I have always wanted to tick off a visit to Finland. The Nordic countries is such a beautiful part of the earth with fresh air and clean water, friendly faces and is also statistically the happiest people in the world. I have yet to explore every country thoroughly, but having had a taste of every city only gives me a good reason to come back for more. On my last trip before heading back to Sydney I decided to visit Helsinki, Finland for a weekend. It was so much fun and I compiled almost everything into this guide! The city has castles by the sea, swans, frozen lakes and great city life. It was the perfect way to end my trip in Europe and I got to spend it together with my boyfriend. Here is a little city guide on all the things we did and recommendations of Helsinki!
How to get there?
On the 28 hours long flight back to Sydney (with two connecting flights) I decided to break it up. I flew with Finnair which is the flag carrier and largest airline of Finland. My first connecting flight was via Helsinki and through the airlines stopover program I was able to book a weekend stay. The inflight experience with Finnair was very comfortable and convenient. I had champagne for dinner and watched the movies Suicide Squad and La La Land.
How was the weather in March?
It was almost the same as in Norway, but a little bit milder. I was layering up with a lot of clothes (sweater, leather jacket, coat, gloves, hat) to keep myself warm, but the sun was shining and the air is refreshing.
Where to stay?
Hilton Helsinki Strand is one of the best lifestyle hotels I have stayed at in Europe so far. Upon arrival, we got upgraded to a big suite with panoramic sea views.Our bedroom was huge, but we also had a separate living area for dining, a reading couch and velvet khaki sofas. The interior was the perfect mixture of modern and artistic and had lots of natural sunlight. We saw so many fishermen every morning carving a hole in the ice and fish, so my boyfriend and I decided to slide into the baltic sea ourselves just for the fun of it. Imagine how funny it would be if one of us fell through the ice?
On our first morning we had breakfast in bed and got served fresh orange juice, amazing yoghurt and fruit platters. Life felt so good with the sunlight peeking in from the window.
The day after we visited BRO restaurant for breakfast. I did not find the variation of dishes as good as the day before, but the salmon dish was so satisfyingly good I had to go back for several rounds.
Guest who are staying in suites also gets access to the executive lounge. On our first night we decided to stay in for dinner and enjoyed the evening buffet with lots of good wine. Location wise it was walking distance to the city centre, but you are also only footsteps away from public transport. From the airport the bus stopped right next to the hotel which was very convenient. A great base to explore the city. I would highly recommend the stay to everyone.
Where are the sightseeing spots?
Katariinankatu is probably the most photogenic spot that I found in Helsinki. The colourful pastel buildings were so cute and looked like it was taken from the Moomin family world. I went back twice for a photo, but everywhere in Helsinki you are able to view the best aesthetic streets.
Kamppi Chapel of Silence is located on the Narinkka Square and is a place where people go to have a moment of silence. It is the middle of a high traffic area and when you get in there all noise are blocked out. Very fascinating!
Market Square The stalls in the Market Square sells food, clothes and art pieces. It is the most famous market in the city and just a short walk from the Helsinki cathedral.
Library Helsinki Finland. A very quiet library for students to come and study. What so nice about this library is the spiral staircase that has the appearance of continuously moving. Very futuristic in my opinion!
Where to dine?
Our visit to Finland was all about food and my taste buds had an excellent experience in Helsinki. Every meal was top notch.
Friends & Brgrs Mikonkatu 8 Our first meal in Helsinki was at a top-recommended burger restaurant just a few minutes walk from our hotel. It is a burger chain that makes all their burgers fresh every day and offers view to the city. I love that they go by the policy “no frozen beef” I had an aioli burger, while Thien had a “Burger Of The Day”. It was super delicious and mouth-watering and amazing. I want to go back so bad!
Karl Fazer Café, Kluuvikatu 3 is a personal favourite place for brunch. I ordered a chicken pesto baguette with Saigon tea and my boyfriend ordered a Ginger Joe beer to compliment his salmon sandwich.
Gaijin,Bulevardi 6 We arrived at Gaijin with no reservation beforehand and got placed next to the cocktail-maker. Throughout the evening we was entertained by the gentleman who made the coolest drinks. We ordered a set seven course menu and all dishes were absolutely divine. Each plate had a different fusion taste to it and was presented so delicate. It was a thrilling food experience for our taste buds. Great atmosphere, amazing food and serviceminded staff made our entire experience the best. I highly recommend this spot for fancy dining.
Sweet As Sugar Story..
Löyly, Hernesaarenranta 4 On the way to Löyly, we walked past a food trucks area. One of the trucks was very popular, so we decided to make an order there. After the breakfast I was not as hungry, so we decided to share. Sounds normal, right? However, what I did not predict (when tasting the insanely delicious burger) was the hunger for more. It was SO good! FYI, My boyfriend has diabetes and he has to inject himself before all meals to balance his blood sugar. Since I did not realise I had eaten way too much than what I originally planned to, his blood sugar started to drop. Because of that we had to hurry and buy more food for him. It could have gone very bad, but it is safe to say I am definitely not winning “Girlfriend Of The Year.” However, the overpriced salmon soup was refreshing in the winter sun.
How to get around?
We took the public light rail a lot as it stopped right outside our hotel, but we also used UBER a few times. It is very east to understand the system and you buy the tickets from the conductor in the front of the train before you sit down. Just remember to know your destination before you buy a ticket as if you do not know the bus operator will charge you for the entire journey from start to end. That sucks!
I was very lucky to have my Finnish followers recommend the must-go places for dining and sightseeing. So much history, cute shops and great food. Finland is truly such a beautiful place, I wish I had the time to explore more parts of the country. Sleeping in Iglo’s, pet the reindeers and see the northern lights is definitely on my bucket list. Hopefully it will not be long until next time! ♥