Written by Tim Bird
Helsinki, built on a cluster of islands and promontories, is defined by its proximity to the Baltic. Nowhere is this seaside essence more intense than at the main Market Square on the quayside of the South Harbour.
Explore the colourful stalls set out against the neoclassical backdrop of the City Hall and President’s Palace. Marvel at vivid heaps of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, forest mushrooms, salmon and rainbow trout, scrubbed new potatoes, and rosy tomatoes. Jump on the ferry or charter a boat to Suomenlinna, the fortress island in the harbour entrance, and lunch on seafood and forest game delicacies at the Restaurant Suomenlinnan Panimo.
After taking a cruise around the exquisite archipelago or a surreal winter stroll on the ice, wander along Esplanadi park, lined with Finland’s top design stores, from Marimekko textiles to elegant Iittala glass and tableware. If a Baltic shower or, in winter, a snow flurry breezes in, take shelter at one of Helsinki’s art museums, such as the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art or the Ateneum, home of more classical Finnish collections.
Round off the day with a top-class classical concert at the Music Centre or a performance at the National Opera. Both are part of a ring of modern buildings leading towards the parkland surrounding the Töölönlahti bay.
Thought for food
Picking up the baton from Copenhagen and Stockholm, Helsinki’s gourmet scene now leads the way in Nordic dining. Under the guidance of chef Sasu Laukkonen, restaurant Chef & Sommelier, in the enchanting art nouveau Eira district, earned its coveted Michelin star with a menu based on natural, organic, and fair trade ingredients, exemplifying Finland’s rising culinary status.
Distance: 4,396 km
Flight Time: 7 hours, 35 minutes
Frequency: Daily service