Helsinki in a Day

Classic view of Helsinki - Market Square and Helsinki Cathedral

Classic view of Helsinki – Market Square and Helsinki Cathedral

On the way to visit my hometown in Finland, my boyfriend and I stopped in Helsinki for a night. Although our stay was short, I thought to share a few tips to make the most of Helsinki if you have only a little time. Please also see my earlier post about Helsinki where you can find a number of other recommendations.

Klaus K Hotel

We stayed one night in Klaus K Hotel in the middle of Helsinki city centre. Although Finland and the rest of Scandinavia is known for high end design, it has taken a while for true design hotels to land. The main majority of hotels in Helsinki revolve around chains, such as Scandic and Sokos, which are certainly comfortable but less interesting. For a design lover, I would recommend Klaus K. The decor and taste of the premises are impeccable. Scandi minimalism combined with design quirks with a loose association to a Finnish national epic, Kalevala.

Although the hotel rooms are nicely decorated, it is really in the hotel’s entrance and lobby where the design elements come to life. The reception has a glamorous white entrance desk with sophisticated light details. The nightclub is an interesting mix of classic club features like fluorescent staircase and loungy, comfy livingroom chicness. What I really liked about the bedrooms was not the decor but the Art Nouveau architecture that is so characteristic to Finland. It is in the thick window ceilings and frames and high rooms that I can definitely feel that I’m nowhere else than Finland. Likewise was the experience in Klaus K’s breakfast. Very high quality organic products were laid out in abundance for us to enjoy. After a Klaus K breakfast you won’t be graving for a lunch in a while!

It is probably true that Klaus K cannot compete in glamour and luxury in the same level as some boutique hotels in France and Italy but it certainly is a great place to stay for a city break in Helsinki. After all Klaus K is very comfortable and beautiful, centrally located and enjoys all amenities you might want from a short stay like a gym, spa and a nice restaurant.

Klaus K room interiors in a traditional Finnish Art Nouveau setting

Klaus K room interiors in a traditional Finnish Art Nouveau setting

Fabulous breakfast at Klaus K

Fabulous breakfast at Klaus K serving high quality organic products

Mattolaituri

As soon as the snow melts and evenings become longer Finnish people love to head to the terraces. One of the best ones in town is Mattolaituri just by the sea and close to the fabulous Kaivopuisto park. After a walk along the sea front or in Kaivopuisto it is very nice to stop for a drink at Mattolaituri and soak in the slow hum of a Finnish summer evening and, if you stay late enough, admire a fantastic sun set.

Mattolaituri terrace

Mattolaituri terrace

Sunset from Mattolaituri

Sunset from Mattolaituri

Helsinki Market Square

You may think that I’m crazy but as soon as my feet touch my motherland’s ground in the summer, all I can think of is where to get Finnish berries, and quickly! If you have tasted strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, red currants, black currants, cloudberries or lingonberries in Finland, you might know what I mean. There is nowhere in the world where berries grow so delicious and the best place to pick a litre or two (unless you have time to go to a berry farm or forest!) is the Helsinki Market Square.

The Market Square is worth a visit even if you aren’t after berries. The traders sell local produce products such as vegetables, honey and jams. There is also fresh seafood, baked goods, and some souvenirs on offer and you will be able to enjoy good lunch dishes like salmon and potatoes or even reindeer meat. In the market square cafes you can safely feel that some things just never change.

If you have time, there are many boat trips that start just next to the Market Square. They are a perfect way to enjoy the sea life and marvel at beautiful Helsinki archipelago.

Worth the wait every summer - Finnish strawberries and peas

Worth the wait every summer – Finnish strawberries, cherries and peas

IMG_4842

Traditional market square cafe never changes

Traditional market square cafe reassuringly never changes

Restaurant Fishmarket

For beautiful seafood Fishmarket is a great choice. It may feel a little touristy or business-like given its location next to some of the biggest banks in Helsinki but apart from that the atmosphere is warm in a modern dining room which is served by courteous waiters. Food in Fishmarket is very well prepared and nicely presented. Wine is of course very expensive, but remember, we are in Finland.

Unfortunately no pics from Fishmarket apart from the menu!

Unfortunately no pics from Fishmarket apart from the menu!

Design

Even if I’m on a short visit to Finland, I love to pop into the design shops to see what new is available or stock on my old staples like Iittala glassware or Arabia pots and pans. Helsinki city centre is perfect size for a little design tour as everything is a walking distance away and to a large extent located in the Helsinki Design District.

A few of shops worth a try are for example Iitala, timeless and elegant glassware, tableware and cookware, Kalevala Koru, which is a manufacturer of high quality Finnish jewellery, and Design Forum where you can see products from up-and-coming Finnish designers. Helsinki Design Museum is an excellent way to get an introduction to the Finnish design, its history and how it has influenced the culture of this Nordic country.

Iitala shop is Esplanadi

Iitala shop is Esplanadi

Kalevala Koru jewellery

Kalevala Koru jewellery

Design Forum

Design Forum

Helsinki Design Museum

Helsinki Design Museum

Cafe Regatta

My final tip for a short visit to Helsinki is Cafe Regatta. I love this little red quirky cottage by the sea in Meilahti with a little garden patio outside and delicious cinnamon bun smell inside. It is best reached during a bike ride as it’s a few kilometres away from the city centre. It is definitely worth the trek though as it’s the closest you can get to summer cottage life inside the city. Besides it is so refreshing to be somewhere so unpretentious in comparison to the trendy clones and Starbuck’s jungles you find in most cities.

Quirky little red cottage serves the best cinnamon buns you will ever eat

Quirky little red cottage serves the best cinnamon buns you will ever eat

Contacts:

Klaus K Hotel
Bulevardi 2-4, 00120 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 20 770 4700
Email: rooms@klauskhotel.com

Mattolaituri
Ehrenströmintie 3 A, 00140 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +00 45 119 6631

Helsinki Market Square
South Harbour, 00170 Helsinki, Finland
Opening times: Mon-Fri 6.30-18, Sat 6.30-16, during summer also Sun 10-17

Restaurant Fishmarket
Pohjoisesplanadi 17, 00170 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 9 6128 5250
Opening times: Mon-Sat 18:00 – 23:00

Iitala
Pohjoisesplanadi 25, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 (0)204 39 3501
Email: email shop.esplanadi-helsinki@iittala.com

Kalevala Koru
Pohjoisesplanadi 25 – 27, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 207 611 390
Email: espa@kalevalakoru.fi

Design Forum
Erottajankatu 7, 00130 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 9 6220 8130
Email: shop@designforum.fi

Helsinki Design Museum
Korkeavuorenkatu 23, 00130 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 9 622 0540
Email: info@designmuseum.fi

Cafe Regatta
Merikannontie 1o,
Tel: +358 40 076 0049
Opening times: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 23:00

(c) Nordic Odyssey 2013. All Rights Reserved.

3 responses to “Helsinki in a Day

  1. Oooh fantastic guide Kristiina, it all sounds fabulous. I’ve never been to Finland but it’s high on my travel wishlist, one day one day…

  2. Pingback: Seaside Capital Helsinki | Nordic Odyssey·

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