The region is steeped in history – indeed, some of Finland’s oldest prehistoric sites are to be found not far away – but Lahti itself is basically a modern town, riding the wave of the technology boom and enjoying its proximity to Helsinki, 100km to the south. Its name is famous for winter sports – the frighteningly high ski jumps here have hosted several world championships – and classical music, with the city’s symphony orchestra having gained worldwide recognition under former conductor Osmo Vänskä.
Lahti got its city charter in 1905 and lacks anything that could be called an old town: downtown consists of a series of linked shopping centres. However, architecture fans are amply provided for with the Aalto church and spectacular modern concert hall, and the city has a palpable energy, which was boosted after WWII with the arrival of thousands of refugees from occupied Karelia. Its lakeside location makes it a good activity base year-round.