New Moomin Café in Helsinki Kruununhaka

As many of you know (and some might not – yet), Finland is not only the home country for Santa Claus but also The Moomins. Created by a Swedish-speaking Finnish author Tove Janson in 1940’s, free-spirited Moomins have been one of my favorite cartoon characters when growing up. These days Moomins are still a part of my every day life as I usually drink my morning cup of coffee from a Moomins mug. I would debate it would be very hard to find a Finnish home without at least one Moomins mug in their kitchen cupboards!

These days Moomin characters can be found from all sorts of products and places such as curtains, towels, jewelry, toys and clothes. Thers’s also a Moominword for little children situated at west coast of Finland. Last month we got ourselves the first Moomin Café called Mumin Kaffe in Helsinki and we went to check it out one freezing January afternoon.

The new Moomin Café is situated in Kruununhaka, not very far from Helsinki Cathedral, the big white church in city center. They advertise themselves as a child friendly café but in no means I would call it a café only for children and their parents. There’s a nice play corner in the café where kids can play or read books but otherwise the café is very scandinavian looking (not full of stuffed animals or children’s tunes or something similar). Actually, I think during our visit other customers included some moms with their kids, some couples and group of friends. Worth the visit if you’re walking by!

Muumin Kaffe is located at Liisankatu 21 and there should be new cafés opening at least at Stockmann and at Töölö, Mechelininkatu 3 (not very far from Hietaniemi beach of which Anna wrote about some time ago).

-Marjo

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Try these affordable lunch places in Helsinki

There are several lunch restaurants in Helsinki that main stream tourist guides don’t mention but we think these are essential part of our lunch culture and wanted to dedicate couple of posts for them. In the first post, I’ll go through some university restaurants in the city centre of Helsinki that are also open for general public.

Before introducing the lunch places, a bit of background on the tradition. Since 1943 Finnish students and pupils have had the right to free meals during school days. It consists of a warm main course, a side of vegetables, bread and a drink.

(Examples of Finnish school meals. Pictures by Elli.)

This tradition has gone from schools to working life and universities. Student meals are subsidised and many employers provide lunch benefits. Most often people will go out for lunch and enjoy a hot meal with affordable prices from 8 to 10 euros.

These self-service restaurants offer homefood (a direct translation of the Finnish word which means meals made at home) which include drink, main course, sallad, bread and sometime coffee or even dessert. These restaurants are mostly located in university buildings – feel free to go inside and look for the restaurant.

Student/University restaurants
These restaurants are open also for general public. There are differnt prices for students as  their meals are subsidised. The highest price on the menu is generally for everyone else and they vary from 6-10 euros.

Päärakennus
This restaurant is located in Helsinki University’s main building. It’s on the ground floor. Just turn right after entering the building.
Fabianinkatu 33
Mon-Thu 8.30am-5pm and lunch 10.30am-4pm. Fri 8.30am-4.30pm and lunch 10.30am-3.30pm

Porthania
Porthania’s restaurant is located in the University block and is convenient to visit while exploring the city centre.
Yliopistonkatu 3, elevator to 2nd floor
Mon-Thu: 8am-4.40pm, lunch 10.30am-4pm. Fri: 8am-4pm, lunch 10.30am-4pm

Hanken
Hanken’s restaurant is very popular among students. It can get crowded around lunch time but worth of trying if you are around.
Arkadiankatu 22
open Mon-Thu 8.00-16.30, Fri 8.00-16.00. Breakfast Mon-Fri 8.00-10.15 Lunch Mon-Fri 11.00-15.00

Chydenia
Chydenia’s restaurant is located in the basement and has quite nice atmosphere.
Runeberginkatu 22-24
Open Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Lunch 11am-1.30pm

Proffa
Runeberginkatu 14-16
Open Mon-Fri, Lunch 11am-1.30pm

Latin Market Metsätalo
Fabianinkatu 39
Mon-Thu 7.45am-4.30pm and lunch 10.30am-4pm. Fri 7.45am-3.30pm and lunch 10.30am-3pm

Best Helsinki Christmas Market – Tuomaan Markkinat

christmas-market-helsinki

Anne wrote some weeks ago about Christmas Bazaars here in Helsinki. I think the best bazaar is Tuomaan Markkinat, which is situated in Senaatintori (along the Aleksanterinkatu). It is very beautiful place – Helsinki Cathedral is just next as well as Helsinki University and other old picturesque buildings. At Tuomaan Markkinat I recommend to stroll around and admire all different handicrafts, Christmas foods and Finnish specialities. Many of them are very reasonably priced so you can also buy great gifts for Christmas. If you have kids, they should try carousel. And when feeling cold, try some warm drinks!

