During our last summer trip this year, we visited the area close to Kouvola, situated about 140 km away from Helsinki. Our first day in the area was dedicated to walking in the beautiful National Park of Repovesi and you can read more about it here. On the second day, we focused on the town of Kouvola itself and were positively impressed about what it held in store for us.
This hotel is perfect for kids
The staff at hotel Scandic Kouvola welcomed our family with open arms. At checkin, our children were offered colouring books and balloons. Our room was spacious and the kids shared a wide bed; one recurrent issues when we travel is them falling out of beds. This one had edges, it was perfect and everyone slept all comfy! The room had a TV with kids’ channels (in several languages), a ridiculously big shower (no need to play people Tetris while washing the kids!), and all comforts we needed. The breakfast offer made everyone happy and the restaurant had a small play area. We really enjoyed our stay and I regret stopping for one night only. I wholeheartedly recommend booking a room in this hotel if you are travelling with your family!
The Model Railway Museum
Kouvola is a railway town, in what better place than here one could open a Model Railway Museum? Semaforo hosts the private collection of Erwin, a Swiss expat who has lived in Finland for 19 years. The museum opened 10 years ago and its collection is unique in Finland. Erwin is truly passionate about model trains and, more generally about toys from the past. He showed us around and walked us through the incredibly detailed reconstructions. I was particularly impressed by his one model where 20 different train ran, managed by a 5000 line computer programme. Beside it being an accurate visual reconstruction, it was a small masterpiece of technology. All railway had sensors and the computer would react to unexpected obstacles and handle queues, stop trains in sequence, and resume circulation when the danger was eliminated. The trains were all different: some were Finnish, some not; some were reconstructions of old models, some were modern high-speed trains.
Erwin explained me there are about 5 millions model train hobbyists in US and about 2 millions in Germany. It definitely is a craft which requires different skills: painting, electronics, programming, and more.
Our kids appreciated seeing the trains moving (they loved the wooden train going above our heads!) and played with some of the toys made available to visitors.
I feel this is a small pearl of the town. Make sure to stop here and have a chat with the knowledgeable owner, who’s happy to share more about his collection and his passion of model trains.
Walking in Kouvola
The city center is small and everything was at walking distance, which was nice with kids. There is a wide pedestrian area which makes it safe to have a stroll around and the small ones can run free. We found a very nice and modern playground 200 m from our hotel, kids played and my husband and I showed our skills at throwing a frisbee (we don’t have any, apparently).
As you all know, E’s true passion are fountains and he found one to stare at (whatever keeps him still for 5 minutes!).
The action park
The weather held up as much as it could, but on Sunday rain came. Not a problem, as we had reserved the afternoon to visit Action Park, an indoor playground in a local mall. We had a bite in the food court and then a couple of hours inside the playground. Kids especially enjoyed riding the pedal cars and the upside house playground.
My husband and I even sneaked off to play a merciless table tennis match (I let him win). R tried to push me into the foam pit, but I moved at the last second and she fell instead. I laughed hard. She should work on her sense of humour instead. The place had plenty to do for all ages. There are small courts where one can play minigolf, table tennis, tennis, hockey, and so on. The space is compact and there’s only one way out, so parents can take few minutes off and enjoy some playing as well (don’t judge us!).
We really enjoyed our time in Kouvola. I later found out we had missed the Medieval Festival by one week. Make sure you don’t make our same mistake next year and save the date! Don’t forget Kouvola is also home to Tykkimäki, the third-largest amusement park in Finland, which we visited last year and look forward to seeing again (great attractions, little queues!). It was great to end our summer vacation with some extra family time in a quiet and welcoming place like Kouvola is. We will surely visit again next year. See you soon, Kouvola!