Liquorice&Salmiakki Festival

Are you a big fan of black gold?

If you are in the Nordics, Black Gold is what we call our delicious Liquorice! 11-12 November in the heart of Helsinki you have an amazing opportunity to visit the most ‘liquorishy’ event of the year – Liquorice and Salmiakki festival.

If you are wondering what ‘Salmiakki’ is, we can give you a few hints here. Salmiakki or otherwise known in Finland as a Finnish candy is a sweet made of salted liquorice. This is something extremely traditional in Finland and the Nordics. The main ingredient is the extract derived from the liquorice root known as ammonium chloride.

Salmiakki is also the reason for a big divide in the society; some people are very fond of it, but some absolutely hate it. For many foreigners who are coming from Asia or Latin America, the taste of Salmiakki sweet is reminiscent of a cough syrup. Indeed, liquorice root does have a power to help with healing a sore throat.  But regardless of its medicinal powers, any foreigners find that Salmiakki taste is a bit too much for them to handle. You can perhaps describe the phenomenon of Salmiakki as a Finnish marmite. Love it or hate it!

But anyway, the taste of the candy is very distinctive and can hardly be described in words. The best thing to do to work out whether you like it or not is just to try it! When visiting supermarkets in Finland, you will definitely notice that locals have a great devotion to the product. You will find products such as Salmiakki ice cream, Salmiakki chocolate, Salmiakki yoghurts and cookies; we even created a real Salmiakki vodka type drink! In fact there are not so many products that do not have Salmiakki in, so look out carefully for what you buy.

I would really recommend that you go and check out the liquorice festival just as a part of your local cuisine experience in Helsinki! Follow the information below to buy your tickets and find the venue!

Location: Wanha Satama, Taxpath in Helsinki
Open: Saturday 11th November at 10-18;  Sunday 12th November at 11-17
Entrance: 12 Euros, pre-purchase 10 Euros.

Here you buy your ticket

Enjoy the festival!

Helsinki Guru ^^



Porvoo is a beautiful Finnish city, easily accessible from Helsinki. It is just a 30 minute drive to the west, or less than one hour by bus. (Tickets available from A great day trip from Helsinki! The city delights the visitors with its medieval charm. The area of Porvoo has been inhabited since the Stone Age times. However, it was granted the city rights only in the year 1380.

The city was ravaged by the Danish pirates, and it was also burnt to ashes twice during the times of the Russo-Swedish Wars. In March 1809, Porvoo hosted one of the main historic events in the history of the country – The Diet of Porvoo.  As Finland was being annexed as an independent part of Russia at the time, the Diet of Porvoo was the legislative assembly which helped to establish the Grand Principality of Finland.

So what is there for you to do?

Old Porvoo centre is an incredible attraction on its own. Riverside warehouses, narrow cobble-stone streets, cosy cafes, antique stores and old wooden houses add to the overall atmosphere of this town.


You can visit medieval Porvoo Cathedral which is situated in the heart of the city.  It is one of the most iconic buildings and it has a fascinating history. Having been burnt down five times, Porvoo cathedral managed to survive to delight the modern day visitors with its beauty.


Love chocolate? In which case, Brunberg chocolate Factory is the right place for you! The company has been manufacturing very traditional and good quality sweets from 1871. There are two Brunberg shops in the city where you will be able to sample some of the best company products. Definitely worth a visit!

Home of J.L Runeberg

J.L Runeberg was a famous Finnish poet and the creator of the Finnish National anthem. In his home you can see how life in the middle of the 19th century used to be in Finland. This museum was opened in 1882 and currently it is the oldest home museum in the country.  It recreates an amazing atmosphere of the authentic Runeberg’s family living. You will see real items that Runeberg and his wife owned and used themselves.  The entrance to the museum is only 8 Euros.

Are you a nature lover? Take a walk though beautiful Finnish forests to get to the Great Castle Hill. It rises above the streets of Old Porvoo and opens up a completely different view of the city. In this place, the remains of the largest castle fortress in Finland were discovered in 1965 together with the Iron Age burial sites. You can still see the moats which have dried up over time as well as the wooden bridges across them. DSC_0773-2.jpg


Looking for a cosy traditional lunch place? Cafe Cabriole would be one of the best options. Situated in a charming 19th century Art Nouveau building in the heart of Porvoo, the cafe is able to accommodate up to 80 visitors at a time. You can enjoy an amazing lunch buffet from 10:30-14:30 Monday-Friday.  Delicious soup of the day, salad buffet, a couple of main courses and a great selection of teas are on offer. The place gets really busy during the lunch hours, so make sure you book a spot for yourself.

