Helsinki. What do you think of? Maybe the cold? Well, yeah it’s cold. What else? Well I’m here to tell you what else. On our recent trip to Scandinavia we stayed in Helsinki and explored the city with my local-ish sister while she was living there. I had been to Helsinki a few years ago and really enjoyed my time. Now that I brought my son back with me, I wanted to put together a post about some of my favorite things.
My Favorite Things in Helsinki
1. The Coffee
I love coffee. I think any parent, especially one of an infant, and one traveling would agree that caffeine equals happiness. In Helsinki, that happiness is everywhere. When I say Finns love their coffee, I’m not joking. Coffee comes in different strengths for consumption throughout the day, flavors, and brands, making buying coffee for our apartment a much more thoughtful process that when I usually grab whatever can from the shelf.
2. The Sea
I love being on the water. We took a ferry to Tallinn for the day and got to see all of the crazy boats carving their way through the icy water. We took a ferry to Stockholm as well and spent the night on board and watched all of the little islands float past us. We also, and I couldn’t recommend this more, took a dip in the Sea Pools in Helsinki. The Sea Pools are like the tourist version of what I’m sure happens most places around Scandinavia. Basically there is a warm pool, and then a pool made from the water in the harbor, and is about that same temperature. You alternate between the two pools as well as taking a break in the Sauna.
I braved the icy water a few times but definitely enjoyed getting back into that warm water. This isn’t something for little kids though, and luckily I had some people to watch Andrew while me and my sisters tested our nerves.
3. The Market
The market down by the harbor is what I love about markets. There was tons of food, tons of little bits to look at, and tons of weird things to oogle. Especially after being out the in the cold, to come in, yes, have a cup of coffee, and warm up was a more than welcome relief.
4. The Weather
I did just say it was cold, but, as someone who now lives in Texas, and hates the feeling of sweating by just existing, I enjoy being cold, rather than hot. I like bundling up in jackets and boots and hats. Andrew didn’t even mind being in his little stroller cozy. When we went in March it wasn’t too snowy (except for a few dustings), and we were able to explore and have the excuse to go into shops to warm up (look around).
5. The Price
So Helsinki isn’t cheap like you would find in Eastern Europe or (better yet) Southeast Asia. BUT, compared to the rest of Scandinavia, it’s a welcome respite from the very expensive meals and hotels. We spent the longest amount of time on our trip in Helsinki which was partially planned that way for cost, and because my sister was living there. Taking a hop over to Estonia gives an even better value for your money. And while Finland isn’t technically Scandinavia, there are a lot of the same esthetics you’ll see elsewhere and plenty of unique finds that make Helsinki a must-see on your list.
6. The Convenience for Baby
For anyone looking to take your baby or even toddler on a trip for the first time, Helsinki (and Scandinavia) is a great place to start. I’ve found that many other countries in Europe don’t have all of the conveniences in place that Helsinki had for baby. I always found a changing table (and a clean one) when I needed it. The public transportation was easy to use with a stroller, and there were always high chairs or play areas when we needed them. They also had plenty of selections for baby food, formula, and diapers. Now, that’s not to say that other cities around the world aren’t baby friendly. I just found that I had a great experience with my son in Helsinki and know that it would be a great choice for other families with young children.
If you ever find yourself going to Scandinavia, definitely check out Helsinki. With a great atmosphere, friendly culture, and overall baby-friendliness, it’s a must-visit for families.
Have you ever been to Helsinki?
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