Finland has just been declared the happiest country in the world by the World Happiness Report – for the sixth year in a row. You might think that a recent hotly contested election, and a 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) border with Russia, would have dampened the Finns’ morale, but not part of it.
Why are they so happy? According to Helle Jimenez of Business Finland: “Finnish happiness stems from a close relationship with nature and our down-to-earth lifestyle.”
Which explains why other Finns regularly vote Tampere, a city where nature comes to the center of town, as the place they want to live the most. About 180 kilometers (111 miles) north of Helsinki and sitting on a land bridge between lakes Nasijarvi and Pyhajarvi, this is the center of a good mood – the happiest place in the happiest country in the world.
There is much to be happy about. In the summer, Tampere-ites hit the pristine beaches just a few minutes from the office, and in the winter they ski through the fairytale forests that surround them. You can enjoy all of Pyynikki, the lakeside forest with beach walks and swimming spots which are a short ride away on tram number 10. After your swim, climb through the trees to Pyynikki control tower. The views over the lakes and the city from this 1920s landmark are breathtaking, but just as importantly, the café tower is famous throughout Finland for its freshly baked cake.
There are more cakes at the Market Hall in Hameenkatu. Opened in 1901, this market is the largest covered market in the Nordic countries, and the stalls and cafés are filled with quality local produce such as the berries that populate the area in late summer – a great place for lunch or a coffee.
Finland has just been declared the happiest country in the world by the World Happiness Report. And Tampere, above, is regularly voted by other Finns as the place they most like to live. Michael Hodges wrote, It is the happiest place in the happiest country in the world
Tampere is located about 180 kilometers (111 miles) north of Helsinki and lies on a land bridge between lakes Nasijarvi and Bhajjarvi.
The lakeside municipal sauna Kaukajarven (above) just outside Tampere features hot stones, buckets of water and happy Finns with ladles.
Michael notes that the temperature in Tampere can be freezing or colder until the end of April
Nearby are the rapids connecting Nasijarvi Lakes to Pyhajarvi flowing through the town via Tammerkoski Falls. Witness the eerie vista from the safety of the Tammerkoski footbridge in a Lowry-like townscape of 19th-century red brick factories that have been preserved and repurposed.
the Fabrice Center, meanwhile, is a former factory complex that now houses 10 small museums ranging from natural history to computer games. The once-strong Finlayson Works and the Tambella factory boast great pubs and restaurants.
You’ll get steamy water views from the new hotel’s sauna window Kuma Sauna Restaurant On Tammerkoski Pier – one of 34 cities declared the World Sauna Capital in 2018. Dine afterwards in a heated glass house overlooking Tammerkoski Pier.
Prefer your traditional steam room? the lake Kaukajarven municipal sauna It’s just outside town on another lake and features hot stones, buckets of water, and ladles-happy Finns. In winter the lake freezes over and a hole in the ice is created for sauna users. Force yourself to do it for a massive natural high (and chill).
“It’s a good mood,” Michael says of Tampere. According to Helle Jimenez of Business Finland: “Finnish happiness stems from a close relationship with nature and our down-to-earth lifestyle.”
The rapids connecting Nasijarvi Lakes to Pyhajarvi flow through the town via Tammerkoski Falls
The Tampere Hall Arts Center is home to the Symphony Orchestra, but – perhaps most importantly – the only Moomin Museum in the world
The Moomin Museum features two floors of original artwork from Moomins creator Tove Jansson, including the adorable six-foot-tall Moomin House (above)
“In the summer, the Tampere-Itz hit the pristine beaches just a few minutes from the office, and in the winter they ski through the fairytale forests that surround them,” Michael writes.
Visit for great glacial spectacle: the waters around Tampere can be a bit gentle
The temperature in Tampere can be freezing or colder till the end of April but they have great things to do indoors. the Nokia Live ArenaDesigned by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, and costing €124m (£109m), it is home to the Class A ice hockey teams Ilves and Tamapara. Tambara has just won the National Championship and the derbies are very loud and exciting events; Drink beer and eat sausage.
The stadium includes the five-star Lapland Hotel, which has balcony suites overlooking the arena and which, in addition to sports, host major cultural events, the latest being a stunning new interpretation of the Snow Queen. A spectacular ice dance with scores of dancers, skaters and an innovative design, it reimagines Hans Christian Andersen’s folk talk with dark urgency and will tour Europe in 2024.
More live music? The Tampere Hall Arts Center is home to the Symphony Orchestra, but more importantly, perhaps the only one in the world Moomin Museum. This features two floors of original artwork from Moomins creator Tove Jansson, including the adorable six-foot-tall Moomin House that Jansson made with her partner Tuulikki Pietila. And if that doesn’t make you happy – none will.