ever think to visit this Northern capital of the land of reindeer and Nokia? NO? OK but if you have than 2012 is the year to go, esp. for design geeks and scandophiles since Helsinki was named this years “Design Capital”. It also happens to be their 200th birthday as well, therefore this summer is a great time to visit no?
Be warned that Helsinki def. is not a “postcard” pretty city so they are smart to position themselves as a design destination. As far as Finnish design goes, it really is different than the Swedish/Danish norm as the country was heavily influenced from the east by Russia (while still retaining some Nordic know how and attention to detail of course).
You should decide for yourself…
(*disclaimer: I haven’t been to Finland in over 10 years, so this list is gleaned from friends and acquaintances that have just returned and they gave me too much and now I want to go!…)
MY HELSINKI [Wish*] LIST
Finnair is the national airline and they do offer flights from Toronto 5 times a week in summer, however I don’t suggest as their airplane (a charter class Boeing 757) is really, really uncomfortable. http://www.finnair.com/CA/GB/home only use if in a rush.
Air Canada offers connecting flights from all over Canada (I suggest transiting Copenhagen or Munich if you can) http://www.aircanada.com/en/home.html
Glo Art: http://hotelglo.fi/en/glo-art in the heart of the design district.
Helka: http://www.helka.fi/en basic, clean, nordic style.
Katajanokka: http://www.bwkatajanokka.fi/eng/home.html used to be a prison.
Klaus K: http://www.klauskhotel.com/en the first design hotel in HEL.
Boulevard Social: http://boulevardsocial.fi/en/
Cafe Bar 9: http://www.bar9.net/
Navy Jerry’s: http://navyjerrys.fi/
Shanghai Cowboy: http://shanghaicowboy.fi/
Sis Deli: http://www.sisdeli.fi/en/index.php
Arla Sauna: http://www.arlansauna.net/ when in Finland you need to sweat… (in english: http://www.visithelsinki.fi/en/sights-and-attractions/sauna-arla)
Design Museum: http://www.designmuseum.fi/en/
Eat& Joy Farmer’s Market: http://eatandjoy.fi/eatjoy-farmers-market-and-eatjoy-kluuvi-market-hall
A FEW TIPS
Everyone speaks perfect English.
The Helsinki “Design District” is where you want to be, tons of listings and map here: http://www.designdistrict.fi/
http://wdchelsinki2012.fi/en/visitors is the website specifically for the Design Capital and it’s also full of info, events and links.
Local currency is the Euro and YES it is very expensive.
Summer is really the only time to go, lots of sunlight and everyone is happy. Starting in September is starts to get dark (and cold) quick and locals get stupid drunk to deal.
images via kitka*, toniturunen* + nytimes*