This post is a bit long overdue but many of you have been asking about my Finland trip so I wanted to finally share it with you! Danny and I had the pleasure of working with the tourism board to visit Finland and learn a little bit about Helsinki and Hanko Finland. It was a 7 Day trip flying with Finnair and I have all the deets for you here!
On Day one we flew out of Los Angeles. Finnair added a non-stop flight from LA to Helsinki so it was super convenient not having to have a layover. We were able to sit tight and relax for our 10 hour flight ahead. They flew us business class which was so nice as we could recline the chairs all the way into beds. They even fit Danny whose 6’2″! They offer a full 3 course meal on the flight and an array of drinks. I especially loved the blueberry juice which they greet you with. The attendants were super friendly and helpful and overall is was a great flight. After we landed we went straight to our hotel to check in.
This hotel used to be a prison and is a bit of a landmark in Helsinki. Honestly, it still looked and felt like a prison but that was what made it different. As we walked the hallways to our room it was easy to see what it looked like back in the day. Even the doors still looked like prison cells. I must say though, the breakfast at the hotel which was included in our stay was SO good. I still dream of those fluffy pancakes.
After checking in we had a little bit of time and then it was time to head to dinner.
Dinner was at Olo Garden which is a “back pocket” of the highly awarded restaurant Olo. It was located in a heated inner courtyard, covered with a glass ceiling. Honestly this restaurant was really beautiful and had a welcoming atmosphere. We really loved the decor.
Day 2 started with a walking tour of the city. I always love being able to see as much of a city on foot so this was totally my vibe. Although we all know I don’t do well on tours where the guide talks a lot but to each his own! The tour focused on the main attractions of Helsinki and some of the local hot spots and the design scene.
It was cool to see the different parts of the city. There was an outdoor market in Market Square where we got some time to explore where I got some delicious fresh fruit and also found a gorgeous hand made sterling silver ring. If you don’t know, I love to collect rings from every country I visit. After the walking tour we took a ferry to Lonna Island.
Finland is actually comprised of many islands, it’s an archipelago. You can spend a lot of time exploring the different islands. In the 1880s, Lonna Island was used by the Russian Navy to store mines, in the 1920s it was used as a base for clearing mines, and in the post-war period, ships were demagnetized there. Some are very tiny and only have 1 or 2 things on them. Lonna Island only had a bar, public sauna and Restaurant of Lonna where we were schedule to have lunch.
This is a cute little restaurant on the water surrounded by wild geese. We had the vegan menu although I would have loved to try the other dishes. It was a short ferry ride to get there and you can stop at other islands on the way if you choose.After lunch we headed back to Markert Square where we had some free time. Then we met to go to the sauna.
Allas Sea Pool is a new kind of spa complex, inspired by the historic spa heritage of the Baltic Sea, that was opened to public 1st of September 2016, located right next to the Market Square. Allas Sea Pool combines year-round swimming and sauna experiences with culture and entertainment. There is food, city events, and a bar. It looked like a place the locals loved to hang at.
Saunas in general are a very popular Finnish past time. Please note, it is tradition to do the saunas nude. Danny and I opted out of the Sauna but its definitely worth doing if you’re into it. You can also wear a swimsuit if you are not comfortable with being nude but most people will be nude inside. They also have pools filled with Baltic Sea water outside so you can alternate from the cool pools to the hotel saunas. Then is was time for dinner.
Restaurant Shelter is an old warehouse at Katajanokka harbor, they treated us to one of the best meals we had in Helsinki.
Day 3 Started with a fashion show in the park. Marimekko is a famous Finnish designer and puts on an annual fashion show every year. A lot of people came out to see the show and it was interesting to see the support she had from the Finnish people. There were old and young people out to support. The fashion show was lively and colorful and seemed like a slight departure of our experience in Finland thus far where everything seemed more mellow and reserved.
Overall Finland is a reserved country so it was super eye opening to see this fashion show with so much color playing upbeat hip hop music with a very diverse cast of models. After the show we had lunch at The Cock.
