‘Helsinki Summer guide- scratching the surface of the capital of Finland. ‘
Welcome to the city of blue eyes, blonde hair, clean air and lots of coffee! Helsinki, my home city is a hidden gem when it comes to photography that thrives during summer. The countless cute streets, sea-lined pathways and manicured gardens make this city, a Scandinavian beauty with a European flair, Finnish straightforwardness and Nordic functionality! It really is less about visiting the sights and more about the experiences that you make along the way. Enjoy the fresh air, eat lots of good, have a few wines on terraces and make sure to try a sauna, in Löyly! If you are in Helsinki for a longer period, I would highly recommend time in the countryside or in the archipelago to understand the calm Nordic mindfulness. The metropolitan Helsinki springs to life during the summer season and this year it was an exceptional summer with constant heatwaves! Because we have a long dark winter, people are vibrant and positive throughout summer making the most out of warm days! We love the outdoors, so wander around Helsinki by foot, everything is really close! The city fills with trendy restaurants, spills with cute coffee shops, has interesting architecture and lots of places worth a visit. As I am a local myself, I thought I would share a photogenic summer guide to some of my favourite places.
Stay: Stay in Hotel Haven, Lilla Roberts, St. George, Kämp or Hotel Fabian that all offer a great location and experience.
Love: Enjoy a summer lunch in one of the island restaurants; NJK, HSS boathouse, Ravintola Saari and if you are in August, make sure to enjoy crayfish as it is in season! Don’t be surprised by the snaps songs that you might hear from the table next to you, its tradition! Enjoy some afternoon tea at kämp or salutorget and sip a takeaway coffee in one the pretty parks, such as in Eiranpuisto. Experience a sauna and swimming in Löyly and reward yourself with pastries (korvapuusti= cinnamon bun) in one of the many cozy cafes, such as in Ekberg. Have a glass of wine at Strinberg or in Holiday in Kanavaranta or champagne at Mattolaituri if the weather is great! As evening approaches, go try a cocktail at Liberty or Death, Grotesk or Roster and head out for dinner to one of the many restaurants, such as cozy Bas Bas! Head over to Galerie Forsblom, Design Museo or Kiasma for an art show, visit local boutiques and eat lots of fish, as true Scandinavians do. The beauty of Finnish food is that there is a high respect for local ingridents where the flavours speak for themselves.
Wander: Explore the city by foot starting from the centre at kauppatori (market square). Buy some berries and walk along the shore front all the way down to Kaivopuisto-park. The walk is about 15-20 minutes and stop for morning coffee in one the cozy cafes; Ursula, Mutteri kahvila, Mattolaituri, Löyly or Birgitta. Make a day trip to Suomenlinna fortress (an island 15 minutes away by ferry) along with a trip to Porvoo that is 40 minutes away by car. For the perfect instagram breakfast, head to green hippo cafe followed by the colourful walls of Huvilakatu. All Finns are almost fluent in English, so do not hesitate to ask for tips along the way! Another great and fast way to see the city is to hop on one of the trams! If you are in Finland for a longer period of time, make sure to hop on the ferry to Tallinn in the morning and you will be back in the evening. (See here for the latest Tallinn summer guide)
Good morning market square, this is at 7am when the late August sun is much lower and brighter casting a flare all over the market. Usually at this hour, suppliers are setting up their stands where you can buy fur, berries, veggies, flowers and some handicraft goods. The old market Hall is a great place to walk through where you can try different local delicacies. ‘Ravintola Story’ has a delicious avocado burger with cute scandi interior along while ‘soppa‘ has large flavourful soups: you can never go from with the bouillabaisse choice! Make sure to try different rye breads from the fish stands with grav lax or chili shrimps, so delicious!
Walk around the Ullanlinna, Eira and Kaivopuisto region for some beautiful calming views of old buildings and manicured parks. (Some beautiful parks include: Eiran kukkapuisto, Kaivopuisto, vanha Eira, Tähtitorninmäki)
A few Breakfast cafes
Buy some seasonal delights from the morning market, such as berries, fish cakes and sit in one of the cafe´s that is usually filled with locals reading the morning paper. On the contrary, head over for a fabulous weekend brunch to kämp or breakfast at Lilla Roberts, Cozy up inside in Löyly with a large pot of salmon soup or enjoy a napue gin & tonic with lingonberry for an aperitivo.
Make sure to try the cinnamon buns, salmon soup, porridge and lots of rye bread!
Some of my favourite interior stores include Koo Pernu (french country) on korkeavuorenkatu along with Nougat on Bulevardi and the secondhand store Fasaani.
Salmon tartar in ‘restaurant HSS boathouse’ after a day of swimming and sunbathing on the rocks of the island. Grab your wicker basket, towl and find snacks from Stockmann or Anton & Anton, a smoothie from Joe & the Juice and head over for some calmness by the sea.
Super acai bowls and large cappuccino in ‘cafe Goodio’ along with fresh peonies from the market square
Cafe Success serves delicious blue cheese croissants along with my favourite oatmilk cappuccino. The cafe is located on one of my favourite streets in Helsinki, Korkeavuorenkatu.
Maybe grab a few oysters from Caviar House?
Kale salads in ‘Ravintola pupu’ are great, or from the Deli of ‘Ravintola Teatteri’
We Finns love coffee, it’s cozy to sit in cafe Ursula and watch the sea
The beautiful view from Mattolaituri