Stretching for 500km, Finland's west coast harbours a cache of historic wooden towns such as Jakobstad, Kokkola and Unesco-protected Rauma, founded at the height of the Swedish empire. The area retains strong links with neighbouring Sverige (Sweden), with Swedish spoken almost everywhere.
Fantastic summer festivals in the region include the Nordic countries' biggest folk-music gathering in tiny Kaustinen, huge rock and tango festivals in Seinäjoki, and world-renowned jazz in Pori.
But the biggest attraction in western Finland is the coastline itself. Long beaches attract swimmers, surfers and birders around Pori and Kalajoki, where cosy cottages nestle into the dunes and forests. Enticing archipelagos pepper the coast around Vaasa and Uusikaupunki. Established in 2011, the Bothnian Sea National Park encompasses 160km of coastline, where rocky islets and sandy shorelines make up one of the country's most pristine and picturesque natural landscapes.