Ever since it’s opening in 1888 Ateneum has been The Museum to go to with the best selection of Finnish Classics. When I was a child my Grandmother used to take me there. I loved the big staircase, the fossils, and the ventilation grids. And I remember admiring Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s Aino Myth (1891). Today it’s a great privilege to run the museum. When the museum is closed, I sometimes go to the staircase, all alone, sit down and listen to the building. My late Granny would have loved that, too.
In Helsinki there are only around 20 major buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. The Academic Bookstore building (1961) is one of them. Café Aalto was opened there in 1986. In the early 1990s it became one of my favourite places to go for a coffee or lunch. The family running the place, now in the second generation, always has time for a little chat. It’s a place where you can easily imagine starting to write your first novel.
Café Aalto. Mon–Fri 9–21, Sat 9–19, Sun 11–18. Akateeminen Kirjakauppa, 2nd floor, Pohjoisesplanadi 39.
Katajanokka and Jugend architecture
Residential areas such as Katajanokka offer a beautiful opportunity to explore Jugend architecture. I grew up in Katajanokka, playing in the courtyards, running up and down the streets, looking at the buildings that are rich in detail and very exciting on the inside. For example the creator of Moomins, Tove Jansson, lived there as a child.
Katajanokka and Jugend architecture.
Take tram no 4 or 5 to Katajanokka.
The sea and Löyly
Helsinki is all about the presence of the Baltic Sea. When I’ve lived abroad I’ve always missed the sea the most. If you’re not keen on sailing or wish to skip the boat tours, there are several places for contemplation all year round. The highest hill in the Kaivopuisto park, and the Suomenlinna island are always great. Löyly is one of the best sites to enjoy a sauna and have a swim. The fabulous building is by architects Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen.
Restaurant open Mon–Thu 10–24, Fri–Sat 10–02, Sun 10–22.
Sauna open Mon–Wed 16–22, Thu 13–22, Fri–Sat 13–23, Sun 13–21. Morning sauna: Sat 8–10.
Hernesaarenranta 4. loylyhelsinki.fi