Ten Things I Love About Helsinki


Photo credit : Katie K

In the spirit of our impending American Thanksgiving and in anticipation of celebrating our year and half anniversary of living in the great country of Finland (!!!), I thought it would be good fun to write a few things that I love, love LOVE about our Helsinki home.

So here you have it, dear friends! Ten things we've grown to love about our city:

1. Finns. 

Nearly all our experiences with Finns have been pretty awesome. Delightful, genuine, honest. They're just our kind of people. While in Finland, it's relatively looked down upon to be boastful about oneself, they have good reason to boast. Finns are hardworking and quite simply don't quit. They work hard, are honest, and are committed. They're loyal and often think less of themselves. There's a phrase that "If you make a Finnish friend, you have a friend for life." And I can see it. They literally don't have small talk (an introverts dream!) and when they say "we should get together," they mean it. I've learned to take people at their word (which makes it hard when interacting with other cultures who use words so flippantly!) They're just a good bunch of people. 

2. Transportation

 We live right next to the tram and have used the public transit for the entirety of our stint here. A family can easily function without a car-especially if they live in the city like we do. After visiting other countries, I have to say-Finland is pretty great with its transportation. 

3. Design

While I haven't purchased a great deal of exclusively Finnish items, I will say that I never really had a taste for design until moving here. Heart and soul goes into the makings of Finnish goods. There's a simplicity and boldness that Finns have that I love. They make quality, and yet take care to make it beautiful.  

4. Helsinki Beauty

Oh my beautiful city! How I love you. She really is a beauty. I love Helsinki for a number of reasons. One of the more simple reasons is this: it's a city that doesn't compete. There's so much diversity and passion in such a relatively small city (compared to other world cities) and yet there's a lack of competition. Helsinki is just what it is. Unassuming, friendly and downright beautiful.  

5. Cafe's, Parks, & Treasures

I've made it a bit of a challenge (and a joy!) to find my favorite parks and cafe's around here.  Helsinki makes it pretty easy. There's simply a lot of good here. While there isn't a new thing every week, there's good quality every couple of months. I'm starting to form my favorite haunts, and it's fun to get excited about a new place (when just a year ago everything was so new!) Cafe Regatta, Moko Cafe, Gran Delicato, Brooklyn Bakery, Johan and Nystrom, there's just so many great cafe's that I can't even begin.  Also, I love the small business culture of Helsinki. Chains aren't wildly popular here. In the states you can hop from state to state and areas will look exactly the same. In Helsinki, every neighborhood has distinct character.

This makes it especially fun to visit. I tell traveling friends that Helsinki really is a weekend city. You can see all the sites, and get tastes of great food in a short amount of time. Yet, if you choose, you can spend more time in each district and find all sorts of reasons to love each individual place. 

6. Trusting culture

 Kid's are taught independence early on, and often children in primary school go to and from school by them selves (taking trams, etc.) Ben has a coworker who's 7 year old son often is home by himself and kids are allowed a lot of freedoms to roam and be. There's just a trusting culture in general. People will leave babies in prams outside of coffee shops, I leave our stroller outside and go into a store on a near daily basis. When things are lost or have fallen out, people tend to not snatch it up, but rather place the item higher up so it doesn't get walked on. I've found missing gloves, Eowyns blanket and more by retracing my steps sometimes hours (or days) later. There isn't a "finder's keepers" mentality. The city of Helsinki actually has a lost and found. It all whirls together to create a relatively trusting culture. 

7. Accessibility of Nature

I love the accessibility of nature here in Helsinki. It's a major value and children almost always can be seen playing outside regardless of conditions. There's a saying here that there "isn't bad weather, just bad clothing." You can find what you need to stay warm and dry. Rainy days are just as good of days to go out as sunny ones. 

8. Great Food (especially desserts!) 

While I know that in the scope of all things European, Finland and Food aren't usually up on the list for being known, yet the food really is good. I have favorites that I will sorely miss when the time comes to move elsewhere. Chocolate, Korvapuusti, Reindeer, Cloudberry jam, Fresh salmon, my list grows by the day. They have some crraaazzyyy food as well. Salmiakki (gross) and mรคmmi (super gross) for starters but, my heart will always belong to Fazer.

9. Efficiency

Things are well thought out here. While the systems are sometimes tedious, it isn't for lack of planning. Our homes are incredibly efficient, the public transportation is timely, our clothing/goods lean towards better quality (albeit more expensive!) and you generally use less. We have a smaller home with less things, but those things seem to last much longer than the throw away culture we came from.

10. She's Home

 I read a blog post last year that to really make it in a new place, you had to start owning it. I read that post in a season where I felt like nothing here was mine nor would I ever grow familiar of this place. But now? I get it. We have our dear friends, our heart belongs with our church plant, and we genuinely are crazy about Finland. There's so many spots in this place that are "our places" now that I get heavy with the thought of leaving. We just really love this city, and especially the people living here.

There you have it! If you ever come to visit the Nordic countries, make Helsinki one of your stops. You won't regret it.

 I'm thinking you'll get to see more and more travel/ Helsinki specific posts coming as we get out and travel more with kids in tow! Anything in particular you want to know or see? Let me know. 


  1. Yay, great to also discover your blog! Thanks for stopping by mine and saying hi! Weird that you wrote this post as I was going to write something similar about the little things I love about Helsinki since celebrating our first year here! Great minds! :) I agree with your points. Sadly we will probably only be here a few more months! Although I won't miss these short, cold dark days of winter! I'll be following you from here for a little Finnish fix when I need one :)