Whatever the weather, Porvoo has something to offer everyone, you can get some great holiday snaps to show your friends, and see some amazing real Finnish history!

Enjoy beautiful Porvoo!

Helsinki Guru ^^


Are you coming to Helsinki and wondering what would be a nice souvenir to take back home? We can give you some great advice!

In Finland we have one iconic company which gained a very special place in the hearts of the Finnish people. This company is Iittala- an innovative brand which changed the way people dine in Finland. Nowadays the company is a part of the Fiscars corporation. However, Iittala also has its own exciting and 136 year long history.

Iittala was founded in 1881 in a village with the same name. It was one of the first companies to move from decorative dinner sets to the ones which were more functional and aesthetical. Iittala products have always been famous for their forward- looking Scandinavian design.

The main idea that has been promoted by Iittala has been to offer aesthetically and functionally durable products that make day-to-day life enjoyable. The values of the company have stayed the same though its 136 year history. Today Iittala still offers designs that last a lifetime. Iittala offers products that were created by the best Finnish designers. These include such names as Alvar and Aino Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala, Oiva Toikka and Klaus Haapaniemi amongst others.

When visiting Iittalas’ stores you can get to know some of its most iconic collections.

Lets take for example the extraordinary Taika collection – by Klaus Haapaniemi.


Taika translates into English as ‘magic’.  The collection was designed by Klaus Haapaniemi, a London-based Finnish designer who became famous due to his unusual and modern approach. In an interview,  Klaus Haapaniemi mentions a lot that his inspiration is coming from the Finnish nature and folklore. When looking at his works, you can clearly see that he is truly able to bring back traditional arts to live by adding some modern twist to them. Today, 47 year old Klaus Haapaniemi is still designing.

In Finland, it can also be common to use depictions of animals whilst creating design. One good example of a well represented animal in Haapaniemi’s Taika range, is the Fox. Foxes are an intriguing motif which connects directly to the Finnish mythology. Foxes are often portrayed in fairytales as cunning characters. In Finland, people believe that they are also directly related to the phenomenon of the northern lights. In Finnish Northern Lights are called ‘revontulet’ or ‘foxfires’ (if we directly translate into English). Finnish people believe that it is the foxes that lighten up the sky by running through the fields and swishing their tails.

Ultima Thule Collection by Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985)


The Ultima Thule collection was designed to recreate the melting ice in Lapland. The collection was designed by one of the most well-known Finnish Designers – Tapio Wirkkala. Wirkkala has sometimes been described as ‘a great Finnish bear’ and a nature lover. It was the nature that he derived his inspiration from.  He had a unique ability to contemplate nature for hours and hours – before creating designs that would catch these simple nature movements. There are almost no materials that Wirkkala has not worked with. But amongst them all, glass was his biggest passion.


Countless hours were spent to create the technique that would achieve the effects that Wirkkala wanted to give to his Ultima Thule collection. Originally, the collection was made for Finnair business class passengers on the flights to America. However, Ultima Thule became one of the real Finnish classics very soon afterwards.

Toikka Birds by Oiva Toikka (Born 1931 – current)


The Toikka birds are a revolutionary work of art by Oiva Toikka. The artist himself explains that he has never wanted to be revolutionary but he has just been doing what feels right. He likes to work directly in collaboration with glassblowers instead of first drawing his works on paper. Toikka says that he does not rely on sketches but instead he gets inspired by the glass blowing process itself. All the Toikka birds have their own characters and personalities. There are no birds that would be identical to each other, as Oiva Toikka himself believes that imperfections make his birds unique. When you visit any of the Iittala stores, you will find prominent displays full of original Toikka’s creations. Take your time to pick up the bird that matches your personality the best!


Of course, there are many other collections that you would definitely enjoy looking through or purchasing as a present to take back!

For those of you who are also interested in pottery why not check out this blog post – Arabia.

Enjoy your shopping!

