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Finland : Helsinki - August 2009

Country Code: Dial ++358 for Finland

Compact and coastal Helsinki has it all – excellent shopping, a rich cultural life, and stylish clubs and restaurants with sun-drenched terraces. This month there’s also the Helsinki festival from 13 to 30 August, which brings music, theatre, dance and circus to various venues across the city. Evgenia Ivanova tells us more

Getting around

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is 15km from the city centre.

Bus: Buses 415, 451 and 615 run to the city centre from the airport. The journey takes around 35-45 minutes (the 615 is the quickest route). A one-day tourist ticket costs €11 and is valid on all public transport.
Taxi: The journey from the airport to the centre of Helsinki takes approximately 30 minutes and costs about €30.
Tourist information: The main office is at 19 Pohjoisesplanadi, (tel. (0)9 3101 3300, hel2.fi).

CITY CENTRE

Helsinki’s modern centre is the place to head for first-class shops, high-end restaurants, artsy bars and glamorous clubs.

Sleep soundly – Historic Sokos Hotel Torni (26 Yrjönkatu, tel. (0)2 0123 4604, sokoshotels.fi, rooms from €99) is a Helsinki classic. Climb up to the hotel’s Ateljee Bar for stunning views of the city. Boutique Hotelli Helka (23 Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu, tel. (0)9 613580, helka.fi, rooms from €89) is for those who like their accommodation to be modern and one-of-a-kind. Design aficionados will appreciate the hotel’s furniture made by the father of modernism, Alvar Aalto.

Must eat – Located near the central railway station, Czech restaurant Vltava (2 Elielinaukio, tel. (0)1 0766 3650) serves excellent homemade sausages in modern surroundings. The glamorous and airy Teatteri (2 Pohjoisesplanadi, tel. (0)9 6128 5000) is a rare example of an all-in-one venue (it combines a bar, restaurant, wine and deli room and nightclub), where all the elements are equally good. The terrace is an additional bonus.

Must drink – Try to get a seat on the terrace at the historic Kappeli (1 Eteläesplanadi); the Esplanadin Lava summer stage, located just in front of the restaurant, will hold free concerts the entire season. Fanny Goes to Hollywood (Sinebrychoffin Puisto, 40 Bulevardi) is an artsy place with huge windows and smoothies to die for. The Sunday brunch here is also worth checking out.

Shop til you drop – The Design Museo shop (23 Korkeavuorenkatu) sells quirky but functional objects, such as brooches made out of reflective film and handkerchiefs printed with a map of Helsinki.

KAIVOPUISTO

Laid out in the 1830s, picturesque Kaivopuisto is Helsinki’s most famous and popular park, not least because of the proximity of the sea and cliffs.

Culture vultures – Learn how to use a telescope or observe solar phenomena through filters at Ursa observatory (Observatory Hill) at weekends during the summer.

Must drink – Café Ursula (3 Ehrenströmintie) has a beautiful view of the sea and a large outdoor terrace. Drop in for one of the famous shrimp sandwiches. Do as locals do (Finns lead the world in the consumption of coffee) and have a latte while enjoying the sun at Café Carusel (10 Merisatamanranta).

KAMPPI

Despite its diminutive size, Kamppi has a thriving nightlife.

Must drink – Corona Bar for Billiards and Mockba (11 Eerikinkatu) – which is pronounced ‘maskva’, the Russian for Moscow – share the same building. Owned by film-making brothers Mika and Aki Kaurismäki, they have an underground, artsy feel to them.

Dance the night away – Club Lux (1 Urho Kekkosen Katu) is as sleek and shiny as the Kamppi shopping complex in which it’s situated. Get here at a reasonable time, though – there are huge queues after midnight.

TÖÖLÖ

Take a relaxing promenade or a picnic around the parks of coastal Töölö; home to many Helsinki landmarks.

Culture vultures – Don’t miss the concert conducted by a legend of modern classical music Pierre Boulez on 13 August as part of the Helsinki festival (helsinginjuhlaviikot.fi). Dedicated to Finland’s greatest composer, the Sibelius monument in Sibeliuspuisto is made from hundreds of hollow steel pipes welded together, and caused considerable controversy when it was unveiled in the 1960s. So much so, a bust of Sibelius eventually had to be tacked on. Climb the tower of Olympiastadion (1 Paavo Nurmen Tie, closed during competitions), a vivid example of pure functionalist design. Or join footie fans in watching the UEFA Women’s Euro 2009, which kicks off at the stadium on 23 August.



Compiled by Evgenia Ivanova

Previous issues for Helsinki
 
   
Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy,
please confirm event/venue details in advance.

 

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