Visiting Helsinki but would like to experience some of the idyllic small Finnish towns as well? I listed 5 of them for you to choose from, all doable in a day whilst based in the capital city.
In the top3 of oldest towns in Finland, Porvoo (founded in about 1380) has not lost it’s charm over the years. The town has 50 000 inhabitants and the most gorgeous riverside area with old timber houses, little boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Picturesque at all times, especially summer and Christmas. How to get there? Bus, rental car or boat. Distance from Helsinki: 47 km. The buses go every 30 or 60 minutes, the trip takes about 60 minutes one way and costs 8-9 euros. For more bus info check out Matkahuolto. You can also make a cruise of it and and catch m/s J.L. Runeberg through the archipelago right into the heart of Porvoo. Definitely a viable option on a pretty summer day! For more info, timetables and fares check out m/s J.L.Runeberg. What to do? Take a stroll in the old town, stop for cafes, restaurants and shops and feel the atmosphere of the town. Check out the view from the bridge. What to buy? Local Brunberg Chocolate, handcrafted souvenirs and coffee from Porvoon Paahtimo cafe/bar/roasting factory. Eat & Drink The cutest cafe is Helmi (location: Välikatu 7, Porvoo), best place for beer and river views: Porvoon Paahtimo and for food you should try Gabriel 1763. More info Porvoo
2. Fiskars and Billnäs
Fiskars is a small ironworks village in the town of Raseborg. It is not a whole lot more than a street, but all the more idyllic and charming with old buildings, parks and a creek. Its history rests on the traditional Finnish company Fiskars, which was founded in 1649 and is one of the oldest western companies to date. Billnäs is only 10 km from Fiskars so you are best visiting both whilst there. Billnäs is also an old steelworks village, nowadays an idyllic place to visit and find hand crafted souvenirs and lots of old antiques and treasures. How to get there? Rental car or bus. Distance from Helsinki: 87 km. Bus connection is rather slow, though, so I’d recommend a rental car. What to buy? Fiskars products for cooking, gardening and crafts, Desico candles, local arts and crafts and antiques Eat & Drink Fiskars Wärdshus More info Raseborg: Fiskars and Billnäs
Ok, I am a bit biased with my tips. I grew up in Hämeenlinna so I do have a special relationship with it. However, I do still believe it is definitely worth visiting for a day trip from Helsinki not only for all the lakes around town or the medieval castle but also for the gorgeous park of Aulanko and the village of Iittala, the home of our most prestigious and exported glassware. You could do both Hämeenlinna and Iittala in a day or if you prefer a more peaceful pace, spend the night at Aulanko hotel by lake Vanaja and relax in the spa in the evening. How to get there? Train (check out VR for tickets and timetables), bus or rental car. Distance from Helsinki to Hämeenlinna: 100 km. Distance between Hämeenlinna and Iittala 23km. What to do? In Hämeenlinna, if you are visiting at summertime, start the day with a cup of coffee at the marketplace. Visit Aulanko natural reserve and climb the tower for great views. Check out the medieval castle in town. If you are into golf, there are several golf courses to choose from. In Iittala take a stroll around the Iittala glass factory premises, visit an art exhibition, browse through the little shops and enjoy the feel of arts and crafts. What to buy? Glass and tableware, chocolate Eat & Drink Hämeenlinna: for lunch or dinner I recommend Piparkakkutalo (Finnish for ginger bread house, named after the appearance of the building). For coffee (in the summer): the market place, the little cafe by the Aulanko tower or Tiirinkosken tehdas which is also an interior design shop just outside town but kind of on your way to Iittala. More info: Hämeenlinna and Iittala
The official capital city getaway and sailor town, Hanko is quiet in the winter but very vibrant and full of life in the summer. Beaches, old timber houses, sailboats and parties, the southernmost town in Finland gets you in a holiday mood. Definitely a nice contrast to Helsinki. Doable in a day if you have a rental car but if you like the atmosphere or take the bus or train down, do spend a night as well.
How to get there? Rental car (quickest), train or bus. Or a boat Distance from Helsinki: 124 km. What to do? Beachlife and boutiques. Eat & Drink You can pick pretty much any of the restaurants in the harbour and you are good. For both food and drink. More info Hanko
5. Tammisaari (Ekenäs)
On your way to Hanko it is definitely worth your while to stop for a stroll in the old town of Tammisaari. Charming timber houses in a relaxed seaside town, accompanied with good food and nice cafes. How to get there? The same way you get to Hanko, Tammisaari is en route. What to do? Take a stroll in the old town, admire the seaside views and have a picnic. Eat & Drink My fellow travel bloggers recommend Cafe Gamla Stan for a cafe and Albatros and Knipan for restaurants. More info Tammisaari
Have you been to any of these towns? Have any recommendations? Want to know more? The comment box is yours!