a long weekend in 'too perfect' HelsinkiTuesday, April 29, 2014
Over Easter weekend hubby and I headed to Helsinki, the capital of Finland for a very much needed break from work, moving house and life in general.
It was our first time to Finland, so expectations were mixed - though being part of Scandinavia I thought things would run well, be a little on the expensive side and hopefully well designed. We decided to take things very leisurely, which was good planning since on the whole Helsinki was very quiet and rather chilled.
We started out our Finland weekend exploring the city by foot...
... and went for a stroll down the Esplanade park - a pedestrian only boulevard street that leads from down town all the way to Market Square. Being April the trees were still quite bare, but that didn't seem to put off locals, many who were out and about enjoying a coffee and people watching. In Summer I believe there's lots of fun events held on the Esplanade, including live music and fashion shows.
Next we circled round Market Square, pausing to admire the water front, and surrounding buildings and then back into town.
Helsinki has lots of open spaces, with paved squares and green spaces dotted all over the map. There's also an abundance of creativity and art. Although again, even on a Saturday I found this city surprisingly quiet and wondered how this city was doing so well when so much seemed to be closed?
Maybe I'm too used to London, but I was constantly wondering - where are all the people??
We also spied some lovely street murals and had a chuckle at local restaurant humour....
Next stop was Helsinki's famous Design District. We spent a whole lovely afternoon wandering through the streets, visiting tiny independent galleries and doing the odd spot of shopping. All of this was of course fuelled by the never ending supply of coffee along our route.
And you can't visit Helsinki without stopping off at the Design Museum. The permanent exhibition here showcases classic Finnish design from the second half of the 19th century to our present day and is really worth a visit. There's so many common household objects that we use today that originated in this country. The exhibition has just the right amount of content to keep you interested and engaged.
... so we did the same. Picked up yet some more coffee and buns and enjoyed the sunshine.
Then we walked a bit more and enjoyed some beer...
And, well basically spent a day café hopping. It was lovely.
What else? One of Helsinki's most famous attractions is Temppeliaukio, also known as Rock church. The interior walls of this circular church are made from naturally forming rock. It was rather modern and beautiful as far as churches go. Rock on!
On our last day we caught the 15 minute ferry over to Suomenlinna Sea Fortress - Finland's number one tourist attraction. Originally a military site, the fortress now acts more as a popular picnic site, and in 1991, Suomenlinna was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can spend a good half day at least exploring the island.