Once a Year – Trip to Tallinn

When I started to plan writing about my weekend trip to Tallinn I remember right away that Marjo has written about Tallinn as well. Of course I checked Marjo’s writing – it was written about a year ago. That is actually a good timespan – I would recommend yearly trip to Tallinn for every Helsinkian.  You see, Tallinn is a charming little town which is not far away and it is very reachable (2-3 hours by ferry) – so a perfect place to spend mini-holiday.

This time I was traveling with my family. We took ferry Friday afternoon and stayed two nights in Airbnb-flat in Tallinn old town next to old stone wall. There was a window in the roof of the apartment (we had top floor) with a church tower view. Very lovely! First evening we wondered around narrow streets of Tallinn old town and had a dinner in lovely Italian La Bottega. I recommend that place very much – customers were both locals and tourists and food was high quality and delicious. This place is also perfect for “more demanding” taste.

Saturday we wondered around Kalamaja district. This “hipster” area is very close to old town (less than 2 kilometers walk) but it has very different feeling – in Kalamaha you find old industrial buildings, lovely wooden houses (some a bit run down), great little shops as well as wonderful murals.

We had lunch in F-Hoone (situated in Kalamaja district) which is great place when you are not in hurry and don’t want white tablecloth. Food is tasty and fun and the whole place is very cool and relaxed. You should make a table reservation even for lunch to ensure you have a table – place is very popular among locals. I would guess the building is old factory – brick building has high ceilings and big lovely windows.

After Kalamaja and F-Hoone we headed to Tallinn Maritime Museum. Strong recommendation for that – you can visit old submarine and many other things. Unfortunately for some reason(???) I didn’t take any pictures there. Sorry for that. In the evening we had dinner in Vegan Restoran V. Even we are not vegans, we loved the place (net page doesn’t look promising but place is great!) . It is tiny restaurant in old town and offers many delicious options for dinner. Place has “Old town feeling and candels”. It is also very cheap.

Once again we had a great time in Tallinn – I believe that everyone deserves mini holiday now and then. For Helsinkians Tallinn is easy place to visit and you can find always new places to see. Or just enjoy great food and beautiful buildings. If you are tourist and in Helsinki for more than 3 days, you should consider spending one day in Tallinn. It works very well for day trips as well as for overnight. Just google best ferry times for you.


ps. On Sunday we had breakfast in MaiasMokk – recommend to visit there as well!


Islands on Helsinki archipelago: Isosaari


Suomenlinna Fortress must be one of the most well known islands on Helsinki archipelago. However, during the past couple of years some of the islands that used to belong to Finnish Army have been opened to the public. Anna wrote about Lonna last year and this summer we got yet another interesting island to visit when Isosaari island was opened.

Isosaari island situated about 4 kilometers from Helsinki center and it takes about 30-40 minutes to get there on a boat. The boat costs 15 € and it leaves from Helsinki Market Square (or Kauppatori) next to Suomenlinna fortress ferries. During the summer (until 14 August) you can get there from Tuesday to Sunday and until 3 September during the weekend on Saturdays and Sundays. Mondays are reserved for golfers so if you are into the game I recommend trying out the peculiar 9 hole golf course that’s built on Isosaari.

Like I mentioned, Isosaari (or Mjölö in Swedish) used to be a military island and some of my friends have actually served their military service (or at least some part of it) on the island. There are still marks of that era such as an old shooting range and barracks. The old Officer’s Club has been re-opened serving light snacks, hamburgers, fish soup and beverages for visitors.


On a warm day you can also bring your own picnic basket or spend the day on the beach swimming. or even spend the night in your own tent on the camping area. There’s also a couple of saunas you can rent out for a larger group or just enjoy the public sauna that’s warm from 10 AM to 6 PM every day (during summer season). Just be prepared that it’s a public sauna for both men and women.

However, my favorite thing about this island is the beautiful nature and tranquility on the island. Even though it’s situated quite close to Helsinki mainland, the island is very quiet and peaceful. I think Isosaari is worth the day-trip: a bit of nature during the day and then heading back to the center for a nice glass of wine at Kauppatori at Allas Sea Pool for example.



