Finland

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Another Scandinavian stop was Helsinki, spent a weekend exploring the capital and Suomenlinna, which are 6 linked islands off the coast of Helsinki. As you expect from any Scandinavian capital, Helsinki was pretty clean, cold and not very large in area.

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Ferry Suomenlinna-Helsinki

Helsinki

Markets were among the impressive sights, ‘Hietalahden kauppahalli’ and ‘Old market hall’ specifically for fresh produce, fruits, sea food and coffee. Old market hall is located in market square, the main square in Helsinki; a flea market with stands selling hand crafted gifts and souvenirs is situated. You will also find traditional Finnish food stands, cafés, etc. The market culture is big in Finland and is awesome.

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Old market hall
Around market square, some restaurants on stationary ships provide buffet-style dining, during lunch time. On another note, ferries departing to Suomenlinna can be taken from the same area, trip takes roughly 20 minutes, costing €3 per way.
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Majakkalaiva Relandersgrund restaurant
The six linked islands of Suomenlinna are part of UNESCO’s world heritage list, serving fortification purposes for the Swedes in the 18th century, followed by the Russians in the 19th century, until Finland gained its independence in 1917.
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Suomenlinna

The islands are home to several unused Russian cannons, among other artilleries. With several museums, restaurants, coffee shops and even a brewery, you can easily spend all day hoping from one island to another.

On the southernmost island, Kuninkaanportti, the King’s Gate is located, and is considered both the entrance and symbol of Suomenlinna. King Adolf Fredrick of Sweden anchored his ship at this entrance, when he visited the fortress for the first time during construction in the mid 1700s.

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King’s gate

In order to see some of Helsinki’s architecture, one must visit ‘Senate’s Square’. Carl Ludvig Engel’s grand neoclassical cathedral, also called ‘Helsinki Cathedral’, is located there among other buildings. If you’re in the mood for some breakfast/brunch around that area, Café Engel served pretty good Finnish food. Similarly, not so far from there is a classy dessert and coffee house called Kappeli. Not to be missed while in the area.

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Helsinki cathedral
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St. John’s church

Two final items worth experiencing while in Helsinki. Havsparken, one of the best parks in Helsinki, right by the sea. A walk there is absolutely magnificent, with every season having its own unique vibe. The second item is the walk-in saunas found all around the city. In sub zero temperatures, which are pretty normal in Finland, it’s not a bad idea.

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Havsparken, Meripuisto

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Haven’t experienced the nightlife as much in that weekend in Helsinki, although had good craft beers at a place called Teerenpeli Ravintolat in Kamppi, an area known for a heavy bar and club presence. Also, shot some pool at Backas bar, a pretty low key local bar with good drinks and conversation.


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