Three Helsinki Market Halls You’ll Want to Visit

Indoor market halls are an institution in Helsinki. Not only can you buy delicious fresh produce but there are plenty of cafes with a mouthwatering selection of sweet and savoury snacks and hot meals.

Market halls are an institution in Helsinki. Dating back to the 19th century, they’re often housed in beautiful old buildings with a range of delicious, fresh and often organic produce, fish and meat. You’ll also find many traditional cafes and shops selling Finnish homewares, books and souvenirs. Most market halls in Helsinki are open every day of the week except Sunday.

Here are three of the most famous market halls in Finland’s capital

1. Hakaniemen Kauppahalli

The Hakaniemi market hall has recently moved to a newly built “temporary” market hall next to the old building. You’ll find this market between the city center and the trendy neighborhood of Kallio (see this post for things to do in Kallio). In summer there are many stalls outside, selling fresh produce and hot food. Once a month there’s also flea market with second hand clothes and antiques. In winter the indoor cafes provide a welcome refuge from the snow.

The temporary market hall in winter
The temporary market hall in winter

2. Vanha Kauppahalli (Old Market hall)

This gorgeous old building dates back to 1888 and was the first indoor market hall in Helsinki. If you only get the chance to visit one market hall, I’d recommend this one. It’s right in the tourist area, next to Market Square and has a range of produce and cafes on offer. For further information see this site.

 

3. Hietalahti Kauppahalli

Unlike the other two market halls above, the Hietalahti hall has no fresh produce. Instead, the two story building contains a plethora of mouth watering eateries. From burgers and kebabs to Filipino, Japanese and Italian cuisine, there’s sure to be something for everyone. There are also a few stalls selling hand-crafted wares.

In summer the car park outside the hall becomes a monthly flea market- the perfect spot to bag a bargain!

 

5 of the Best Museums in Helsinki

There are over 50 museums in Finland’s capital! These are 5 of my favourites.

Fins love museums. So much so, that there are over 50 museums in Helsinki alone!

If you are visiting Finland for an extended period of time then is it well worth purchasing a 1 year museum pass for 69€. This will give you entrance to 34 museums in Helsinki and whooping 280 across the country. This is great value when you consider many of the museums charge upwards of 15€ for a single visit. For more information on this pass visit the official site here.

Alternatively, if you’re only visiting for a short stay or can’t afford an annual pass, there are regular free museum days, which I’ve listed below. Additionally, many museums are free on certain days throughout the year. These include International Museum Day (18 May), Helsinki Day (12 June) and Night of the Arts (late August).

A final tip is that many of the museums in Helsinki are closed on Mondays.

Here are my favourite 5 museums in Helsinki

 

 

1. Amos Rex

This is by far my favourite museum in Finland! Colourful, interactive and captivating, the museum is a must for anyone interested in any form of visual art. As it’s so popular, lines can be very long when a new exhibit is showing. As its best experienced without crowds try and pick a quiet time to visit, such as early afternoon on a week day.

Single Visit Cost: 18€

Closed Tuesday

2. The National museum

Close to the center of town by Töölöö Bay, this museum building itself is very grand, and forms a prominent component of Helsinki’s skyline. The collection centers around Finland’s history from medieval times to the 19th century and is both a fascinating insight to the national identity and intriguing window to the past.

Single Visit Cost: 12€

Open 7 days a week; 11am-6pm and Wednesday until 8pm

Free day: Fridays between 4 pm – 6 pm

3. Kiasma: Contemporary Art Museum

Centrally located near the railway station, the collection at this museum is diverse and thought provoking. There are several levels with different temporary exhibitions in each, with the top floor offering stunning views out the city amid different coloured strobe lights.

Single Visit Cost: 14€

Closed Monday

Free day: first Friday of the month

Kiasma Museum

Inside Kiasma Museum

4. HAM: Helsinki Art Museum

You’ll find this museum in Tennispalatsi – an old tennis stadium next to the Kamppi shopping mall. The exhibits are modern and contemporary in style and entirely not my thing. I just didn’t get it. I’m sure others feel differently.

Single Visit Cost: 12€

Closed Monday

Free day: the last Friday of every month

5. Anteneum

This is a ‘classic museum with a twist’. Housing the largest collection of classical art in all of Finland, including the odd Van Gogh, this was more my style of museum. The building itself, just across from the train station is also imposingly elegant.

