Old Rauma - a UNESCO Destination in Finland
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Rauma is a small town in Western Finland. It is 92 kilometres north of Turku, and 50 kilometres south of Pori. The town is known for its paper and maritime industry but above all, this historical town is well-known for its old, colourful wooden architecture. Old Rauma's architecture alone is a reason to visit the town.
The wooden city centre of Rauma is called Old Rauma (Vanha Rauma in Finnish). Old Rauma was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991 because of its unique wooden architecture and its well-preserved medieval town layout. It is not just a dusty outdoor museum but the area is a lively city centre where people live and perform daily activities. Old Rauma is a combination of old colourful wooden architecture and modern living. You can see vibrant houses painted red, green, yellow and many other bright colours.
Old Rauma is a travel destination not only for Finns but attracts international tourists yearly. On summer days, you can hear many languages spoken in cosy boutiques. Another good sign of internationality is the presence of ethnic restaurants. Surely, the town serves also tasty Finnish specialities.
Cars are allowed to be driven around Old Rauma but you do not necessarily need one to be able to move around. The area of Old Rauma is small that you can explore easily on foot. Altogether, there are 600 buildings in Old Rauma and approximately 800 residents living in the centre. The oldest buildings date from the 18th century, as two fires in 1640 and 1682 destroyed much of the town. The current layout of the town centre still retains much of its medieval structure.
There are main streets, a central square and many alleys. Residential buildings are located near the main streets, whereas the ancillary buildings were constructed along narrow alleyways. Buildings are inhabited by private individuals but some of the buildings along the main streets are for business use.
Old Rauma was almost destroyed by fires but a few buildings and ruins survived from medieval times. The Church of the Holy Cross contains several medieval paintings so it is one of the main attractions in Old Rauma. Another church, the Church of the Holy Trinity burned in the fire of 1640. The only other ancient stone building is the Old Town Hall, which was constructed in 1776.
How to Reach Rauma?
Rauma can be reached in a few hours from Southern Finland. For example, you can travel from Turku or Helsinki to Rauma Centre with a few euros by Onnibus. The city is also easily reachable by car and there are plenty of free parking places. There is a railway connection to Rauma but it is not for passenger use. Therefore, there are no active train connections to Rauma.
Our Day Trip to Rauma
We had a day trip from Helsinki to Rauma in July. Rauma is a summer town so June to August is the best season to visit Old Rauma. It is a good idea to combine in your itinerary a visit to Turku and Rauma. For example, we continued from Rauma to the port of Turku and had cruises on Viking Grace and Baltic Princess. There are also more hotels in Turku so accommodation prices are lower.
There are two alternative routes from Helsinki to Rauma. You can drive via Turku or directly from Helsinki to Rauma. Surprisingly, the route via Turku is faster because the road is in better condition . A straight route is more environmentally friendly and a wiser choice to save expensive fuel.
We parked our car at a free parking area along Kaunisjärvenkatu. Even though you can drive into the old town, it's best to move around by strolling to appreciate more the small details of the beautiful streets of Old Rauma. Too many cars in the old town may also disturb people.
What to See in Old Rauma
Rauma is full of interesting events so visiting Old Rauma while attending also an event gives you a more memorable trip. However, there is still much to see and experience without any special event in mind.
On a sunny day, strolling in the small alleys of Old Rauma is rewarding. You can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and admire the colourful old wooden architecture. Old Rauma is a combination of wooden houses, gardens, alleys and old-style businesses.
Old Town Hall
Market square is the central point of Old Rauma. The beautiful Old Town Hall is probably the first thing you will notice. Famous for its yellow colour, the Old Town Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Old Rauma built already in 1776. Nowadays, it is a museum hosting exhibitions.
There is an active church in Old Rauma and ruins of another one.
Church of the Holy Cross is only a few steps away from the Old Town Hall. It is a medieval fieldstone church. The church was built in 1515–1520 but after that, it was expanded and some of the older parts were rebuilt. The church has a nice garden with benches.
