What do you picture when you think of architecture in Helsinki? (And no, I don’t mean the indie pop band, although they’re great!) Just as the band has some underrated songs that aren’t as popular as their hit singles, so does Helsinki have some underrated architecture. If you’re ready to step away from Uspenski Cathedral and the Old Market Hall, here are some buildings that might just make their way into your Instagram photos!
I’ve talked about Kaapelitehdas (Cable Factory) before because it’s such an underrated cultural attraction in Helsinki. In my post about cultural centres built from repurposed industrial buildings, I shared some photos from TEOS 18. This was an art show highlighting the work of local sculptors and graphic artists. Art shows are a mainstay at Kaapelitehdas, and there are several permanent studios and galleries there. Among others, Artists’ Association MUU has a gallery at Kaapelitehdas.
In addition to art shows (and circus, dance, theatre, and museums), festivals are commonly held at Kaapelitehdas. This year, April was full of them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch the Helsinki Beer Festival. But I set my sights on the Helsinki Coffee Festival and the Jäätelö- ja suklaakarnevaali (Ice cream and chocolate carnival). I don’t often do posts centred around time-specific events, but I had to make an exception here. Plus, the festivals are annual!
This week I’ve been busy celebrating my name day (Linda is on 15th April in the Finnish calendar), doing all kinds of baking, and running some boring bureaucratic errands. When cooped up here in my own corner I’m of course not out finding things to share with you all. I’m not giving up that easily though!
In this post, I will reach out digitally and share Helsinki-based articles from other travel blogs. Many of these articles fall into specific niches, such as day trips from Helsinki or what to do in Helsinki in the winter. All of these blogs are awesome, and I thoroughly recommend checking them out further than these articles that I’m sharing!
Credit: JIP/Wikimedia Commons
Finland is a land of coffee. But if you look around in Helsinki, you can find some amazing oases of tea as well. Teen ystävät ry (Friends of Tea Association) has compiled a list of tea shops in central Helsinki. They have appropriately dubbed this area the “Tea District”. The area stretches from Kamppi in the west to Katajanokka in the east, with most of the chosen tea shops congregated in this corridor.
I’m a huge fan of tea and thus living proof that a love of coffee and a love of tea can happily coexist. Below I’ve gathered three of my favourite tea shops/tea rooms in Helsinki.
Sometimes when cities expand, the rapid growth is a two-edged sword. On one hand, thriving industries and healthy populations of residents are great. But when many new buildings are made at a quick pace, the end results tend to favour function over form. What you’re left with is a concrete jungle of grey boxes, devoid of colour and life.
This is where street art can play a huge part in bettering a city. When cities allow – or better yet, commission – artists to paint murals on their grey concrete boxes, so much character is added. Art makes both private and public spaces so much more inviting. It can totally change the vibe of a neighbourhood for the better. Below are two cases of street art doing just that in the Helsinki area.
This week the backstory of my post is deeper than just sharing my favourite places. I’m still sharing some of my favourite places, but all of these places have an important connection. This week, I will share cafes in Helsinki which contribute to good causes. This contribution can be in the form of donations to charities that the owners are passionate about, or a philosophy that they weave into their business model. All of these cafes show in some way that they value much more than just personal profit.
The inspiration for this post comes from a very important event that I participated in recently. On 24th March, there were hundreds of March For Our Lives protests held around the world. As you likely know, March For Our Lives is a movement for gun reform in the United States. A Sustainable Community organised a protest in Helsinki on the 24th. We marched in solidarity with the hundreds of other protests happening around the world. Helsinki might be thousands of kilometres from the United States, but we hope that every little bit of support helps bolster the efforts of the movement.
Click the link above to read the article on The Culture Trip’s website!
This week has been a whirlwind for me, with many endeavours going on in my personal life. So I haven’t been able to devote enough time to exploring the city and researching for a new article. But fear not! What I have done recently is finish a guest post for The Culture Trip, a wonderful culture blog based in London and New York. The Culture Trip hosts articles written by hundreds of contributors from around the world. These contributors offer insights into the niche aspects of their local cultures.
I decided to dive into the contemporary circus scene in Helsinki. I’ve been fascinated by the subject for a long time, and recently had my interest reignited through my visits to Suvilahti. Cirko – Centre For New Circus has its premises in Suvilahti. I’ve walked by the building several times, my eye always catching on the bright “Cirko” sign that stands out among the old factory buildings. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to share Helsinki’s contemporary circus scene.
There’s something so intriguing about vintage and antique shops that just draws me in. Of course, my love of history and retro aesthetics contributes to this intrigue. But even still, there’s something about seeing items that have existed for far longer than you have, undoubtedly connected to hundreds of stories from their many past owners. I love looking at vintage photographs – such as this collection from the Helsinki City Museum – and I enjoy listening to my father’s stories about his adventures from decades ago. Going into a vintage shop with this kind of mindset prepares you for a brilliant experience.
There are quite a few antique shops in Helsinki. Many of them are small, owned and operated by one person or family. You can also find some great retro and vintage items at Helsinki’s flea markets if you shop around! The basement of one of my favourite self-service flea markets, Punavuoren Patina, is a wonderland of antiques. Even chain thrift stores such as UFF stock vintage garments. UFF’s vintage pieces are conveniently separated from the contemporary stock in every store, often taking up their own room.
But if you’re keen to see stores full of decades-old merchandise of all kinds, the three below are amazing places to start.
This post will be a little bit different than what I usually do, but I’m so happy to write it! I wanted to shine a light on some Finnish female entrepreneurs in honour of International Women’s Day (on which I’m starting my first draft of this post). More specifically, female fashion designers who have their flagship stores in Helsinki. Finland has long been one of the world’s best countries for women to work in. Finnish women gained full political rights in 1906, and we had our first female president in 2000. This year, Helsinki topped a list of European cities for equality!
In the fashion world, Marimekko has long been Finland’s best-known brand. Armi and Viljo Ratia founded Marimekko in 1951 and the company has since empowered female designers such as Vuokko Nurmesniemi and Maija Isola. The latter is the creator of Marimekko’s iconic “unikko (poppy)” print.
Today, there are many more Finnish fashion designers gaining international attention, and many of them are women. I visited the flagship stores of three fashion brands headed up by women, and I’m eager to share them with you below!
When I started this blog I had to remind myself to not make every week’s post about cafes. Because honestly, I probably could. Cafe culture is going strong in Helsinki, perhaps fuelled by Finns’ insatiable thirst for coffee. Reviewing all of them might get a bit stale for all involved, so I’ve only done a couple of posts about cafes so far. But now, I can’t resist sharing a few cafes which I’ve fallen in love with in the last few years.
These cafes are not just ones where you drop in, grab a latte, and drink it on the go. You’ll want to order a bit to eat, curl up in a nice corner with a magazine or phone, and relax. You might even want to join the crowd of digi-savvy students and entrepreneurs who sit for hours and work on their laptops. These cafes have an indescribable ambience that keeps you there and makes you come back. Is it the creative but comfortable interior design? Is it the crowd of regulars? Or perhaps it’s just the awesome food and drink. Whatever makes these cafes so irresistible, I hope it’s never lost. The city deserves these little dens of wonder and delight.