Falling in love in Porvoo
Where: Porvoo, a small town about 50 minutes northeast from Helsinki.
How to get there: by car or bus. You can compare different bus lines on Matkahuolto's website. Prices vary from 2-10 €.
Remember! You should go pretty early (before noon), since a lot of the little shops close around 4 pm.
For the romantics, a day trip to Porvoo is not to be missed. The small town of 50 000 people is situated only about an hour's drive from Helsinki center. You can easily get there and back during one day and still spend the evening in Helsinki.
The town was founded in the 14th century by the King of Sweden. The logic behind the city's name comes from the words 'castle river', Borg å, thus becoming the town's name Borgå in Swedish and then Porvoo in Finnish. The area is still quite bilingual in the both languages, so for all the Swedes coming to visit – you'll get service in the mother tongue no doubt!
So what to do in this beautiful place? Stroll around the cute wooden houses and shops, enjoy an excellent lunch and take some cute Instagram photos with your loved one. The old town area is not the biggest, but luckily that's not all there is to the city. After you've seen the sights, you can always treat yourself to some art in the new part of town, in Taidetehdas (Läntinen Aleksanterinkatu 1).
Apart from the architecture, the town is known for its cuisine. There are plenty of great restaurants for all tastes, for example pizza in Gabriel 1763, in the house the mayor built for himself in 1763. The legend says he took all the best materials and workers for his own project and didn't care so much about the public projects. According to the restaurant's owners, that explains why the building is still like new, with some other buildings in Porvoo being in constant need of renovation. Damn you Gabriel...
Oh, and if you're one with a sweet tooth, don't forget to visit Brunberg's chocolate factory. Their truffles are to die for.
I've been in Porvoo many times with lovers from my teenage years to this day, and I have to say there isn't a place more romantic than this. Tourists usually only come for a day trip, but there are also some cozy hotels, such as Pariisin Ville (Jokikatu 43), if you'd prefer to spend a few days. There's actually quite a lot to do even on a longer visit. For example if you're a skiing newbie and would like to try it – well, there just happens to be a ski centre right next to the city.
My dream has been to spend the whole summer there, write some poems and get inspiration from our national poet J.L. Runeberg's spirit. Porvoo used to be his hometown (and yes, you can visit his house!).
So far I've had to cope with just visiting. One of these days...
By the way, if you'd like to do like these locals, and walk on the ice, make sure you're walking where the locals are walking. It's not always easy to spot thin ice, but following others will keep you safe.