Helsinki is the capital of Finland, and its most populous urban area. If you want to know more here’s the Wikipedia article. This is where we are began our epic road trip. Before that, however, we decided to spend a day here and get to know this city a little bit. Here’s a handy link to my video.
Camping in Helsinki
The most convenient campground to park your RV in Helsinki is Rastila. While it is little more than a parking lot, there are hedges between sites, and it is impeccably located. You walk three short blocks and you are at the metro station. Helsinki, like most modern European cities has excellent public transportation and for 9 € you can get a day pass, good for the metro, the bus, the tram, and the ferry
The campground itself has all the expected facilities such as bathrooms, showers, laundry, dump stations, even kitchens and a TV room.
Things to do
Well, this is more like “Things we did”. In any case it is still a good list, and we did return after the road trip and explored a little more. That will be another whole video and blog post though.
As soon as we got off the metro we walked a few block to Senate Square. From there we enjoyed a great view of the Helsinki Cathedral, which is a very iconic building. They were having a festival celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Finnish Armed Forces. Finland as an independent country is a relatively new nation, being under Russian and Swedish rule in the past.
From here, Market Square and the Old Market Hall are a short walk away. They are both super touristy but worth a visit if you want to try some marinated smoked salmon or any other local delicacy. Market square in particular is also a great place to get souvenirs. From here we took a ferry to an island called Suomenlinna, where there is a famous fort, UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a great boat trip with great views of the harbor and the Cathedral.
Two other places of worship come to mind. One is the Church on the Rock. It is basically a structure carved on a rock with a copper plated ceiling. When we went they were having a rehearsal, but they often have concerts as well because of the excellent acoustics.
The other one is commonly called the Chapel of Silence. It sits on the corner of Narinkkatori, one of Helsinki’s busiest squares. It is supposed to be a place to relax and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
If you want to get a commanding view of the city there are two places I can recommend. First one is the Skywheel, which we did not take. It is a Ferris wheel near the harbor. All the glasses are blue so you may get a cool colored distorted version of the city. Instead, we went to the rooftop bar at the Torni Hotel, where unfortunately they don’t serve food, but they have a great local IPA. It is also one of the few skyscrapers in Helsinki.
Esplanadi and the Savotta Restaurant
We returned to Senate Square walking through Esplanadi. It is a very wide avenue, more like a city park, with great ambiance, sidewalk cafes, shopping, and street musicians. We came full circle back where we started to have lunch, more like early dinner at a restaurant called Savotta. It is quite pricey but it serves traditional Finnish cuisine in an upscale environment,