Last May I wrote about best views in Helsinki. Place for those views were Hotelli Torni’s Ateljee Bar. Now we have a new place here in Helsinki which is a bit upper – and still in the downtown. Place is called Sky Room of Hotel Clarion. It is in 16th floor – but definitely “the Sky Bar of Helsinki”. You see, Helsinki isn’t town of skyscrapers and there are great views from Sky Room!
Hotelli Torni is situated in Kamppi district – just something like 300 meters from Stockmann. New Skybar is a bit farer way – it is situated in Jätkäsaari – maybe 1.5 kilometres from Stockmann. Anyway it is so close I recommend a walk there one evening or afternoon when in Helsinki (and if you feel tired, just take tram 9 towards Länsisatama, tram stops just outside Clarion Hotel). When arriving to Clarion Hotel, go inside and take elevator up. Sky Room offers drinks and wine – also some snacks but it is not place for dinner. Sky Room opens 3 pm and kids are welcome until 6 pm.
Looking from Sky Room Helsinki looks almost metropolis – you see Helsinki downtown but also Espoo (which is town next to Helsinki) and lots of sea (hotel is situated next to sea). You also see motorways – the scenery is different than Torni. In Torni you see all great downtown buildings from close compared to broader view of Sky Room. Actually – you should do both: start from hotel Torni Ateljee Bar and then take 15 minutes walk to Clarion along Lönnrotinkatu (see lovely Ruttopuisto on the way as well as Hietalahdentori.) This way you have seen all what is even close to Sky Bar here in Helsinki! If I remember right cheapest wine was something like 8 euros per glass – well worth of scenery.
Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of Hotel Clarion outside but since it is like talles building in Helsinki downtown it is pretty easy to recognize:-)
Read also: Best views in Helsinki part 1 ››
When winter arrives in Helsinki, it’s time to spend some time in candle light enjoying mulled wind, or as we call it glögi, with your friends and family. The tradition of drinking this warm, alcholic drink comes from 1800s and is nowadays mainly enjoyed around Christmas time.
From November onwards you can find several bars and restaurants in helsinki that serve glögi in its various formats: alcoholic, non-alcoholic, with red or white wine or even with a dash of vodka or brandy. The spices makes it special and most often you’ll find cinnamon, ginger, cloves, bitter orange peel or star anis in it.
Glögi is served with almonds and raisins and you can choose to add or leave them out depending on your preference.
Try some of the following places around Espa for warm glögi and cozy winter atmosphere.
(picture borrowed from Salutorget’s website)
Christmas markets – Tuomaan markkinat. This year 3.-22.12.2016
Christmas pastries – see the video on how to make traditional Christmas stars
I have been travelling around Europe for past three weeks. So I hope you understand I’ve been active with this blog during past weeks. When travelling I once again remembered how much I enjoy finding “the local places” of the towns I am visiting. I love to visit café which is a favourite place of somebody living nearby. Or tasting pizza which is somebody’s must have each Sunday. So you all can be sure that I am very motivated sharing my best (and sometimes just everyday) moments and ideas to do in Helsinki with you. I hope you can love this town doing same things me and the other writers of this blog do!
After three weeks travelling Helsinki-Naples-Paris-Athens-Helsinki first thing I did after arriving home was going running. When running I realized how clean the air felt, how few people there are around and how small Helsinki is. I guess these things are something you notice also when visiting Helsinki. I also think those things make Helsinki quite special – we can’t compete with Athens’s acropolis or the Parisian feeling. But we really have smallish unique town with a bit of Russian flavour here in Helsinki. So small you can easily walk from place to place. Or bike around with city bikes. And if you are not up to those, you can always take tram, metro or bus. It really is so easy and fast to move from place to place here in Helsinki!
One special thing I want to share with you today is old lighthouse boat (majakkalaiva in Finnish) called Relandersgrund (sometimes just called “Rellu”). Nowadays this boat isn’t anymore sailing around – it is parked in the end of Aleksanterinkatu (near President Castle) in central Helsinki. This lighthouse boat was built 1886-1888 in Finnish town called Turku. During the WWI Russians sank Relandersgrund. After war boat war repaired and it was used as a lighthouse boat. In 1991 it was found in very bad shape (before that it had been abandoned) and it was decided to be repaired by private person. However, since in very bad shape there was a lot to do. Currently Relandersgrund looks very nice, however, profit of the café is used for repairing the boat even more. You can read more of boat’s history here, unfortunately text is in Finnish.
