Helsinki, the capital of Finland, was listed as the most livable city in the world by Monocle Magazine in 2011. Founded in 1550, Helsinki, also known as the Daughter of the Baltic, was rebuilt in the 19th century to resemble a miniature St. Petersburg. Though an international hub of business, culture, and arts, the city still manages to exude the feel of a small town. Given its northern location, Helsinki is dark and very cold from November to March, therefore, the best time to visit is summer when temperatures average 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The city, which is surrounded by the sea and an extensive archipelago, includes ferry service to many of the nearby islands. Among the spots most travelers favor in the summer are the Seurasaari Open Air Museum, located in a small island with hiking trails and historic Finnish homes, which feature guides in traditional dress working on crafts. Also, on Pihlajasaari, visitors will find sandy beaches, and a quaint restaurant serving beer and ciders. Korkeasaari, famous for housing the Helsinki Zoo, can be accessed by bridge from the mainland. Finally, Vallisaari, features an ancient fortress surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.
Story, a café in Punavuori and Ullanlinna, in the Vanha Kauppahalli market hall , serves breakfast and lunch sourced from neighboring stalls. The restaurant’s interior, designed by architect Joanna Laajisto, is a tribute to Nordic design with white walls, wood tables, and colorful chairs. The eatery, with views of Helsinki harbor, is bright and airy. Featuring simple yet eclectic meals, such as porridge, omelets, salmon soup and slow-roasted pork sandwiches, Story also serves a variety of breads and patisserie products from the local bakery, as well as coffee from hometown roasters. Patrons can also enjoy a selection of fine wines from the region. Laid back and casual, the restaurant is perfect for grabbing a bite before heading out for the day or simply relaxing with a mid-afternoon cup of coffee and a baked treat.
Helsinki Canal Sightseeing Cruise
Given its location on the Baltic, Helsinki is a city best seen from the water. The Helsinki Canal Sightseeing and History Cruise allows travelers an hour and a half to explore the archipelago aboard a comfortable boat, where travelers can relax on deck or inside the cozy cabin. The cruise takes passengers past landmarks like the Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress, while listening to commentary regarding the city’s history. The sightseeing boat, which boards at the Market Square in central Helsinki, provides views of the 62 miles of spectacular coastline surrounding the city, as well as the 300 islands that compose the capital. Sites include Korkeasaari Island, home of the Helsinki Zoo, the Degerö Canal, where the icebreaker fleet is docked, and the Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari islands, with its fortifications and military relics. The boat includes free WiFi and a bar for refreshments.
Olo, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Kruununhaka and Katajanokka, is located in the 19th century harborside mansion Lampa House on Pohjoisesplanadi, just by the Market Square. Headed by restaurateur and creative leader, Jari Vesivalo, Olo features the latest innovations in Suomi cuisine and includes a series of outstanding tasting menus that enable guests to truly immerse themselves in the subtleties of Finnish gastronomy. The seven-part menu, which features delicacies such as king crab with tarragon, emmer semolina with summer truffle, cod with ramson and white asparagus, a cheese plate, and rhubarb with lemon verbena and pollen, also includes champagne to start, wines recommended by the sommelier, mineral water, coffee and a digestive. Diners interested in making a reservation at Olo should do so weeks in advance.
Helsinki hosts a series of annual festivals including the World Village Festival in May, which showcases international music, dance, food, art, and crafts. In June, visitors can enjoy the Helsinki Samba Carnaval, inspired by the famous Rio de Janeiro Carnaval in Brazil, and Juhannus, the Midsummer Festival, which celebrates the "the nightless night" with bonfires. In July, music takes over Helsinki as the city hosts the Visio Festival, a new electronic music festival, Monsters of Rock, a heavy metal festival, the Teurastamo Jazz festival, and the Hori Smoku Summer Bugaloo, a punk and alternative rock festival. In August, the city welcomes the Weekend Festival, a techno and dance gathering, the Flow Festival, a music and arts festival that features gourmet food and drink, as well as design installations, and the Helsinki Festival, which includes two weeks of music, culture and art events. We look forward to your feedback. Let us know what you enjoyed most about your trip to Helsinki.