Tampere is located between two lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi. Since the two lakes differ in level by 18 metres (59 ft), the rapids linking them, Tammerkoski, have been an important power source throughout history, most recently for generating electricity.
Helsinki can be reached in 1.5 hours by train and 2 hours by car. The distance to Turku is approximately the same. Tampere Airport is the third-busiest airport in Finland, with 800,000 passengers annually.
Tampere grew as a major market town and industrial centre in the 19th century. During the latter half of 19th century Tampere had almost half of Finland's industrial labour. The town's industrial nature in the 19th and 20th centuries gave it the nickname "Manchester of the North", Manse for short (in Finnish).
Tampere was the centre of many important political events of Finland in the early 20th century. On 1 November 1905, during the general strike, the famous Red Declaration was proclaimed on the Keskustori, the central square of Tampere, subsequently leading to universal suffrage in Finland and the Tsar of Russia granting larger freedoms to Finns. In 1918, when Finland had recently gained independence, Tampere also played a major role, being one of the strategically important scenes during the Civil War in Finland (28 January–15 May 1918). Tampere was a red stronghold during the war, with Hugo Salmela in command. White forces captured Tampere, seizing about 10,000 Red prisoners on 6 April.
Prevalent in Tampere's post-World War II municipal politics was the so-called Brothers-in-Arms Axis (aseveliakseli), the alliance of conservatives and social democrats against the communists and Agrarian party. During this era some of the most renowned city managers of Tampere were Erkki Napoleon Lindfors (who was responsible for many ambitious construction projects such as the Näsinneula tower and the construction of the suburb of Hervanta, Tampere's "daughter town"), Pekka Paavola (who gained some notoriety in corruption scandals) and Jarmo Rantanen. From 2007 on, Tampere switched to a new model of having a mayor and four deputy mayors, chosen for a periods of two years. Timo P. Nieminen was elected as the first mayor of Tampere for the years 2007–09.
Grocery stores in Tampere (and in Finland) are usually quite easy to find. There are grocery departments in the bottom floors of all three department stores downtown (see below). In addition, look for e.g. K-market, S-market, Sale, Siwa, and Lidl for small to mid-size grocery stores. Supermarkets (Prisma,Citymarket) are large stores located outside the city centre, and you can buy a range of different products (e.g. food, clothes, electronics) there. For emergencies, small Siwa grocery store at Puutarhakatu 14 in downtown has the best hours: 06-24 every day. Alcohol, however, can only be sold from 09-21. Wine or strong liquor are only sold at Alko stores that are closed on Sundays. They are usually located next to larger grocery stores and the three department stores.
Many of the more pricey restaurants also have lunch specials under €10 during weekdays, most notably the lunch at Ravintola C is a steal at 10-12€. Lunch can also be bought in several places inside Kauppahalli market hall in Keskustori central square, and in University restaurants located on downtown campus.
Bartenders in night clubs are usually not very knowledgeable and drinks are almost always poorly made, if available at all. This is probably because of the hardcore alcohol laws in Finland that ban all drinks with more than 4cl of strong alcohol. On the other hand, there might be a rather good selection of shooters at clubs and Finnish and foreign beers in pubs. While the standard big brewery Finnish lagers are rather bland, new and exciting microbrews are popping up every year. Be sure to give them a try somewhere along the way. Nearly every decent pub has some of them nowadays, but you won't find them in clubs. Also, a kind of Finnish drink speciality are ciders and long drinks (gin and grapefruit flavoured mild drink) which are flavoured with (sometimes exotic) artificial essences. The ciders do not bear a strong resemblance to their Continental European counterparts.
- The Tampere Cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Tampere. The building was designed in the National Romantic style by Lars Sonck, and built between 1902 and 1907. The cathedral is famous for its frescoes, painted by the symbolist Hugo Simberg between 1905 and 1906. The paintings aroused considerable adverse criticism in their time, featuring versions of Simberg's The Wounded Angel and The Garden of Death. Of particular controversy was Simberg's painting of a winged serpent on a red background in the highest point of the ceiling, which some contemporaries interpreted as a symbol of sin and corruption. The altar-piece, representing the future resurrection of people of all races, was painted by Magnus Enckell.
- Tammerkoski rapids crossing Hämeenkatu just by the central square, split the centre into east and west side. The rapids run from Lake Näsijärvi north of Tampere to Lake Pyhäjärvi in the south. The height difference between the two lakes is 18 meters, but the formerly thundering heart of Tampere now flows through the city centre rather peacefully, because of the several hydroelectric dams harnessing its power.
- The Tampere Hall is the largest concert and congress centre in the Nordic countries, located in the southern edge of Sorsapuisto, in the centre of Tampere. Opposite of the Tampere Hall is the main building of the University of Tampere, and the Tampere railway station is only half a kilometre away. The main auditorium has capacity of 1,756 seats. Due to its central location, Tampere Hall hosts many small fairs, including the first ever Finncon in Tampere. The Tampere Opera and the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra are also based there. As of the year 2012, the Tampere Hall has been nominated five times as the best congress venue in Finland.
- Särkänniemi is an adventure park in Tampere. The park features an aquarium, a planetarium, a children's zoo, an art museum, an observation tower (Näsinneula), an amusement park, and the world's northernmost dolphinarium. Särkänniemi is the most popular amusement park in Finland. Särkänniemi has seven rollercoasters: inverted coaster Tornado, flying coaster Trombi, MotoGee, Jet Star, Half Pipe, family coaster Vauhtimato ("Speedy Worm") and Tukkijoki ("Flume Ride"). Särkänniemi is owned by the city of Tampere.
- Näsinneula is an observation tower overseeing Lake Näsijärvi. It was built in 1970–1971 and was designed by Pekka Ilveskoski. It is the tallest free-standing structure in Finland and the tallest observation tower in the Nordic countries at a height of 168 metres (551 ft). The tower opened in 1971 and is located in the Särkänniemi amusement park. There is a revolving restaurant in the tower 124 metres (407 ft) above the ground; one revolution takes 45 minutes. The design of Näsinneula was inspired by the Space Needle in Seattle. The idea of a revolving restaurant was taken from the Puijo tower in Kuopio. The base of the tower is at about 15 metres (49 ft) of elevation from lake Näsijärvi. There are two elevators, made by Valmet-Schlieren. The elevators go up to a height of 120 metres (390 ft), to the Pilvilinna ("Cloud Castle") café. The restaurant (called Näsinneula) is one story higher. The elevator ride to the top takes 27 seconds with a maximum speed of 6 m/s (20 ft/s) and the elevators carry a maximum of 16 people. The elevators are still the fastest public elevators in Finland. In the event of a blackout, the tower's own diesel emergency generator will start. In an emergency people can be evacuated with stairs that have 700 steps.