Probably the best moment for us in Helsinki was the evening we went for fishing at the Bodom lake!
Bodom Lake(Bodominjärvi ) located at north suburbs of Espoo, 25km NW from Helsinki. Although there must be public transport a local friend took us there with his car.
It was so relaxing looking at the beautiful landscape, having fun and of course eating the fishes afterwards right there next to the lake. It’s an ideal place for picnic. At the end we just waited for the sunset until we realized it was already midnight!...
The lake is 3km in length and 1km in width, there’s a path next to the lake so you can walk a bit if you want to but also swim (the water seemed cold for us but locals didn’t have any problem), many people bring their tents and overnight there, we just stayed until midnight.
For fishing you need a government licence (week, month or annual) and lake permission. hopefully we went there with a local so we didnt have to go through this.
If you dont know anyone in Finland to help you send a message to VTer Akkipaa, check first his fishing tip here
There’s a heavy metal band called Children of Bodom. They are from Espoo and named their band after the famous murders that took place in 1960 when four teenagers went to camp at the lake but three of them got murdered while they were sleeping.
Porvoo is a small touristic town 50km east of Helsinki. We took the bus from Helsinki but you also go there by train or boat.
From the bus station we walked uphill to the Old Town, visited the Cathedral and then down through the cobblestone streets we visited some small museums (Porvoo Museum and Holm house with the 6e combo ticket, there’s also a doll museum and some others) and then relaxed next to the river for a while.
We went up the main bridge to take some pictures of the picturesque old red buildings and end up at a café next to the river for some beers. In general a nice easy half day trip from Helsinki, especially on a sunny summer day.
Porvoo is Finland’s second oldest city after Turku. It was founded in 1346 by the Swedish king Magnus Eriksson, even today almost half of Porvoo population speaks Swedish and the cathedral is used by the evangelical Lutheran church of Finland and is the seat of the Diocese of Borga (Finland’s Swedish speaking diocese). The town got burnt by enemies twice, in 1508 by the Danes and in 1708 by the Russians. In 1721 Sweden lost Viborg from Russia and moved the episcopal seat in Porvoo. In 1808 Sweden cede Finland to Russia and in 1809 was singed in Porvoo the Diet of Finland when Czar Alexander guaranteed the inviolability of the Finnish constitution and Finland was declared an autonomous Grand Duchy. Most of the buildings we see today in Old Town date from 18th and 19th century. Porvoo became the birthplace of artists, the most popular are the sculptor Ville Vallgran (1855-1940) and the painter Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905), you can see works of them at Porvoo museum.
Ok, I have to admit that Espoo wasn’t high on our list. It is the second largest city in Finland with about 250,000 inhabitants located just west of Helsinki.
Espoo was named after the river Espoo (espaa in Swedish language, meaning a river bordered by aspen). The oldest preserved building in Espoo is the cathedral that was built next to the river in late 15th century with the administrative center growing around the church.
In early 20th century Espoo was just a rural municipality but grown rapidly after WWII with construction of new towns like Tapiola suburb. At that time Swedish speaking inhabitants were the majority but now it’s only 9% that speak Swedish language.
Although the metro line will arrive in Espoo the upcoming years we took bus 105 from Kamppi bus station in Helsinki. Espoo is a bit confusing with several different regional centers so we asked the driver to stop at TAPIOLAN KESKUS, we dropped off walked 100m up where there was a mall with some café and restaurants at ground floor so we stopped there for a coffee break and then walked 300m up again we to visit EMMA(Espoo Museum of Modern Art) that is located at WeeGee center (it includes other museums too). If you like churches you may want to check St.Herman Alaskan church in Tapiola. Except Tapiola you may want to visit Keilaniemi for Nokia, Otaniemi for Aalto University etc
As expected we didn’t get excited with Espoo, a big city with ugly buildings that seems boring for the average tourist and hard to navigate without a car so you better have a strict plan of what you want to see. Ok it’s an important business town but who really cares when on holidays, the only things that really worth are the parks and lakes outside the residential Espoo, then you will really enjoy the area, you can take one of the walking trails in Nuuksio National park (bus 28 from Leppävaara for southern part or bus 85A from Espoo Centre to Kattila for the eastern or northern parts) or visit some of the lakes, we visited Bodom lake where we had great time going fishing etc
Espoo is not actually in Helsinki. It's one of the towns next to it. I lived here at one time. There's not much to see in Espoo though it does have some nice scenery and sea inlets and a lovely old cathedral.
