When you ask locals and expats here in Finland where you should visit to get a feel for the country you usually get variations of the same list with Suomenlinna and Seurasaari topping them. We've been to Suomenlinna lots of times, but have only been to the open air museum of Seurasaari once.
It was shortly after we first arrived and Bump was only a few weeks old. I remember liking it but thinking it was very expensive for what it was. Please remember we had only been in the country for less than 2 months, so hadn't adapted to the ridiculous cost of living in Finland.
So with a friend visiting last weekend I thought we would try it again. Our friend has been to visit us six or seven times, so we're running out of places nearby to take him. We had planned to go last autumn with him, but our car broke down and one thing I definitely remember from our last visit; taking the bus to Seurasaari is not for our family. Before we just had 2 toddlers, a newborn and 3 unfit adults. We didn't know about Foo's leg issues back then and didn't realise there was a long (for us) walk (just under a kilometer) from where the bus stops to the island's bridge. It was also the hottest summer we've had in our time here. We were all exhausted, hot and grumpy before we even got on the island and then it's just walk, walk, walk from there.
Being older, wiser about Finland and doing activities with kids this trip was different. We drove right to the bridge where there's a small car park. And we didn't pay anything to go on the island. The tickets available are to go into the buildings which you don't have to do. They have moved and restored old buildings from all over Finland, giving tourists a representation of Finnish life from the 18-20th centuries. There's a church, boat house, manors, farmsteads, but it's mostly old furniture, boats, tools. There are occasionally some guides that do things like spin wool, etc, and will talk you through the buildings, but we didn't see many this weekend. To be honest, my kids run through places like this without spending time looking at much, so we decided to forgo the tickets which actually aren't that expensive: 9 euros for adults in summer, 3 euros for children over 7 and family tickets for up to 4 kids for 20 euros which is an absolute steal in Finland.
|We may have snuck into one building, so yes, there was furniture.|
At Midsummer Juhannus there are big bonfires on the island which we've never attended as I have a feeling it would be mobbed, but worth looking into if you have older kids.
We managed to keep 4 kids entertained for 4 hours without the museums. You can still walk around the buildings, just can't go in. There's lots of rocks, little bays and forest paths to keep them busy. There's also a nice restaurant, a couple of cafes and in high summer they'll be a few ice cream kiosks, I'm sure.
Seurasaari, a good mix of nature and history if you're interested with lots of space to explore. We were actually planning on joining a wildfood foraging event a friend had organised on the island this weekend, but the torrential rains have cancelled that. Seurasaari is back on our radar, now that we have the car and know the score, we'll be back soon.