Thursday, 13 October 2016

Hoods of Helsinki

(See photos at Hidden Treasure Helsinki)


Merihaka is underestimated neghbourhood, just next to the Hakaniemi. Only one bridge separates Merihaka from Hakaniemi. 

Why against?

Usually people don't like Merihaka because it's ugly and reminds people of Soviet Union. It's gray buildings are simply depressing. The architecture is not that suitable compared for other buildings near by, but at the same time Merihaka's architecture is expressing that 70's to 80's Finland.
But many people don't know how nice Merihaka is because they have never really dared to experience it. Ok, Helsinki is flat so we don't have high buildings. Merihaka has apartment buildings that have even 15 floors.
Merihaka was built between the 70s to the mid-80s. The apartments are big compared to those expensive 20sqm studio apartments near by neighbourhoods (smallest ones around 30m2 and biggest ones around 55m2 or even bigger). What makes these apartments nice to live is that the walls are so thick that you wont hear a thing from your neighbors. Also one priceless thing is the scenery Merihaka offers: you have a nice view to Helsinki from upper floors. Also most of the apartments have sea view which usually costs a fortune in Helsinki, but not in Merihaka. In Merihaka apartment with sea view costs slightly more, but not as much as in other areas in Helsinki. As Finland's geometrically location is north, we don't have light during winters (as you might know). This is when those flat apartments get dark and you have to live with your lamp on many months - yes, you know that yellow coloured light. But Merihaka has it: The higher your apartment is, more you get natural light in!
I lived in Merihaka in year 2009. I was sharing a 52m2 apartment with my friend. Our rent was (only) 700€ and our apartment was on the 10th floor. I still miss this apartment a lot and if I ever had +200 000€ I would buy an apartment from Merihaka. I even gave Merihaka a nickname: Merry haka.

On the top floor there's a sauna and a smoking area. Basically the higher your apartment is, the better the view is. There are 2 elevators, so this makes Merihaka different from Soviet Union, where they didn't have any elevators. And yes, you can find a soviet union map from one point in Merihaka.
Inspiring place

Finnish movie director Aki Kaurismäki has been using Merihaka in his movies. Mostly his movies are about working class people, and Merihaka was built for working class. So I see a cross point right there.



Vallila is know as old factory area so this is where you'll find warehouses which have been taken over mostly by artists. Actually Vallila is separated in three different sections: Puu-Vallila, Sturenkatu and Päijänteentie. Puu-Vallila is this romantic wooden house area which represents old Helsinki as it's best. Best part is that you kind of get sucked in Puu-Vallila and want to stay there forever because outer world feels so rough after these pastel coloured cute wooden block of flats. Sturenkatu/Mäkelänkatu is filled with functionalist block of flats as well as these two roads are very busy with cars, trams and busses passing by. From Päijänteentie you'll find club Ääniwalli and many artists work spaces as well as showrooms and companies offices. At the corner of Sturenkatu and Teollisuuskatu you can smell freshly brewed coffee as well as spices - those come from Meira herb and coffee brewery. 
Vallila is very interesting place to just wander around. There are many flea markets around and photogenic surrounding to reflect with. Also urban livingroom space Bruno offers a lot from flea market to gigs to food trucks to just sofa's to get sucked in. 

Hot tip!
Shop during weekend in Bruno 
And where to eat? Learn it here


Katajanokka is a pretty hidden as it's in wrong way for many people. In a sunny day Katajanokka feels like a dreamy castle like place. It's where you'll find also our icebreakers during summers. I'm not writing more about these icebreakers because one of them is possibly joining the search for arctic oil in Greenland. Katajanokka is a fantastic for just walking around. Has there always to be a reason to go somewhere? If yes, let me tell that this time you'll figure out the reason while you're there.