Espoo Cathedral is a mediaeval stone church in Central Espoo. It dates from the 1480s. The church became a cathedral in 2004. There is a pretty graveyard around the cathedral. There are some interesting frescoes on the cathedral walls.
Helsinki's Central Train Station is served by three trains from Russia per day. Two of them serve St. Petersburg (Sibelius, Repin) and an over-night train (Tolstoi) serves Moscow.
The arrival or departure of these trains is an interesting event for people watching. Especially the Russian carriage attendants in their uniforms are well worth taking a photo.
In the centre of the park, on top of the cliff stands an observatory. It was designed by C.L. Engel and built in 1833. The site, which is called Tähtitorninmäki (Observatory Hill) provides a panorama of the whole city and the surrounding archipelago. You can also see the Market Square, Katajanokka island and the Suomenlinna sea fortress.
Nearby is also the memorial of A.E. Nordenskiöld who was the explorer who discovered the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This is not just some minor trade route we are talking about, but seriously could save a lot money in the future if this route becomes navigable for commercial shipping!!!
When you climb up the hill from the direction of the Market Square, you'll come across the memorial to the Hapsburg shipwreck victims, designed by Gunnar Finne in 1939. Right next to the memorial is the German church. If you follow the path closest to the shore, you'll see the bronze Statue of the Shipwrecked, designed by Robert Stigell in 1897.
Just west of the city centre is Seurasaari Island, home to one of Finland's better-known open air museums. Founded in 1909, it has a wide collection of traditional Finnish houses, manors and outbuildings. Considering the size of the island, you will likely get hungry, thirsty or maybe just tired after or during) your exploration of Seurasaari. Fortunately, you can stop at the island's appropriately-themed cafe, set up in a small shed, and enjoy some traditional Finnish pastries and drinks or, better yet, bring a picnic.
The site is open year-round, but you must purchase a ticket if you want to go inside the buildings (the highlight of which is undoubtedly the Kahiluoto Manor, home to a wealthy family in the late 17th/early 18th century).
Seurasaari itself is open all year round, but the museum buildings are only open in summer: daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from June to August, and Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of September. Located 4 km from the city centre, it can be reached with bus 24 (stops on Mannerheimintie and Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu).
Arabia is a Finnish porcelain company that has been established in Helsinki since 1873. The old factory is still operational today, and you can visit the Arabia Museum on the 9th floor of the building.
As part of the Helsinki Design Museum, the Arabia Museum focuses on the evolution of porcelain design over the course of Arabia's history and presents a large collection of items covering all periods.
To complete your journey through Finnish design, there is an Iittala outlet beside the elevators where you can shop for home products made by some famous Finnish brands such as Iittala, Fiskars, Arabia and Hackman. In notoriously expensive Finland, the prices here are hard to beat.
From the city centre, take tram 6 or 8 and get off at "Arabia," which is the last stop. As soon as you get off, you will recognize the building a little further ahead. The Arabia Museum is open Wednesday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (In the summer, it is also open Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.) The Iittala outlet is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday form 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..
Helsinki only emerged as a major city in the 19th century, and as such, has very few of the old buildings typically associated with European cities. For a spectacular change of scenery, take a day trip to nearby Porvoo -- one of only six medieval towns of Finland, and according to some sources, one of only three with any traces of its medieval past remaining (Rauma and Naantali are the others, but are much further from Helsinki).
