Mihir and I have spent a lot of our time exploring Finland’s most beautiful corners. As we were checking off our bucket list, we noticed that we had never been to Porvoo. When we noticed we were both off of work for Mihir’s birthday and needed to go to Helsinki anyway, we planned a daytrip to the town. Porvoo is just a quick 50 minutes away from the capital by bus and easily accessible. Porvoo is dubbed the city of charming moments, and I know that we spent a lovely couple of hours wandering the cobblestone streets.
Porvoo is one of the only 6 medieval towns in Finland and was mentioned in historic documents in the 14th century. As an originally Swedish settlement, the Finnish name Porvoo comes from Borgo, which literally means castle river. It’s Finland 2nd oldest city only after Turku. The town’s main attraction today is its Old Town, a beautiful collection of red wooden houses. The Old Town has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but in contrast to Old Rauma it has not been granted protected status yet. The red houses originally served as warehouses which stored trading goods, but today are home to boutique shops, cafes, and museums.
Sweet treats & Historic sites
We arrived at the Porvoo bus station late in the morning to grey skies and frosty winds. Nonetheless we went ahead and walked towards the riverside. We strolled along the shore and took a couple of photos of the pretty red houses. Then we ventured into the narrow streets of the old town and explored the many shops which were just opening. We were instantly drawn into a cute little chocolaterie, Petris Chocolate Room. After browsing a bit, we decided to get a small selection of pralines and biscuits. They also had a very appealing selection of cakes, but as we were heading for lunch soon, we decided to skip them this time.
A little bag full of sweet treats in our hands, we made our way to Porvoo’s cathedral. Built in the 14th century, it rests comfortably on a hilltop overlooking the river and the old town. On our way down we briefly passed the home of J.L. Runeberg, Finland’s national poet. Throughout the city you’ll find bakeries selling the infamous Runebergin tortut, a rum and almond flavoured torte. Allegedly Runeberg ate the torte with punsch for every breakfast. As the legend goes, Fredrika Runeberg, Runeberg’s wife, created the sweet treat, although her recipe from the 1850s was probably based on an earlier version by Porvoo confectioner Lars Astenius. You can read more about traditional Finnish pastries here.
While we were wandering the streets, we noticed a distinct roasty scent in the air. We turned a couple of corners in order to find the source of the delicious smell – a local coffee roastery! Funnily enough you could get a whiff of it several hundred metres away still. It made us think how amazing it must be to live in the vicinity of this wonderful place 😛
As we were gradually withering in the cold, we decided to go and grab lunch. Porvoo being a relatively small town of 50.000 people, the selection of restaurants is rather restricted. We finally settled on Zum Beispiel, a modern gastro pub. We enjoyed some burgers and a micro brew. Our stomachs stuffed we returned to the bus station and sadly boarded our bus back to Helsinki.
Now, what do you think? Have you ever seen the red warehouses of Porvoo? Which is your favourite viewpoint of the city? Share your thoughts and pictures with us! Let’s stay in touch!