Hot tip!
Enjoy coffee at Johan & Nyström
Or try out new restaurant Shelter Helsinki
Drink quality wine at Le Petit Chaperon Rouge



Hermanni is hidden place between Sörnäinen, Vallila and Arabianranta. The thing with Hermanni is that it's pretty hilly, so from some spots you'll have beautiful view to the sea Also the area is pretty calm compared to busy streets of Hämeentie or Itäväylä which just pass right next to Hermanni, but don't effect the area at all with noise. Overall Hermanni is a nice place to have a walk. There's nothing mind blowing, but at the same time the area is nice to just walk around, especially as there are some wooden houses which are leftovers from the past. 
Hot tip!Fast access to TeurastamoGet dodgy with Sörnäinen Prison (Helsinki Prison)

Hidden Treasure Helsinki


The home of world famous Arabia tableware. Arabia has artist vibe as University of Fine Arts (Aalto University) and other schools specialized in arts are located in the area. From Arabia you'll have access to Lammassaari which is a great place to go and have a walk along duckboards. This walk is highly recommended! 

Arabia's artist side is dying little by little: Aalto University is moving away and Arabia has moved it's factory to Asia. Still you'll find Arabia factory outlet from there. 

Hidden Treasure Helsinki


Kumpula & Toukola

Wooden houses and a warm society - that's what's Kumpula and Toukola is all about. These areas are green and that's the way it's citizens are also keeping it by farming. Here everyone knows their neighbour, during Autumn people are sharing their harvested products especially apples. 

Kumpula and Toukola has a nice and warm vibe, it's something you won't find from anywhere else in Helsinki - even Finland.

During Summer you can go and dip yourself in Kumpula's lido which is quite popular place. If you fancy having a beer, join the locals in Oljenkorsi. 

There are also some property belonging to Oranssi Ry. They're owning wooden houses which Oranssi Ry. conquered in 1994 after these beautiful houses were empty and under demolition. People of Oranssi Ry took over these wooden block of flats, renovated them and gave to young adults who were in need of apartments. Rent's were and still are low for Oranssi ry apartments. 

That's Kumpula lifestyle right there!

In the 60's these hoods were something else than warm and welcoming. If Kallio was working class suburb, Kumpula and Toukola were something rough where people cooked their own alcohol and even mystery murder happened. These were dodgy times!
Nowadays Toukola has opened up more for street art and you can spot many of electricity boxes outside which have got a new painted look, instead of being just grey.
Hot tip!
Go swimming at Kumpula lido



Oh Punavuori. It used to be the place among young adults and Cousteau hats. Everyone wanted to live in Punavuori. Or almost everyone. At least people who wanted to ride the trendy wave. Then this area died. Or partly, but it died what it used to be. The rents went so high that no one actually had the money to live there. This time rents were still reasonable in Kallio, so this wave reached Kallio. And so Punavuori died. Partly.

Still there are plenty to discover in Punavuori. The architecture is mainly jugend but you can spot as well Renaissance. There are also newer buildings and as well loft apartments built to ex-factory at Pursimiehenkatu.  

Restaurant wise Punavuori is also a paradise. Eat pizza and have a beer at Millimiglia, have coffee and a raw cake at Cafe Kokko or at Kuuma, if you fancy having sushi go to Sushi bar+wine. And for brunch you should go to Cafe Fleuriste which is a flower shop and cafe at same space. Or if you want to grab something to eat at park, get a sushi burrito from Soma.


Iso Roobertinkatu (a street) used to be the party place before. During weekends at 4 am it was always filled with drunken people who were trying to find where to go next for after party as bars and clubs closed. There's still one club which represents this time: We Got Beef. This generation starts to be now in their 30's and partying is not playing that big role anymore but most of us born in mid 80's have great drunken memories from Iso Roba!
Hidden Treasure Helsinki

One of the most beautiful part of Helsinki architecture wise. Buildings remind you of castles, some of them have very beautiful details wich you can spot only if you carefully look at them. 