Tuomaan Markkinat will be open until 22nd of December so there are still some days left. This time I bought some woolen stockings – very warm and useful for those cold winter days we are still waiting for.

Merry Christmas for everyone!

Anna

senaatintori-tuomaan-markkinat-helsinki

 

 

 

Best Christmas Lunch in Helsinki – Restaurant Sipuli

restaurant-sipuli-christmas-uspenski-cathedral

If you visit Helsinki during December, you should taste some Finnish Christmas specialities. This is also very local thing to do – I have already had two Christmas lunches and I’ll have at least one more before Christmas. This time I’ll tell you of my Christmas lunch in this special restaurant “Ravintola Sipuli”. Restaurant is situated between President Castle and Uspenski Cathedral (Russian Orthodox church here in Helsinki), the address is Kanavaranta 7. Building is brick-walled warehouse and absolute speciality is the glass ceiling since you can see Uspenski Cathedral throughout. It is great view as you can see from picture below.

uspenski-cathedral-sipuli

And what about Finnish Christmas food specialities – in Sipuli there is buffet with many different fish – herring, salmon, fish roe as well as meat and many desserts (some of the latter ones not so traditionally Finnish like macarones) as well as selection of cheese. Place is hugely popular during Christmas time so you should book in advance. However, you can also just pop by and ask for a table. If there is only small company, waitress probably finds you a table. This Ravintola Sipuli is also great place to visit other times than December – it is very good restaurant – not cheap but as said, the view is exceptional and food is very tasty. I think Christmas buffet was 59 euros.

Hopefully I have time tomorrow to write few words about Tuomaan Markkinat, which Anne already mentioned in her writing about Christmas Bazaars here in Helsinki. I visited Tuomaan Markkinat today and it is really worth visiting!

Anna

 

 

Shopping in Helsinki, Part II

Last time I wrote you about shopping around Punavuori area. This time I’ll concentrate on shopping in downtown Helsinki. Just for your information, there are malls in Kamppi (next to metro station) and Forum (in corner of Mannerheimintie and Simonkatu) – if you want to do really basic shopping, you can visit those. However, they are nothing special, so I am not concentrating on those.

As I wrote also last time – when you follow my recommendations for wondering around, I am sure you’ll find many interesting places on your own. I am just writing some of them and you’ll find the rest! I recommend to start shopping day in Café Esplanad at Pohjoisesplanadi 37. You can taste delicious “lohikeitto” (meaning fish soup made of salmon) or try maybe biggest “korvapuusti” (=baked rolls) in Helsinki. Café Esplanad is bit place so you can almost always find a place to sit down. It is also great place to sit for a longer time – I have been reading there many times for hours.

After enjoying offerings of Café Esplanad it is time to visit so small but sweet Ombrellino next to Café Esplanad. Ombrellino is the best place to find something for kids – no need to wonder around and try to find something  – just visit here. Lovely shopping assistant will help you if you don’t know what kids of certain age would like to have.

Next to Ombrellino you find clothing store Samuji. That is a Finnish label for women clothing and homeware. Clothing is not classic in my eyes but timeless and sustainable design. Visiting there you get to see one angle of Finnish modern design – I highly recommend!

After these stores it is best time for you to enjoy park Esplanad when finding you way to best place for Finnish handicrafts – Taito Helsky Shop. Many tourists go to Kauppatori to buy “something Finnish” – that is of course okay but way better place for something Finnish is Taito Helsky Shop at Eteläesplanadi 4. There is a wide selection of Finnish handicrafts – artisans have their collections there and Helsinkians and tourists can find what they need (and sometimes maybe don’t need but they are so lovely you just have to buy those…). I really love this shop – I’ve bought many things from there for myself as well as presents.

Finlayson is part of Finnish industrial history. My grandparents worked at the factory back in times. Nowadays they are almost “world famous” since they have these “Tom of Finland” duvet covers in their offering (unfortunately not on shop window this time). However, mostly Finlayson has very normal and everyday duvet covers, towels and fabrics. You find this very Finnish store at the address Eteläesplanadi 14.

finlayson-finnish-design

I wrote earlier that Finlayson is part of Finnish history. Surely Marimekko is as well, and when in Helsinki you HAVE to visit one of their stores. They sell for example clothing, bags and some homeware. Offering is very colourful from hippiestyle to suitable to office. There are many Marimekko stores in downtown but since I suggest to visit Stockmann afterwards, I recommend you Marimekko store at the address Aleksanterinkatu 50.

And as stated above, if you still need something after all shopping done (and you are not over your budget), I recommend to continue to Stockmann – Finland’s biggest and nicest department store next to this Marimekko store.

Feel like sitting down after all this? Perfect place for sitting down and tasting some good wine is Bar Vin-Vin found near Stockmann (but you need to cross Mannerheimintie) at Kalevankatu 6. There you find wide selection of wines and very expert people recommending you right flavour – perfect place for relaxing before evening dinner.

