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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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