You can buy drinks or coffee from boat. The boat has very nice views – you can see Uspenski Cathedral (Orthodox Church), some buildings belonging to President Castle as well as sailing boats and houses of Katajanokka and Kruununhaka districts. And of course – see is there to admire. I recommend this place for afternoons as well as for evenings. You see, in Finland sun is shining almost all night along so you can admire Helsinki views even in midnight!
Helsinki is full of beautiful cafes and restaurants and in the past years probably thanks to the Restaurant Day, it seems there are new places popping up every week.
However, there are also some classics that have been there for a long time like Bear Park Cafe which you can find in the hippiest part of Helsinki, Kallio. The summer cafe spreads to Karhupuisto and serves coffee and various delicacies like pulla (cinnamon buns) and ice creams from Helsingin jäätelötehdas.
Remember, this cafe area is wi-fi free so just enjoy the atmosphere without social media 😉
The Bear Park Cafe is located in a small kiosk called ’lippakioski’. There are still some 19 kiosks around Helsinki and they were designed around 1940s and 1950s. You can find similar kiosks also from Esplanade park in the centre of Helsinki. They were built close to the bus stations and they have had the same purpose since then: to serve refreshments to townspeople.
The Bear Park Cafe has also another small cafe on the same street called Kulmakahvio. This cozy cafe operates through out the year and is a very nice place to observe just Kallio and its colourful atmosphere.
How to get there:
Bear Park is located in Kallio
You can take tram numbers 1, 1A, 3B or 9 that stop directly in front of the park. Hakaniemi metro station is also a short walk from the park.
Kulmakahvila’s address is: Agricolankatu 13.
When you want to see Helsinki skyline and admire our beautiful town from up the best place to visit is Ateljee Bar. This great place is situated on the 14t floor (and that is high in Helsinki since our town doesn’t have skyscrapers) of Hotel Torni. Since in hotel, there are always tourists in the bar, however helsinkians love this please as well. I visit the place at least twice every summer – I love to see town from bird’s eye! The place is not big – there are maybe 10 small tables and 30 chairs inside and some more out. You can’t eat there – the place is only for drinks.
When in Ateljee Bar, you should definitely use the bathroom (you find them one floor down) . I guess the view is the best view from bathroom anywhere in world. Specially the view of the ladies room where you can see two directions is just awesome!
Some interesting history of the place – when opened in 1031, it was the tallest building in Finland. After WWII Hotelli Torni served as the headquarters of the Allied Control Commission which was monitoring how Finland managed with the obligations of the Moscow Armistice.
The address of the place is Kalevankatu 5, it is maybe 200 metres from Stockmann and less than half a kilometre from Central Railway Station.
Read also: the best vies in Helsinki part 2 ››
Want to enjoy sunny day in Helsinki – admire sea, eat something small and have some wine, beer or cup or coffee? Best place for that is Mattolaituri Terrace! This terrace is located in southern Helsinki next to sea and lovely Park Kaivopuisto. Mattolaituri as a word means in Finnish “a dock where you wash rugs”. You see, it is Finnish tradition to wash your rugs in mattolaituri during the summer. I can still remember washing rugs with my mother as a kid – but not at this mattolaituri. Next to Terrace Mattolaituri there is a real mattolaituri. So during the summer you can actually see people washing their rugs and there are always some rugs getting dry next to terrace.
Mattolaituri is designed only for sunny days – since it is only a terrace it is closed during the winter and rainy days. Place is a bit pricy (but considering how lovely the view is, not too pricy) and that is why you normally find a chair to sit down. However, in warm summer evenings it is crowded with people.
When we decided to have this blog with Marjo and Anne we sat in Mattolaituri Terrace and admired the sea and lovely sun in the evening (and later the moon…) and we really got the feeling Helsinki is something we want to write, photo and share with you Dear Readers.
