We used most of our third day to visit Hamina, a town North-East of Kotka. Hamina is smaller than Kotka and very easy to walk around. The centre is a lovely patchwork of historical small buildings, all coloured in pencil-tones. In some ways, it reminded me of Porvoo. Few main roads start from the square and get crossed by other, placed on concentric circles.
We were a bit disappointed when we found most central shops and cafes were closed on Saturday afternoon. Most attractions require a visit outdoors (statues, buildings’ exteriors…), so I find it mandatory to plan your visit when weather is favourable.
The crown jewel of Hamina is the fortress, build in the 18th century and recently restored. Today, the fortress mostly hosts events. It’s definitely one of Finland’s most powerful historical site and a must-see. We had lunch right inside the fortress at Ravintola Kamu!.
The restaurant is quite unique and I would definitely recommend a stop here. The food offer was not strictly typical Finnish, but more of Italian inspiration, and we liked it (and we are Italian, in case you didn’t know). The restaurant had all children’s accessories and even a play area, which we always appreciate as it spares everyone stress during the wait for the food.
We took our time with lunch and later spent the remaining hours walking around the centre, admiring the architecture and enjoying the quiet. At some point, we walked right into a playground and the kids could let off some steam there.
To be fair, I don’t see Hamina as a great travel destination for families with small children. In general, I found the town quite “unprepared” for tourists. I was especially puzzled by the restrictions with opening times of cafes and shops during high season. There are no indoors attractions and you mostly walk around. I could picture it as more suitable for a couple’s romantic getaway. If you are travelling nearby, I would advise to make a stop in town to see the fortress and eat at Kamu!.
After our visit to Hamina, we went back to Kotka to play in one of the beautiful parks. The town has invested many resources in renovating and building parks on natural sites. They are really impressive and we regret we didn’t have time to see them all.
Jokipuisto was quite close to the apartment we were staying at and it was a work of art.
We were lucky as all flowers were blooming and the park was full of colours. The place was quiet, except for the delicate sound of the waterfalls. I took some time alone to immerse myself in the atmosphere and meditated on the banks of the stream. The kids played in the small playground and in the “plant tunnel” near the river.
Katariina’s park was also very impressive. We didn’t have the chance to walk through all of it, but stopped at the skating ring. We had thought ahead and brought the kick-scooter and bike (well done, us). The playing structures are brand new and the park has a beautiful sea view.
The salmon fishing spot I mentioned in my first post (Siikakoski) is also work in progress to become an urban park.
The parks of Kotka are a premium attraction for families with small children and I warmly recommend to visit more than we did. To read about them, you can explore this post.
We felt a bit sad in the evening, thinking the next day was the final in our trip and we felt there was much more to see. Come back in few days to find out where we went on our last day (spoiler: it will include our favourite eating places!).