Helsinki Guru ^^


The cosiest cafe in Helsinki


IMG_20171009_162527_361Cafe Regatta is the cosiest cafe you can find in Töölö district, Helsinki. The cafe itself is located inside a 115 year old cottage which was originally owned by the famous Finnish coffee family – the Pauligs. From the outside, the cafe is a beautiful red countryside hut surrounded by the sea. It fits perfectly in its surroundings.  From the Inside, Regatta is full of various antique items that tell you the stories of the Finnish past. You will be greeted by friendly staffs (who speak very good English) who would be happy to give you some tips about delicious Finnish snacks. Speaking of which…..!


In Regatta you can try traditional cinnamon buns, rice pies, a generous slice of a blueberry pie with vanilla custard and many other local treats (Yum!). You can also get delicious coffee, locally made herbal tea or a cup of nice warm cocoa. If you like to have your sausages, you can buy them in the cafe and grill outside on the open fire like all the locals do in the summer. We absolutely love our barbecues in Finland! Coming to Regatta you are guaranteed to get the most traditional Finnish experience there is.


It’s small size is a part of its charm, and makes it feel extremely cosy. The interior is very well done. It has always been very popular among locals, so you know it is a great place to go. Be prepared to share your hand-made wooden table with a friendly local or an experienced traveller! Regatta is indeed one of the best secrets of the Töölö area. The cafe is also a budget friendly option, as you can get a delicious strong Finnish coffee to warm you up in those winter months, and a delicious slice of homemade cake to get you forward on your journey!


The cafe is open every day from 8:00am. The address is Merikannontie 8 which is only a 2 minute walk from the famous Sibelius monument. In the summer time you can also hire kayaks and boats there. If you want to get in contact with the place just visit their website –


Enjoy your cosy break and strong Finnish coffee!

Helsinki Guru ^^

Early Helsinki history

The way Helsinki started

The city of Helsinki was founded in 1550 by the Swedish king Gustav Vasa during the times when Finland was a part of the Swedish kingdom. Helsinki was meant to outperform Tallinn (Known as Reval at the time) as a trading port and to become a trading center for the whole of southern Finland.


So you may ask, where is the place that Helsinki was founded? It would be logical to believe that the area around the main Market Square (Kauppatori) in Helsinki would be the starting point.

In fact, that is not the right answer. There is an area called Vanhakaupinki in the far eastern area of Helsinki. This name directly translates into English as “the old city”. The area is located at the mouth of the Vantaa River next to the modern Arabia district. To this day, there are no complete buildings left – only foundations and memorial plaques exist. In this picture you can see some fascinating remains of the original church, which were recovered during the 1980’s by archaeologists who were excavating. They also found over 150 graves within the church. It is dating back to the 16th century.



In the year 1640 it was decided that the sea shores of the area were too difficult for the boats to access. The same year, Queen Christina of Sweden decided that the city of Helsinki should be moved to the modern Kruununhaka area, near the city center. So, the city center was moved.

In 1809, Finland became a part of the Russian Empire and it was the time when Helsinki was turned into the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The idea of turning Helsinki into the capital was especially promoted by the Russian Tsar, who found it to be a place remote enough from Sweden as well as close enough to Saint Petersburg (the capital of the Russian Empire at the time). It was also a favorable location of the city due to its proximity to the Suomenlinna fortress (known as Sveaborg under the Swedish rule). At that time, Suomenlinna was considered to be equal to Gibraltar in terms of its defence capabilities, and it made Helsinki especially attractive for Alexander I. As a result, in 1812 Helsinki was officially named to be the capital of the Grand Duchy. The city has been rapidly growing ever since.

Enjoy your time in Helsinki!
Helsinki Guru ^^


Introduction to Helsinki


With a population of just under 620,000, the capital of Finland – Helsinki could certainly not be described as a mega-city like Moscow or London. Its beauty is in its modest size – and reflects the equally small country population of just under 5.6 million people. But for what Helsinki lacks in size, it more than makes up with its personality, its history, its culture, its beautiful nature and its diverse array of architecture.

Helsinki is in many ways perfectly located for the avid travelers.

To give you an idea.

  • NORTH – Lapland by train in 8.5-9 hours
  • EAST – Moscow by sleeping train in 14 hours
  • SOUTH – Tallinn by boat in 2.5 hours
  • WEST – Stockholm by an overnight boat
  • Or flights to many other major cities such as Tokio, Hong Kong, Rome, London, New York amongst many others.

You can find a great diversity of cultures, cuisines, architectural styles and personalities in Helsinki. For example – whilst wandering around the Senate Square and admiring the vast array of Russian “Empire Style” buildings, you can almost lose yourself and imagine you are once again a part of the Russian Imperial era, when this part of the city was created.

