One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how to get to Moominworld/Muumimaailma in Finland. It seems as though once people find out Moominvalley exists, they make it their life goal to visit (that includes me too). I found out about it six years ago when I was 14 and finally managed to go when I was 18.
I must fret that it isn’t a theme park as you know them to be. There are no rides. I personally think that would be awful if there were, because it is definitely a unique experience and the Finns are very proud of it. The best way to describe it is to say that they have built Moominvalley from the books/90s TV series.
It is located on its own island called Kailo in Naantali, Turku. I assumed you had to get a boat there, but you actually walk across a bridge to get to it. Each year there is a different theme – 2012 was their 20th Anniversary and the theme was the wild west and 2013 is the giant pumpkin.
The most popular area of Moominworld is obviously the 5-storey Moomin house (muumitalo) which you can go inside. All the characters are generally found on the porch and you can have your picture taken with them or just have a chat. You’ll see children staring in awe at them, which is adorable! Snufkin plays his guitar and harmonica here and it’s worth learning the Finnish Moomin songs (if you can) as they always get everyone to sing along. I’ve heard them sing the Finnish version of heads, shoulders, knees and toes too.
The most important thing to know is that it’s not open all year round. For the rest of 2013, it is open from June 8th-August 25th. They also have ‘taikatalvi’ (winter magic) where they are open for one week in February but there will be snow, and I don’t really recommend going then – it can get to around -30c! In summer, it is around 18-30c so don’t forget to wear sun cream. You can even find Moomin brand stuff!
I highly recommend staying in Helsinki and travelling to Turku by train. Timetables can be found here. It takes 2 hours and costs about 60€ each adult for a return ticket. Their trains are beautiful – air-conditioned, free wifi and you get to see a lot of wonderful scenery. Just make sure not to sit with a stranger, because Finns really don’t like that! The trains are never very busy on this route (or even Helsinki>Tampere) and people don’t usually talk to you. Again, don’t make idle chit-chat with Finns because they don’t like it. At night, there might be loud drunks on board and they really really hate that. They WILL talk to you, especially if they see you’re not Finnish. Another option is to hire a car but driving in another country is stressful!
Once you get to Turku, it’s best to walk to one of the Moomin bus pick up points:
8:50 Sokos Hotel Caribia (30 minute walk)
9:05 Sokos Hotel Hamburger Börs (16 minute walk)
9:10 Sokos Hotel Seurahuone (10 minute walk)
9:15 Holiday Inn Turku (10 minute walk)
9:45 Arrival to Moominworld
We walked to the Holiday Inn stop but choosing a stop depends on what time your train gets to Turku and whether you can walk there in time. Don’t worry about not seeing the bus – it’s Moomin themed! It’s 13€ for an adult return ticket or 6€ for a children’s return. You can see the full list of bus times to and from Moominworld here.
When you see everyone else getting off the bus, you’re almost there. At this point you can either get on the little Moomin train or walk. I love the walk! Naantali is one of the most beautiful and quaint places I’ve ever been, and they also have a Moomin shop at Mannerheiminkatu 3, which is just across the road from where the bus drops you off.
It’s around a 10 minute walk from here to Moominworld.
When you get to the ticket entrance at Moominworld, it is easiest to ask for tickets in English (or whatever language you prefer) as you will be given a map and programme of events. If you only learn one Finnish word, it must be ‘kiitos’ (pronounced kee-tos) which means thank you. You don’t need to know a lot of Finnish, or any at all really, but it is courteous and respectful to show them thanks. They are very appreciative of foreigners learning their language because even they think it’s difficult. But yes, most people do speak English so don’t worry too much!
Tickets prices for summer 2013 are as follows:
– one day wristband €25
– two day wristband €35
I think children under 3 go free!
I wouldn’t say you need to go for more than one day. If you get there when it opens, you will see everything and be able to rest without worrying about the time. It depends if you’re taking children though, as there’s a lot to see and do. The only disappointing part of Moominworld is that the plays at Theatre Emma are only in Finnish and Swedish. I don’t think they get a lot of English visitors though.
You can see all the ingredients of food from Mamma’s kitchen home cooked buffet here. I really admire them doing this as more and more people are discovering food allergies, so there will something for everyone. It’s €15.50 for adults but it’s a buffet, so you can have as much as you like. Children (3-12): €6.50 and under 3s eat free with a paying adult. There are obviously other places to eat, but this is my favourite.
The merchandise in Moominworld is a lot more expensive than other shops – expect to pay around 5-10€ more. I usually only buy items that I can’t find elsewhere or are exclusives to Moominworld, so I would suggest having a look around Stockmann, Anttila and K-markets before you visit so you get the best deal.
I don’t think I could have managed in Finland if I didn’t have my TomTom Europe iPhone app. It’s great because it has a walking mode and uses GPS so you won’t be struck with an extortionate phone bill for using the internet in another country. The app is currenty £54.99 in the app store but if you can jailbreak your phone then obviously it’s free… or if you’re on 3 mobile, you can pay £5 each day and get unlimited internet abroad. That reminds me that you should contact your provider before you fly to another country to check that your sim will work there! I had a terrible time in 2011 when I went to Finland and I didn’t understand why my phone wouldn’t connect to any networks. Silly me! I’ve made a short list of the useful addresses to know when travelling there:
– Make note of all the bus stops and times to get from Turku to Naantali and vice versa
– Mannerheiminkatu 3 – the Moomin shop in Naantali. This is also a good indication of where to walk to get back on the bus
Sometimes, no amount of planning can help when it comes to getting somewhere you’ve not been to before, especially when it’s in another country. When Tomm and I first visited in 2011, I thought I’d planned everything perfectly. We pre-booked a hire car and rang them to check that we would not be turned away because Tomm only had two years driving experience, was aged 20 and did not have a credit card. We got the Finnair city bus to Helsinki-Vantaa airport to pick up the car and they said we couldn’t have it because they needed a credit card. I was distraught! It was another 45 minutes back to Helsinki city centre and then the trains were every hour, and took 2 hours to get to Turku. We followed the instructions for travelling by train on the Muumimaailma website and got on one of the buses it suggested, but 45 minutes later and we realised we’d just gone in a big circle. We ended up getting a taxi that cost 25€ and to top it all off, we didn’t take enough money with us that day and because we were in the middle of nowhere, Tomm’s debit card was rejected in one of the shops despite us phoning his bank prior to the trip to tell them we’d be going to Finland so we had to find a cash machine but that was far away. In the end, we probably arrived at 3pm (not 11am like I planned) and stayed until 6 when it closed, but we had an adventure. And what’s more, Tomm actually proposed to me inside Moominworld, so it wasn’t all that bad!
One of the gifts Tomm got me as part of our engagement was this Thomas Sabo pearl bracelet (just like Snorkmaiden!). I got the Hattifattener charm in the Moominworld shop for about 20€