I didn’t have too much time to explore Helsinki when I last visited, but I did manage to squeeze in a few of my favourite things. Helsinki is a great place to visit for a weekend trip as it’s big enough for a lot of things to do (my boyfriend has visited three times and I still haven’t managed to show him everything I want to!) but small enough to (almost) walk everywhere.
I love it most during the summer as the weather, of course, is better, but it’s also a lot greener and a lot lighter then. However, this time I went in April, and while it was already pretty light (the sun sets later than in the UK – yay!), it wasn’t quite there yet with the greenness and the warmth.. In fact, if you read my post from last Sunday, you might remember me saying that it actually snowed. In April! Despite of the breezy weather conditions, though, I had a really lovely time and would definitely recommend doing all of the things on this list no matter what time of the year!
The thing I miss the most about Finland (after my friends and family, of course!) has to be the sea. Helsinki is surrounded by the Baltic Sea, so no matter where you are in the city, you’ll never be too far from it. This means that there are lots of great places for a scenic walk, of which one of the best are probably the beautiful district of Eira and the surrounding streets of the Kaivopuisto park.
The places I mentioned above are great for a brisk walk, but if you’re not in the mood for staying out too long, you could also pay a visit to either Cafe Ursula or Cafe Carusel for a cinnamon bun and beautiful sea views.
If you prefer a bit of shopping to just walking around you could go to the Market Square which has lots of stalls selling arts and crafts as well as all sorts of local produce, depending on the season. The Market Square is right next to the sea, and it’s also where a lot of the little boats to the nearby islands of Helsinki leave, so if you’re not quite done with the sea yet, you can jump aboard one of them and keep on exploring.
If you ask me, no city break is complete without a good view. Helsinki has a few good places you could go have a scenic drink in, but in my opinion there’s nowhere better than the lovely Ateljee Bar in Hotel Torni. This is of course best done on a sunny, clear day, but it’s a worth a visit even if the whole sky is grey like it was for us – the view is still great!
Ateljee Bar is a great choice because there’s actually two viewing platforms – one on each side of the building. There’s also tables and chairs on both sides, so if the weather is warm enough, you can bring your drinks outside and enjoy the beautiful scenery. But, even if the weather gods aren’t being kind to you, you can still grab a glass of wine in the inside bar and get the perks of the view – win win! As you can probably imagine, the prices here are pretty steep, but that’s usually to be expected in places like this. You really do also pay for the view!
I’m not going to ramble on about the beautiful buildings of Helsinki TOO much as I’ve already done it in this post, but I couldn’t not mention it. The biggest architecture style in Helsinki is Jugendstil, which is one style branch of the bigger Art Nouveau movement. Expect a lot of colour!
Central Helsinki is great for spotting Jugend buildings, and districts such as Ullanlinna, Punavuori and the aforementioned Eira are especially good for this. Before moving to London I’d lived in Helsinki for almost my entire life, but even still I come across new favourites every year! If you only have time to visit one place, make it the Huvilakatu street. It’s absolutely gorgeous and well worth the short stroll from the centre of the city.