And finally, Helsinki! Our final stop on our trip across the Baltics was the Finnish capital of Helsinki. As a renowned nordic city, we made a quick ferry ride across from Tallinn and started exploring the city immediately! Out of the three destinations we visited, Helsinki definitely felt closest to London, with a sprawling metropolitan and various public transport, but also had the added beauty of the many harbours, green spaces, and cultural hotspots. Here’s where we recommend heading, even if you have just 24 hours in the city…
1. Kaffa Roastery
Pursimiehenkatu 29, 00150 Helsinki, Finland
While Tallinn’s Røst Bakery was the best overall breakfast on our trip, Helsinki’s Kaffa Roastery definitely has the best coffee. There’s certainly a price-hike when crossing the Gulf of Finland (this flat white was 3.80 euros!) but this place does strong, fruity coffee expertly. Head here for a morning cup, and then further into the city for pastries like we did!
Kaivokatu 2, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Finland’s Ateneum is the equivalent of the UK’s National Gallery, and is certainly worth a visit. Tickets are, again, expensive, but the Outi Heiskanen exhibit certainly made up for it. Wander across the top floor until January 2022 to discover how Heiskanen has shaped and influenced Finnish art through illustrations and performances that range from the brutal to the bizzare to the beautiful. And of course, once you’re done with the exhibit, the main gallery is also worth a visit, with themed exhibits and some of Finland’s most important works.
3. Helsinki Cathedral
Of all the sights in Helsinki, the main Cathedral is certainly the most impressive. Pointing to the sky with its start-studded domes, it’s a lovely view any time of day. And in the winter, also come for the large Christmas tree, and just a few streets across, the Christmas Market, with live music, hot drinks, and sweet souvenirs.
4. Esplanadi, Helsinki
Once you’ve finished at the Cathedral and Christmas Market, be sure to make a bee-line down the Esplanadi for a little taste of luxury. This grassy walk is dotted with lights and statues, and sits across from some of Helsinki’s classiest establishments and shops. After our stroll, we stumbled across the nearby Chihuahua Julep, a no-phones, no-photos prohibition-style secret bar that combines Finnish heritage with Mexican spirit. Well worth a visit if you’re looking for a place to stop, sit, and converse at length!
5. Ravintola Nolla
Fredrikinkatu 22, 00120 Helsinki, Finland
Finally, the pièce de la résistance of our entire trip: Ravintola Nolla (or Restaurant Zero in English). Harking back to our first main meal at Neiburgs in Riga, Restaurant Nolla is a zero-waste restaurant, bar and micro-brewery that combines traditional, seasonal ingredients with modern twists. Notice the butter dish is the bottom of a wine bottle? What about the dried berries in my drink? Everything is thought out and just so well done. We booked ahead and were lucky to get a table, so we went all out and ordered the four-course Chef’s Choice Menu. The ravioli in cheese foam was quite literally, *chef’s kiss*.