walk in a park: in Sapokka water park enjoying the waterfall and funny animal sculptures, or in a Sibelius park with its retro playground, or in a Seaside park Katariina so much loved by adults and kids for it's fresh sea air, inspirational play zones, angling spots, frisbee baskets, a xylophone embedded in stone and fantastic picnic areas!
Text: Anita Heikkinen