These two day trips from Helsinki are perfect for foodies and nature lovers. Don’t forget to bring your camera too.
If you want to discover more of Finland with day trips from Helsinki, then just a short train ride or drive away are two places you can’t miss. They will satisfy your palate, give you the breath of fresh air you’ve been sorely missing in the city, and last but not least, make your eyes pop with its Instagrammable colors and scenery.
Read on to learn about Porvoo, a medieval town full of pastel colors and good eats, and Pellinki Island, a natural haven, which Moomin author, Tove Jansson, got much of her inspiration from. They are great places to visit from Helsinki!
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Day Trip from Helsinki to Porvoo
Porvoo is the most adorable and colorful only 50 kilometers east of Helsinki. It’s one of six medieval towns in Finland and worth visiting for its charm and outstanding restaurants.
How to Get to Porvoo
Getting to Porvoo is easy! If you don’t have a car, you can get there in about an hour by bus. It costs about €10-18 round-trip and leaves pretty frequently from the Helsinki bus station.
Here are other ways to get to Porvoo:
- Drive for about 45 to 50 minutes
- Take a boat between May and September (longer option but scenic river route) with m/s J.L. Runeberg or Royal Line’s m/s RoyalCat
Where to Eat in Porvoo
Despite being a small town, Porvoo has a ton of delicious places to eat at. Our tour guide showing us around noted that he would argue that Porvoo has better food than Helsinki!
My favorite place in Porvoo was Glassiko. This restaurant was started by two Michelin chefs who wanted a slower lifestyle but still make great tasting, high-quality food. As a result, they moved from Helsinki to Porvoo and opened up Glassiko in this old family home. Literally, it used to be the home their family turned into a business.
Despite the excellent food including ice cream, Glassiko is eye-catching and oh so Instagrammable! It was such a surprise to see such a modern, design-savvy place in this medieval town that when I first entered I didn’t know what to do—grab a table or wander around for photos.
What to Get: I had the leek soup, meatballs with chickpeas dish, and strawberry ice cream on top of the a rhubarb pie. But if I went again, I’d opt for the salmon dish my fellow bloggers had.
Do not skip out on the ice cream or dessert, or if you want, you could come here just for dessert as they have a separate ice cream parlor type area in the front.
If you’re like me and unable to choose what restaurant to eat all because you want to eat at them all, then you’ll definitely want to go on a SMAKU tour. This ingenious tour is a wonderful way to try out several different restaurants in one go.
With your food tour guide of the night, you essentially go restaurant hopping and have a small dish and drink at each place. Meanwhile you get to try all the varying dishes and play food critic, your guide will give you the full history of Porvoo, so you get the most bang for your buck with this history and food tour in one.
After eating at all these restaurants, you can decide which one you liked the best, then return for a full meal at that place the following day or another time. It’s a fantastic idea!
Every February, many Finns eats the Runeberg cake to celebrate the birth of national poet, Johan Ludvig Rungeberg. It’s normally only served once a year in most places, but at Cafe Helmi, it’s served year-round because the cake was originally developed by a Porvoo baker and confectioner.
To get a taste of Porvoo’s history through flavors of almonds, jam, and icing, then stop by Cafe Helmi to enjoy cake and coffee in this cozy, antique adorned cafe.
Vanhan Porvoon jäätelötehdas
If you love ice cream (who doesn’t), then you MUST stop by Vanhan Porvoon jäätelötehdas‘ ice cream stand. The texture of this ice cream is out of the this world. It is one of the most, if not the most, creamy ice cream I’ve ever had in my life.
There’s wonderful, unique ice cream flavors at this ice cream shop too. I personally had the browned butter ice cream and the basil one, which were recommended my tour guide is a local ice cream connoisseur; he keeps a Google spreadsheet of all the ice cream places he’s tried in the area!
Anyways, his recommendations were fantastic. I’d definitely opt for the browned butter ice cream again but would probably try something else besides the basil. It was great for one bite, but considering it truly tasted like basil, I was confused at my ice cream being so spot on savory when I’m so used to ice cream being sweet. Bravo ice cream man for making an ice cream taste exactly like basil!
By the way, if you’re lucky, the ice cream creator himself will be there to serve your ice cream like he did for me!
Note: This is the same ice cream that’s served at Glassiko so if you don’t have time for a separate ice cream trip, then make sure to go to Glassiko for lunch and dessert.
