Earlier in April, still jet lagged after a trip to South America, I flew from London to the fancy Finnish capital. The idea was to take part in the #HelsinkiSecret Residence initiative and go exploring Helsinki like a local.

Exploring Helsinki Like a Local: The Beginning

I arrived at my fancy pad at Aallonkoti and was greeted with lots of suggestions of things to see in Helsinki. The thing is, I had visited the city on a brief two-day trip many years ago, but had only a blurred memory of a very modern city. This made me think that one week would be way too long. So, a day later I was met joined by my friend Ana and we started exploring the city.

Exploring Helsinki Like a Local: The Beginning

First things first: the city quickly got under my skin and I decided to take things really slowly. “It would be a real shame to just the tick boxes without, somehow, going beyond the ‘spectator’ role“, I thought. Together, we went through all suggestions one more time and decided to go deeper into the young, free-spirited vibe I felt from the city – ensuring I wouldn’t forget to fill my stomach with some “deli” local food along the way.

Exploring Helsinki Like a Local: The Beginning

An fun café in the district of Kallio

We visited the once-a-blue-collar-district of Kallio, dubbed the Shoreditch of Helsinki, for its bohemian and more alternative scene. We found some cool bars and hippie-ish cafés, but were told to return after sunset, when things really get going. But even during the day we met a group of university students – we were asking for directions – and got invited to hit the bars with them. We had to decline the invitation, but it was the first of many displays of openness and genuine friendliness we got in the city – contrasting with the serious image we have of Finns.

Exploring Helsinki Like a Local: The Beginning

So, get ready and follow on our footsteps to explore Helsinki like a local on the next series of posts.

My trip to Helsinki was an invitation by the Visit Helsinki office. But all opinions and long sentences – there’ll be loads of them! – are my own.

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