The compact Old Porvoo district is dominated by the 15th century Porvoo Cathedral, where Finnish celebrities such as Mika Hakkinen and Jari Kurri have been married. However, the highlight is the row of red wooden storehouses along the Porvoo River, which has been nominated (but not yet recognized) as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best views are from the western bank of the Porvoo River.
Aside from Old Porvoo, the main site of interest for tourists is probably the former home of J. L. Runeberg, who is considered the national poet if Finland. The mid-19th century building, which has been operating as a museum since 1882, is on Aleksanterinkatu 3, three blocks south of the old town, in the heart of the old Neo-Classical neighbourhood dating back to the day sof the Russian Empire. Just go down Runeberginkatu until you reach a large yellow wooden house.
You can take the bus and -- in the summer -- the boat from Helsinki to Porvoo. From our experience, the 3½-hour boat ride was a bit long and took away from the time we would have preferred to spend exploring the old town. Still, if you want to take the boat, there are two companies with near-daily departures from the Helsinki Market Square (facing the Presidential Palace) at 10 a.m. and 10:05 a.m., respectively. Conversely, buses to Porvoo leave the central bus station every 15-30 minutes and complete the journey in about 1 hour at less than half the price. Your best option depends on what you want out of your day.
Pihlajasaari (which translates as "Rowan Island") is the name of an outdoor recreational area covering two islands that are connected by a bridge, just off the coast of Helsinki. It is a very popular summer destination for locals, but is largely ignored by tourists.
Pihlajasaari can only be reached by boat. The JT-Line company offers hourly departures from Merisatama (on the waterfront just west of Kaivopuisto) and Ruoholahti (which I am mentioning for information purposes only, since it is a more residential district). Schedules can be found here: http://www.jt-line.fi/eng/pihlajasaari_aikataulut.htm.
On the west island, where the boats dock, a former villa has been converted into a restaurant that is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from mid-May to August. There is also a public beach beside the docking area. The east island has less conventional attractions, such as World War I fortifications and a nudist beach (one of only two in all Finland).
In fact, part of the fun of Pihlajasaari is walking the many hiking trails and discovering where they will take you next: a sweeping view of the beautiful Eira District, an old building, a craggy rock formation, etc. On a beautiful summer day, you can't go wrong by coming to Pihlajasaari, it has something for everyone.
Squirrels rule the vast, final resting place of some of biggest names in Finnish history: from legendary General C. E. G. Mannerheim and long-time president Urho Kukkonen to architect Alvar Aalto and painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela, not to mention Moomins creator/author Tove Jansson, they are all here. As you would expect with most cemeteries, it is very peaceful, but the abundance of trees and the relatively remote location of the parking lots -- near the Old and New Chapels -- accentuate that feeling.
You can also easily reach the cemetery on foot by walking the entire length of Arkadiankatu, which starts across the street from the Central Post Office and Railway Station at Mannerheimintie. If you prefer using public transit, take tram 8 and get off at "Marian Sairaala," which is near the Old Chapel at the southern end of the cemetery.
The Hietaniemi Cemetery office, located on Hietaniemenkatu 20 (northwest section of the cemetery), is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. If you are looking for a gravestone in particular, this is surely the best place to get some advice. There are some signs here and there in the cemetery, but I have yet to find a reliable printed map.
Hietaniemi Cemetery is bordered by a Russian Orthodox cemetery to the south (across Lapinlahdentie), a Jewish cemetery to the north (across Hietaniemenkatu) and... a beach to the northwest.
The Hakaniemi district of Helsinki has given its name to both a market hall and a market square.
Dating back to 1914, the Hakaniemi Market Hall is a two-story building housing the various stalls commonly found in farmers' markets. Finnish souvenirs are sold on the second floor. If you can't stand the summer tourist crowds at the Market Square facing the harbour, this is an excellent place to avoid them, and it's not that far from the city centre. It is only about one kilometre from the Helsinki Cathedral; you can walk a straight line north along Unioninkatu, the Pitkäsilta Bridge and Siltasaarenkatu and get there there in 10-15 minutes. Conversely, trams 1, 3T/3B, 6 and 7 and the metro all have stops at Hakaniemi.
