TRAVEL INSPIRATION: HELSINKI
When I think holiday I usually think sun, sea, sand (in that order), so it’s pretty unlikely Helsinki would ever feature on my bucket list…. but after seeing these images from Sam & Diana at Green Antlers Photography I could be convinced of an autumn visit to this gorgeously contemporary city!
Destination: Helsinki, Finland
Travel time: 2h 50min by plane (unless you choose to swim, in which case, good luck!)
Time of year: Spring
Where to stay? We stayed with friends, but there are lots of accommodation options all over the city
What to do? As we’ve never been before, we chose to do the basics and explore on our own a lot, so we see whatever everyone else was recommending as well.
Kamppi – Chapel of Silence
- A minimalist design for a wooden Lutheran chapel in the heart of Helsinki created to be a place where people can go in and calm down. One of the most beautiful and unique churches I have ever been into. Definitely worth a visit in this lifetime.
Rock Church ( Temppeliaukio)
A church from 1969 ( clearly a brilliant architect) built literally in solid rock, with a copper ceiling and awesome balcony (in lack of a better description). Because of its outstanding design, it has the most gorgeous natural light, just perfect for a wedding photographer. Dreaming of shooting a wedding in here one day!
Kiasma- Museum of Contemporary Art
Another uniquely designed building, representative for the nordic architecture. There is an entry fee but it’s free on Wednesdays, just so you know (of course we went there on a Tuesday). Enjoyed seeing one or two exhibits there but have to admit I would not go in again, if I had the chance. Robert Mapplethorpe’s exhibition was way to explicit and had to skip a few of the rooms. I guess art has different forms of expression and his just wasn’t my cup of tea. Great name for a museum though!
Designmuseo – Design Museum
- A museum dedicated to industrial design, fashion and graphic design. What I most enjoyed was seeing the process of thinking for product designers and their sketches. The ground floor was so nice, could imagine living there, but that’s about it for me. Not sure if it’s worth the ticket price but when in Helsinki, one should visit places like this, I guess.
Pohjoissatama North Harbour
I dare you to pronounce this right! This port is in the East of Helsinki and I jumped for joy (yes, I really did) when we discovered it just walking down the street. The first thing we found was a sort of hidden market, with sea food and little coffee shops. There wasn’t any clear sign for the market, but Sam saw one lady coming our from this random brick building, so we were intrigued what was inside. This is where I had my first oyster tasting experience and I fell in love. It was the most exciting and curious thing I have eaten in a long time (believe me, I do try all sorts of weird stuff) but nothing like the taste of the sea in your mouth.
A few steps further, there was another outdoor market just packing up, but one thing was left outside still- a basket full of antlers! We were clearly meant to be there. Never mind the adventure of actually taking it through check in, but luckily we did and it’s looking proudly on our wall, reminding us of Helsinki. As we were in the harbour, obviously we took photos of way too many boats and ships but the light was too good to resist.
Johan & Nyström – Coffee Shop
- A hipster’s dream! It felt just like home, on the streets of Shoreditch, where you can find creatively decorated coffee places perfect for those rainy days. Once we found it (completely by accident), we didn’t want to leave until we were the last ones in.
The interior was so nicely done. A warehouse conversion, right on one of Helsinki’s harbours with the red brick walls and huge wooden beams. A bike was hanging down from the ceiling, of course. Would definitely recommend this place anytime, almost made me want to drink coffee, that’s how cool it was.
It was the best place to end the evening and our travel experience in Helsinki, the city I’ve been so curious to visit and which left me with very mixed feelings. It’s such an interesting culture, feels more like a mix between the North and the Eastern influences.
What about culture? The culture is a fascinating mix between nordic influences and comunist reminiscence as Russia and Finland have lots of history. The sea food we had there was the most fresh and tasty I probably ever had. Other than that, we were very lucky to live with friends, which meant we didn’t have to go to restaurants and eat out a lot, as Helsinki is quite pricey.
How to get around? Helsinki is not a huge city. Coming from London, walking from North to the South of the city was like a walk in the park. We were amazed ourselves how far we’ve walked and how much we could see in only a day. Something you can’t really do in London, when dodging thousands of tourists. It was Easter holidays as well, so pretty much everything was closed most of the time, so we could focus on walking and walking and more walking
What to pack? Depending on the time of the year, gloves, a camera and good shoes for walking
Would you visit again? Next time we’ll visit the north of the country, as I feel I’ve seen what Helsinki has to offer.