A Helsinki Weekend with Friends
Helsinki is a compact capital city perfectly suited for a weekend exploration. Finnish design, a booming restaurant scene, a variety of bars and great shopping are things that might just make you repeat your visit.
Helsinki is a convenient city: all the essentials for a weekend city break are within walking distance, and further sightseeing is easily done by hopping on one of the city’s iconic trams. Here are a few tips on how to make the best out of your stay.
Dig into design
Finland is globally renowned for its linear and simplistic design, a reason why the city earned the World Design Capital title for the year 2012.
There are a number of opportunities to explore the wide spectrum of Finnish design in Helsinki: tours of the Design Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma, are good starting points.
Finland is also home to design brand Marimekko, known for its printed fabrics as well as clothing and accessories. Pop into one of their stores for classics and the latest in style.
Shop in centres and boutiques
Shopping in Helsinki often starts at Stockmann, the country’s most famous department store, which prides itself on its massive selection. In case you’re wondering about the crowds in front of the main entrance, “under the clock” is the city’s most popular meeting point.
Shopping centres Kamppi and Forum offer the usual range of shopping from clothing to electronics and sports equipment in the city centre.
On the streets just outside the main shopping areas, Fredrikinkatu for instance, a range of charming boutiques sell everything from vintage furniture to records, clothes and shoes.
Taste the culinary excellence
Many haute cuisine restaurants will take you through the Finnish culinary experience, among them Ateljé Finne, Olo, Kolme Kruunua, and Kosmos.
A visit to restaurant Sea Horse, established in 1934, gives you an interesting whiff of Helsinki a few decades ago. The charmingly named Grotesk is recommended in the summer for a dinner in its lovely courtyard.
Get off your feet in cafés, bars and parks
For the best view in town, have a drink in the Ateljee Bar of Restaurant Torni, located on the top floor of one of the city’s tallest buildings.
Back down on the ground, Helsinki’s numerous parks are where young people get together for picnics in the summertime. Head to the Kaisaniemi, Esplanade or Sinebrychoff parks to see how locals chill out.
Perhaps the best-known park in Helsinki is the Kaivopuisto park in “the better part of town”, right by the Baltic Sea. At the Kaivopuisto marina, ice cream stands, bars and cafés – among them the extremely popular Mattolaituri – are great for enjoying refreshments with a view over the Baltic and the small rocky islands just off the coast.
Mingle with Finns
Market places and halls are excellent for tasting local food, mingling and people watching. Try the Market Square, or the Hakaniemi and Hietaniemi market halls, for traditional snacks and a feel of local culture.
Finns are considered quiet and reserved, which is partly true. However, if you want to see locals breaking the stereotype, then head to a karaoke bar where Finns, young and old, sing their hearts out. You might just make new friends and carry on partying in some of Helsinki’s variety of bars and clubs.
Helsinki is a modern pocket-sized European city of culture that is known for its design and high technology. Helsinki’s attractive and unique character comes from its proximity to the sea, which offers an endless number of exciting opportunities in summer and winter alike.