The Market Square in front of the Market Hall has a number of local produce vendors and grills. It becomes especially lively on the first Sunday of each month with its "country people's market," which is essentially an open-air flea market.
Market Hall: Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Market Square: Monday-Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (+ country people's market once a month)
If you are visiting Helsinki in winter, or are simply looking for something to do on a cold, rainy day, the Serena water park may be the thing for you. Actually located in Espoo, a suburb of Helsinki, it has indoor water slides, saunas, heated pools and many other amenities.
There are also some outdoor water slides, which must be great on hot summer days. They looked so attractive that we tried out the tube slides in spite of the rain and 10-degree temperature outside... and predictably caught a cold. But it was well worth it and we would gladly do it all over again!
The address of Serena Water Park is: Tornimäentie 10, 02970 Espoo, Finland. From the Kamppi bus terminal in central Helsinki, it is a 30-40-minute bus ride aboard bus 339T, which will drop you off in front of Serena.
Check the schedule before going. Outside the summer months, Serena is generally open only on weekends and holidays. Operating hours are 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
At the far east end of Helsinki is one of the city's best-kept secrets: Aurinkolahti Beach. Set against the backdrop of a recent residential project, this 700-metre long strip of sand is very much enjoyed by locals in the summer time. The nearby marina contributes to make this area the "Miami of Helsinki."
To appreciate the urban landscaping of the area, go to the east end of the beach, where you will find a series of bridges laid out over a canal as well as a wooded area that local residents are trying to protect against further development. Hopefully it will still be around for many years.
Aurinkolahti Beach is accessible by public transit. Take the metro all the way to Vuosaari station, which is the terminal of the southern branch. From there, you can either take the 78 bus to Gustav Pauligin katu or walk south (1 kilometre) along a path going through a series of residential parks until you reach Aurinkoranta, then turn left.
Considered an absolute gem amongst the local residents when it comes to local and some international delicacies. You can find pretty much anything from reindeer meat to fresh seafood, bakery products, olives and other delicacies.
Hakaniemi market hall was built in 1914. You can find 70 shops indoors spread over 2 floors.
On ground floor you'll find delicacies, including meat, bakery products and fish. First floor houses typical Finnish souvenirs including authentic gifts from Lapland, clothes, fabrics, and wooden handicrafts
Try lunchtime soup at a tiny little stall called Soppakeittiö (or Tapaste Soppakeittiö) on the ground floor. Bouillabaisse is apparently one of the best you can find. I had it in August 2012 and it was very nice indeed.
American Airlines wrote a small review of Soppakeittiö as well: (http://helsinki.cityseekr.com/venue/347651-tapaste-oy-soppakeitti6)
"More properly called a soup shop than a restaurant, Tapaste is a local secret you don't want to miss. With only two small, communal tables and a counter tucked into a stand in Hakaniemi Market Hall, this operation is tiny, charming, and mouth-wateringly good. Three soups (generally one fish, one meat, and one vegetarian; EUR5-7.50) are prepared daily, and served speedily with hearty Finnish bread and EUR1 beers. For a real glimpse of Helsinki life, snag a seat at the counter and enjoy the stream of shoppers and sellers over a bowl of salmon soup."
Mon — Fri 08.00 — 18.00
Saturday 08.00 — 16.00
The easiest way to find the market hall is by taking the metro from the Central Railway Station to Hakaniemi metro station.
It was our 15th wedding anniversary, and we wanted something little more "special" than usually, and...more
Located on Pohjoisesplanadi, in the heart of Helsinki, Hotel Kämp is one of the city's most...more
Hotel Hilton Kalastajatorppa is an excellent place for those who wants something comfortable and...more