I am on a mission to visit all the Nordic countries.
Considering I lived in Denmark and visited neighbouring Sweden and Norway two years ago, there were just a couple left to check off my list. So when I found out that my coworker Melissa was jetting off to Finland for the August long weekend, I invited myself along.
Helsinki is interesting. I don’t think it’s as charming as Stockholm or as creative as Copenhagen, but it’s definitely got a unique character that neither of those do. It’s the only European capital without a medieval past – and even after visiting nearly 20 European countries, I’ll have to admit I am a sucker for old town squares, cobblestone streets and towering churches. Therefore, I wasn’t particularly impressed with Helsinki’s architectural beauty, but it surely has attractive features that make it perfect destination for a weekend trip.
After all, put me in any city with a harbour and I’ll be happy and snappy!
Mel and I landed in Helsinki and headed straight for a traditional Finnish sauna, stopping at the much-recommended Sandro for a quick bite. We arrived between lunch and dinner and normally would have been turned away, but the friendly owner whipped up an impromptu sandwich for us followed by tasty desert courtesy of one of the servers we befriended.
On our sightseeing day, we were greeted with pouring rain. It didn’t manage to dampen our spirits as we worked through our Helsinki checklist – more or less directly copied from 12hrs’ Helsinki travel guide.
We started off with some traditional Finnish pasties and coffee at Anton & Anton before checking out Temppeliaukion Kirkko, Helsinki’s famous “rock church”.
As an attempt to save ourselves from the pelting rain, we found shelter in the Old Market Hall along the South Harbor. I was expecting it to be a farmers market with pop-up sandwich shops, but it’s the fanciest food hall I have ever seen.
By late afternoon, our bellies and SD cards were full. So, we didn’t complain that it was time to catch our flight home. Helsinki is a great weekend getaway, especially if you are greeted with good weather. Unfortunately, we weren’t, but still tried to make the most of our time there.
During our trip, we also took a day trip to Tallinn – look out for that post next.