48 Hours in Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is a city that is green by nature and by design. While 48 hours gives you the time to explore the central districts of this amazing place, you do feel a little sense of yearning to come back and really LIVE this city!

Here are my top tips for exploring Helsinki in the summertime for 48 hours, ensuring, of course, that you leave feeling a little nourished from a green weekend.

Find great spots for saunas, spritzers and the sea.

The Finns may be understood to be a little conservative and shy. Our experience was anything but and the locals of Helsinki were so kind and accommodating.

When the sun comes out, so do they, and they’ve built the perfect seaside watering holes for their limited days of summer. If the sun is shining, head to the award-winning designed Löyly, nearby Birgitta and Allas Sea Pool. Take your togs for a sea dip or experience a sauna at Löyly or Allas ensuring that you check availability first as they're hugely popular.

While many homes have saunas there are some local public saunas that you can visit. For a more bohemian experience, head to the free Sompassauna. Do your research to check that it’s your style first!

Finally, if you don’t drink gin before visiting Helsinki, you will after! Order a Napue Gin with tonic, rosemary and cranberries and it’ll be one of the most refreshing summertime drinks you’ve had in a long time!

IMG_6650.JPG
FullSizeRender 5.jpg

Airbnb it in Kallio, Punavuori of Kluuvi.

For me, Helsinki is one of those cities where staying in an Airbnb will give you the best local experience and an insight into the minimalist style of the city. Just add ‘sauna’ into your search criteria in the hope you can snag a your own private sauna for your stay!

North of the city centre is Kallio and after doing some research, you’ll see that it’s the up and coming area of Helsinki - the Brooklyn, the Collingwood, the Shoreditch. It’s not quite there yet in terms of uber cool development but it does have some great little coffee spots and bars to explore and is only about 2kms from the city centre if your wanting to stay out of the tourist traps and are happy with the short tram ride into town.

Punavuori is super beautiful. Bulevardi runs right though it and the streets are lush with beautiful architecture. Design shops line the streets and eateries are plenty. This is the place to stay if you can snatch up an Airbnb in your price range.

Kluuvi is the shopping district in the heart of Helsinki where you can splurge on designer brands and be swept up by the sounds of sensational buskers (think three middle-aged dudes on a xylophone playing Supper Mario or a quintet of strings playing Andrea Bocelli's 'Time to Say Goodbye' *sob*). And of course there is the obligatory browse at Finnish designer brand, Marimekko.

FullSizeRender 7.jpg

Admire Finland’s famous design culture.

Hot tip...look up, look down and look around when you're walking the streets of Helsinki as there is design everywhere from fashion to homewares, interior and architecture.

It's a must to head to the Designmuseo to get a glimpse into the design history of Finland and the focus the country has on making lives better and the world more sustainable through design. For a double whammy, the Museum of Finnish Architecture is on the same block!

IMG_6704.JPG
IMG_6727.JPG

Get on your bike or walk and explore.

The trams are great but bike paths follow you the entire way through the city and if your staying in central Helsinki, walking will take you through beautiful parks and past huge city lakes to keep your city experience green.

In summer you'll find water sports on the lakes, the most beautiful old homes in the parks, hammocks between the trees and the most beautifully lush community garden you've ever seen!

FullSizeRender 6.jpg
IMG_6715.JPG
IMG_6633.JPG

Summer in Helsinki is bliss. Next time I hope to be writing a post reflecting on Christmas in Helsinki. How amazing would that be! The land of Santa and his squad.

Lush in Berlin, Mitte & Kreuzberg

Green Weekender was born while planning for our summer Scandinavian trip. I thought - if I'm travelling to the other side of the world to get a much needed dose of 'green' and Mother Nature, surely I can get my fix during my weekends closer to home.

What I didn't imagine though was adding a post on Berlin, our first Euro stop. I've been before and the city is a goldmine of wonder and history but it's not a place I thought of as green or oozing with sustainability or hues of lush. I figured I was wrong when I explored parts of Mitte & Kreuzburg and realised just how important suburbs like Kreuzberg, in particular, are to get out of the concrete jungle of any city.

Kreuzberg is the arthouse borough with substance and a nightlife scene to match, but as you walk down Fichtestraße, it's hard not to be overwhelmed by the lushness of creepers attached to apartment blocks and matching scents of the greenery, not to mention the social murmurs that flow from the restaurants and bars along the street.

 Kreuzberg

Kreuzberg

Stroll the streets and on Fichtestraße enjoy some low key Italian and an Aperol Spritz on the verandah at Medel, grab a schnitzel & brew at Mitterhoffer but most of all, pre book the most heavenly dinner at Tulus Lotrek, a real treat that boasts a 5 to 7 course tasting menu with the freshest seasonal produce, a wine match option and the most divine service and setting you will experience. Admire the wallpaper...it's heaven.

 Tulus Lotrek, Kreuzberg

Tulus Lotrek, Kreuzberg

 Wallpaper goals! Tulus Lotrek.

Wallpaper goals! Tulus Lotrek.

Just north of Kreuzberg, parts of Mitte offer up equally lush spots of green and a cafe culture that has embraced great coffee and a heavy focus on sustainability and quality organic produce.

Veer well away from Alexanderplatz down Linienstraße and peek into the apartment buildings to get a dose of greenery that residents enjoy each day. While you're in the area, head to Commonground under the Circus Hotel or Distrikt Coffee on Bergstraße for Melbourne quality coffee, smashed avo, organic eggs and the sweetest tomatoes you'll taste.

From there, sit back and enjoy and get your energy up before taking off on the free Original Walking Tour to experience the history and expanse of this incredible city.

 Behind the apartment entrances of Mitte are the most beautiful green courtyards.

Behind the apartment entrances of Mitte are the most beautiful green courtyards.

 Commonground, Mitte

Commonground, Mitte

 Commonground, Mitte

Commonground, Mitte

 Distrikt Coffee, Mitte

Distrikt Coffee, Mitte

 Kreuzburger, Mitte. Best burgers since 1999!

Kreuzburger, Mitte. Best burgers since 1999!