Day trip from Helsinki to Porvoo – strong recommendation

Strong recommendation for day trip from Helsinki to Porvoo, a second oldest city in Finland. Porvoo has beautiful old town with narrow streets and picturesque wooden houses. Just perfect place to stroll around and enjoy feeling of old times. Many small shops around offering handicrafts, antiquities, cloths and toys. Also many pretty and tasty coffees shops, restaurants and bars. There is also a church to visit – old cathedral build in 15th century. Town is so lovely, I got marred there years ago and  I always have this really special feeling when visiting!

A week ago I once again visited this lovely town. This time we had lunch in Fryysarinranta – lovely restaurant by the river. We enjoyed fresh summer buffet with different kind of fish and salads. I strongly recommend to taste their fish soup. In Fryysarinranta you can sit on a terrace by the river or inside in old wooden house (middle picture above from there). I also visited Cafe Paahtimo – I had glass of wine in their lovely terrace by the river.

I also recommend you to try Restaurant Meat District – newish restaurant in old lovely building in center of old town. There are many lovely places around and easily found when walking around old town.


How to get to Porvoo? Well, Porvoo is situated 50 kilometers from Helsinki and it is easily reachable by car, bus or even bike or boat. Buses to Porvoo leave in Helsinki from Kamppi terminal and it takes around one hour. Check bus schedule here. If you want to bike, it is good to know that there is biking path for most of the way. However, maybe 15-20 kilometers there is no special biking path but that part is easy and safe to bike as well. Finest way to travel is to take boat Runeberg. Boat takes 3.5 hours and you can enjoy Finnish archipelago while traveling. Finest day you’ll have if you take boat in the morning, then stay in Porvoo as long as you please and in the evening take bus back to Helsinki. Porvoo is a small town so no need to stay over for longer time – day is enough.


ps. There is maybe cutest toy store ever in Porvoo. It is called Riimikko (sign in below picture). Very strong recommendation! You can find Muumi postcards there as well as shown picture below.

Direct flight to Helsinki from Singapore or Hong Kong

Finnair flies daily from Singapore and Hong Kong to Helsinki and it has become a convenient flight to get to Europe. These direct flights take 11,5 hours from Singapore to Helsinki and 10,5 hours from Hong Kong to Helsinki.

The flights offer a nice experience to Finland. The new A350s are comfy to travel and the night flight helps you to get to the new time zone. If you fancy the most pleasant travel option, book yourself to business class. You’ll have a full flat bed, a curated selection of wines and food and a wi-fi!

Finns are proud of their design heritage and the nice thing at Finnair flights is that Iittala products and Marimekko prints are part of the experience. For a homesick Finn – or any design enthusiast – it’s just nice to travel in pretty environment.

As a last tip. Check the ceiling of the plane and maybe you catch some virtual northern lights too.



What to do at Helsinki-Vantaa airport

Many people know Helsinki-Vantaa airport through their transferring flights to Europe. In case you are not planning to stay couple of days in Helsinki, there are some nice options to spend your transfer time also at the airport.

If you need some sleep, pop into one of the go sleep tubes at gate 31. Take your ear plugs and pillow with you. Tubes are free from 6am to 10pm. Other times you pay an hourly rate.

Helsinki-Vantaa airport is not too bad for a quick shopping either.

  • Moomin shop, get some Moomin stuff from terminal 2, around gates 26-27: Sun-Fri 5-23 and Sat 5-19.30
  • Book Swap, how nice is this! Finished the paperback over flight? Bring it here, recycle and choose another one for the connecting flight. Terminal 2, gate 31 – Kainuu lounge (open for everyone 24h)
  • Marimekko, get some famous prints to your home at terminal 2, gate 27, Sun-Fri 5-23 and Sat 5-19.30
  • Iittala store, Finns like their tableware and glass items. Grab some classics at terminal 2, gate 28, Sun-Fri 5-23 and Sat 5-19.30
  • Alepa, this small every day grocery shop can be accessed through the arrival hall. Check what to buy in grocery stores and grab some Finnish goodies with you. Terminal 2, arrivals hall 2B. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

And the last but not least – Sauna

Every Finnish home and apartment building has its own, so why not the airport.
Situated between gates 36 and 37. It’s a unisex sauna and everyone whears a towel. It’s free for business class customers and other customers pay 48 euros. You can pay at the lounge reception or book in advance through Finnair’s website.


Helsinki-Vantaa airport


Time to have a nap.



