Helsinki | From Sweden to Italy : Through Eastern Europe on Ferries, Busses, Planes & Trains

Suomenlinna Playground

Suomenlinna Playground

Series Background: I spent October traveling from Stockholm, Sweden to Rome, Italy. Though I’d been to Italy before, I hadn’t been to the other eight countries I explored – Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Hungary and Croatia. I’ll try to keep it brief, sticking to the cities I stayed in, their highlights and foods, and how I got around. And maybe a few photos… <Here’s Part 2, all about Helsinki.> <See Part 1, Stockholm.>

I arrived in Helsinki by ferry boat from Stockholm. The walk from the port to downtown was quick, with a large market, Kauppatori, in the middle. This market was pretty incredible. In addition to fresh and smoked fish, there were fresh fruits and vegetables, hot food vendors with reasonable prices and craft booths. Some of the stuffed smoked fish was so good I ate it two days in a row. After checking into the hotel, I strolled around the Kaartinkaupunki, Kruununhaka, and Kluuvi neighborhoods. The Helsinki Cathedral was completed in 1852 and previously called the St. Nicholas Church. It was quite massive. I enjoyed relaxing in Esplanadi park and seeing the Czar’s old summer gazebo, and also learning that the lovely park (Vanha kirkkopuisto) next to my hotel was where the city buried half of its population in 1710 – victims of the plague. Had an excellent dinner at the number two restaurant on Trip Advisor (Kolo), but they closed two days later…

Next Day: Walked through the neighborhoods of Etu-Töölö, Kamppi and Punavuori. Saw the Temppeliaukion kirkko (church built inside of solid rock – quite impressive), Vanha Kauppahalli (the Old Market Hall – it was a snooze fest at the time I was there), and caught a ferry for a few bucks to the island of Suomenlinna. This UNESCO World Heritage Site began as a maritime fortress in 1748 and is full of history, amazing for photos, and lovely to walk around. It was a major highlight of the trip – don’t miss it! There is also a brewery on the island… Although Helsinki was very quiet and not too many people were out and about, the ones I spoke to were very kind and welcoming. The food was excellent without being overly expensive and my favorite beer of the trip was Finnish. Before I knew it, it was time to catch the ferry to Estonia. <Watch for the next installment about Tallinn, Estonia.>

Kruununhaka Harbor

Kruununhaka Harbor

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<Previous post: Stockholm, Sweden>  <Next post: Tallinn, Estonia>

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About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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