Are you travelling to Helsinki, Finland? In this post I will share my view of why you should explore outside of Helsinki and discover what Porvoo city has to offer.
Porvoo is a picturesque little city about 50 km outside of Helsinki city center. It’s impossible not to fell in love with this place. Traditional wooden houses, cobblestone streets, beautiful Porvoo River and interesting local small shops makes you feel like you have traveled back in time. Actually Porvoo has a long history from the Middle Ages and the city has been established as early as 1380. That’s why I try to visit Porvoo once a year every summer, but it’s charming even in the winter. You might also find fascinating that local people speak two different official languages, Swedish and Finnish.
How to get to the city of Porvoo?
- The easiest and fastest transport is by car. It takes only 50 minutes from Helsinki city center or 35 minutes from Helsinki-Vantaa airport. You can find a free parking spot at Näsinmäentie or Vanha Helsingintie just before you reach the Porvoo River. Find more information here.
- If you don’t have a car, you can take a stylish J.L Runeberg boat from Helsinki in summertime. This is a nice way to see Finnish archipelago on your way to Porvoo. It takes about 3.5 hours to reach the city of Porvoo and return ticket cost 39 euros. Read more here.
- You can also take a bus to Porvoo from the city center or Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Check out the timetables and buy your tickets online here. Another budget friendly option is Onnibus.
What to see and do in Porvoo?
The best part of Porvoo is the Old Town. No need for planning, just go with the flow! This is the best way to explore the city. You will eventually find the amazing red coloured riverside warehouses right next to Porvoo River (must place for photos!), old church and pastel coloured wooden Town Hall building.
There are several interesting shops in Porvoo where you can pop in to and enjoy a conversation with the owners. My favourite shops were all connected somehow with food and chocolate, but you can find also antique and home decor related shops . Check out Brunberg for its famous chocolate kisses (Välikatu 4), Petris Chocolate Room (Jokikatu 16) and Skafferi for extensive tea collection and other food products (Jokikatu 41). Notice that most small shops in Porvoo are only open until afternoon!
I like all the nature sites so I would recommend exploring the Iso Linnanmäki (Castle hill). Its a little nature walk amongst the trees with nice views on the top. You can find this place just outside the Old Town. There used to be a castle but it’s gone now and nature has taken over.
The famous resident of Porvoo is Finnish national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. He has written the Finland’s National Anthem and there’s a museum (Aleksanterinkatu 3) of his home where you can visit for 8 euros. Finnish people celebrate Runeberg’s day on February 5th and there’s even a Runeberg’s pastry which you can taste in coffee shops.
If you like mansions, go to Haikon kartano (Haikkoontie 114). It’s only 7 km away from Porvoo city center. Take a car or rent a bike to reach this peaceful place. It’s free to stroll around the mansion gardens and you can grab a lunch or dinner here (make a reservation though).
Where to eat and drink in Porvoo?
Porvoo Paahtimo (Mannerheiminkatu 2): Very charming two-storey cafe right next to Porvoo River with good beverage options and cakes.
Khukuri (Runeberginkatu 34 D): Nepalese cuisine just outside of Porvoo’s Old Town. This is a budget friendly place with good service and delicious food.
Fryysarinranta (Jokikatu 20): If you want to enjoy nice views to the Porvoo River this is the place to go. This restaurant has a middle range priced food and snails as their specialty.
I hope you found my post useful. There are so much else to do and places to eat in Porvoo so visit this city and explore your own favourite places!