Helsinki, the capital of the nordic country of Finland, it’s a vibrant and charming city. Full of legendary design shops, scene shaking cafés and pubs, Helsinki is a lovable destination for a quick change of scenery.
What to do?
Besides checking the main attractions which are the stunning churches, the old market and the Sibelius Park – if you are a coffee lover then look no further but go enjoy one of the many cafés that this city offers. Funny fact is that the Finnish population is one of the top coffee consumers in the whole world. Knowing that, try to aim for a coffee stop at least twice a day or more if you can manage and enjoy a side snack while you are at it, get your hands on one of their famous cinnamon or cardamon buns.
Try the karelian pasty
Speaking about food, don’t miss the karelian pasty, is a pastry made with wheat dough and creamy rice as a filling, but we especialy liked the one filled with reindeer meat. This was practically all we would eat for breakfast or for an afternoon snack. They are everywhere to be found and delicious either warm or cold!
If you are lucky enough to be there in the weekend, you should definitely check the night scene as Finns love to hang out with friends and have some drinks. I swear I never saw such an excited crowd outside of Brazil. The vibe was contagious!
Insiders Tip: Be aware that between 9pm-9am is forbidden to sell alcohol outside of the pubs so if you are looking for a pre drink get your shopping done on time.
Take a ferry to Tallin or St. Petersburg
What is nicer then exploring a new country? Exploring two of course! When in Helsinki, it is very easy to take a ferry to Estonia or Russia. The trip to Tallin is the shortest but if you want to venture into Russia a 3 day trip to Saint Petersburg doesnt require a visum. Because of the expensive costs (manly alcohol) in Helsinki, many Finns travel to do some shopping in Estonia, being back at the end of the day.
To St. Petersburg, the trip takes a little bit longer, about 8 hours, but if you have the time it is totally worth it. St. Petersburg is one of my favorite places in the world! But I do not recommend to go for less than 2 days, as different of Tallin, the city is vast and sights are far from each other. (Check my post about it clicking here.)
Dine at Hills Dumplings restaurant
As a Designer (and design lover), Helsinki offers many cool design restaurants, and one of my favorite was the Hills Dumplings. With a clean yet funky scandinavian interior, the speciality here are, as the name suggest: the dumplings. If you love dumplings like me, you cannot miss out on trying this place. Its dumpling heaven!
Going to Finland and not going to a sauna is like you never been to Finland. Every Finn has a sauna at home and they use it daily! One custom is to in between the sauna sessions, take a dip outside in the Baltic
freaking cold sea. In the summer, this sounds easy but what about winter? Yes, they still do it, no matter how the weather is outside and ofcourse, they make a hole in the ice first so easy peasy 😛
When me and my boyfriend went to Helsinki it was winter, at the first moment I said I wouldn’t do it, at the end I did it and I repeated and it was amazing! I hate winter but I do recommend everyone to have this experience, it was satisfying in some way.
If you happen to travel during december, don’t miss out the Christmas market in front of the colossal white Cathedral, the symbol of Helsinki. Enjoy the lovely christmas winter drinks called Glög and take the time to indulge in the local pastries here.
I hope this post was helpful and make you interested into visiting this funky city that is Helsinki!