What to Do in Porvoo
The best thing to do in Porvoo is simply walk around. All the buildings in town are painted in pretty pastel colors, which will make you feel like you’re walking on sunshine
Make sure to bring a camera* because these homes are quite Instagrammable! In fact, the red buildings on the river are the most photographed place in Porvoo so definitely don’t miss this brilliantly colored view. Walk over the bridge to get a full panoramic view of these buildings built around the 17th/18th century.
*My favorite camera for traveling and blogging is the Sony A6000 because it’s so compact and powerful. I’ve tried out the Olympus Pen EPL7 and the Canon EOS M50 for mirrorless cameras and the Sony A6000 won!
Where to Stay in Porvoo
If you find that a day trip isn’t long enough to enjoy this town, and you want the full, relaxing experience of Porvoo, stay at Old Town Bed and Breakfast Ida-Maria. This family-run bed and breakfast is right in the center of town with part of it being located in the most photographed red buildings of Porvoo.
There’s enough space for a whole family, the breakfast is plentiful and fresh, and you can enjoy the beautiful sunset falling over the edge of the river.
Best Time of Year to Visit Porvoo
The best time of year to visit Porvoo is June to August. That way you can walk around and enjoy the town in sunlight. But winter is not a bad time to come either as Old Town Bed and Breakfast Ida-Maria has a sauna, and you can spend your time inside the restaurants instead of outdoors in the cold.
What to Pack for Porvoo
Your clothes for Porvoo will depend on what time of year to go, but as for what else to pack for Porvoo, you’ll definitely want a camera to capture this Instagrammable town. Make sure to bring an external charger and your cord just in case your phone battery dies, and DEFINITELY BRING AN APPETITE. There’s so much good food to eat.
If you’re staying overnight, make sure to pack an adapter and/or charging station to charge all your electronics at once. I also like having this mini backpack (aka daypack) to have all my stuff on me while I’m exploring without the heavy bulk of a regular sized backpack.
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If you love nature and want to escape the bustling city vibe of Helsinki, then you must take a trip to Pellinki Island. It’s a scenic paradise in Finland.
Exploring the Forest With Island Riddles
To do something unique that’ll give you the opportunity to walk in the shoes of famous Finnish author and immerse yourself in a cult classic that every Finnish child has read, then I highly recommend trying out this Island Riddles activity. It’s the same concept of an escape room, except that you’re in a forest—mind boggling huh?
You start out at Pellinki Island’s general store to grab your clues and lunch made by fisherman. Then you start out reading the Moomin book to get clues for this scavenger hutn throughout the woods.
Over 3 kilomenters of trails, you’ll not only get fully immersed in the beauty of the Pellinki Island forest, but also learn about Tove Jansson’s life on Pellinki Island and follow the exact trail she walked that inspired many of the books she wrote. By exploring her personal connection to the island, you’ll get a historic sense of the island’s past as well.
Homemade Food by the Local Fishermen
At the end of this scavenger hunt, you’ll celebrate your accomplishments by gathering together on a wooden table to eat local food caught by Pellinki island fishermen and Finnish pancakes. It doesn’t look like that much food, but it’s surprisingly very filling, and of course, tasty.
Although I didn’t know what to expect at first, I truly enjoyed this interactive hike through the woods. I had a much better appreciation for Pellinki Island and Finnish culture knowing what inspired Tove Jansson’s books and getting some idea of what happened on this island in the past few decades.
Team Building Fun
We all had a lot of fun using our brains in an inquisitive and playful way, which is out of the ordinary from how we normally think day to day. It brought us out of our comfort zones and close together.
This would be a great team-building activity for corporate workers and families with kids of all ages. I could see even teenagers enjoying this, but be forewarned, that this activity requires a bit of patience and thought. Sometimes, we ran ahead like rambunctious teenagers and found ourselves picking the wrong clue for the next turn.
Combining Two Day Trips from Helsinki into One Overnight Trip
To experience the best of both Porvoo and Pellinki Island, I’d personal make an overnight trip out of it. Head to Porvoo on day one, stay at the bed and breakfast mentioned above, then go to Pellinki Island on day two before returning to Helsinki!
Do you have any other tips for awesome day trips from Helsinki, or have anything to add to the above? Please feel free to join the conversation by commenting below. Inspire us!
Thanks for stopping by! xo.