Eira is also the place for design shops as well as nice cafe's. Tehtaankatu you'll find most of them. Also Kapteeninkatu has lots to offer from restaurants to fancy atmosphere. It's definately the place to spot Finnish celebrities. Huvilakatu is known for it's beautiful houses. 

Worth visiting:

Alfons pizzeria
Robertin Herkku
Antique shops
Second handshops
Hidden Treasure Helsinki
Hernesaari - the pea island! Hernesaari is pretty new area which is now mostly designed for people rather than being a harbour. Still international cruise ships arrive in Hernesaari, but this will probably change in a couple of years. You'll find newly opened design pearl Löyly from Hernesaari. Also a party place Hernesaarenranta, which is worth skipping. Otherwise the area is pretty interesting for e.g. photoshoots as there are plenty of warehouses and ship material around. 
And a great spot for jogging.

As a place Hernesaari is a nice area to have a walk during sunny summer day. Autumns this area gets pretty windy. 
Check out more from concrete is the new black.
Party like fancy pants at Hernesaaren ranta
Drink coffee at Birgitta
Go for a swim at Eiran uimaranta
Try the brand new sauna at Löyly
Hidden Treasure Helsinki



Kyläsaari is one of those areas where you'll find urban decay romance for now. After some years it will be filled with block of flats. Discover the area now. Pack picknick goodies with you and enjoy it surrounded by this vanishing part of Helsinki. It's right next to sea, so that's nice as well.

Open air underground music parties are organized almost every weekend if the weather gives it's permission. Also bigger music festival filled with douche spring breaker youngsters dancing to David Guetta is organized in this spot around July. So this time I'd avoid the area. 

You'll find also Kierrätyskeskus - recycle centre - from Kyläsaari.  Near you'll find Teurastamo and a great Arabic market Ararat.

Hidden Treasure Helsinki



Kallio is the hip and bohemian part of blah blah blah. Lots of alcoholists, artists, good food, beer, parks, more beer... I have written so many times about Kallio to different publishers that I'm slightly tired of it. So I just want to tell you to go and discover!

And yes, there's a place called Amfetamin square. Basically Kallio is the place for prostitution and four euro latte's!
End of August yearly Drag Bear Race is held in Karhupuisto - bear park. 



Vuosaari is a suburb surrounded by sea. During summer it feels like you're not in Finland at all, rather somewhere much southern where beach is just around the corner. Along suburbs, Vuosaari has a lot more to offer for a visitor: for outdoor adventure Uutela nature park is a nice place to go and have a long walk in the woods. If you get hungry after walking around, why not to try what Vuosaari has to offer. If you fancy playing golf, you can do it in Vuosaari as well! Or organize a grill party - do it in Meri-Rastila green area where you'll find a grill place. 

Actually, Vuosaari has so much to offer that they have even published own website! Learn more.


Suvilahti, Sompasaari & Kalasatama

This area is not big, but still it's separated in three different sections: Suvilahti, Kalasatama and Sompasaari. Suvilahti is area where music festivals like Flow festival is held. Also the area is open for urban arts and hobbies - like for graffiti art and skateboarding. Here you also find Kellohalli where some weekends flea market is organized. During weekends you'll find underground parties from different buildings which are located in Suvilahti, like Magito. 
Kalasatama is newly built area packed with block of flats which cost pretty much a fortune. Also new shopping mall is opening which will rise the prises even more. The problem is that shopping malls kill the urban culture - especially as these malls are usually containing only international clothing chains and not supporting local and Finnish brands. The same is happening here what has been happening to Kreuzberg in Berlin. What's good with Kalasatama is that newly built bridge Isoisänsilta gives a fast access to Mustikkamaa
Sompasaari is the area where Kalasatama is growing next. This area used to be the place for underground outdoor parties. Also here you'll find urban sauna - Sompasauna, which has become extremely popular among locals. Sompasauna is free to everyone.
So the whole area is battle between capitalism and urban culture. 
End of part 1. For more instantly check out Hidden Treasure Helsinki

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