Helsinki Airport sauna. Picture by Finavia.

Helsinki City Bikes and new bike stations in 2017


After a long wait we finally got ourselves a new city bike system a year ago in May! Helsinki used to have an old city bike system  but it was closed in 2010 due to constant vandalism. In other words, the bikes got lost and broken all the time since there was no system to track down who actually was using the bike and where. Similar to shopping charts, you could just borrow the bikes from the bicycle stand with some coins.

Fortunately a year ago, the new and much improved Helsinki City Bike system started and a lot had changed in 6-7 years. The bikes were no longer green – greens seems to be reserved for trams in Helsinki public transport. Today the bikes are yellow and much stronger with little baskets in the front. The height of the saddle is easily adjustable and the bikes have automatic lights, too.

I used the city bikes the entire season last year (from May to the end of October) and last year I cycled about 90 kilometers. That’s not a huge amount of kilometers but considering that I was away for the entire July and all of my trips have been less than 30 minutes long (most of them under 1 kilometer, too) I think the bikes are my favorite and most used public transport method for the summer They served me extremely well in the city center where using other means of public transportation isn’t convenient. Biking saved up a bit of time and got me to work in less than 10 minutes – a walk that would normally take me about 15 minutes (but in the morning every minute matters…). For longer rides I still used my own bike but all my adhoc trips seemd to be all done by city bikes.

Helsinki public transport has pretty good instructions on how to register and use the bikes on their site but here they are in a nutshell:



Register: Choose the most convenient time for usage: 1 day (5 €), 1 week (10 €) or the entire season (25 €) which ends on 31 October. For the registration you need your credit card details.

Collect: After registration you will receive a cyclist ID and a pin code that you need for collecting the bike. All the bike stands are marked in Helsinki public transport’s map. There are also other services such as Kaupunkifillarit.fi that use open source data to show the availability of the bikes on each bike station.

Ride and Return: First 30 minutes is for free and after that you need to pay extra for each beginning 30 minutes. 5 hours is the maximum time you’re allowed to use a bike at a time (after that you’ll get a 80 € fine) so I would recommend returning the bike every now and then and picking up a new one if you want to save up some money.

Since the city bikes have been a huge success last summer, City of Helsinki decided to expand the bike network  much further from the city center, all the way to Lauttasaari, Etelä-Haaga and Käpylä. Starting from May 2 until October 31, there will be 140 bike stations and 1400 bikes available this summer, which sounds good to me!




Weekend getaway to Tallinn



Even though our summer holidays are already over we felt like continuing our vacation a bit longer and decided to travel across Gulf of Finland to Tallinn, Estonia. The journey only takes about  1,5 – 3 hours, depending on which ferry you decide to go with. Linda Line is probably the fastest one (only 1h 40 min) but also at least Eckerö Line and Tallink Silja takes you there in 2-3 hours.

This time we decided to go with Tallink Silja, since the ferry leaves quite close to where we live and 2 hours of travel sounded better than 3. The tickets for two people were only 48 € (24 € per person!) – an absolute bargain and cheaper than travelling to Tampere! Prices might vary from day to day though, depending on the time and month. Also you might consider staying there for a night, too. Hotels and spas are quite modern and well situated in the center of Tallinn and reasonably priced as well.

I’ve visited Tallinn quite often so this time we didn’t really have an agenda for the day, we just spent the day walking in Old Town and light shopping which is a good way to spend an afternoon. If you have the time you might want to visit Tallinna Teletorn, Tallinn’s TV tower or Balloon Tallinn to get a god view over the city and maybe on a good weather all the way to Helsinki.


The Old Town is filled with small cafés and restaurants and some of them are quite touristic. However, some of the best restaurants in Tallinn in my opinion are situated in Old Town, so dig in a bit further from the Old Town’s Town Hall square and you’ll find some excellent choices. This time we decided to have an early dinner at Leib Resto ja Aed which serves seasonal and fresh Estonian food including local mushrooms, berries, fish, meat and vegetables. Atmosphere was quite easy-going but still stylish and service was very quick and professional. A dinner for two with aperitifs, 3 course meal, bottle of wine and beer, coffee and avec was about 160 € which I think is very affordable if compared to Helsinki’s prices.


A very nice weekend getaway even on a rainy day!