Porvoo is an idyllic medieval town located just 50 kms from Helsinki. This quaint town, with its cobblestone streets and colourful doll houses, is a perfect day trip from the Finnish capital. Museums, old cathedrals, restaurants and cafes, are just some of the things that you can visit while in Porvoo.
Helsinki to Porvoo
Porvoo is easily accessible from Helsinki. Most people take the bus to Porvoo.
The journey from Helsinki to Porvoo is easiest on a bus. The bus station is located in the basement of Kamppi Centre in Helsinki. Even if you don’t plan your trip from Helsinki to Porvoo in advance, no worries. The bus frequency is high, and the journey quite short (approx 1 hour). Also, you can either buy the ticket online or on the bus itself.
It is possible to travel from Helsinki to Porvoo by steamboat in the summer. The cruise runs almost daily. The steamboats sail from Helsinki in the morning and returns in the afternoon. The journey lasts for about three hours one way. You can book your boat tickets online.
What To Do In Porvoo
Summer or winter, Porvoo is a beautiful in all seasons. We visited Porvoo in the winter, before the snow had arrived. It was cold, and raining. But the charm of the town truly brightened up our visit.
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The old town of Porvoo is small enough to explore on foot in less than a day. If you’re wondering where to start, here are my top 5 suggestions.
1. Roam Around The Old Town
Porvoo is the second oldest city in Finland. And if only the cobblestone streets could speak, they would tell you tales of many Finnish artists who’ve called Porvoo their home. The beautiful town is filled with colourful houses that look like doll houses.
It might be hard to appreciate the beauty of the town while you’re walking its streets. So, why not walk towards the bridge over the Porvoonjoki river to appreciate the views. Or perhaps walk onto the hill opposite the red houses on the banks of the river to get to an even better view.
2. Visit The Cathedral
This 15th century cathedral sits on top a tiny hill in Porvoo, and can be from any good vantage point. Originally a church, it become a cathedral in 1723 when the diocese of Viipuri moved to Porvoo, after the Russian occupation of Viipuri.
The cathedral is only a couple of minutes walking from the Porvoo Museum.
3. Step Into The Museums
The Porvoo Museum is a historical and an art museum located beside the Old Town Hall in the heart of the oldest part of Porvoo. All the details about the museum and the Holm House, including the entrance fee, can be found on its official website.
Porvoo is also famous as the home of the Finnish national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. He and is wife lived in their house in Porvoo from 1852 until his death in 1877. Their home was opened to the public in 1882, and is the oldest home museum in Finland.
4. Admire The Red Houses
Walk down to the banks of the Porvoonjoki river to stand across the famous red houses of Porvoo. These picturesque houses were painted red in honour of the arrival of Gustav III, the king of Sweden. Also, they’ve been used to store goods, merchandise, and exotic delicacies over the years.
These red coloured wooden storage houses are a proposed UNESCO world heritage site.
5. Restaurants & Cafes
It’s said that over the years, people traveled all the way from Helsinki to visit Porvoo’s cafes and restaurants. I would probably agree.
If you need to grab a meal in Porvoo, look no further than Zum Beispiel. Located at the edge of the Old Town, Zum Beispiel is one of the best restaurants in Porvoo. It’s fresh ingredients, and relaxed ambiance will make you want to never leave.
After you’ve enjoyed your delicious meal, why not walk across to a local cafe. There are so many quaint cafes in town that it’s hard to recommend just one. But whichever cafe you pick, make sure that you order Porvoo’s famous Runeberg torte – a Finnish pastry flavored with almonds and arrack or rum. The torte got its name from Johan Ludvig Runeberg who, according to legend, enjoyed the torte for breakfast.
Hotels in Porvoo
If you’re not a city-dweller, and love the charm of small towns, why not stay a night or two in Porvoo? The town’s proximity to Helsinki, and frequency of buses, means that it’s easy to commute between the two cities. We honestly wished that we had stayed in Porvoo instead of Helsinki on our last night in Finland. My guess is that it would have been quite easy to go to the Helsinki Airport from Porvoo.
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