Helsinki & surroundings

After Riga and Tallinn I continued my trip to Helsinki by ferry. It takes around two hours from Tallinn and I paid 17€ for it. In Helsinki I was visiting a friend who lives there. Luckily he had a car so we were pretty flexible and could do some awesome roadtrips.

Frozen river in Porvoo

On the first day we first went to Porvoo which is a small town with cute shops and cafés and pretty houses by the river. The weather was just perfect with 6°C and sunshine.

Porvoo

I suggested going to Kotka next because on Google Maps it was shown as the nearest city that was a bit bigger than the other villages. My friend was laughing and saying that Kotka is an ugly city. He didn’t have any better idea though so we went there anyways. When we got to Kotka it was as he’d described it and I thought there’s absolutely nothing to see.

View from the island Loutsi-Kuusinen

But then we discovered the small island Loutsi-Kuusinen which was connected to the mainland by a street. It looked like a little natural area and there was nobody else. As I’m a nature lover we parked our car and went for a walk, which was the best idea we had that day.

View from the island Loutsi-Kuusinen

We had to walk through ankle deep snow to get around but the view was rewarding. This place was so peaceful and calm and the view of the partly frozen ocean was beautiful.

View from the island Loutsi-Kuusinen

Halfway around the island my friend decided to return to the car because he didn’t want to keep walking through the snow that was getting a bit deeper. I wanted to explore the rest of the island though so we agreed to meet back at the car.

View from the island Loutsi-Kuusinen

It got harder to find a way around the trees and rocks but it was definitely worth it. This was the most beautiful place I had seen for a while, especially because it was so untouched. On the way back to the car I kind of lost the trail and ended up in snow that reached up to my knees. Somehow I managed to jump over the big rocks and find my way back after slipping and falling down a couple of times.

View from the island Loutsi-Kuusinen

We had planned to watch the sunset in Kotka but we realised that we wouldn’t see anything from there. Chasing the orange colour of the sky we ended up in a random place which we reached right on time before the sun disappeared.

Sunset somewhere not far from Kotka

On the next day we went to Kuusijärvi Sauna, which is a Finnish sauna next to a lake. What the crazy Finns do there is go to the sauna and then swim in the ice cold lake.

Lake next to the Kuusijärvi Sauna

Of course I wanted to try that as well. The first time it took me a while to enter the ice cold water. When I finally entered the lake I had to get out again after a few seconds so I could run to the sauna to avoid freezing to death – at least that’s how it felt like. It was a cool experience and after the second time I actually started to enjoy it.

The temperature on the surface of the lake is below 0°C. They pump in warmer water on the ground to keep the lake from freezing so that people can go swimming.

Some people were even properly swimming in that lake. They had to wear a hat, gloves and special shoes so that their extremities wouldn’t freeze in the water.

Frozen lake next to the Kuusijärvi Sauna

The second stop that day was the chocolate factory of Fazer, a Finnish chocolate brand. We booked a tour including a chocolate tasting which was the highlight and the reason we did the tour. Before leaving we even got some goodie bags with chocolate and other candies to take home. The tour costs 14€ which I find a bit expensive but the goodies you can take home are actually worth more so it’s not that bad.

Fiskars

Then we continued to the town Fiskars, which was kind of a fail. It’s supposed to be an artsy place with craft shops and many cafés and restaurants. This is not wrong, however, they’re only open in summer. In winter pretty much everything is closed and since we arrived in the afternoon the few open places were about to close as well. A lady in a shop was laughing at us and telling us that no-one ever comes to Fiskars in winter.

Fiskars

Having driven for 1,5 hours just to get there we tried to make the best out of it and took a walk in the park next to the river. Fiskars is definitely a pretty town and I guess it’s really cool in summer but it wasn’t the best idea to go there in winter.

Market Square Helsinki

As my friend only had time on the weekend because of his work I was on my own on Monday. I decided to explore the city center of Helsinki. There’s beautiful old architecture and a lot of expensive restaurants and shops. The port is really pretty and there’s a market place with some stands selling handicraft.

Sunset from the Torni Hotel

All in all the city Helsinki hasn’t impressed me much though. There are some pretty buildings and churches but other than that I didn’t really find anything worth seeing. My friend joined me after work and we went to a rooftop bar to watch the sunset, which was really nice.

View from the Torni Hotel

I enjoyed Finland a lot. It’s such a beautiful country with a lot of lakes, forests and stunning nature. So if you’re a nature lover like me I definitely recommend you to visit it. Restaurants are pretty expensive but the prices in supermarkets are okay.

Recommendations

  • Kuusijärvi Sauna: Finnish sauna and smoke sauna next to a lake – great experience (12€ for adults, 7€ with student ID)
  • Watch the sunset at the rooftop bar of the Torni Hotel (Coffee: 6€, Cocktails: 15€)
  • If you have a flight to Helsinki try to explore areas out of the city as well as the nature in Finland is beautiful
  • Porvoo: cute little town by a river
  • Fiskars: pretty village – visit in spring and summer only
  • If you take a ferry between Tallinn and Helsinki compare prices of several operators. Use private mode and the Finnish website. When I checked it the price was 35€ and when my Finnish friend checked the same website it was 17€ for him.
  • The airline Norwegian sometimes has special discount codes. I used “UNDER26” and got a discounted flight ticket. Check that before booking.

6 thoughts on “Helsinki & surroundings

Add yours

  1. Hallo Maria,
    wunderschöne Bilder! Am besten gefallen mir die Eisschollen auf dem Wasser, das sieht so toll aus! 🙂

    Nächstes Jahr plane ich nach Finnisch-Lappland im Winter zu fahren. So unberührte verschneite Landschaften müssen ein Traum sein. Wird dann aber sicher noch frostiger sein… hoffentlich kann man sich dann auch in einer so schönen Sauna aufwärmen.

    Liebe Grüße
    Iris von Ich Reise Immer So

    Like

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