So it is only logical that final of the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Helsinki in 2007 after Lordi’s victory in 2006 with the song “Hard Rock Hallelujah.” Much to the chagrin of all metalheads, a (pretty dull – metal-listening author’s note) ballad called “Molitva” won the contest in “Hellsinki.”
Helsinki was founded on June 12, 1550 on the orders of the Swedish King Gustav I to establish a rival port to the one in the Hanseatic city of Tallinn on the other side of the Gulf of Finland. Eleven years later, the Swedes conquered Tallinn in the Livonian War, which weakened Helsinki’s development. As a result of this – and owing to the inconvenient location of the port at the end of a flat and cliffy bay – the city was moved approximately five kilometers closer to the open sea in 1640, on the site of today’s city center; the old town was abandoned. Several wars between Sweden and Russia led to Helsinki being almost completely destroyed on two occasions.
Under Russian rule, Helsinki was decreed the new capital in 1812, taking the place of the then more populous city of Turku. Imposing buildings were built in the Finnish National Romantic style, including Helsinki Central Station and the National Museum of Finland. The population exceeded 100,000 around the turn of the century. Following independence in 1917, Helsinki remained the capital city and developed into one of the most important cities among the Nordic countries. One consequence of the foreign rule was the diversity of languages: In 1900, just 50 percent of the country’s citizens spoke Finnish as their mother tongue, while 42 percent spoke Swedish and five percent Russian. Today, a little over 100 years after independence, 81.9 percent speak Finnish and just 5.9 percent Swedish – the latter is recognized as a minority language, however, so all the streets in the capital have a Finnish and Swedish name.
Helsinki is not only the northernmost European capital, but also the coldest capital in the world: The average annual temperature is 0°C; for 51 days of the year the sun cannot be seen – in return, however, it also rains for about 120 days a year. Accordingly, it is tempting to assume that the Finnish capital is almost always covered by a blanket of snow. Not in the case of the famous shopping street of Aleksanterinkatu. There is no snow whatsoever here in winter, because the city council heats the granite slabs on the sidewalks from beneath with district heating so that any snow and ice immediately melts.
All the same, it is not necessarily the weather that makes Helsinki one of the nicest cities in Europe. The 300 islands, which are linked to one another via bridges, are a good tourist attraction, especially for those who like to travel by boat. For such people, there are more than 11,000 berthing spaces for boats. Talking of water, the city’s tap water comes directly from mountain sources and is transported to Helsinki along the Päijännetunneli, the world’s longest water tunnel. The quality is so high that the water is even exported – to Saudi Arabia, among other places.
In terms of culture, Helsinki is considered a bastion of classicism. Furthermore, the cityscape has also been shaped by the art nouveau architecture of the early twentieth century. After being designated the capital city in 1812, the architect Carl Ludwig Engel was commissioned with the task of planning an imposing city center based on Saint Petersburg. This resulted in the classical ensemble that now stands in the space around the central Senate Square, including the cathedral, the old senate building, and the main university building. The architectural style earned Helsinki the nickname the “White City of the North.”
Besides classicism, heavy metal and islands, there are many other things to see and do in Helsinki.
Konsta Partanen, a field sales engineer in our Rutronik24 team in Helsinki, has put together a great list for you - thank you, Konsta!
Restaurant Sea horse
Steak of Baltic herrings – blue cheese and red onion stuffing, mashed potatoes, beetroot
Beef steak a la Sea Horse – fried onions, sour cream, pickled cucumber, fried potatoes
Type of cuisine:
Historical and legendary restaurant founded in 1934 belongs to the heavy weight of Helsinki´s classics. Sea Horse is a nostalgic piece of the past, popular among musicians and celebrities throughout its history. To ensure every ones privacy, photography is forbidden in the restaurant. The greatest value of the restaurant is the atmosphere and equality, no matter of the social status of the customer.
Speciality is the tasting menu, which changes time to time. Small dishes with carefully selected wines with each dish. Also, the dishes are meant to be shared with whoever you might be dining with.
Type of cuisine:
Spanish, French and Italian cuisine mixed with tastes from other metropolitans all over the world.
The restaurant is located in one of the best places in Helsinki next to busy park Esplanade and founded by celebrity chef Tomi Björk. People come to the restaurant to get more of an experience of tastes, than just to eat. As the restaurant is pretty expensive, it is usually not a place to stop by and have a bite. The restaurant is also specialized in drinks.
Lappi Restaurant (Lapland)
Aperitif: Reindeer’s tear – An unconstrained drink of plain Finnish Koskenkorva (Vodka) with a few cranberries.
Main course: Lappish game selection for two – Roasted elk (120g), reindeer sausages (100g), braised reindeer (120g), winter vegetables and potato fondant with creamy game sauce.
