Now, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in any city I travel to but thought it would be fun if I’d share few of the gems we find on our travels in the form of new ‘Mini Guide’ series.
What better city to begin with than my beloved Helsinki. Sometimes the most exciting trips are to the places we already know we love. This year is special in many ways as Finland celebrates its centenary, and the festivities are taking place throughout the year.
To start with, I jotted down a few addresses that I’d been to before or new places that I’d heard about from locals to take some snaps for a little guide here on the blog, in the hope these tips help get your trip to Helsinki off to a great start or at least convince you that you need to go. Because you really do!
HOTEL LILLA ROBERTS
If you’ve been following my blog, then you probably already know I’m a huge fan of boutique hotels – I love the uniqueness and personalised service that so many of them offer. In Helsinki, make the Hotel Lilla Roberts your home away from home, I can’t recommend it enough. Located in the Design District, it’s definitely the place to stay, and I understand why with its impeccable interiors and friendly staff. The colours, the interiors, the breakfast – it’s all spot on!
Pieni Roobertinkatu 1-3, 00130 Helsinki | +358 9 689 9880
website | my full post from the hotel
ARTIST APARTMENT SUSI – AIRBNB
Whilst the Artist Apartment Susi might not be in the centre, it’s just a couple of metro stops or a short walk away from all of the action. This is your chance to live like a local. Kallio neighbourhood is considered quite bohemian and there are tonnes of great restaurants and cafes nearby. We stayed here for New Years in 2016 and absolutely loved everything about the apartment – you can read more about it here.
Image source: Nanna Susi
Image source: Nanna Susi
THE COCK EATERY & ROTISSERY
The Cock is a hip, trendy eatery & rotisserie filled with locals. Take a seat at the cool dining room or at the bar and order a spread of shareable dishes, followed by some great cocktails. Make sure to save room for the chocolate fondant! Reservations recommended, but not required.
Fabianinkatu 17, 00130 Helsinki | +358 9 6128 5100 | website
Image source: The Cock Helsinki
Image source: The Cock Helsinki
If you feel like having well-made pizza, then Skiffer is the place to go. It’s a cosy and modern pizzeria by the Diana Park serving crispy, stone-baked and oval-shaped pizzas with a Scandinavian touch. They also have a great wine list!
Erottajankatu 11, 00130 Helsinki, Finland | +358 45 344 5351 | website
Image source: Skiffer Helsinki
STORY RESTAURANT – VANHA KAUPPAHALLI
Oh, my goodness. I have had a fair share of salmon soup, so you have to trust me when I tell you this one is well worth a visit. A huge bowl of simple, delicious and creamy soup at the Old Market Hall right by the sea – my idea of heaven. Daily soup available until 3 pm.
Vanha Kauppahalli (Old Market Hall), Eteläranta, 00130 Helsinki
+358 10 666 8458 | website
It’s easy to fall in love with Healthinki, a clearly very popular breakfast and lunch spot in Ullanlinna. Delicious and beautifully presented smoothie bowls and avocado toasts. A must-visit!
Tehtaankatu 13, 00140, Helsinki | email@example.com | website
Image source: Healthinki
KAPPELI CAFE & RESTAURANT
This charming café and restaurant in the Esplanadi Park is one of the most beautiful spaces in Helsinki and has been around since 1867. It was a famous hangout for artists, such as Jean Sibelius, back in the day. Cosy during the winter months and the terraces are fabulous for sipping coffee and people watching during the summer. Kappeli serves a delicious, locally sourced menu and has seasonal specialities such as Blini week in January and Asparagus menu in the Spring. I usually pop in here for coffee and cake.
Eteläesplanadi 1, 00130 Helsinki, Finland | +358 10 76 63880 | website
PATISSERIE TEEMU & MARKUS
This is a sweet little patisserie is perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up. The cinnamon buns/butter buns here are the best as far as I’m concerned. You’ll find them at almost any cafe and bakery, but I love the ones from Patisserie Teemu & Markus. They also have a gorgeous selection of cakes, and serve a soup lunch with homemade bread during the week.
Yrjönkatu 25, 00100 Helsinki | +358 401 355 783 | website
THE DESIGN MUSEUM
Alvar Aalto, Angry Birds, Marimekko, and about 1000 other designer’s works drive home the Finnish vibes of Helsinki’s Design Museum that draws a crowd interested in creative design. The Design Museum, founded in 1873, is one of Helsinki’s most celebrated museums for its range of exhibits. Love it!
