The cotton mills closed in the 1990s, and offices, restaurants, and cultural attractions, such as the Finnish Labour Museum, moved in. The Spy Museum here displays Cold War curiosities: miniature cameras and cunningly disguised weapons. And the Tampere Lenin Museum, the building in which Lenin and Stalin first met, in 1905, is a must.
Summer draws out locals for boating, swimming, and hiking, but winter may be the time to experience the city at its natural best.
Strap on a pair of saw-toothed snowshoes for a walk on frozen Lake Näsijärvi. Try your hand at ice fishing. Steam yourself at a pinewood sauna on Lake Pyhäjärvi, then dare winter swimming at a section of the lake kept ice free.
More interested in exploring Finland under a warm sun? Northern Finland’s Oulu, the self-styled “capital of northern Scandinavia,” is ideal for summer canoe tours.
This piece first appeared in the August/September 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.