I love going through travel guides, but do you want to know what I don’t really like about them? The fact that they only recommend the boring, “high-culture” stuff. So here come the best places around Helsinki from my point of view!
I have lived in Helsinki for 6 months, during summer and fall. And I have to admit that it’s one of the best summer cities in the world. So much to see, so much to do, and you have both big city life, beaches and the sea and the beautiful Finnish lake + forest nature just around the corner. If you’d come to Helsinki for a few days, this would be where I’d take you!
The Helsinki Cathedral (see header picture) and the main market place by the harbour are just next to each other and combine all things Helsinki: beautiful clean architecture, Finnish market culture and the sea. Don’t miss out on the smoked salmon, fresh berries and of course pictures on the stairs in front of the cathedral. These are things that my sister and I do every summer!
As I said, the smoked salmon on the market is amazing and something very Finnish. But if you want some reaaaaaaaaally incredible food for little money, go to Eatos next to the railway station. That’s where I take all my visitors. It’s a Mexican place with only “real” Mexican people working there and they serve the “realest” Mexican food I’ve ever had. They use fresh herbs (coriander!!) and spices at an absolute gourmet level. Soup, bread, a delicious main course of chicken and pear, avocado or goat cheese salad, spinach quesadillas or the softest burritos ever and tea or coffee – and all that at a lunch price of 9,90€, for which you get just mass production buffet food at most other places. And if you go there, tell them that Lottie sent you and you might get special treatment 😉
Regatta is my absolute favourite cafe. Seriously, how cute is this place? If you go there, make sure that you order some real Finnish “korvapuusti”, cinnamon rolls. They’re always warm and fresh from the oven. And the people here are so amazing – if you don’t have money with you, just come back a different day to pay.
Loiste: a gorgeous terrace above Helsinki’s roofs right by the main station – definitely worth a go! I had sparkling wine with my colleagues there once in summer and can’t wait to go back soon!
Seurasaari: a gorgeous little island right before Helsinki with lots of really old little buildings. The perfect place to walk, have picnics, even swim, and see some old Finnish culture. And that building in the picture is my dream place to get married!
Hietsu – one of my favourite places in the world as it combines SO many amazing memories. My sister and I have spent uncountable afternoons there, met amazing people, gotten lots of free drinks, tried swimming (but the water was too cold most of the time), I have slept there uncountable times after work and we’ve eaten hundreds of ice creams. In summer you can stay there till 10pm and it will still be warm and sunny enough to tan and play frisbee or train at the outdoor gym. Oh AND play volleyball – only that I really can’t do that 😛
How to explore Helsinki? By foot, by tram or by surfboard? I’d definitely recommend the last one. Get a SUP-board at Töölönlahti and paddle through Helsinki’s harbours. An absolutely new and exciting point of view – just don’t fall into the water like I did!
Big City Life
Last but not least – of course you have to see Helsinki’s gorgeous old architecture too and enjoy some coffee and ice cream. I’d recommend the beautiful Esplanade-park right by the market. Below you can see my gorgeous sister there 😉
These places are all very close to each other and can easily be seen in two days. Ask me for directions and I’ll tell you! And if you ever come to Helsinki, don’t forget to ring me up (or rather email me) and we can meet up for coffee at Regatta! Or if you have other recommendations (I know there should be some amazing trendy cafes in Helsinki, but I haven’t found those yet?), then please leave your tips in the comments and I’ll check those out!