First thing’s first… Finland is cold.
Whenever we’re in a new city we love to explore. Sometimes though, when passing through, we just don’t have the time to see everything.
On a recent trip to Helsinki, I found myself with a morning free, a wallet that was NOT prepared for the price of wine, and a heart full of adventurous spirit, so off I set.
We were staying slightly outside the city centre, one stop on the train and about four stops on the tram. The tram is a really handy, if slightly slow, addition to the landscape of Helsinki. It can be quite confusing but know that the Finnish people are incredibly helpful and most speak impeccable English, ask for help… it goes a long way.
The first thing we wanted to visit was The Helsinki Cathedral, a beautiful landmark right in the center of the city. Built in the neoclassical style in 1830 and located in the Kruununhaka neighborhood, it’s truly a sight to behold. Originally built as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, religious events are still carried out here and it’s a huge draw for tourists.
It’s also an incredible location to take a good ‘jump’ shot;
Sufficiently jumped out, we were HUNGRY.
Having heard of Market Square and with not a drop of roaming on our phones, we were determined to find it. The snow had started to fall but we persevered with the promise of coffee and meat pies on the horizon.
After a few failed attempts, we followed our instincts (food noses) and found ourselves at the South Harbour at one end of the Esplanade Park. The Market Square is Helsinki’s most international and famous market, what sets it apart are the traditional food offerings and the handmade crafts which are unique to Finland.
Word of warning, there is a huge amount of fur and reindeer bone on offer, which is a little offputting if you’re a lover of animals, but also understandable given the mild frostbite we were experiencing in our toes. I think we were some of the only people not wearing fur in Helsinki that day.
The Market Square lived up to its name with a huge amount of delectable fresh fish on offer, as well as dribble inducing fruit and veg. When the snow really started to fall, we ran into the closest boat/tent/cafe place we could find. This place turned out to be so authentically Finnish we couldn’t cope. Selling ‘
When the snow really started to fall, we ran into the closest boat/tent/cafe place we could find. This place turned out to be so authentically Finnish we couldn’t cope. Selling ‘lihapiirakka‘ (which literally translates to meat pie) and hot coffee we were in heaven.
Another place on your whistlestop tour which is a must see is the Helsinki Central Train Station, we literally stumbled on this while taking a train (doh) and it was well worth it.
The masks that adorn the statues are not always there and look a little creepy if we’re being honest. They’re in tribute to the members of the KISS rock band, and they will be gone by the middle of May (the masks not the statues).
Helsinki is expensive. We wanted to grab a pizza and found a lovely little place just off the main square at the train station. One of our group opted for a large glass of wine and it cost €19.80… to say our jaws dropped is an understatement.
You can actually fit a huge amount of walking around and sightseeing in just a few hours, Helsinki has some breathtaking cityscapes and it’s well worth a visit.
You can find out more information here.
And if the price of wine is too terrifying, you can always hop on a boat and head to Estonia, Tallinn is about an hour away… result!