Anna

 

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Perfect (Saturday) Shopping in Helsinki, Part I

map-for-shopping-in-helsinki

How to spend perfect shopping day in Helsinki? Well, there are surely many different answers but let me introduce one. This text concentrates on shopping (and bit other things as well) around Punavuori area in Helsinki.

Best way to start shopping day is to have breakfast at Café Ekberg (1 in map). This wonderful Café is situated in Bulevardi 9 (less than one kilometre from Railway station or Stockmann). Since pretty popular breakfast place, it is good to make reservation beforehand. Café Ekberg is also perfect place for afternoon snack in case you have had your breakfast at the hotel.

After breakfast I recommend visiting flea market Hietalahden Kirpputori (pictures above, map 2) which I’ve written before. After checking all tables you probably feel like it is good idea to sit down. For that you find small terrace café in front of Hietalahden Kauppahalli (Old Market Hall). After resting a while I recommend to visit Old Market Hall which is next to flea market, where you can find some Finnish handicrafts, vegetables as well as restaurants.

Walking along Fredrikinkatu is a great choice for shopping – you can find many small shops and boutiques. Here I just mention few, but there are plenty more around! Good starting points are three great clothing stores (map 3) in Fredrikinkatu: Liike, Asuna and 2OR+BYYAT. Addresses for these stores are Fredrikinkatu 35 and around (they are really close to each other so when you find one, you will find the others as well). All these stores represent Finnish design (some international as well). Liike and Asuna have labels from different designers, so you get very wide overview of Finnish contemporary fashion in these stores. My favourite label in Liike is “Miun” – I have so many dresses designed and made by them! Also other labels are very interesting. Since smallish labels, you can be pretty sure others will not have the same outfit than you when buying from these small stores. 2OR+BYYAT is more “international”. Their collection is sold worldwide but the brand is based in Helsinki. I especially like their leather designs.

After lots of cloths it is time for some old books – antiquarian books shop Hagelstam opposite of Liike is really worth for visiting. When you have had enough books continue along Fredrikinkatu – after one block you find tiny Fredrikintori market place (map 4) . This time there were flowers, sometimes there are antiquity furniture or vegetables. Right after Fredrikintori market place you find vintage store Ruuturouva (map 5) – that is fun place to drop by and find some vintage bags, shoes and dresses.

 

And after all this shopping you need some nutrition for you soul – for that you have to continue walking Fredrikinkatu and turn left to Merimiehenkatu. At the corner of Fredrikinkatu and Merimiehenkatu you find very cute candy store called Roobertin Herkku (map 6). That is a great place to stop by and buy some sweets. With mouth full of candy continue along Merimiehenkatu towards beautiful Johanneksen Kirkko (Johannes Church) (map 7). If doors are open, you may wonder around there, if not, just admire this 19th century church outside.

johanneksenkirkko-helsinki

Still some energy left? Continue to Annankatu. You find old Finnish tableware and other oldish Finnish design from not so fancy antique store moderndesign.fi at Annankatu 8 (map 8). After popping by continue to the corner of Annankatu and Uudenmaankatu. There you find Formverk (map 9) where you can find nice and handy items for home. After Formverk walk few meters right along Uudenmaankatu and you find Ivana Helsinki, Finnish women cloths designed by Paola Suhonen (map 10). I strongly recommend visit there (also downstairs). I have bought many dresses from there. Next to Ivana there is Punavuoren Peikko which has cute kids clothing offering.

After all shopping, best place to enjoy Helsinki is Ruttopuisto (official name of this park is Vanha Kirkkopuisto) which you find when walking along Annanatu towards north (map 11). However, there might be some Pokemon hunters who will disturb your resting like Marjo wrote earlier

ruttopuisto

If you are hungry, there are many good restaurants near by, I would recommend Soil which I have written before of something in the corner of Ruttopuisto – for example Gaijin with modern Asian flavors or Italian style Toscanini (both situated in Bulevardi, walk along Bulevardi towards Mannerheimintie and you will find them) are great choices.

And even mainly shopping the whole day you have also seen some of the most beautiful neibourhoods of Helsinki – many great buildings along your way – hope you have noticed also them!

Anna

 

Lonna – Beautiful Island and Delicious Food

Want to see Finnish archipelago and enjoy delicious food but can’t travel far from Helsinki? I have a best spot for you: Island called “Lonna” and restaurant there! Island is very tiny – easy to wonder around in few minutes – no cars or even bikes there. It is a perfect place to enjoy Helsinki skyline and archipelago before dinner. Restaurant is very popular so you have to book in advance. Food is very Finnish and delicious – fish, root vegetables and berries. There is also café in the island – there you can just stop by. Lonna is very popular with locals – not (yet) so much found among tourists. The island and restaurant have web-pages only in Fínnish but this page you can make reservation in English. Island is open only during summer time, however there are still few weeks left – it will be closed 17.9.2016 (and it will open again in May).