Single Visit Cost: 17€

Closed Monday

Free day: seemingly random free days, see their website for details

Anteneum museum

Which is your favourite museum in Helsinki?

 

 

The Best Places for Book Lovers in Helsinki

Finland lays claim to the highest literacy rates world-wide. So it’s not surprising that Helsinki is a paradise for book lovers. Here’s 7 of my favourite places to visit when I want to get lost amidst pages of adventure.

Finland lays claim to being the nation with highest literacy rates in the world, so it’s no surprise that a love of books and libraries are an integral part of the country. As well as beautiful libraries, Helsinki is also home to many charming antique and international bookstores.

Here are 7 places in Helsinki that will spark the imagination of book lovers the world over

old world map

1. Oodi: Helsinki Central Library

The newest edition to Helsinki’s libraries, Oodi opened on Independence Day in December 2018. The state-of-the-art library was a centenary gift to the citizens of Finland from the government.

The building itself is unique and eye-catching, featuring a top level completely enclosed in glass. Not only does the library house an extensive literary collection but it also serves as a recreational melting pot. There are spaces for children to play, virtual reality gaming rooms, music recording studios, crafting and sewing areas and high tech media stations.

The result is a relaxing and stimulating meeting place, with indoor plants and amazing views to boot.

Location: Kansalaistori square

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-8pm

More info here

2. The National Library

Located directly across from the Helsinki Cathedral, the National library is a truly amazing and humbling experience for any book-lover.

Shelves are stacked high with every type of book imaginable and the views from window-ined reading nooks are enchanting.

Location: Unioninkatu 36

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, except Wednesday 9am-8pm. Closed on weekends.

More info

3. The Kallio library

Housed in a huge old redbrick building at the top of Porthaninkatu, this three story library has sweeping staircases and huge widows looking out over Bear Park.

Location: Viides linja 11

Opening hours: Mon-Thur 8am-8pm, Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 12-6pm

More Info

4. Arkadia International Bookshop

This place is not only a fantastic international bookstore but a place for scientific talks, philosophical discussions, board games and generally relaxing in a cosy atmosphere.

Location: Nervanderinkatu 11

Opening hours: Tue-Fri 12-7pm, Sat 12-6pm, Sun-Mon closed

More Info

5. Hagelstam Antiques

This antique bookstore has shelf upon shelf overflowing with old and rare books, maps and prints. While most are in Finnish, it still feels like a treasure trove of hidden, long lost literally gems.

Location: Fredrikinkatu 35

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-4pm, Sun closed

More Info

 

 

6. Nide Bookstore

Just next door to Hagelstam Antiques you’ll find this charming bookstore. Full of bright modern books (and classics) that I couldn’t help but touch and flick through. I wanted to buy most of the store and could spend days here. The perfect spot to find a gift for a friend or a new read.

Location: Fredrikinkatu 35

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun closed

More Info

 

7. Sivukirjasto

There’s something about having a glass of wine amidst old books that soothes my soul. Even if most of the book-lined shelves contain Finnish titles. The drinks are also well priced for Helsinki standards.

Location: Fleminginkatu 5

Opening hours: Mon-Thur 2pm-2am, Fri-Sun 12-2am

More Info

 

5 unique off-the-beaten-track cafes in Helsinki

If you saw my post yesterday about quitting coffee, you’ll know that Finland holds the bragging rights to the nation that drinks the most coffee! So it’s not surprising that in Finland’s capital you’ll find a huge range of cafes, which (luckily for me) also offer many other delicious drinks and snacks aside from coffee. If you want to branch out a little from the mainstream downtown cafes then try one of my favourite 5 cafes below. All are located in neighbourhoods surrounding the city center, but also far enough away to feel like you’ve stumbled into a hidden haven. Oh, each cafe also has ridiculously cool decor & vibes.

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1. Regatta: a nautical themed cafe open 365 days a year

This place is an institution and it’s not hard to see why. With an incredibly cute (but tiny) interior, complete with all sorts of vintage nautical decor, outdoor seating with post-card worthy water views, and an open fire where you can cook sausages, this place has it all. They have delicious (and very well priced) sweet and savoury snacks and a great range of hot drinks including coffee, several types of hot chocolate, warm juice and glogi. But possibly the thing I love most about this cafe is that it’s open every day of the year. This is particularly noteworthy in Helsinki where many cafes open late on weekends and often not at all on Sundays.

