I went back to my old hometown Helsinki for a few days last week, mostly to visit my family and friends, but also to do a bit of sightseeing in my old stomping grounds. I would love to do a more of an extensive guide on where to eat, drink and have fun in Helsinki but a) that would take an entire day of wandering around and I unfortunately didn’t have that much time for myself last week and b) I have been away for so long now that I would have to do a lot more research on all of the lovely new places that have opened up in the city within the last few years, and, again, I just didn’t have the time for that. But I will do it, one day! I promise!
So, with those reasons/excuses in mind, I hope you will still enjoy this mini guide I managed to put together based on the lovely day I spent with my friends eating and walking around central Helsinki. This should be enough to keep you occupied for at least a few hours if you find yourself out of things to do when visiting the city!
The architecture in Helsinki really is wonderful, and I have actually already written about it a bit more extensively before – you can read the post here if you’re interested! The best areas for house spotting, in my opinion, are Punavuori, Eira & Kruununhaka, just to name a few. These pictures were taken in the Punavuori district where most of the other places in this guide are as well, and it’s definitely one of my favourite areas in the city – I’d describe it as a bit of a little sister to East London with its multiple independent eateries, bars and shops! It’s definitely worth exploring if you’re visiting Helsinki, and the best thing about it is that it’s only about a 10-15 minute walk from the main city centre – yay!
I met my friend Jenni for lunch in the lovely Deli Café Maya in Punavuorenkatu 3. Maya is a lunch restaurant offering a different menu every day with options for everyone from a vegan to a meat lover; with 12€ you could get the main of your choice AND a free access to the salad buffet – the price even includes the daily soup!
I opted for the feta quesadillas with a salsa verde sauce on the side which was reeaally good and just the right size for raiding the salad buffet a little bit too… After finishing your meal you’ll also get a small piece of cake and a tea or a coffee included in your meal – it’s such a bargain! I think this is actually pretty common in Finland which I think is great – London, take note!
After eating a ridiculous amount of food we decided to walk around a little bit to see if any new places had recently opened their doors in the area. My absolute favourite was this little independent stationary shop (have I told you I LOVE stationary?!) called Papershop which stocks a lot of different brands doing everything from greeting cards to meal planners. It was basically my heaven and I wish I had had more money to buy myself a nice selection of all the lovely stuff… You can find Papershop in address Fredrikinkatu 18.
Our next stop was to have a look what one of my favourite streets, Iso Roobertin katu (locals just call it Iso Roba which might be a bit less daunting to pronounce!) had to offer after being away from there for a while. I noticed a lot of new places, but luckily some old favourites such as the lovely Fafa’s had remained too. Iso Roba is great for both nightlife and a quieter drink earlier in the evening – it’s very lively in general so definitely worth a stroll if you’re looking for a place to while away the day/evening/night (take your pick!).
If you’re missing nature amongst all of this urban shopping and cafe/bar hopping malarkey, you’ll be pleased to know that nature is never far away in Helsinki – and that goes for the whole of Finland too. These pictures are from a park called Ruttopuisto which literally means “The Plague Park” but I promise you, it’s not as creepy as it sounds! The name derives from 1600 & 1700s when there was a plague epidemic in Helsinki and apparently a lot of people were buried here – you can even see a few really old gravestones around. Nowadays though it’s just a very popular place for young (and why not a bit older too!) people to have picnics and drink beer in the summertime. The park’s not too shabby at Autumn time either – the whole area is filled with golden, red & orange leaves which leaves (pun intended) such a beautiful sight to behold on a crisp October day.
Next time I go to Helsinki it will already be Spring, but for now I hope I’ve managed to convince you that it’s absolutely the best place to go on that weekend break I know you all are secretly planning anyway!