Porvoo old town

Day trip from Helsinki-Porvoo Old Town

Ever seen those beautiful red cottages by a river in one of the mesmerizing Finland videos and wondered where exactly they might be from? Well, let me take you there! A serene town on the Southern coast of Finland and one of the oldest towns in the country, this spectacular place is called Porvoo. And Porvoo old town is worth a visit if you ever happen to be in Finland. A day trip from Helsinki is all one needs to visit Porvoo and it barely takes an hour by bus.

Finland’s Lapland region being the most famous choice for tourists, it often takes away the spotlight from other areas in the country. But Helsinki is also catching up as the next best destination for being the Nordic gem it is. So a lot of tourists visiting Helsinki seek options for day trip destinations around the city where they can discover something extra. Tallinn in Estonia is the regular choice of course but why not visit something very Finnish first! If I were a tourist I too would have wanted to see the quaint Finnish life in addition to the charms of ever bustling Rovaniemi or Helsinki. However, having resided in Helsinki for more than three years now, Porvoo is a familiar town to me. But I can never get tired of this pretty little place and this place needs a pretty little post on this blog.
So a few facts about this picture-perfect town first.
1. To be precise, Porvoo is not even an old town. It’s a medieval town that dates back to the 14th century. There are total six of them in Finland and this is the most easily accessible one from Helsinki.
2. The name Porvoo is derived from the river Porvoonjoki and suggests to a Swedish Castle by the river.
3. Even though Porvoo is an emerging modern town, its old town area is made of cobbled streets and it just looks like a place from a period film. The main attraction of Porvoo old town area is its Cathedral which, I suppose, is an Evangelical Lutheran Church.
4. Porvoo was also the home of Johan Ludvig Runeberg, the national poet of Finland. You can even visit his house located by the river. Also, Porvoo is probably the only place in Finland where you can eat Runebergin Torttu, a jam-filled pastry dedicated to the poet all round the year. For the rest of the country, it is a delicacy only available in the month of February, the birth month of the poet.

Porvoo old town

A part of Porvoo old town

Now, coming back to the old town area, it is a kind of place that is best explored on foot. The old town roads aren’t the very car or wheelchair friendly roads. One can rent a bike though. But mind it, it’s not easy to ride on those rough streets. A brisk walk from the bus stop and after a maze of wooden, colorful houses one stumbles upon the magnificent church. There’s nothing gaudy about it but the white facade looks pretty and if lucky you may see a typical Finnish wedding happening there. From the church one can practically have a good view of the whole town. So it’s like a viewing point too.

Porvoo old town

Porvoo Cathedral

Coming down from the church, one finds himself among the cutest houses one can ever imagine. Adorned with wildflowers and wooden fences these little houses look too good to be true. A few little steps, and you see those famous red little cottages by the river.
Every time I am there, I end up envying the people living in those houses. Their kitchens and backyards are practically on the river and they can really dive straight into the river from their bathroom saunas.
If you happen to take your own picnic then this is a great spot to enjoy your food and the view.

Porvoo old town

The famous red cottages

But Porvoo is essentially a place for the summers even though it looks pretty ‘out of the world’ in winters.
Then there is this Doll Museum made of dreamy stuff. Even so, don’t go expecting a huge museum as it is just a wooden cottage with pretty windows in midtown Porvoo. All the treasures inside this museum will definitely take you back to your childhood for sure. If you have a child then this a ‘must-visit’ place as I have come to notice that kids these days don’t appreciate dolls and toys as much as we did.

Also read: Porvoo Doll and Toy Museum

Porvoo old town

Porvoo toy & doll museum

Next, the gastronomy test! Head straight to any of those inviting little restaurants in Porvoo old town. One restaurant named Hanna Maria is very famous for its reindeer meat. But time and again I have talked about this; I don’t have the heart to try it no matter how much they praise it. You can also try some baked or smoked salmon which is a very popular dish in Finland.
Porvoo is also home to artisanal chocolate shops. Brunberg is one of the very famous ones and it is, undoubtedly, one of the oldest chocolate shops I have ever set foot in. So their chocolates can be the best souvenirs to take home. But my favorite activity in Porvoo is cafe-hopping and eating Finnish pastries.

Porvoo old town

Runebergin Torttu

But beyond the old town, Porvoo has scintillating nature waiting for you to explore. I plan to do that myself someday but, for now, let vintage cars and pretty windows be my postcards from Porvoo. So if you want to sample this unhurried way of life occasionally rattled by summertime tourists trying to freeze the beauty of it, come to Porvoo and see it for yourself.
You won’t regret it, I promise!Porvoo old town

Photo Gallery:
Porvoo old town

Porvoo old town


How to reach:

By bus: From Helsinki’s Kampi Bus station there is frequent bus service daily. Bus no. 848 has very good frequency. Usually, a single journey ticket costs about 8 Euros. One can also reach Porvoo From Helsinki-Vantaa airport by bus and it takes about 1 hour. 

One can also book tickets online. Onnibus.com is a site that offers cheap tickets. 

By car: Porvoo is connected by the motorway, Highway 7 (E18) and it is about 50 kilometers away.

By ship: only in summer.  M/s J.L. Runeberg and Royal Line’s m/s RoyalCat cruise between Porvoo and Helsinki almost daily. The ships starts from Helsinki in the morning and returns in the afternoon. It takes about 3 hours to reach Porvoo as the ship slowly sails through the beautiful archipelagos.


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