Few weeks ago I visited lovely restaurant called Soil Wine Room. The place is very much in wines – they import those and they are specialized on small European labels. During evening our waiter told many facts of different wines but he was also very pleased when we just ordered some tasty (from cheaper end) white wine and later continued with the same. I liked that – when place is very much in wines sometimes it is difficult for waiter to understand that everyone is not in every moment wanting to have the best wines – sometimes good is enough. What you drink is of course part of your evening but sometimes only one part.
So, great selection of wines – but also great selection of tapas! My personal favourites were tartar which was very tasty with egg and garlic mayonnaise and manchego tasting with 6, 12 and 18 month “old” manchegos (actually I don’t which word to use for old, but I guess you understand what I mean…) tomato marmalade, olives and bread. There are several meat, fish and vegetarian tapas so plenty to choose from. Best way is just to order plenty of different ones and share those with everyone in table.
The place is pretty tiny – maybe 30 people can fit so if you want to eat here it is important to book a table in advance. However, I have visited there now two times in a short time (since I really like the place and I happen to live very near) and have always been able to get a table even without reservation. Place is somehow very cute – so if you want it all – great surrounding (but not too fancy), tasty wine and great tapas, this is a place for you! Address of this place in Fredrikinkatu 37 so it is in Punavuori area. It is open until 11 pm so you can have late dinners there as well (not all places in Helsinki have this late dining hours). No lunches and not planned for small kids. Net pages seems to be only Finnish but waiters speak English so no language problems for anyone.
So what did I do last Friday? Well – I had a fantastic evening going around Punavuori and Kamppi visiting restaurants and bars. Since it was something I can recommend for you to do as well while in Helsinki, I’ll tell you about my night and also share addresses of the restaurants I visited. All these places I visited are closely situated – the walking distance is something like one kilometer you can go walking. They can be visited by group of friends, alone or with someone you love.
First I had dinner in a lovely restaurant called Southpark. This restaurant is situated in Park Koff (Koffinpuisto) and the address is Bulevardi 40. Southpark has Southern Californian style in their offering (in their own words, I have visited only San Francisco and surroundings so I don’t know what to expect about Southern California). It is perfect for brunches, lunches or dinners – however if you want to have only drinks, then you have to find another place. There isn’t wide range of choose for a menu but for sure everyone will find something to enjoy! I would say the menu list is style “less is more” meaning that everything tastes excellent. Personnel seem to know wines very well and they are more than happy to recommend suitable wines for your menu. Restaurant has big windows so there is a great view for the park it is situated. Since restaurant is tiny, I recommend you to make a reservation if having dinner or brunch. Southpark is not fancy so you can enjoy your dinner wearing jeans (but if you want to dress up, that is also possible, no worries).
After having dinner, we headed a bit north to Kalevankatu 36 where bar Milli Miglia is situated. This bar is a bit kitschy – but in a funny way. Bar is named after Italian car race and also decorated so that you can’t think you are anywhere else. I am not by any means a car race fan but this bar really works for me! I would say there are more women in this bar compared to men, but I just write this for you to understand that even Milli Miglia is named after car race, this place is for everyone to enjoy. Milli Miglia is pretty popular but around 8 pm in Friday we were able to find places to sit down. You can sit here for one drink or you can sit here for the whole evening – whatever you prefer.
And were to finish your night – Bar Mockba (Bar Moskow) is an excellent place for that! Above I mentioned Milli Miglia is a bit kitschy. Well – Bar Mockba is exceptional big time! It is totally Soviet Union style and in my understanding owned by film-making Kaurismäki brothers. Mockba is definitely not a hotspot – but definitely one of the classics. To make your night perfect I recommend to taste champanckaya (Russian champagne) and of course some (warmish) vodka. I remember that 15 years ago there was a big poster on a wall which said “In Lenin we trust, others pay cash”. Nowadays you can pay with credit card as well but curtains are still totally USSR style as well as other decorations. And I have to say – service is ex-Eastern European as well – but this fact is very easy to forgive in these surroundings. If you want to spend an evening in a bar where you can see very wide selection of interesting people – you HAVE to visit Mockba. You can be whatever age (over 18 for sure, most people being 35+) and wear whatever you want – you will be looking totally right. The address is Eerikinkatu 11. It is not easy to find since no big signs– try to spot a window with awful soviet style curtains and then open door.
