Back in February, I treated Mike to a trip to Tallinn. With a few days either side, I left some leeway to potentially visit somewhere else while we were away. We decided to hop on a ferry over to Finland! This would be another Baltic country to tick off our list! We really wanted to visit St. Petersburg at the same time, but the ferries hadn’t started running yet 😦
So we arrived in Helsinki early afternoon, after arriving by such a picturesque ferry ride. It was so so cold on the top deck, I’d never experienced weather like it. But of course, gliding through the Baltic Sea in February, it was expected. We spent most of the journey sat by a window with coffee and snacks looking at all the ice sheets and small islands in the crossing.
The ferry drops you just a few minute tram ride away from the city centre, which I always like as it gives you a chance to see a bit more of the city. Upon arrival, we grabbed a quick snack before checking into our hostel. We opted for the cheapest hostel in the city, which luckily wasn’t far out at all. After freshening up a bit, we headed out to check out Uspenskin Cathedral followed by Hard Rock Cafe for some famous Nachos and cocktails. Followed by some drinks in a local sports bar. We were very aware of the price of everything in Finland as we had visited Scandinavia a few times before but have always been pretty good with travelling on a budget.
With our next day in Helsinki being our only full day there, we wanted to make sure we made the most of our time and saw the must see sights! This meant heading to Suomenlinna, Helsinki Cathedral and then finishing the day off by watching the sunset from the top of Ateljee bar, before heading out for dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant which we did not rate.
What to see
Uspenskin Orthodox Cathedral
We saw this at night, so it was all lit up and looked stunning. Situated a few minutes walk from Senate Square, this cathedral is quite central. It is situated on top of a hill over looking a river! Which looked beautiful in the snow and all iced over!
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
We spent a whole day here, walking around and looking at the gorgeous view on the other side of the fortress. Mike skated across frozen lakes but I wasn’t that brave! Unfortunately, the cold weather was really getting to me so it did hinder my experience slightly, but it really is a beautiful place. I would love to go back in the Summer as it would look completely different!
Helsinki Cathedral/Senate Square
We visited this in the evening and in the day. Located on route to our hostel, we passed it regularly, and there were always people in the square taking photos of Cathedral at the top of the stairs. It is huge with multiple green domes on top of each tower!
Where to eat/drink
A terrace bar overlooking Helsinki at the top of Solo Sokos Hotel Torni, with quite possibly the nicest view I’ve ever had whilst sat on a toilet. We visited during sunset, and it was absolutely spectacular!
Paulig Barista Institute
Loved loved loved this place. The coffee was pricey, but it was such a cosy place and was worth the expense. With a modern interior offering various seating arrangements based on the purpose of your visit. We opted for cushions on some raised stairs. Upstairs, you could sit in swinging pods seats for a more relaxed experience or in the hubs for a more formal space, perfect for working.
We had visited an O’Leary’s in Sweden. It’s a sports bar chain throughout Scandinavia, and I imagine, nothing spectacular for the locals. But it had cheap-ish beer, good atmopshere and shows the football and other sporting events! AND ALSO OFFERS FREE POPCORN! win!