The ruins of the Holy Trinity Church are the oldest historical constructions in Rauma. They date back to the medieval period when Finns were newly converted to Christianity. The church was destroyed in a fire in 1640. You will find Holy Trinity Church near the Kaunisjärvenkatu car parking area.
Every visitor to Old Rauma should try at least one cafe. All the cafes have one thing in common: They are more idyllic than international chain cafes in metropolia. The cafes in Old Rauma are inside old wooden buildings and the service is more traditional unlike what most customers are used to, self-service.
We visited Wanhan Rauman KaffeBar along the main street. Kaffebar serves fresh salads, homemade cakes, ice cream, drinks and many other delicious items. You have plenty of seating places inside and on the terrace.
The old town is also a place to eat. You can have snacks in cafes or a full menu in a restaurant. Because the area is international, you will find also international food in addition to local Finnish food. The restaurants are located all around Old Rauma but especially, but the cafes are near the main streets. It is a good idea to walk around Old Rauma before choosing a place to eat. After walking through the alleys, you will feel naturally hungry and have a good image of the food options available.
We ate a Chinese full-inclusive buffet in Wen Jing Restaurant in the market square. The price was affordable, the food selection was good and the food was tasty. The restaurant is in an old wooden house just next to Town Hall.
Fish-lovers can give a try to Restaurant Kalatori.
Museums are a solid part of any old town. Also in Old Rauma, there are museums. We recommend you check out the details of these attractions: Rauma Maritime Museum, Old Town Hall and a Sailor's home museum, Kirsti. The full museum list is available on Rauma's website.
Old Rauma is also a place for shopping. You won't find big shopping malls but something much better. Small private-owned boutiques are still giving personal customer service that is slowly disappearing. These personal shops sell clothes, gifts, decoration items and many other things. Together, there are more than 100 hundred shops. Because Old Rauma is small, you can walk from one shop to another. The shops are open from Monday to Saturday during regular business hours. Daytime is the best time to do the shopping because Old Rauma, like all small towns, go to sleep early.
- How to reach Old Rauma from Helsinki?
- You can take a low-cost Onnibus or drive yourself in 3 hours.
- What to do in Old Rauma?
- You can walk around the nice alleys, visit museums, eat and drink and do shopping.
- How much time do I need to see Old Rauma?
- We think about 5-6 hours is enough.
- Are there restaurants in Old Rauma?
- Yes, there are many of them. You may choose from Finnish restaurants to international cuisines.
- Are there cafes in Old Rauma?
- Yes, and you should visit them. They are more authentic than many people are used to.
- What to buy in Old Rauma?
- For example, you can buy local art handicrafts, decoration items and gifts.
- Do people speak English in Old Rauma?
- Yes, they do.
- Is Old Rauma expensive?
- The town is not more expensive than other parts of Finland.
- Where to continue from Old Rauma?
- Why not continue to Turku, the oldest town and the former capital city of Finland?
Old Rauma is a perfect day trip destination. You can reach the town easily from Helsinki either by car or bus. Heading to the town on a sunny summer day rewards you with beautiful views.
The city centre is lively during the daytime so it is recommended to arrive at Rauma early. You may walk around the centre, eat and have coffee. Old Rauma also offers museums and boutiques to buy decoration items and gifts. Don't forget to taste local ice cream. After a day in Rauma, it takes only 1 hour to reach Turku where there are more inexpensive hotels.
Have you been to Old Rauma? What did you like the most, comment below! We have also a Finland-related Facebook group: Travelling and Living in Finland where you can ask for travel tips.
Thanks for the useful information. We visited Helsinki for a few nights in 2018 but are coming back to Finland in June for 3 weeks so will be able to travel further afield. Cheers Fiona (Brisbane, Australia)
Thanks for the comment. We are happy that our Finland content has helped you. Remember to book bus/train/ferry tickets early to save some money. And visit also Finnish Lapland to experience bright nights:)