Keen to escape from daily city life of Helsinki? You must plan for a day trip from Helsinki to visit Porvoo. Whenever I feel, I need a short break , first place comes to my mind is Porvoo (Borgå in swedish). It is situated on the southeast coast of Finland,50 km from Helsinki. This second oldest town of Finland is the most famous day trip destination from Helsinki. Its a fairy tale town with its medieval cathedral, unique wooden buildings, medieval red shore houses and museums. A town where history fuses with art and culture. You will surely fall in love with its charming beauty.
Here I am listing my preferred 10 things to do in Porvoo in summer. It is your choice whether you will explore the area or just sit by the river, take a deep breath and let the surrounding sooth your mind. Surely you will feel relaxed and afresh after your visit.
One of the most Photographed Town in Finland - Aerial view
10 Things to do in Porvoo
1. Roam around Porvoo old town and get lost in history
Porvoo old town is such a small town that you can explore it on foot easily. This postcard perfect town is Finland’s one of the six medieval towns. It looks like a painting with its colorful wooden houses, quiet cobbled street, narrow alleys, cathedral, museums, roadside shop, restaurant and cafes. Take a stroll in this charming medieval town which will surely take you back to the medieval era.
2. Enjoy National Urban Park
Old town is surrounded by National Urban Park. The park which follows the Porvoonjoki river,was established in 2010. The purpose of the park is to weave Finnish life and culture with nature. In summer and spring time flowers bloom everywhere, make the area vibrant with colorful flowers. You can just relax on the riverside park or take small trails through the park.
3. Take a boat trip on Porvoonjoki
Porvoo Line River Cruises organize river trip in Porvoonjoki with beautiful M/S Queen. You can listen fascinating stories on history of Porvoo and Finland while enjoying local foods and drinks in wonderful river cruises and admire beautiful views from the spacious sundeck. It starts from Matkustajasatama -pier and from Old Town’s Tykkilaituri -pier. Duration of the trip is about 1 hour.
Saaristolinja organizes several river trips in Porvoo. Most popular among them is guided river cruises with m/s Fredrika. It departs every hour between 12am and 17pm everyday except monday from Porvoo passenger harbour ( from mid-June – mid-August ). Duration of the trip is about 45 minutes. Midsummer eve bonfire cruise is a special midnight guided cruise with music and songs in Snadra D ship for enjoying Midsummer. Other cruises, run by Saaristolinja are Archipelago cruise, Lunch cruise, Family cruise.
4.Rent a bike and explore the surrounding
There are plenty of options for cyclists in Porvoo with short & long distance routes. You can paddle through cobbled street of old town to explore it or take a route through urban park and ride in nature. Bicycling from Helsinki to Porvoo is very popular in summer. Bike can be rented from Porvoon Pyöräkeskus Oy.
5. Visit museum
Interested in history? Then you must visit Museums in Porvoo. The town possesses some of the best museums in Finland.
1. Porvoo Doll and Toy
2. The Old Town Hall/Porvoo Museum– Located in the heart of Porvoo old town, this is Finland’s oldest town hall. Built in 18th century, the town hall museum displays master piece from golden age of Finnish art and tells you the history and tradition.
3.Holm’s House/ Porvoo Museum– This 18th century merchant house is a part of Porvoo museum. Holm,s House which was built in 1763, gives you an opportunity to visualize how a wealthy merchant family lived in that era. The ground floor hosts a museum shop and temporary exhibitions.
6.Hike to Iso Linnamäki or Castle Hill
Iso Linnamäki or Castle Hill, situated to the north of Porvoo Old Town is a site of one of the biggest ancient castle in Finland. The castle which once dominated the entire Porvoo river valley, was probably built by the Swedes for making their conquests in the east in 1200s. Though there is no ruin to be seen, the dried moats surrounding Linnamäki’s plain witness to the past.
This beautiful landscape is only 5 mins walk from the Cathedral. The area is surrounded by nature and paths cross wooden bridge and dried moats. Its a worth visit for scenic view of old town. You can find almost similar view of Albert Edelfelt’s famous painting ‘Porvoo seen from Linnamäki’ 1892 – the same great pine tree (more than 200 years old) with twisted roots.
7. Rent a kayak or enjoy Stand up Paddling
Kayaking on the Porvoo River and in the nearby archipelago is a popular summer pastime. You can explore the city and its secretes from a totally different perspective. Kokonniemi Ski Center, Natura Mare, Sirkka Experience are few popular kayak renting centre. Rent a kayak and float on Porvoonjoki. It’s even possible to kayak from Lahti or Helsinki.
Stand-up-paddling is another popular sports in Porvoo. Its a fun!! Erimover arranges Stand-up-paddling equipment rental and different courses on it.
You can rent equipment from Jokikatu 35 B, during summer season.
The best way to explore the exotic features of surrounding is hiking. Those who are fascinated to walk in Nature must explore walking trails around the place. There are few walking trails-
Ekudden nature trail (1.5 km approx. ) : This trail starts about 3 kilometres south of centre and is about one and half kilometres long. Along the path you will find green vegetation and wildlife. There is a bird-watching tower from where you can observe meadow and reed birds.
Gammelbacka nature trail(1 km approx.): Gammelbacka nature trail is located between Gammelbacka and Hamari forest area.
Sikosaari nature trail (1.5 km approx.) Sikosaari nature trail is located a few kilometres south of the city centre. The trail goes through mostly in boreal forest dominated by old spruce trees. From the observation platform you may see a variety of birds.
9.Visit Chocolate Factory and Buy Chocolate
While visiting Porvoo, buying local chocolate is a must-do . There are several authentic chocolate shops in Porvoo. You can check these-
1.Brunberg Store in Old Town: Brunberg Oy, the famous chocolate factory from Porvoo is making mouth watering chocolate since 1871. Their store in old town (Brunberg myymälä) has a vast collection of chocolate products at reasonable prices. Address is Välikatu 4, 06100 Porvoo. Their factory store (Brunberg tehtaanmyymälä) is in Teollisuustie 19 B, 06150 Porvoo.
2.The Little Chocolate Factory : Though the Little Chocolate Factory is founded in 2005, wins a number of International Chocolate Awards for its wonderful taste. Now it is one of the best chocolates in Europe. Address: Teollisuustie 15, 06150 Porvoo.
10. Visit The Runeberg Home
Runeberg Home, the home of Finland’s national poet J.L Runeberg, is now one of the oldest historic museums in Finland. You can experience the atmosphere of authentic 19th century’s burgher home, created by furniture, works of art, tableware and old houseplants belonging to the Runeberg family. Guided tour is available from June to mid-august daily. You can find a monument of the poet created by his own son, sculpture Walter Runeberg in Runerberg park which is located beside his home.
How to reach Porvoo from Helsinki:
By car: It takes less than an hour to reach Porvoo from Helsinki. E18 is the fastest one where as Vanha Porvoontie is more scenic & relaxed.
By bus: You can get bus for Porvoo from Rautatientori, Helsinki bus stand and Kamppi. Travel time is about 1 hour 15 min.
By Boat: M/s J.L. Runeberg cruises run regularly between Helsinki and Porvoo from May to September. It starts from Helsinki at 10 a.m. and from Porvoo at 4 pm. One-way journey takes about 3.5 hours.
By train: There is no regular passenger train service to Porvoo, but the Porvoo Museum Railway runs a vintage 1955 Flat Hat train between Kerava and Porvoo on saturdays during July-August . One way trip takes about 1.5 hours