The Cock is an Eatery, Rotisserie, and Bar. They are open all day, serving food and drinks from breakfast until late night. One of their specialties are oysters. We arrived for the buffet and got to taste a bit of everything.
After lunch we had a bit of free time. We decided to try to find some vintage shops with not much luck so we ended up back at the hotel. Danny and I were so tired we slept right through dinner! We felt so bad cause everyone kept calling us to make sure we were alive. I guess the jet lag got the best of us that night! We heard it was delicious though so I will include it below.
“Restaurant Emo is located in the middle of city center. Restaurant’s menus are planned according to the flavors and best ingredients of the season and they describe their style with a sentence: ‘’Modern European with a Nordic twist’’.”
Day 4 we left Helsinki and headed to Hanko Finland which is basically the Hamptons of Finlands. On the way, we made a few stops.
We stopped at Fiskars Village to see the sites and learn a little more history about this town. If you are into crafts or sewing then you are probably familiar with the Fiskars scissors that have the orange handles. This is where they are from! I had a little nerd moment since I own a pair and they are my favorite scissors. We learned that this is where they made steel back in the day which eventually led to the scissors and other cutlery Fiskars is known for.Many artist come to this area to live in a “Artist residence” type atmosphere and create their work.
Afterwards we headed to lunch
We had another vegan meal here but it was actually very yummy and flavorful. It tasted so fresh. After lunch we did a little more exploring.
Hanko Front Musem is a renewed museum of military history with a wide range of exhibits. There was a tank with a swa stika out front of the museum which honestly was a turn off, for that reason I wouldn’t recommend this museum.
After the Museum we headed a few more hours to our hotel.
This hotel felt very boutique in a town that has very Hamptons beachy vibe. It’s located around the way from the beach although it wasn’t quite warm enough in May to head to the beach. It also had a spa with pool and hot tub and saunas. We wanted to make a spa appointment but it was tough as there is only 1 masseuse on the premises.
That night we had dinner at the hotel and this was our favorite meal of the trip. The hotel manager hosted our dinner and made sure we had an enjoyable night. Some of the others chose to party after dinner but Danny and I decided to head to bed. Apparently there is an interesting nightlife scene in Hanko if you choose to go out.
On Day 5 we woke up early to visit a lighthouse.
Bengtskär Lighthouse and Archipelago Cruise
It was about a 2 hour boat ride to the light house on choppy water. It’s safe to say we all got sick. The boat was small and I do not do well on boats. Since Finland is an archipelago, being on the water is inevitable so bring motion sickness pills if you’re like me! When we arrived at the lighthouse we had a small lunch of soup and bread and then had a little tour where they explained the history. The small island the lighthouse is located on is beautiful and the coolest part was seeing all the wild ducks nesting around the island, we were told there were over 200 and they are protected. They put ropes all around where they were nesting so tourist would not disturb them.
After heading back to out the mainland, we ended the day with dinner with the mayor of Hanko.
This restaurant had cool Game of Throne vibes. We didn’t try much of the food because they served duck and after seeing all the ducks that day, we felt bad eating duck for dinner. The mayor told us more history about Hanko and after a few glasses of wine we headed back to the hotel.
Day 6 was my favorite because it started with a bike tour and I LOVE riding bikes. Hanko is small town so you can rent bikes and literally just ride all around the town.
We visited the Hanko Water tower to check out the view from the top then had some free time to just ride around.
Afterwards we met back up and rode our bikes to lunch.
This was a fish harbor style restaurant specializing in seafood. It was buffet style so we tried the different kinds of fish and dishes.
We had another little break after lunch and then met back up to take a short ferry ride to a small island that had a private sauna. Sauna life is real in Finland and it was really cool that you can reserve this private sauna for your and your friends. We opted out of doing the Sauna but Danny and I chilled on the island which was beautiful and ver peaceful.
After the Sauna we headed back to the hotel where we had a seafood dinner.
We all headed back to the airport to catch our non stop flight back to LA. The best part of the trip was the group of people we went with. Everyone was open, friendly, and fun. They really made the trip!