Fuel your belly and soul
1. Old Market Hall
If you love markets as much as I do, you can’t miss Helsinki’s Old Market Hall. Buy fresh salmon from one of the stalls to bake back at your apartment (don’t forget to ask them to throw in some fresh dill). You will also find canned reindeer and lingonberry tea, both of which are must-tries when in Helsinki.
Even if you are not hungry, stop by the Soup Kitchen for a hot bowl of soup that will nourish your soul and keep you warm in the coldest of days. They have three soups of the day to choose from and trust me, you would be planning to go back upon your first sip.
Looking for a fancy restaurant that showcases local produce? Grön is one of the best options. The menu is inspired by seasonal, organic, wild, Scandinavian produce. Choose either the vegan or non-vegan menu and let the chefs bring you the best that nature has to offer!
Breakfast at Kuuma is a great way to people watch and be part of the local scene. Order their almond croissant, avocado toast, and super green smoothie. A word of warning – they use Marimekko dining ware, which you can try (and fail) to resist buying for yourself later.
4. Cafe Regatta
Cafe Regatta has one of the best cinnamon rolls you would find in Helsinki. If you have some time to make your way down to the countryside, it will offer you a quaint experience that you can’t find elsewhere. At night, huddle around the rustic fireplace and barbeque some sausages!
5. Design District
The Design District gathers Finnish design and products in the heart of Helsinki. It is an area full of design and antique shops, fashion stores, museums, art galleries, restaurants and showrooms. Arm yourself with a map and explore!
6. Marimekko Outlet
Score some bargains at the Marimekko outlet. Even if you don’t find anything you like that’s on sale, you can get the latest season’s designs there as well. The best thing? It’s only about a 40-minute train ride from Helsinki center.
A fan of sneakers? Check out Karhu, a Finnish sports brand. You will surely find yourself a pair that will stand out in the world of Nike and Adidas. The brand has a long history after all. Fun fact: they sold their three-stripes trademark to Adidas in 1951.
Marvel at nature
8. Nuuksio National Park
Helsinki is surrounded by nature and national parks, it would be a waste to miss it. Nuuksio National Park is just 45 minutes away from the centre of Helsinki and offers hiking routes with breathtaking views for all fitness levels.
Pack lots of water, hot tea, and snacks to enjoy during breaks. You can also rent kayaks, rowboats, bicycles, and more at start points. For seasoned hikers, you can even stay in the park by renting a cabin or tentsile!
Enjoy the Finns’ favourite pastime
9. Löyly Sauna
As Singaporeans growing up in heat and humidity, the last thing a lot of us want is to get toasted in a room. But Löyly isn’t just another sauna. Besides being a modern architecture marvel, it offers unbeatable views, traditional smoke and wood-burning saunas, and a truly unique atmosphere. It stands as a proud symbol of how important sauna bathing is to Finns.
A quote on their website says it all – “Sauna bathing is an essential part of Finnish culture and national identity. There are only 5.4 million Finns but 3.3 million saunas.”
After sauna bathing, take a dip in the open sea if you dare!
10. Allas Sea Pool
One of Helsinki’s most famous attractions, Allas Sea Pool offers more than amazing saunas and pools. Dipping in the heated pool one minute and the sea water pool in another is fun but interesting events (think skinny dip night and moonlight swim) would make your experience there even more unforgettable.
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