Summer is almost here and perhaps some of you are planning a trip to Helsinki. The city offers many young people summer jobs and so many young adults flock to the city and during their off-hours enjoy the parks and everything that summer has to offer.
Part of my job is to know what others are doing in the coffee shop and café business. So whenever I have a day with meetings in Helsinki, I dive into the city and find the places that people on social media are buzzing about and see if they are as good as they are claimed to be. Here are some of my most recent finds.
The street performance above took place just across the street from the famous Stockmann’s department store which is like Helsinki’s Selfridge’s and the clock in front is a popular meeting place. In the summer there are many street performers in the downtown area. Sometimes it seems like there is one on every corner. Almost like free little concerts and among them you may choose a performer which best fits your taste.
Along the Esplanad, which is a parkway right in the center of town can be found Café Esplanad, known for their gigantic cinnamon rolls that should almost be shared. But less than a ten minute walk away situated at Bulevardi 9 is The Grand Old Dame of Helsinki Cafés, the Ekberg Bakery and Café that has been around since 1852. The bakery and café both have their own entries but are situated right next door. The first time I walked into the door of the bakery, I breathed in a smell from childhood. It smelled just like the Wuollet Bakery.
If you were to continue the walk down Bulevardi to the harbor area there are some old brick factory buildings that have gained a new purpose. Moko Market and Kaffa Roastery are treasures of a place that I will certainly be returning to and are located at Perämiehenkatu 10. Moko Market has a café and fresh salads and lunches daily along with a large interior design store. Right next door and sharing a walk-through doorway on the inside is Kaffa Roastery. They pride themselves with their expert knowledge in coffee. Today the old industrial area is part of the trendy design district.
Returning from the scene of the old factories there is another treasure of a place that even won an award for their ambience. Fleuriste is located on Uudenmaankatu 13. It is tiny but so cozy and you may stop and enjoy their French influence in this quiet little niche right in the heart of the city. In addition to their lovely things to eat, the owner makes beautiful flower arrangements to order.
Or you could take their Fleuriste’s lovely homemade sandwiches or sweet treats to the Old Church parkway, just a few blocks away right on Bulevardi and neatly tucked away from the main drag, Mannerheimintie.
Just a stone throw’s away is Hotel Torni at Yrjönkatu 26, which was for years the tallest building in Helsinki. It has a colorful history full of politicians and celebrities. Today there is a sky bar that has a wonderful view over Helsinki. Taking the elevator up and climbing the round staircase to the top is free and on both sides there a large outdoor patios. Definitely a place to go visit. And as you can see from the cityscape, the Old Church is just below.
If you might have a few days of time I would recommend using an afternoon to visit Suomenlinna which is the fortress right off of Helsinki. There is ferry that takes off at the Market Square about every twenty or thirty minutes and the ride takes about 10 minutes to the island.
A twenty-five minute bus ride (bus 24, leaving from Lasipalatsi) will bring you Seurasaari which is a free outdoor museum on a little island with a bridge connecting it to mainland. It is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic if the weather if fair and learn a little about Finnish history as there are many old dwellings brought from all over Finland that have been reconstructed on site.
These are some of my favorite places, and I feel the list could go and on. So I’ll leave you with a couple of newcomers that just opened their doors to customers during the past couple of months.
The Cock is a high class neighborhood eatery and a place that I would like to revisit. They serve breakfast until 10 am and their lunch menu looks delicious. They are open into the evening so really any time of day will do.
While I normally don’t mention fast-food, I do need to mention Friends & Brgrs, located on Mikonkatu 8 right in downtown Helsinki. They pride themselves on housemade mayo, using never-frozen beef and making each burger to order. Their fries are homemade using a special process and when I stopped by at lunch time the place was hopping. Be prepared to wait twenty minutes for your burger. I thought it was worth the wait.
And this is my Friends & Brgrs inspired home-made burger made with grass-fed organic (never-frozen-directly-from-the-butcher) beef with aioli, baby kale and carmelized onions. Oh, and a slice of manchego cheese.
Welcome to Helsinki!