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Helsinki, Finland •
The best things here are to me: the sea, the parks, all the different districts with their own characteristics, being able to cycle around in the summer and all the non-commercial "happenings", like Restaurant Day!


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Shop

The top place for craft supplies I think is Sinelli, located in the city center at Simonkatu 10. They have two shops side by side, one specializing more in cute wedding and scrap book stuff and papers, the other, my favourite, on everything else: beads, shrink plastic, jewelry parts... If I need something more elaborative, I'll visit the quite large Hobby Point on Fredrikinkatu 61. They have everything from miniature railways to dyed wool.

For selling your own crafts, there are several possibilities! Once a year there are design fairs at Korjaamo in the district of Töölö (very trendy fair with their own DJ), the eco friendly design festival called Recycling Factory at Kaapelitehdas, the Ofelia Market at Kulttuuriareena Gloria, (punk, burlesque, vintage vibe), to name the biggest occasions... And of course before christmas the city is packed with all kinds of craft sales, I prefer the one at Vanha Ylioppilastalo. At summer you may sometimes come across some interesting modern crafts at the main market square Kauppatori, right next to the strawberry and fish stalls...


Be Inspired

I love art, and I often find inspiration in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma at Mannerheiminaukio 2. They also have a nice little shops with all kinds of books and imaginative modern design items. My other favourite is the Amos Anderson Art Museum, that actually used to be the late Mr. Anderson's home, but was turned into an art museum after he passed away. The home is interesting in itself, with its own chapel, but also hosts changing exhibitions ranging from classical paintings to contemporary art.

For something not craft related, I recommend getting to know some of the districts and picking your favourite. The Kallio area is for you, if you like cheap beer, rock music and bohemian people. If you're into fashion, check out Punavuori and all the little boutiques and café's (you can get a map titled The Design District to navigate more easily), if you're into nature go to Keskuspuisto, the central park. It's really more like a wild forest than a park, a favourite for joggers and horse back riders.

For taking photos, (besides all the places I mentioned before), I think an interesting site would be the old part of the district of Vallila, where old wooden houses are preserved and a home for lots of people. Once overlooked, the area is now very popular, but still very peaceful and pictoresque, with lots of colors and natural crags. Also the fortress island Suomenlinna, where you can go by ferry, is interesting. It has old stonewalls and caves (bring a flash light!), but also pretty houses and a ton of tourists on a picnic. :)


Eat & Drink

When you get hungry, check out Vegeburgeri. They have two little vegetarian/vegan burger joints and a portable kiosk, and they're open almost all night. For a great vegetarian lunch, try Zucchini at Fabianinkatu 4.

The city is full of cafés, both exciting and ordinary, but two interesting ones you should try are called Regatta and Sinisen Huvilan Kahvila (=The café of the Blue Villa.) Both have excellent sea views, the latter is only outdoors and open only at summer. At Café Regatta you'll find delicious cinnamon buns, an open fire for grilling sausages (a very Finnish thing to do!), a rowing boat for rent, and an ice sled on the frozen sea at winter... All this in a tiny red cottage. Oh, and they'll pay you back five cents for every refill cup of coffee... If you're just a little peckish, try a savoury "karjalanpiirakka" at almost any coffee shop :)

I also have to mention the Restaurant Day, a phenomenon that started off in Helsinki. It's a day every few months, when anyone can set up their own restaurant at their home or at the street, basically anywhere. The days are always great, and you can get great food too!


Craft

For both inspiration and a place for crafting, I recommend all the parks with a sea view, like Kaivopuisto, Sibeliuspuisto, the little island called Tervasaari... During winter (and rainy summer days), Talvipuutarha, "the Winter Garden", is the place to go, sit, craft, and maybe eat your own packed lunch. The building is a gorgeous 19th century glass house, and it's free of charge.

I'm not a member in any craft club, but I've noticed there seems to be quite a few knitting clubs around. There's even a knitting club in the library bus, that takes books near your home. Some yarn shops, like Villavyyhti on Kangasalantie 4, have their own clubs and courses on knitting etc. Dodo, an environmental organization, holds work shops for upcycling and "tuning" old things, that might otherwise be considered as trash.


See Something Special

If you're looking for quirky, they say Finland is the place for you... Allthough I think the quirkiest things you'll find outside of Helsinki, we have some too. The Finns love their saunas, which are very hot and where you go naked (ok, you can wear a towel if you must! :)) There's a new interesting, eco-friendly public sauna in Merihaka, designed by two artists. The best way to enjoy the sauna is to first go swimming in a hole cut in the frozen sea at winter. Swim a lap, run to the sauna and feel incredibly refreshed! You might think it's awful, but it's actually the best feeling, and gives you amazing resistance against the flu and sore throats!


Take Home A Souvenir

Take home with you a lovely Moomin plush toy, chocolate by Fazer, drinking glasses and cups by Iittala and something colorful and hand printed by Marimekko - a purse or maybe a dress!


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Comments

Julia B.
Julia B. · 1 project
I want to go back and find all the places you mention! I love Helsinki but have only visited twice both at New Year for the Helldone Festival. I loved the Design Museum and The Museum of Contemporary Art and spent a whole morning in the Museum of Helsinki. I also enjoyed wandering the snow filled streets and taking photos of the architecture, some of the buildings are very Art Nouveau with towers and interesting window features.The Church in the Rock was fascinating and The Uspenski Cathedral was beautiful inside and out!. I really must go back in the summer and check out the places that only open during the warmer months. Thanks for your article.
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