For the artistic souls, a pleasurable stroll around Katajanokka island will show you the second largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe (after Riga) as well as the great achievements of the Finnish National Romantic Style.

You can find superior buildings such as those designed by Alvar Aalto – Finlandia music hall, or the Stora Enso building. Perhaps for the Moomin fans amongst us, perhaps you want to take a stroll in “Tove Jansson park” – where Tove Jansson – the creator of the moomins, used to play as a child and spent her early years. Or for some nature try the beautiful Esplanadi park, or even a picturesque boat journey to Suomenlinna. All these things are only a very small part of what Helsinki has to offer.

In the series of blog posts we will tell you everything you should know about Helsinki and places around it so that you get the most out of your time here!

Stay with us!
Helsinki Guru ^^

Public transport in Helsinki

Finding your way around the city


As you may expect from a Nordic city – Helsinki has an excellent system of public transport.  Wherever you want to go, you can easily arrange your itinerary by public transport.

From the Airport

If you arrive to Helsinki Vantaa airport and you plan on traveling to the city center, you can take a direct ‘I’ train that will take you there. You can buy your ticket in advance from a vending machine for €5, or by downloading the HSL travel App. You will find that there are three ticket types of tickets available- for 1, 2 or 3 zones. When travelling from Helsinki Vantaa airport to Helsinki center, you have to buy a 2 zone ticket, as the airport is located in the city next to Helsink, called Vantaa. However, if you travel within Vantaa region only, you can buy a 1 zone ticket for €2.90 (the info is valid for the 24th of October 2017) . If you’re staying a little longer, you can buy a mix of one zone, two zone, daily, 3 daily, or even weekly passes.


*This little heart-shaped map shows you all the stops you can reach from the Vantaa Airport by train. 

The train schedule and frequency varies depending on the day of the week. During weekends trains usually travel less frequently. The last train from the airport to the city center leaves just after midnight from Monday-Friday. Therefore if you are planning on travelling any time after midnight, you will more likely have to arrange a taxi or take a midnight bus. These can take up to an hour to get to the center. All the timetables can be found on the local public transport website, which is also available in English.

Travelling around the city 

You have plenty of options on the modes of public transport in Helsinki which can take you around the city. Various buses, trams, trains and metro are there for you 24/7. NOTE: the schedules change at night time and it is mainly buses that run after midnight. The night tickets are also more expensive than day tickets (almost double the price).So remember to consider that in advance too.

If you feel like you get to travel quite a lot through the day you can buy a day pass for Helsinki region. It will be good value if you plan to make four or more trips in a day. The price for a day pass on the 24th of October 2017 is 9 euros (the prices do annually change). You can buy a day pass from some vending machines as well as ‘R-kioski’ shops, which you will find doted all around the city. Staff in the kiosks usually speak good English so they will be able to easily understand and give advice on what you need.


*Look out for this sign

You can buy a travel pass for unlimited travelling in Helsinki or Helsinki regions for up to 7 days. All the modes of public transport are included into your ticket.

NOTE: If you bought a travel pass for Helsinki region and you plan on travelling to the regions of ESPOO or VANTAA – the pass will NOT be valid. You will have to buy a separate regional ticket in this case. 

Boat to Suomenlinna

Here is another commonly asked question  – Is a Suomenlinna boat a part of Helsinki region?


If you plan on travelling to the Suomenlinna islands, all you have to do is to buy a ticket valid for Helsinki region. It can be a day pass, a single ticket or a special Suomenlinna ticket which can be purchased from the vending machine next to the Suomenlinna boat point.

Is it worth using Hop on Hop Off Services?

We believe it is absolutely unnecessary. If you do your research before-hand and decide which sights around Helsinki you want to visit, you will find out that nearly all of them are very easily reachable by public transport. In addition to that, using public transport is a great way to see the local life and the way we travel in Helsinki! Remember that daily pass is only 9 euros for unlimited travel. You could then use the money you saved to pay for a private tour in Helsinki with real people… beats paying 40 euros to sit on a bus and listen to a speaker, right?!

NOTE: There is great news for those travelling to Helsinki in 2018. The prices for the tickets will be reduced in the beginning of the year. The night fare prices will also be discontinued! 

Enjoy your travelling!

Helsinki Guru ^^