After visiting all these places I think you are ready to head for your hotel or home…
Yrjönkatu swimming hall entrance
In stead of traditional after work and drinks we decided to do something different with a couple of my friends last Friday and rented out a cabin from Yrjönkatu swimming hall. It’s the oldest public swimming hall in Helsinki and with a bit of googling apparently it’s also the oldest public swimming hall in Finland! It’s located to Yrjönkatu just behind Forum mall.
You’re not allowed to take photos at the swimming pool (that’s why there’s only one in this post) but I recommend doing an image search for Yrjönkadun uimahalli to see what the swimming hall looks like inside to see what all the fuss is about.
I made a list of things that differ Yrjönkatu swimming hall from other public pools:
- Amazingly nice architecture
- Swimming with women only / men only
- You can swim naked if you want to
- Having drinks and snack with your friends on the balcony
- 4 different kinds of saunas, one of them a wooden one
Yrjönkatu swimming hall isn’t the largest public swimming pools in Helsinki, I think it only has 5 or 6 lanes of which 2 are reserved for water runners and the rest for swimmers. The pool is in the 1st floor with wardrobes around it and an electric sauna and showers at one side. And since all the wardrobes can be seen to the pool, Yrjönkatu swimming hall has separate swimming times and dates for men and women. Separate swimming times also allow you to swim naked if you want to, and many people do. One visit costs 5 € for the 1st floor.
The 2nd floor is a bit more expensive but definitely worth a try. With 14 €/2 hours you can rent a changing cabin from the 2nd floor balcony. Besides the cabin it also includes the possibility to swim at the pool, towel and a bathrobe and the possibility to use 3 different saunas upstairs (infrared sauna, steam sauna and a traditional wooden heated sauna, which I personally loved the most). After the swim or sauna you can relax at the balcony and order snacks and drinks from Cafe Yrjö. If you’re tired you could have a little nap in you changing cabin since there’s a small bed in each cabin.
Yrjönkatu swimming hall isn’t a spa but it does have a touch of old spa feeling to it. The atmosphere is very relaxed and calm and to me drinking gin and tonic at the balcony with my friends after a short swim and sauna felt quite luxurious. You can’t reserve the cabins so be prepared to wait – at least on a Friday evening.
I definitely recommend trying this out with your friends or after a long day at the office on your own, too!
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Tuesday I had planned to have dinner with friends after work. However I had to be in Copenhagen for work that day so I didn’t make it for dinner. I still wanted to see my friends – so we had drinks after their dinner, right after my plane landed. We decided to visit Bar Llamas which I’ll describe as cosy bar with South-American twist. Since we wanted to share with each other what’s going on, we wanted a place where one can easily talk. For that Bar Llamas works perfectly – music is not too loud.
Llamas is very nice for afterworks as well as for weekend drinks. One can also order a nacho plate (haven’t tasted that but good to remember this place is for drinking not for culinary experiences). There are also couple of swings but since the bar is tiny, they are more for sitting. If you are trying to find a place for drinks after fine dining this is probably not a best place for you. However I felt okay with my business clothes – even though they fit perfectly neither atmosphere nor the surroundings – generally people are dressed more relaxed way. I’d say most of the people are 35years +/- ten years. At weekends it can be pretty crowded. During the week you will probably find a chair and a table for you and your company. Bottle of sparkling wine was 22 euros which is very reasonable price in Finland. I have understood they also have some interesting drinks, some even with a Finnish twist but I am not a great cocktail drinker – to hear more about those you have to wait a post from somebody else than me…
The address for Bar Llamas is Iso Roobertinkatu 14. It is situated in the heart of Punavuori which is very trendy district in Helsinki – lots of restaurants, lovely stores and bars and as Marjo just wrote, lots of people working in advertising agencies. This is an area we’ll be writing a lot in the future.