Type of cuisine:
Finnish cuisine. Pure and most of all fresh Finnish ingredients in all dishes give you a true experience to Lappish cuisine.
Highly appreciated among tourists, who wants to experience the tastes of Northern Finland. The interior is designed to look like typical Lapland cottage by the use of log and natural stone. Overall atmosphere is relaxed.
Bar with sauna or sauna with bar, depends on which side you are in at the moment. Löyly also serves food but the main focus is on sauna and bar.
Location by the sea enables people from the sauna area to swim in the sea even during wintertime. People in the bar area can also sit on one of the three terraces next to the sea and see people swim from the sauna area. The overall atmosphere is relaxed as part of the sauna culture is to relax.
Löylyn Negroni - Napue Gin/ Gancia Americano/ Antica Formula. Even though Löyly is more of a bar, it has a special dish, one of the owners own recipe, Jasper’s salmon soup.
Type: Bit of unusual concept, Spårakoff is a pub on rails. The name Spårakoff comes from Swedish word spårvagn, which means tram and Koff is a Finnish beer brand. So, Spårakoff is a pub inside a tram, which circles around Helsinki among other trams and you can get in the pub from certain tram stops in Helsinki city centre. This is a great way to see the city sitting inside a pub.
Ambience: Classic style pub. The ride takes only one hour so the atmosphere is pretty relaxed.
Special drinks: Only serving Finnish beers from Koff brewery, ciders, softdrinks and famous Finnish shots.
https://www.nordicchoicehotels.fi/hotellit/suomi/helsinki/clarion-hotel-helsinki/Hotel star rating:
4 star Hotel
Located in Jätkäsaari, next to Helsinki city centre in one of the fastest growing parts of Helsinki.
Traffic connection with public transportation:
The hotel is located near city centre, so the easiest way to get as close to the hotel as possible is to take tram 6T, 9 or 7. You can also get to the hotel by taking subway to Ruoholahti station.
Extras: The hotel building is 78 meters high and there is a rooftop pool, where you have a spectacular view over Helsinki. Also sauna can be found in the hotel as we are in Finland. There is a sky bar in one of the top floors of the building where you can look over the rooftops of Helsinki while having a drink.
My favorite places in the city:
Kaivopuisto is a big park in the heart of Helsinki. It is one of my favourite places because it is near city centre, located by the sea, has nice view and it is beautiful during summer.
The park is special as it is big and it is located next to the sea. There are restaurants/bars on the shore of the park where you can enjoy summer days with friends or family. Actually, one of the main buildings in the park (Kaivohuone) works as a Bar/nightclub during summer. People go to the park for sunbathing, just to hang out or have picnics. There are lots height differences in the park, at the highest point there is an observatory.
However, the height of Kaivopuisto's popularity is on Vappu day (1 May), immediately after the preceding Walpurgis Night celebrations in the city centre. On Vappu, Kaivopuisto is packed with tens of thousands of people from Helsinki, who come to have a picnic with their friends and families. Fanciful costumes, loud music, and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages is the routine for a Vappu picnic. It is customary for all attendants who have graduated from the Finnish matriculation exam to wear their student caps at the picnic. In addition to all, there is a place where you can bungee jump during summer
Kauppatori is one of my favourite places as it is full of life and there is lots to do in the surrounding areas. Kauppatori is a market place in front of the presidential palace. It has different market stalls around the year and different events are held in Kauppatori. From here you can take a ferry to Suomenlinna which is a historical fortress in front of Helsinki, or to Korkeasaari which is a zoo on an island. Or you just take a ferry that circles around the shores of Helsinki and enjoy the summer and beverages on the upper deck. There are lots of restaurants and an outdoor swimming pool bar/restaurant called Allas Sea Pool on the side of Kauppatori. Also lots of seagulls occur in the area…
What I like most about the region and the country:
What I like most about Helsinki is that it is located by the water and has lots of parks in the city. I like the razzle that the city has to offer, but also the possibility to escape that outside the city centre. There are many bays where you can enjoy summer days near by the water, without having to deal with the wind from open sea and still be in the walking distance from the city centre. The public transport works well in Helsinki and the city is not too big, so the distances to travel are tolerable even by walking. The architecture in Helsinki city centre is beautiful as well.
What I like most about the country, is the forests and thousands of lakes we have. The more you travel up north from Helsinki, the more the landscape changes and it is completely different in the northern Finland (Lapland). The population decreases the more you travel up north from southern Finland and when you are in Lapland, almost the only thing you can see is endless wilderness (and lots of reindeer).
Additionally: For all those who are planning a trip to Finland. Not suitable to travel during start of November until the end of January if you wish to see day light more than couple hours a day. The best time to travel Lapland is from February to April and to the rest of the Finland during spring and summer.