Helsinki is actually quite small – you don’t really need more than 48 hours to see the highlights. If you have time to stay longer I recommend venturing out of the city. After much Googling and comparing between Espoo and Porvoo, I opted for a half day trip to Porvoo.
Porvoo is a really old town (from the 1,300’s!) with well preserved old timber houses and cobblestone streets. There are only about 3 main streets but each one is slightly different so it worth walking up and down each one.
What to see and do in Porvoo
If you Google Porvoo the first thing that comes up will probably be a row of red houses like this:
You can see them from the bridge you’ll pass on the bus on the way into town, and can also walk along the river to get better pictures. They used to be for for storage but are now people’s homes.
I took a photo of this row in the morning (at 10am when I arrived) and another photo at 12:30pm before lunch. The lighting was better in the afternoon.
This house was my favorite!
There are a more modern version on the other side of the river.
After walking along the river you can either head into town or take a walk up to Iso Linnamaki. What was once the site of a castle with a moat is now a grassy hill that has some glimpses of Porvoo.
If you’re short on time you could probably skip this – despite it’s height and good position overlooking the town it’s hard to see much because there’s so many trees. I found the best view was at the start of the trail:
Would’ve loved to have lunch here but it was closed 🙁
Half Day Trip Itinerary to Porvoo (from Helsinki)
- By 8:30am – walk to Kampin Metroasema (bus station) and buy tickets for the 8:45am bus #848
- 8:45am – Get bus to Porvoo from Helsinki bus station 14 euro max. (each way)
- 9:55am arrive Porvoo
- Walk up the Iso Linnamaki (Great Castle Hill Iron Age Hill Fort) and Pikku Linnamaki for views over the town.
- Walk around the old town to see the Red Warehouses, Old Town Hall, Porvoo Cathedral & the river and most importantly – Brunberg Chocolate shop
- Lunch at ZUM BEISPIEL
- 2pm – Take the bus back to Helsinki – If you’re not sure which bus to catch, just ask the driver. You can buy tickets on the bus. The pick-up and drop off point is the same location (linja-autoasema, 06100 Porvoo, Finland – or just enter Porvoo bus station into Google Maps)
Time of my visit: Mid-September
For lunch, I went to ZUM BEISPIEL cafe which had meals with veggies not chips!
Don’t forget to visit Brunberg chocolate shop! I had trouble finding this brand in the supermarket and liked it better than the more common Fazer chocolate.
Half day trip to Porvoo from Helsinki (on the bus)
As you can see from the walking route & attractions I plotted using Google Maps (tutorial here), Porvoo is quite small. You only need a half to 3/4 of a day to see the cute old town. I wouldn’t stay the night at this little town, it’s nice for a day trip but there’s not really enough to see and do to justify spending the night.
Finland is notoriously expensive so an organized day trip is predictably, expensive. Instead of joining an organized bus tour, take local bus #848 from the Kampii Center shopping centre (bottom level). It was easy to find and cheap. Once you get to Porvoo you can walk the whole thing, the only thing you need to pay for when you get there is food or souvenirs.
- Organized tour via Stromma = 62 euro (at the time of writing this)
- Return bus ticket from Helsinki =14 euro x 2 ways = 28 euro
On the bus on the way back from Helsinki. There wouldn’t have been more than 10 people on the bus so got a good view from seats up the front!
More Finland posts
- Best of Helsinki in One Day (Photo Stops, Attractions & Scheduled Itinerary)
- Guide to visiting Rovaneimi in Lapland, Finland (the home of Santa Claus!)
- Visiting Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi – is it worth it when there’s no snow?
- Do you need a DLSR camera to photograph the northern lights?
- Hiking day trip to the Finnish forest!
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