Like a Local: Helsinki, Finland
This week's Like a Local guest is Mel Dower, a kiwi who now calls Helsinki home. I was lucky enough to use a lot of her tips for my own trip to Helsinki which has become one of my favourite cities of all time. I hope these amazing tips inspire you to head north and experience Finland at it's best. Enjoy xx
What do you do for work?
I work for a mobile games company in Relocation, helping new employees and their families settle into life in Finland. I’ve also recently released a book, Helsinki – People Make the City. It’s an insider’s guide to the city and was a collaboration with local photographer Laura Iisalo. This was a personal project and a labour of love.
Where are you originally from?
I’ve lived in several towns in the North Island of New Zealand and spent 11 years in Sydney, Australia.
Describe Helsinki in 5 words:
Hidden, seasonal, changing, urban nature.
What are the 3 best areas or neighbourhoods to explore in Helsinki and why?
Katajanokka – for architecture, cafes and the huge ice breakers ships.
Teurastamo – for food festivals, ice cream, hammocks and Helsinki’s only gin distillery.
Suomenlinna – for beautiful summer wild flowers and its incredible frozen landscape in winter.
If you only had 24 hours in Helsinki, what would you do?
I’d walk to Café Regatta and have a cinnamon bun and coffee in the garden. It’s a favourite spot in summer or in the grips of the coldest winter and open every day. Then I’d have a drink at Helsinki’s highest bar (14th floor!) at Torni Tower and enjoy the view before having pizza and drinks at Puttes.
Where is the best place to have a weekend away near Helsinki?
Fiskars Village is very beautiful with stores and exhibitions featuring local artisans.
What night of the week is the best night of the week to go out in Helsinki?
Thursday – but to be honest I’d say ‘summer’ as we make the most of every night while the sun is out.
What is an experience that people can do that is truly unique to Helsinki?
Sauna. I recommend Löyly, the city’s newest sauna. The architecture is incredible and it’s a popular place for meals and drinks. The three terraces have views towards Estonia and you can sit all over the exterior of the building. Or for something more traditional visit Yrjönkatu Uimahalli where swimsuits have only recently been allowed in the pool and are still optional for swimmers.
Where is the best place to get breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks in Helsinki?
Breakfast – Gastro Café Kallio for delicious baked pastries & shakshouka
Lunch – Kiasma Café for their delicious curried cauliflower & lentil salad
Dinner – Putte’s Pizza for their chanterelle pizza
Drinks – Skiffer – with views from the island back to the city
All images courtesy of Mel Dower.