5 days in helsinki.

helsinki old church.
Hello! It's Helsinki recap time. I don't think I mentioned this before, but my sister had a work trip scheduled in January and I decided to tag along. We left Wednesday night, arrived early afternoon on Thursday and then flew back Tuesday afternoon. Here's a breakdown of what we did:

How we got there:
We flew Iceland Air to Reykjavík, and from there we flew to Helsinki--the prices were super reasonable, and that might be due to the time of year but my round trip flight cost less than $500. Traveling there and back was a breeze--aside from being a tad disoriented from the time changes, (and much longer flights on the way home) it really wasn't too bad.

Where we stayed:
We stayed at Hotel Indigo in the design quarter, and the location was perfect. It was very walkable and there were a lot of restaurants and shops in the surrounding area. The rooms were a bit on a small side, which wasn't surprising, but we would both stay there again.

What we did:
cooling off after a sauna session at Löyly.
After attempting to sleep in on Friday, we walked down to the water to Löyly. We had sauna reservations at 1:00, and we grabbed a quick bite in their restaurant beforehand. I highly recommend making a reservation, as this spot is really popular and can get packed, but it's totally worth it. There are two saunas: a traditional sauna and a smoke sauna (which was hot) and then a couple of lounge areas with fireplaces. You can also order snacks and drinks in the lounge. The reservation is for two hours, which I thought was the perfect of time to do everything, including a couple of dips in the Baltic. It was definitely freezing, but really refreshing.

helsinki's design museum.
On Saturday, my sister was at work all day so I was left to my own devices. I walked all over the place, and ended up going to the Design Museum. They had an exhibition on "Collectors and Collections" and it was cool to see extensive collections of Moomin mugs and Karhu sneakers. The museum also featured works by other famous Finnish furniture designers and clothing by Marimekko.

On Sunday I went to the Sinebrychoff Art Museum (and didn't take any pictures). It's a house museum that showcases the 14th through 19th century art collection of Fanny and Paul Sinebrycoff, and the second floor has their furniture and is set up to reflect a glimpse into their lives as members of 19th century upper class.

festive esplanadi.

Helsinki Cathedral.
I also spent some time walking around the Esplanadi and saw the Helsinki Cathedral. It was pretty dreary and a little chilly so I kind of speed walked around town.

skywheel sisters.
On Monday we went back to the Esplanadi and rode the Skywheel. It was super touristy, but fun to see the views from the top. They also have a Veuve Clicquot bar that's adjacent to the wheel but sadly, it was closed when we went. The Skywheel also has a special Veuve gondola and sauna gondola which we did not partake in, but looked pretty cool if you're willing to shell out the $.

Where we ate/drank:


beef dolsot bibimbap.
Giwa was so good we ate there twice (dinner on Thursday and Monday). It's a Korean restaurant that was a stone's throw from our hotel, and they had the most delicious bibimbap bowls ever.

healthy lunch at Löyly.
Before our sauna adventures at Löyly, we had a very tasty lunch at their restaurant. My sister had the chicken grain bowl (pictured above) and I had their salmon soup which set the stage for my continuing love affair with all things salmon for the rest of the trip.

Drinks at Pikkulintu.
We had drinks at Pikkulintu a couple of times during our trip. It's a whiskey and beer bar with a pretty great selection on tap, and the bartenders were really knowledgable and nice.

tasting menu.

salmon was the fish of the day.
delicious dessert.
We did a tasting menu at Gaijin and it did not disappoint. Gaijin is North Asian restaurant located by Old Church Park and we had stopped in for drinks on our first day in Helsinki. The menu looked really good, so we made reservations for Sunday figuring we'd get a bunch of small plates to share. It turns out they only do tasting menus on Sundays, which ended being perfect--each course was better than the first, and it made for a really fun night out.

drinks at liberty or death.
Liberty or Death is a speakeasy where we stopped for drinks before dinner one night. It's super small, dark, and cozy and the drinks were innovative and tasty.

coolest building for a great lunch.
I had seen the Kappeli restaurant during my walk along the Esplandi, and I dragged my sister there for lunch which ended up being a good choice. Kappeli dates back to 1867 and is a really beautiful space with gorgeous, light-filled windows. The food was also divine--we had a three-course lunch that including a sweet potato soup, salmon and a meringue dessert. I highly recommend.

We also had dinner one night at Grotesk, which, despite its name was a fun steakhouse, had burgers at Naughty Brgr and grabbed sushi for lunch at sushibar+wine. I neglected to take pictures at any of these places, but all were delicious.

And that was our trip! I'm so glad I had the chance to visit Helsinki--it was a really fun time and it's worth visiting if you have the chance.