Baltic City Break, Helsinki Finland
An unmissable new feature has been recently added to Helsinki’s skyline. Like the London Eye there is the Finnair Sky Wheel that ferries passengers 40 metres above the city from the Market Square pier and offers a bird’s eye view of all the capital’s landmark such as Helsinki Cathedral and the imposing Parliament House. Also on view is Helsinki’s coastline, which weaves in and out of harbours with sailing boats, pleasure yachts and winter-ready icebreakers jostling for space.
The decommissioned military island of Lonna was a strategic wartime base, used for Russian Navy storage in the 1880s, as a base to clear mines in the 1920s, and to demagnetise ships after World War II. It is opened to the public and attracts military enthusiasts and day trippers alike, who come to enjoy the island’s beach vibe and wonderful sunsets. Only 150m long, the island’s sole business – Lonna’s Cafe, is popular for hosting summer barbecues with DJs and for its famous takeaway picnics.
The island is reachable by waterbus from the Market Square. The boat continues on to Suomenlinna, a Unesco-protected, fully inhabited fortress island built to protect the capital’s harbour from invasion. It now has an excellent museum, craft shops and eateries and good accommodation.
The Abattoir (Teurastamo in Finnish), is at the heart of the city’s epicurean revival and is and example of how it blends trends with tradition. Red-brick buildings tower over the farmers’ market, packed with foodies hawking their wares. Buy salt beef, beetroot pudding, homemade pates and pickles or dive into one of the pop-up restaurants.
A cookery school, barbecue and public sauna add to the community feel. The old market hall, Vanha Kauppahalli has also reopened after a recent renovation. The grand building has long been a focal point for traders and foodies. There is plenty of new stuff too – carnivores will love the new meat market, offering wild game and organic produce.
Stay at the Legendary Paasitorni, one of Finland’s most important buildings. Known as the Helsinki Workers House, the art nouveau pile was built in 1908 as a leisure centre for the working classes. The castle-like building was also the Reds’ HQ during the Finnish Civil War. Part of the building houses the Scandic Paasi hotel, with rooms inspired by its colourful history.