I spent almost two weeks in Finland, exploring, discovering and learning. Finland has long been a dream destination for me, so when I had the chance to explore this amazing city for several days, I packed my warmest jackets, my favourite camera and away I went. Winter in Finland is famous for the amount of snow falling every year and for how long the snow season lasts.
Helsinki was colder than I anticipated but the weather didn't stop me from exploring even its most obscure corners. There were so many things to do in Helsinki. Helsinki is a quaint European city with lots to see and do. I like it how you could have almost the entire place to yourself, especially during the cold winter season. Unlike the more famed touristy cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, Helsinki is the salve for the over-travelled soul, looking to take a break from bus loads of Chinese and European tourists. It’s a lovely place for winter-lovely travellers, on a search for a place of peace and quiet, for themselves. I am so grateful for every encounter in Finland.
I had a seriously dreamy travel experience in Finland. While I am putting together all of the new content I collected I thought I would share one of the most charming areas I was able to photograph – Senate Square in Helsinki. This seriously cute square has been around since the 17th century and was changed to its current appearance by the Russian Tsar Alexander II, when he moved the capital of Finland from Turku to Helsinki.
This is also where the iconic Helsinki Cathedral stands proudly. The imposing cathedral towers above its surroundings and can be seen from many places around the city. It’s so white, that it seems that it’s cleansed every day. Its giant columns, its huge doors, the light-green colored domes decorated with stars are the final touch. But I am more impressed with how the Finns managed to upkeep the chalk-white exterior. It was so dreamy with the snow. It is perched above a flight of stairs where the Finns sit around and watch the world goes by. So i did the same.
The Senate Square and Helsinki Cathedral make such good looking pair, that they never fail to impress all day long.
This is Helsinki Central Railway Station. Over 200,000 people walk through it every day. Thick walls and strong floors are clad in Finnish granite. A lone clock tower rises to the cloudy sky of Helsinki. Busy or peaceful, noisy or silent, it’s always beautiful. No wonder it was chosen one of the world’s most beautiful railway stations by the BBC. At the front door of the station building stands four huge men lightning the night. Men are actually made of stone and they are holding spherical lamps.
Parallel to Esplanadi is where you will find Aleksanterinkatu, a street that connects the square where Helsinki Cathedral is to what I consider the main street in Helsinki’s city center: Mannerheimintie. A walk in Aleksanterinkatu is something interesting because of all the trams that go by and because of the beautiful architecture that you can find in the buildings there. In the end of the street, you can find Stockmann, one of the biggest and best department stores in Finland. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, Stockmann can be the place for you with its cafes, bookshops and a lot more.
No guide to Helsinki is complete without mentioning Marimekko, the homeware, fashion and lifestyle brand that’s so integral to the national fabric of Finland. Known for its colourful and vibrant prints, this brand is a cheery pick-me-up during the dreary winter months.
If it gets too cold for you just head inside the heated café tent where you can get a hot coffee to warm you up. Heated café tents allow you to sit in comfort and enjoy steaming hot coffee even on the coldest days in winter.
Vltava is the largest Czech restaurant in Finland, located in central Helsinki. The name of the restaurant comes from the Vltava river, running through Prague and the Czech Republic. The restaurant is located in a Jugend building protected by the National Board of Antiquities. The building has stood at the site since the early 20th century, when it was part of an industrial and railroad area stretching from the railway station to the Töölönlahti bay.
Mannerheimintie is pretty interesting as well since it connects the center of Helsinki with the north part of the city. The few blocks between Kaivokatu and Esplanadi are my favorite ones since it’s where most of the big shops in Helsinki can be found, there are a lot of people walking by and it feels like the heart of the city. I just love walking around there.
I walked around the market square to breathe in the snowy environment they have. Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite places in Helsinki.
I didn’t know what to expect in Finland but it was everything I could’ve hoped for. Helsinki is also about escaping digital distractions. Every day I planned on visiting a new destination with this very idea in mind. I want to live in the moment, enjoy the cold weather, pace of life and allow myself time to really process what I see around me. I never thought I would go to Finland but i am just so glad that I did. Helsinki doesn’t stop just because it’s a little bit chilly. Life continues like winter is just another time of the year and, I’m not sure why I love this.