What to eat, drink and do in Helsinki

Author: PAT NOURSE
Photography: GUY DIAMOND

Finland's capital is bursting with beautiful achitecture, illuminating art, and a rich history seen in both their museums and streets. Here's our guide to getting the most out of Helsinki.

GETTING THERE

Finnair flies to Helsinki, codesharing with Oneworld partners from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney via Asian hubs. finnair.com

STAY

Lilla Roberts

Among the newest of the city's design hotels, Lilla Roberts has contemporary Scandinavian good looks mixing monochrome accents with Finnish Jugend touches, which reference the century-old building's original look. The bedrooms are sleek and well appointed, with high ceilings and windows that admit plenty of Nordic light. The bar attracts lots of locals; nurse a vodka and apple cocktail spiced with garam masala in dapper company.
Pieni Roobertinkatu 1-3; lillaroberts.com 

Hotel Kämp

The grande dame of Helsinki hotels, the Kämp is perfectly central, right on the park and mere moments from the flagship stores for Marimekko, Iittala and other essential local and international brands. It ticks all the big-hotel boxes - great bar, OTT breakfast, luxe spa - and Brasserie Kämp does a world-beating croque-monsieur to boot.
Pohjoisesplanadi 29; hotelkamp.com

Klaus K

The friskier, more approachable younger sibling to the storied Kämp, the Klaus K is still very central, but leans more brightly modern in its design and outlook. Service is not quite so baroque, but neither are the tariffs.
Bulevardi 2; klauskhotel.com

SEE AND DO

Market Square

This daily market, held right by the water in the middle of town, is flocked by tourists and locals alike, the former for furs and knives, the latter for fresh fish, berries and the curious likes of (somewhat toxic) false morel mushrooms. Snacks abound for all, smoked fish and pastries not the least among them, regardless of sunshine or snow.
Eteläsatama

Ateneum Art Museum

Washing on the Ice. The Cholera Basin. The Garden of Death. Conveying the Child's Coffin. A random sampling of the titles of the home-grown works at Finland's largest art museum reveals the chilly core of hardship in the country's history, but the quality of the craft makes it uplifting just the same.
Kaivokatu 2, ateneum.fi

DRINK

Mattolaituri

Rug-washing piers - piers where, yes, you used to take your rugs and mats to wash them in the sea - are a pleasing quirk of the Helsinki shoreline. Better still, some of them, like this pretty spot on Kaivopuisto park, are licensed to sell drinks.
Ehrenströmintie 3A    

Liberty or Death

Helsinki has its fair share of craft cocktail bars, and they're good, though often the drinks come with a side order of average music and bartender attitude. Not so at this gem, where the stock, service and scene all come together for the good. Try the Tea Clipper, a tribute to the Great Tea Race of 1866 rendered in bold strokes of whisky, dry vermouth, ginger and lemon.
Erottajankatu 5

DON'T MISS

A true Finnish sauna is an essential experience, as any Finn will attest. Most locals get their fix at home or at private saunas; if your concierge can't work any magic, try Kotiharjun, a public sauna (kotiharjunsauna.fi) in the Kallio district.

MAXIMUM MANNERHEIM

Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim is revered as the father of modern Finland. Immerse yourself in his world at his former home, now a museum (mannerheim-museo.fi), or with his menu at The Savoy (ravintolasavoy.fi), still resplendent in its original 1930s Aalto design.

 







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