During my trip to Finland I quickly fell in love with everything that Helsinki is – inspiring, bohemian and green. Here is my latest “Boho Guide” for the avant-garde traveler. Whether you have one day in the city or an entire year, these 5 ways will help you see the indie side of Helsinki.
1) Kick your Way through Town
My first time on a kickbike proved to be more exciting than I anticipated. Imaging a simple scooter, I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that this clever device is a combination between a traditional bike and a scooter. In my opinion, Helsinki is probably the most ideal city in Europe to explore by bike. Population wise, the streets are never overly crowded and bike lanes are clearly marked. I opted to ride through the different neighborhoods, paying close attention to various design exhibits.
2) Eat at a Turntable
In true Helsinki fashion, the eco-conscious city has several turntables where locals regularly eat and catch up with friends. We visited the Kaantopoyta Turntable and took a little walk through their on-site garden. I didn’t order a full mean but I did try the organic tea and a couple of the dessert options. Next to our table was a group of young adults who I’m guessing where spending their lunch break here. After finishing their meals, off on their hipster bikes they went.
3) Find your Trail
Finding your own trail is an essential part of the overall travel experience. Whenever I travel, I make sure to have at least one extra day to wander through the city alone. It’s often during this solo time that I discover aspects of the city that make it unique to me. During my last few hours in town, I made my way to the Helsinki Cemetery in the Töölö district. I’m generally attracted to cemeteries because they are quiet and peaceful and I found this one to be very serene and visually pleasing.
4) Discover Design in Multiple Ways
Helsinki is brimming with design highlights and one of the best ways to get acquainted with the artistic city is to visit their small but extensive Design Museum. It gives avant-garde travelers a crash course into the impressive design history in Helsinki in a non-overwhelming approach. It’s also easy to see elements of art and design in just about any restaurant and neighborhood. It’s not uncommon for coffee shops, bars and local homes to have some sort of decoration subtly hanging outside.
5) Discover New and Innovative Designers
Helsinki is the current Design capital of the World, which means that there is no shortage on innovative fashion designers, architects and artists throughout the city, especially in the Design District. My first night in Helsinki was spent in Minna Parikka‘s showroom (Bulevardi 24,). The young and super fashionable shoe designer humbly talked about her decision to start a company at the age of 25. Since launching her line, she’s really hit it big with locals and even designed shoes for Lady Gaga.
Looking for more local boho tips?
- Spend an hour or two at a traditional sauna. They are as common in Finland as bars are in New York and is a relaxing way to feel more like a local. I tried the Kotiharju Public Sauna in the hip Kallio district.
- Catch a ride on the “party train”. My last few hours in Helsinki were spent on a regular transportation tram that was used as a party vessel for the night. Riding through the city with a beer in hand and loud music blasting in your ears is memorable to say the least.
- Check out the flea markets. They are scattered throughout the city and have a wide range of clothes, antique items and random odds and ends.
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