You can take ferry to this tiny Island from Kauppatori Market Place (ask somebody where is Kolera-allas in Kauppatori since ferry leaves there). It takes only 10 minutes by ferry so it is really close to downtown. However, when you enter to island you feel like you are far away from city – in the middle of countryside. I think this is one of many reasons we locals LOVE this place – so peaceful and “faraway” even so close.

Lonna is also one of the best places to enjoy sunset, sea and Helsinki skyline – admire these pictures,

Anna

 

Teurastamo – Piece of Berlin in Helsinki

Anne wrote recently about hippiest café in Helsinki. It is situated in Kallio which really is the hippiest district in Helsinki. Now I’ll continue writing of almost same part of Helsinki – this time I’ll tell you where you can find “piece of Berlin”. Naturally it is found near Kallio, in Vallila district. This “Piece of Berlin” is area called Teurastamo and you can find several resaurants and bars there as well as hammock where enjoy lazy  summer.

Teurastamo means abattoir in Finnish and the buildings in the area were built for abattoir purpose in 1933. Abattoir is history now and some years ago it was opened for public being a place for city culture. The place has rough feeling – you can feel and see it has been an industrial area.Quite often (at least every Friday) you can enjoy music played by dj. When hungry you can grill buy your own or buy food from restaurants. Since there was interesting looking pizza oven outside we wanted to taste outcome of that. And I have to admit – pizza eaten on Teurastamo terrace was best pizza I have eaten for a long time! There are also many bars in area so you may spend the whole evening there as well.

Recommend to everyone visit the place – perfect style is to bike but if you don’t have a bike you may also come by metro. Then step out in Kalasatama station and walk 200 meters – ask somebody Teurastamo and they will tell you the right directio. The address of this great place  is Työpajankatu 2.

Anna

 

 

Best Sauna in Helsinki – Public Saunas Part I

 

Sauna is a Finnish tradition – a hot room with stove. For stove you throw water and the room gets even hotter. Finnish word Löyly means the steam and heat which comes from stove when you throw water. Almost all Finnish houses have sauna – Finns like to visit sauna at least once a week – some people visit sauna almost daily. It is quite usual that apartments have shared sauna and one can book weekly time for visiting sauna. Also many apartments have tiny sauna by their own.

In history there were many public saunas in Helsinki since not so many apartments had bathrooms and definitely no saunas in apartments. For decades number of public saunas decreased (since people got saunas by their own) but laterly there has been new bloom of public saunas. I guess people like sense of community nowadays. For that need latest bloomer in public sauna field is Sauna called Löyly. It was just opened few weeks ago and it is situated next to see in Southern Helsinki.

Löyly is both, public sauna and restaurant. When you want to visit Löyly’s sauna, you have to have swimming suit with you. Otherwise you don’t need anything special – towels are included for the entrance fee (19 euros). Some instructions for first time visitors: first you pay entrance fee, then you go to changing room (there are also lockers where you can leave your stuff). There are separate changing rooms for women and men. After changing for swimming suit you go to shower and then you can choose which of two saunas you want to visit first: there is both “basic” sauna and smoke sauna. After being in sauna for few minutes, you probably want to visit terrace, pop in sea (there is possibility to swim but the sea is very cold so you don’t want to do that for a long time) or  buy something to drink. There is also a room with fire place for taking brakes. All that is possible before visiting saunas again. When I visited sauna some days ago, the day was pretty cold. However, that didn’t stop me visiting the sea several times! There were also some tourists passing by and taking pictures of us “crazy Finns” swimming even such a cold day. Entrance fee for sauna enables you to use sauna facilities for 2 hours.

To see this fascinting building and excellent views from terrace you don’t have to visit saunas – if you prefer, you can visit only the restaurant or terrace (no entrance fee then). Restaurant is not fancy in any means but anyway really nice. I tasted burger and it was tasty. Terrace is big and has truly excellent views as mentioned earlier. I can warmly recommend the place for everyone – you can experience Finnish tradition in downtown Helsinki! If you want to be asolutely sure to have sauna experience, I recommend you to make booking in advance. And how do you find the place? The address is Hernesaarenranta 4. It is situated in southern Helsinki – I guess around 2 kilometres from Railway station. You can take bus number 14 if you don’t want to walk there.

Great sauna-moments for all of you. You surely understand I couldn’t take pictures in sauna, so that you have to see by your own.

Anna

The hippiest cafe in Helsinki

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.