Leading up to my trip to Tel Aviv, I’m off to explore the the cool side of yet another city in Europe. This time it’s Helsinki, which if you read as much as I do, you know it’s got quite a cool and hip vibe.

I’m going as a guest of Visit Finland to explore the gay-friendliness of the city and hopefully see just what all the fuss is about. Helsinki was named the World Design Capital in 2012 so it’s been on this designer’s radar for a little while. Plus Finland is in Scandinavia — and if there’s one thing I know about Scandinavia, it’s that THEY. KNOW. DESIGN. Actually, there are 5 things I know about Scandinavia. There’s the design thing, the music thing, the fish thing, the naked thing (← seriously. click that. it’s naked snowboarders in Finland!) and the expensive thing. Guys, I’m telling you: Scandinavia sounds AMAHZING. And I’ve only ever been to Iceland so far.

My plan to discover hipster Helsinki

I’ve got a pretty solid plan—I hope—to discover the cool side to Helsinki. First, I’ve done some reading. And a lot of it. A handful of my favorite travel blogs have posted recently about Helsinki and its designy-vibe, so I’ve collected more than enough tips through that. One of the stand-out tips is the Design District—an area of Helsinki with boutique shops, fashion stores and museums. Looks like a great place to wander and do my typical research: walk into some cool café and grab a bunch of flyers and free magazines.

The other area I’ve heard is the hip place to be in Helsinki is the Kallio neighborhood. Asking friends and friends of friends has given me quite a big list of recommended bars and restaurants, so I won’t be short on places to see—just time.

Also in Helsinki are the usual tourist things to do—but honestly I’m more there to explore the culture and hipster/design scene, so we’ll see how much I get to. A few things I don’t really want to miss (pending the weather forecast) are the Suomenlinna park and some of the markets. We’ll see about a Finnish sauna, though…

If you have any tips, be sure to let me know here or on Twitter!

What I’m packing for my weekend in Helsinki

shoesPart of my mission to make sure I discover the cool side to Helsinki involves dressing the part. Since being named among some of the most stylish travel bloggers, I’ve got some cred to live up to. Thankfully, the kind folks over at FreestyleXtreme have provided me with a proper hipster outfit. Their little, family-run clothing business sells a variety of fashion brands.

I was skeptical at first about their product selection (with a name like FreestyleXtreme I was expecting only skateboarding brands), but they actually carry a handful of quality hipster styles—notably the colorful Globe and Etnies labels. I had a hard time picking out some shoes, though, because they had so many great styles—many for less than 60€!

hipster clothes

With my cool, new clothes and a Moleskine notebook filled with pages of recommendations, finding the hipster side to Helsinki shouldn’t be such a problem. Let’s hope it’s a fairly affordable city as well. Wish me luck!


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