We're having a love affair with all things Scandi at the moment - and although not technically Scandinavia, my favourite Nordic country has to be Finland, specifically Helsinki. I once went on a beautiful press trip about 4 years ago and have since been back for work - it has a wonderful mix of old and new - ugly post-war architecture against beautiful Russian buildings, with minimalist 'Scandi' design thrown in.
It's hard to do a 'Frugal' guide to Helsinki as it is pretty expensive generally. It is on the Euro but best for a weekend minibreak, and here are my favourite places:
|Photo from Wandieing blog|
Fantasic food, intimate surroundings (there will probably be reindeer on the menu but when in Rome...)- the 3 course set menu is between 33€ - 39€ but is all sustainably sourced, organic and delicious.
Rent a Bike
|Looking less than chic a few summers ago!|
Like most nordic countries, cycling is the best way to see the city. Rent bikes or join a tour (Bike Tours Helsinki costs €50 each but includes, tour, bicycle and a snack!) - last time we were there a new cycle superhighway was being developed making it quick and enjoyable to get around.
Discover Alvar Aalto
The Finnish designer's work can be spotted throughout the city, whether it's passing by the Finlandia Hall on your bicycle, stopping for a coffee in the Academic Bookshop, or browsing the fruniture stores to see all his furniture which provided a great source of 'inspiration' for Ikea!
|'Finlandia Hall', designed by Alvar Aalto|
Saunas are a huge part of the culture here in Finland, but nothing beats 'Saunasaari', an island dedicated to its art. It costs roughly €100 euros a head for the day but this includes ferries, delicious lunch al fresco and the chance to relax in a sauna with glass walls which overlook the city. Or relax in a hot tub outside with a bottle of cider (and yes, you can wear a swimsuit!).
Flea market Style
In the summer, browse the numerous Flea markets or outdoor market halls, the Hietalahti flea market on sundays is popular, or the Hakaniemi open air market hall is a great place to pick up fresh bread and cheese and enjoy it by the Archipelago.
The best Streets for shops and good bars are Frederikinkatu in the Design District and Errotajankatu - Liberty or Death is a trendy cocktail bar here, or try A21 on nearby Annankatu.
Where To Stay
Air BnB is your best bet to save money but still experience a slice of Helsinki. This Architect's Apartment below starts at £74 a night and is in the centre of town.