Things to do and see in Finland
March 20, 2012 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Helsinki next weekend, and in Turku for an afternoon. However, the only guide book I can find for the city is from 2006. Any recommendations on interesting thigns to see and cheap places to eat?

- Neither of us speak Finnish.
- We are happy wandering round taking pictures and aren't planning to drink much due to Finnish alcohol being expensive. I don't know much at all about Helsinki so not sure where to start!
- Some recommendations for small, portable souvenirs would be good - any tasty food or interesting trinkets? I already plan on picking up a Moomin. I am a sewer/crocheter and my partner is a boardgamer, if that helps.
- My partner is allergic to peanuts, chickpeas, and most legumes - will this prove much of an issue? In London, we don't eat in curry or vegan places for this reason.
- We are staying in an Omenahotelli, fairly central, and will be travelling to Stockholm via Turku on the Monday. What can one do in Turku for an afternoon?
posted by mippy to Travel & Transportation around Helsinki, Finland (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Helsinki had lots of good knitting and craft shops when I visited a couple of years ago - I spent a lot of my visit wandering from one to another as my crafty wife explored them and crossed them off a list. I'll ask if she's still got the list somewhere.
posted by BinaryApe at 7:34 AM on March 20, 2012

My souvenir recommendation would be, if you can find any, jam made with the arctic raspberry, aka arctic bramble (mesimarja in Finnish, apparently, or åkerbär in Swedish): extremely delicious!
posted by misteraitch at 7:36 AM on March 20, 2012

I was in Helsinki a couple years ago and really enjoyed my afternoon on Soumenlinna. If the weather is good, that can't be beat.
posted by chiefthe at 7:38 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Up-to-date online guides to Helsinki:
Lonely Planet
Official Helsinki tourism site

Or you could contact the Helsinki tourism bureau and send them this question directly. They will email you a response.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:49 AM on March 20, 2012

I am a sewer/crocheter and my partner is a boardgamer, if that helps.

Star of Africa (Afrikan tähti) is a classic family boardgame that every young Finn grew up on.

Knitting is a popular pastime, even for men (apparently they are taught in school) - you could pick up pattern books on the traditional designs in the bookstore in Stockmanns City Center
posted by infini at 8:38 AM on March 20, 2012

I was in Turku last summer for a few days and found the riverfront downtown to be absolutely lovely. It's much much less expensive than Helsinki, with many riverfront cafes and streetlife. It was remarkably warm when we were there, which may in part explain the vibrant street life (which might not be as prominent in March when it's colder.) I think there's some historical "oldest city in Finland" stuff you can see near the river-- we never made it to that stuff.

My recommendation for an afternoon in Turku: Wander the riverfront downtown and go where the spirit takes you. In and out of several shops, I never had trouble finding an english-speaker there (or in Helsinki.)
posted by u2604ab at 9:16 AM on March 20, 2012

Recommendations from Mrs Binaryape, based on old receipts: Matan tekstiili for knitting, Punainen Lanka and Nappitalo Knapphuset for buttons and shiny things. She found a lot of info on Craftster, possibly in this thread. There are many more places - you can barely get down a street without finding a neat craft of hobby shop.
posted by BinaryApe at 3:04 PM on March 21, 2012

Helsinki is a jewel. You'll have no problems getting around in English; in fact some people under 40 get a little offended if you assume they can't speak English!

The candy section of any grocery store is a good place to get consumable souvenirs- I would recommend Jenkki (Yankee) chewing gum or salmiakki (salted liquorice). Your best bet for souvenirs in general is in the craft building directly across from the Tuomiokirkko (the big white church) or Stockmann's fourth floor (in the exact center of Helsinki). the Iittala store on Esplanadi has a lot of little glass souvenirs you can easily pack as well.

The best knitting store in the city is Menita, walking distance from any of the downtown Omenahotellit. Note most small shops are closed on Sundays.

Worth a visit is a short tram ride to the Hakaniemi Kauppahalli (Hakaniemi market hall), which has been unchanged for about a century. You can check the food stalls out with the locals and have some really great soup at Soppakeittiö (Soup Kitchen).

For restaurant recommendations, check You can set the website to english, and there is a mobile version.

When in Turku, walk around near the river Aura and check out the School/Bank restaurants, they were built of a school and restaurant and are pretty fun.

Most Finns buy their alcohol on the ferry. Most Finns drink their alcohol on the ferry too. While you shouldn't be concerned about your safety, be prepared for a carnival atmosphere onboard.

The weather will be slushy so dress accordingly!

Have fun!
posted by daravida at 10:27 PM on March 23, 2012

Oh, there is also a board game store in Kamppi Center (the large shopping center near Stockmann, next to Anttila, which is the Finnish Target)

When it comes to Moomin stuff, there is a Moomin store on Mannerheimintie but you'll probably find it all in Stockmann anyways.
posted by daravida at 10:30 PM on March 23, 2012

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