Vaasa Finland is the main west-coast centre for sea and air travel from Finland across the Gulf of Bothnia to Sweden. Ties between Vaasa Finland and its neighbour are close, with roughly a quarter of the population speaking Swedish as a first language. The old town was destroyed by fire in 1852 and a new one constructed closer to the sea. The ruins may still be seen at the original site, Mustasaari, with surviving buildings including churches, a castle and the 18th century Falander-Wasastjerna House, now housing the Old Vaasa Museum. In the civil war of 1918, Vaasa was the headquarters of the communist-hating White Guards (they won!) and the temporary capital of Finland.
The modern city of Vaasa Finland was planned by Carl Axel Setterberg in Empire style, around five broad avenues joined by narrow streets and alleys to reduce the risk of another city-wide fire. Leafy avenues, generous parks surrounding public buildings and the extensive shoreline combine to create a relaxed atmosphere. At the centre of city life is the busy market square, which contains Finland‘s own Statue of Liberty (a man!), erected in 1938. Between the market place and the sea is the Rewell Centre, a large mall guaranteed to satisfy shopaholics.
Most of the summer recreational activities in Vaasa Finland are of the open-air variety, mostly associated with water – walking along the shore, swimming, wildlife watching (birds and seals), fishing, sailing and boat excursions around the many islands in the Kvarken Archipelago off Vaasa, which became a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2006, the first in Finland.
Vaasa has an active cultural life, with frequent concerts of all sorts. There are good museums including the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art, opened in 2007, and Brage Open-Air Museum at Hietalahti (a collection of old farm buildings).
Make it summertime, when the living is easy.
Vaasa’s proudest boast is that it’s Finland’s sunniest city.