Korkeavuorenkatu 23, 00130 Helsinki | +358 9 6220 540 | website
Image source: Wallpaper
This Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral is a must-see. I mean, you’d be hard pushed to miss it on a trip to Helsinki as the city isn’t huge, and this is the tourist hot-spot. Whilst you’ll have to battle with other tourists taking photos, it’s worth a visit – it’s pretty impressive. Don’t miss the stars on the domes.
Unioninkatu 29, 00170 Helsinki
KAUPPATORI MARKET SQUARE
You should wander out to the open-air market on Kauppatori for fresh seasonal produce, souvenirs, outdoor cafes serving traditional food and, all sorts! Be aware of seagulls though, they are quick and pretty mean.
There is a ferry that connects Kauppatori with Suomenlinna Island. If you are visiting during the summer, then you probably want to spend as much time outside in the sunshine. The market and Old Market Hall are perfect for filling your picnic basket with fresh strawberries (best in the world!) and sandwiches for a picnic and sunbathing on Suomenlinna Island. Very popular with locals.
Eteläranta, 00170 Helsinki
Hernesaaren Ranta is an outdoor seaside area, close to the city centre with excellent transport connections. There are bars, street food stalls, boat docks, lots of activities and concerts throughout the summer months and lounge chairs for relaxing on the beach. A perfect spot for enjoying the sunshine with some street food and ice creams from the vendors and lounge around by the seaside. I have written about it before, here.
Hernesaarenranta 6, 00150 Helsinki | +358 40 739 7201 | website
Now, this place is fun! Located on Katajanokka island, you’re still close to everything but you’ll get a sense of escapism. The seasonal menu consists fish and seafood, served with modern veggie dishes. The interiors are stunning and super Instagrammable! A perfect destination for dinner, fab cocktails and getting drunk on Holiday spirit!
Kanavaranta 7, 00170 Helsinki | +358 9 6128 5121 | website
Image source: Holiday Bar Helsinki
HELSINKI DESIGN DISTRICT
More than 200 shops on 25 streets are part of the Design District Helsinki, including jewellery makers, design and antique shops, fashion stores, museums, art galleries, restaurants, hotels and showrooms. If you are into Scandinavian design, this is the place to be to see all the variety in Finnish design today. Little shops, pretty painted houses and quiet streets made for walking.
To make things easier, you also check out the Design District map
For more information and event calendar check out their website
You may have seen Minna Parikka’s famous Bunny trainers, but did you know they come from Finland? Her flagship store on Aleksanterinkatu is filled with bold and gorgeous designs. I love my white leather Bunny trainers, they’re so comfortable and fun to wear – and have you seen the kiddie versions – don’t even get me started. High up on my go-to spots in Helsinki!
Aleksanterinkatu 36, 00100 Helsinki | +358 9 667554 | website
Marimekko is known for its bold and colourful patterns and organic designs; in this flagship store, you’ll find the most diverse range of fashion, accessories, handbags and home accents for your bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
(Flagship) Mikonkatu 1, 00100 Helsinki | +358 50 572 5632 | website
Finland Multiple locations in Helsinki – check their website for a location near you.
High quality and easy to wear fashion brand by designer pair Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi that combines nordic minimalism, fun prints and feminine cuts and is inspired by real women. The Finnish Elle magazine calls it “The Finnish version of Acne Studios”. They have a website and they’ll ship internationally if you fancy taking a look at the beautiful designs – most definitely worth a snoop.
Fredrikinkatu 18, 00120 Helsinki | +358 44 702 1111 | website
I didn’t get any snaps of this place, but if you’re in Helsinki you must go! You’ll find antique furniture, lots of Finnish design glassware and ceramics, vintage clothing, home textiles and silver. It’s a huge space for exploring and bargain hunting.
Korkeavuorenkatu 5, 00140 Helsinki | +358 9 260 9970 | website
A true Finnish sauna is an essential experience, as any Finn will tell you. Most locals get their fix at home or at their summer cottages, but definitely, give the sauna venture a try. There are many public saunas in the city – however, my recommendation goes for a one with beautiful sea views, option for swimming, striking architecture and sustainable business. Check out the exceptionally stunning Löyly Helsinki in Hernesaarenranta. Easily reached by public transportation or even walking. You can also read more about Löyly here.
Hernesaarenranta 4, 00150 Helsinki | +358 9 6128 6550 | website
Helsinki certainly deserves a spot on your To Visit list. It’s staying firmly on mine, for obvious reasons, and I already can’t wait to go back!
If you have any ideas to add to my Helsinki Mini Guide, I would love to hear about them – leave a comment below!