A pleasant town on the Gulf of Finland with wooden buildings and interesting markets, Vaasa (225 mi/365 km northwest of Helsinki) is the terminus of the northernmost year-round car ferry (the ferries ply a route to Sweden). It is the venue for the international Vaasa Choir Festival in May. In town there's also the Ostrobothnian Museum, offering a history of the region, as well as the Wasalandia amusement park and zoo.

About 10 mi/17 km from Vaasa is the Stundars Handicraft Village in Solf (also on the Gulf of Bothnia). The Kvarken archipelago, reachable across a sweeping suspension bridge with superb island views, is a UNESCO World Heritage site; the land there is rising from the Baltic at a measurable annual rate and is regarded as a geological showpiece—well worth a detour for some rugged walks and views, and with some charming guesthouses to stay in. Plan at least one night in the area.

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