Midsummer in Helsinki and Tallinn – Part I

I had friends visiting for the Midsummer weekend and while I always keep telling people that summer is the best time to visit Finland, this year’s summer is yet to start. Luckily the weather was mostly sunny and temperature stayed between 14°C and 19°C, so it could’ve been worse. 🙂

Midsummer is the time when everyone in Finland goes to their summer cottages and stay there for a long weekend. Luckily nowadays while shops are closed there are still people in the cities and even some restaurants are open, which definitely wasn’t the case even ten years ago.

We started the Saturday with a breakfast at my place after which we headed to Hotel Kämp, where my friends had their booking for the weekend. Hotel Kämp has a reputation of a luxury hotel and while the location is superb and service is good, the hotel had a somewhat dated feel to it despite being absolutely flawlessly renovated. Also apparently the hotel breakfast was nothing to write home about even though this is what I would’ve expected from a five-star hotel.

A lot of Helsinki sights are concentrated in the city center. Not to say that there is nothing to see a bit further out, but if you have limited time, you focus on the obvious first.

Kartta

So my plans were to walk around and see the following:

  • Allas sea pool
  • Helsinki Cathedral (Helsingin tuomiokirkko)
  • Senate square (Senaatintori)
  • Market square (Kauppatori)
  • Uspenski cathedral (Uspenskin katedraali)
  • Havis Amanda -statue
  • Esplanadi park
  • Old Student House (Vanha ylioppilastalo)
  • Ateneum Finnish National Gallery
  • Central Railway Station
  • Finnish National Theater (Suomen kansallisteatteri)
  • Helsinki Old Church (Vanha kirkko)
  • Kaivopuisto park
  • Löyly Helsinki
  • Kiasma (Nykytaiteen museo Kiasma)
  • Parliament (Eduskuntatalo)
  • Finnish National Museum (Suomen kansallismuseo)
  • Kamppi Chapel (Kampin kappeli)
  • Old Market Hall (Vanha kauppahalli)

A bit further afield are

  • Temppeliaukio church (Temppeliaukion kirkko)
  • Sibelius Monument (Sibelius-monumentti)
  • Opera House (Suomen kansallisooppera)
  • Lonna island
  • Suomenlinna sea fortress

We started walking from Kämp Hotel to Esplanadi, saw Havis Amanda statue, and the market at Market square. At the market you can buy food and souvenirs. Also in the summer, you should get some Finnish berries, which are delicious. There are some stalls that sell food, but beware of seagulls, who are flying above just waiting for you to look elsewhere. They have some nets and invisible wire above to protect from seagull attacks, but they don’t always work. 😉

We ended up at Allas Sea Pool, where you can either swim or just relax and enjoy the view. There are chairs and drinks available.

1_Allas
View from Allas Sea Pool
2_Allas
View of the Market square
4_Allas
Allas Sea Pool
6_Helsinki
View towards the Gulf of Finland

After Allas Sea Pool we headed towards the Uspenski Cathedral, which was about to close for the mass, but we just managed to sneak a peak inside.

7_Uspenskin katedraali
Uspenski Cathedral
8_Uspenskin katedraali
Uspenski Cathedral
10_Uspenskin katedraali
Uspenski Cathedral

Unfortunately the Helsinki cathedral was closed, but it’s more impressive from the outside anyway. People often sit on the stairs and have a short break or and ice cream (or a beer). 🙂

11_Tuomiokirkko
Helsinki Cathedral

After that we headed towards Kaivopuisto park and after that to Restaurant Löyly, which has a sauna and an opportunity to swim (also in winter), but we were heading for its terrace. Many people enjoyed drinks, but we went for tea and a cinnamon bun, which was one of the best I’ve had in Helsinki.

15_Löyly
Löyly terrace
16_Löyly
Tea and cinnamon bun

View from the shore was beautiful, but it is of course very windy.

12_Eira14_Eira

After that we headed back to the city center and it’s good that we did as it started raining, so we went to my friends’ hotel room to wait it out for an hour and a half. After that we took a long way to the restaurant seeing the Railway Station, Finnish National Theater, the Parliament building, Finnish National Museum, and the Opera House.

As I mentioned before, a lot of restaurants were closed for Midsummer, but luckily Sandro in Kallio district was open and I had booked a table in advance. This restaurant is one of those rare places in Finland, which serve good food at a reasonable price. It’s very easy to find good food in Helsinki, but it is usually fine dining and costs quite a lot. The service at Sandro can be spotty, but the food is always good. They also take dietary restrictions into consideration very well, so especially people with vegan and gluten-free diets really like this place.

21_Sandro
Sandro in Kallio

They also have nice cocktails. 🙂 So we spent a nice time in the restaurant and of course it started raining cats and dogs again, so we called it a day as we had a trip to Tallinn scheduled for the next morning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s