Hours: 8am-9pm daily

Location: Merikannontie 8

 

 

 

2. Relove: cakes, coffee & second hand shopping

This is one of my favourite cafes in Helsinki, not only because they serve beautiful cakes and one whole wall is dedicated to plants, but also because most of the space is a second-hand store. The racks are divided into slots for people to sell their no longer wanted clothes and shoes, and you can often find great bargains. A section of the store is also dedicated to beautiful homewares and body products.

Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm

Location: Sandelsinkatu 6

 

 

 

3. Bon Temps: French vibes in Meilahti

This cafe is the perfect place to relax with a hot drink and freshly baked pulla, amidst good music and chic decor. As well as their delicious home-made pastries, there’s also hot and cold daily lunches (with vegetarian options) for around 10€.

Hours:  Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 9am-4.30pm

Location: Mannerheimintie 132

 

 

 

4. Roots: environmentally friendly food & decor

This vegan cafe does a perfect sized, delicious and healthy breakfast set and also serves pretty cakes, smoothies and hot drinks. But it’s the upcycled decor that I love most about the place. There’s also a yoga studio attached to the cafe.

Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-7pm

Location: Vaasankatu 14

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5. Helsinki Coffee roasters (Helsingin Kahvipaahtimo): the best coffee in a creative setting

If you’re looking for excellent coffee with inspiring upcycled decor you can’t go past this place. Love, love, love!

Hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm

Location: Päijänteentie 29

 

 

 

Five reasons to visit Finland

By far the most common question I get asked when I meet people these days is “why Finland?”  For me, Finland represented something completely foreign and unknown, at the extreme opposite end of the world from my home town. So beside the unique medical research opportunities available in Helsinki, the challenge of stepping outside my comfort zone into the ‘scary unknown’ was the main reason I chose to move here.

A year later the county was voted as #1 place to live in the world and I’m not at all surprised. Finland has a lot going for it- immense natural beauty, enviable equality, excellent infrastructure, job opportunities and a great standard of living. But if you’re more interested in a passing visit then permanent relocation there’s still a bunch of reasons to put Finland at the top of your bucket list. Here’s five.

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1. The Architecture in Helsinki is truly amazing

Those boys weren’t lying (non-Aussies see this). A year and a half later and I still can’t get over the shear beauty and ornate details of the buildings of Finland’s capital. There’s a huge range of beautiful colors, shapes and styles, with many buildings sporting turrets, painted details or other decorative flair. Helsinki is quite a compact city, so exploring on foot is ideal in the warmer months. In winter, the extensive tram network makes for a great way to explore slightly further afield.

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2. Finnish Traditions are quirky and unique (as are the people)

The Finnish personality type is quite an acquired taste and while it can be hard to meet new people in a land full of introverts, I’ve also enjoyed the personal space and general acceptance Finnish people emanate. Then there is sisu. An innate characteristic of all Finns, best described as suffering on in silence no matter what, or as Wikipedia generously puts it “stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness”.

And the traditions. From their love affair with saunas (and the subsequent ice swims/snow frolics), to mid-summer (Juhannus) bonfires and midnight sun, Vappu celebrations- where everyone barbecues and drinks in the city park whilst wearing white school caps (even the statue of Havis Amanda is ceremoniously adorned with one) and crazy coloured overalls, to the dark rye dessert of Mämmi and dressing up as witches at Easter, Finland has some damn fun traditions!

3. The Nature is beautiful and ever so peaceful

Forests, lakes, islands, large rocky outcrops, immense peace and quite. Finland has the best of all these things and the Finns really know how to make the most of nature, particularly during the month-long summer holiday of July when the country practically shuts down and everyone escapes to their summer cottages.

4. Lapland: Finland’s far north

Finland’s beautiful northern region is an amazing experience during both the cold winter months and summer- when a single day lasts for two months! For some ideas on what to do in Lapland check out this post.

5. Christmas is magical

Rovaniemi in southern Lapland is touted as the home of Santa- and there’s definitely a strong spirit of Christmas cheer and festive experiences to be enjoyed in the town- especially the reindeer parks and Santa Claus Village. In Helsinki and other cities around the country, Christmas markets, twinkling lights and decorations make December feel bright and alive, despite the darkness and cold.

If you want to hear more about why you should visit Finland then keep an eye on my blog over the next 4 months, as I share a post every Friday post about my experiences and tips for exploring Finland!