Seeing as how this is my first time in a country I hadn’t visited before, I thought I’d share some of my first impressions of Helsinki. I had quite a few expectations before visiting the Finnish capital—some of which have lived up to the reality. I’ve also got a tendency to record my first impressions in my travel journal (Moleskine, naturally), so I wanted to share a snapshot.


My initial assumption about Helsinki is that the city is very “design-friendly.” Meaning plenty of art galleries, inspiring architecture and public spaces, boutique shops, trendy locals and so on. Shortly after arriving I wandered in the area around my hotel, the Design District, where the signs of Helsinki’s design-friendliness were more than apparent. Boys wearing sailor-striped shirts and girls in gladiators. Shops selling antique furniture and vegan-friendly restaurants. I knew I was in my kind of place.

Some other first impressions from my first 36 hours in Helsinki:

  • posters promoting a LOT of upcoming concerts & music festivals — and not just metal bands!
  • so many patios! It seems the Finns like to be outside and with the record-hot weather it’s no surprise why. Helsinki is beautiful in the sunshine. The bars all seem to have patios and whether it’s ice cream or Mexican food, it’s all being enjoyed outside.
  • I always knew Helsinki was by the sea but somehow it was surprising to hear seagulls.
  • Finnish sounds redonkulous. The noises coming out of people’s mouths are so strange but somehow poetic.
  • Last night I went to one of Helsinki’s few gay clubs and it was immediately apparent that the gay clubs aren’t just for gays. They’re obviously some of the coolest nightclubs and popular with men & women, gay or straight.
  • Despite being a very bike-friendly city (bike lanes are pretty common), Helsinki has a few big hills as well. Too challenging for my weak legs.

I’ll have more observations and stories to share after my trip. So far, I can’t help but say how impressed I am with Helsinki. Though I have to admit after just 36 hours here, I feel like I’ve seen quite a bit! But with the nice weather here, it shouldn’t be hard to fill my time with a sunny picnic or two!

Helsinki Design District


Helsinki lake

Moi moi! Bye-bye!

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