We are now on day 12 of this Nordic Adventure and have 8 more days to go. Helesinki is our first stop and we spent two days here. Next we will do a day trip in Tallin, Estonia and then roadtrip to Turku, Tampere, Jyvaskla, Kuopio, Savonlinna and Porvoo and back to Helsinki to fly home.
This was my first visit to Finland, so I was pretty excited to see what its capital city had to offer. Helsinki is located in southern shore of the Gulf of Finland in the Uusimaa region. It is the most populous urban city in Finland and is the centre of politics, culture, finance, education and research. It is quite a lively city, know for its international cuisines and large amount of green areas.
Our first day in Helsinki was quite relaxed and low key . We spent quite a large chunk of the day at the Museum of Finland and did a bit of window shopping. It was quite a lot cheaper, compared to Norway and Sweden. We were able to use the Euro, which was alot kinder to our Australian dollar and eating out was also much more reasonable.
The first thing we did when we arrived by ship to Helsinki was drop our baggage off to our apartment. We were greet lovely older Finish lady, who was the mother of our AirBnb host. I believe her daughter was also away, but she was very helpful and made us feel at home. This was one of our favourite apartments. It was clean, modern, spacious and came with plenty of toys that really came in handy.
We then made out way out for the day on foot. Our first stop was the Temppeliaukio Rock Church. This church was designed by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and was quarried out of a natural bed rock. Inside it has exposed rock and concrete beans and a copper dome room. Its meant to be one of the most spectular things to see in Helsinki. Unfortunately it was closed to the public today, which was a Sunday. I don’t remember why exactly, but it would normally be open and it cost 3 euro for adults. You can see some photos here. So we continued along our way toward the National Museum of Finland.
By this stage we were quite hungry, so I planned a stop at Café Huvila for brunch. It is located between the National Museum and Finlandia Hall. We actualy got lost trying to find it, because when you cross the road towards the Finlandia Hall you need to go right towards down a walking track. This track brings you to the Hakasalmenpuisto park, which looks like an English-style courtcard. In the park there are two buildings, the Empire style Villa Hakasalmi (Aurora’s Villa) and Café Huvila. The cafe use to be a baking cottage for the villa and was built in 1847. The garden is quite beautiful with blooming flowers and the cafe is also very cute inside. There were some renovations going on during our visit, so there wasn’t a full lunch menu. However, they did have plenty of delicious quiches (piiras) and cakes and the fridge as well as coffee.
So for lunch we ordered Valimeren piiras (Meditarian pie) with vegetables and feta and Kinkkupiiras (ham pie), which both came with a bonus salad. For dessert we ordered oatmilk cappuccinos and Lakka-Mansikka Mousse Kakku (strawberry sponge cake with mousse). Everything was really so fresh, delicious and lite.
Sightseeing and shopping
Next we visted the National Museum of Finland and we spent quite a few hours there. Some of the highlights include the Barbie exhibition, Finish Prehistory and Middle Ages collections and the kid’s Workshop Vintti. Since I took so many photos I will write a separate post for this visit. I will say that it was quite a fantastic museum and well worth the price of admission.
After we were finished at the museum we continued along Mannerheimintie (main road) and followed it all the way into the centre of Helesinki. We came across many statues along the way that represent previous Finish Presidents, as well as the Helsinki Music Centre and Parliment House. By this time it should of been leading into the peak, but it was so quiet on the roads and not many people were walking around.
Once we got into the city we did some shopping in Kamppi neighbourhood, which is in downtown Helsinki. Here you can find big malls like Forum and Kamppi Shopping Centre, many boutiques and restaurants. During the summer the popular Hietalahti flea market is also held here, but I think we were a bit early for it.
One of the big attractions in this district is the the Kamppi Chapel of Silence. Unfortunate it too was closed when I tried to visit it. But you can see some photos here. Even though it looks extremely odd in the Narinkkatori Square, the circular design is quite impressive. It was designed by K2S Architects, made of Finnish timber and is completely windowless. This church is not used for weddings, baptisims, or even church services. Rather it is a place for people to escape the busy streets and have a moment of Silence. It is open to peoples of all faiths, philosophies or background.
The last stop for the day was dinner at 6k Foodmarket, under the Kamppi Shopping Centre (level E). This is the perfect place to stop by for a cheap eats, with a variety of options for everyone. 6K offers 6 different food stalls, with different cuisines and vegan/vegetarian options. Since our visit a couple of stalls have changed. The current the stalls include: Saint Tortillas, Mad Wok (Chinese), Street Gastro (Finish sandwiches), Indonesian Kitchen, Fisu & Ranet (fish and chips) and Bun2Bun Burgers (vegan burgers). The prices are also pretty reasonable costing around 10-15 euro each and you can some of these stalls in other locations across the city as well.
So with so many options we decided to share a few dishes. We got the Vegan Eggplant Seitan with rice, pickled cucumber and fried pak choi from Mad Wok; Coconut Ginger Chicken (yellow ginger-curry sauce) with Coconut rice from Kimchi Wagon; Fish’n Chips (cod) with remoulade and hernepyree (pea puree) and a Dry Apple Cider from Fisu & Ranet. The serves were all pretty large, so there was plenty for all three of us. My favourite was probably the curry and the eggplant. They were all pretty good and it was nice to have something Asian after eating local Scandavian food for the past couple of weeks.
Thats all for today. I told you it was lay back! Next I will take you to the Museum of Finland and one more day in Helsinki before heading off to Tallin and our Finnish roadtrip.