The capital of Finland, Helsinki, offers lots of art and entertainment experiences – and after the sauna you can cool off in the Baltic Sea.
Hotels in Helsinki
1. Hotel St George. Design can make you happy! 153 rooms and suites in noble simplicity, decorated with Finnish design icons. There is also a conservatory with a bar to hang out in, bathed in soft forest green light from Alvar Aalto’s legendary floor lamps. Fantastically decorated small “living rooms” open onto the lounge for a comfortable retreat. The internal bakery is located in the basement. DR / F from 258 euros (Yrjönkatu 13, Tel. +358/942 46 00 11, stgeorgehelsinki.com).
2. Haven Hotel. The small hotel overlooking the harbor is located opposite the city’s oldest market hall. The 137 rooms are cozy and comfortable, and you can also enjoy icy evenings in the cozy bar. The hotel has three restaurants, breakfast is served in the historic “Sundmann-Haus” from the 19th century. DR / F from 125 euros (Unionkatu 17, Tel. +358/968 24 28 40, hotelhaven.fi).
3. Lapland Hotels Bulevardi. Lapland is the motto of the house, the background music is played by the lamentable song of the Sami, and the moose controls the design: its fur warms the armchairs, its antlers hang over the beds, and its meat can be tasted for dinner. DR / F from 190 euros (Bulevardi 28, Tel. +358/16 32 32, laplandhotels.com).
Enjoy in Helsinki
4. Restaurant Savoy. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of honey-colored forests and velvety royal blues over the city’s roofs! Furniture, lamps and vases – all original Alvar Aalto. Be sure to order a “Vorschmack” (22 euros): Melange of beef and lamb, fried in the oven and mixed with chopped salted herring, served with mashed potatoes and sour cream; it is as classic as the restaurant (Eteläesplanadi 14, tel. +358/961 28 53 00, savoyhelsinki.fi).
5. Ravintola Gaijin. Gaijin is Japanese and means foreign. He is delighted with the Asian cuisine of the north – whether it is small salmon and shrimp buns with seaweed and caviar, followed by a sashimi variation with vintage sake or a Midori sour with lime. After all, the cozy modern restaurant is also a bar Sashimi tasting from 26 euros (Bulevardi 6, Tel. +358/10 32 29 386, gaijin.fi).
6. Finlandia Caviar Shop & Restaurant. Tasting Finnish licorice, trout, rockfish or mackerel roe is a fantastic experience. The small and large multicolored pearls are served on toast or in small bowls with sour cream and chives. Of course, it can also be real caviar, with champagne. No one needs to be afraid of the unknown – it starts from eight euros. Add a view of the harbor and enjoy hostess Valeria’s wonderful service (Eteläranta 20, Tel. + 358/10 58 1 78 10, finlandiacaviar.fi).
7. Hakaniemen Kauppahalli Market Hall. Do not miss the salmon soup (12.50 euros): it smells of dill and warms you. In “Hakaniemi Kauppahalli” you get a good overview of the Finns’ culinary preferences. If you want, you can taste birch sap and snack at Karelian pierogi (Hämeentie 1A, hakaniemenkauppahalli.fi).
Shopping in Helsinki
8. Ekberg 1852. Finns love rye bread, a specialty is rye biscuits with the hole in the middle or seed biscuits as a break. Boats and fresh bread are available in Helsinki’s oldest bakery and café (Bulevardi 9, Ekberg.fi).
9. Klaus Haapaniemi. His designs are like fairy tale pictures on silk dresses, towels, pillows or plaids. For Finland’s design brand Iittala, Haapaniemi painted owls and thorn princesses on porcelain (Kamp Galleria, Pohjoisesplanadi 33, klaush.com).
10. Sale. A glass cube kiosk where works of art by Russian craftsmen stand side by side. Aamu Song and Johan Olin have reinvented the matryoshkas: instead of the familiar embedded, red-cheeked dolls, they put together entire wood or sea worlds, toadstools, onions, fruit cocktails; from 80 euros (Postikatu 1, salakauppa.fi).
11. Artec. Much more than just a furniture store! Founded in 1935 by, among others, Alvar and Aino Aalto, you can still find the best design there today – Finnish and international, classics as well as new creations by Hella Jongerius or Konstantin Grcic. A nice place to browse (Keskuskatu 1B, artek.fi).
12. Fazer. Karl Fazer’s parents immigrated to Finland from Switzerland and brought the best milk chocolate in Northern Europe. Equally delicious is the salty toffee crunch and mint chocolate. Can be found all over the city and always in “Café Fazer” (Kluuvikatu 3, fazer.fi).
13. S Market. The Finns are far ahead when it comes to the environment: Not only do they really get all their empty bottles and cans recycled there, all 20 “S-Market” departments in the city have a happy hour every day from Products that are close to the end of their shelf life will be sold at a 60 percent discount.
Experience in Helsinki
14. Sauna + Restaurant Löyly. Finland without a sauna is unthinkable. “Löyly” is Helsinki’s most modern on the Baltic Sea, including a jetty to jump in after a sweat. The smart facility is owned by the Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen, and as is customary in Finland, swimwear is used for the sauna. In the restaurant you can eat Jasper’s salmon soup (19 euros). Two-hour sauna costs 19 euros (Hernesaarenranta 4, loylyhelsinki.fi).
15. Ateneum Art Museum. Finnish art is at home here – from the 19th century to today. Changing exhibitions, admission 18 euros (Kaivokatu 2, ateneum.fi).
16. The Design Museum. Design history is written in Helsinki: Eero Saarinen, Kaj Franck or Maija Isola – you can see them all here. Admission 12 euros (Korkeavuorenkatu 23, designmuseum.fi).
It takes so much time
… to walk through the Kallio district, this is Helsinki’s Prenzlauer Berg – with many cafés, restaurants and bars.
… to explore a couple of the 300 archipelago lakes – perhaps by excursion boat to Pihlajasaari or on foot over a bridge to Uunisaari.
More information at VisitFinland.com or www.hel.fi/helsinki/fi