Friday, August 23, 2013

Finland travel tips: Porvoo

Stories / Cultural tourism / Finland

“Amazing Porvoo (Borgå)”. This “chapter of the journey” is dedicated to a very amazing town of Porvoo (or Borgå in Swedish). Since there are two official languages in Finland, many towns and cities have two names in both languages. So, Porvoo is one of them.
Where: Porvoo, Finland 
What:Travel Smart” series

Porvoo is situated almost on a shore of the Baltic Sea. If you travel from Russia and go to Helsinki, you are more likely to drive on the E18 road, which is a local speedway. If you follow that road towards Helsinki, you are going to pass such big towns as Kotka, Hamina, and the next one is Porvoo. After it you definitely get to the capital of Finland.

To get to Porvoo you have to turn to the road which has a number 170, it is Loviisantie. It is headed directly to the required destination. Once you are in town, you will see a nice mix of old and contemporary buildings. It seems like half of the town is completely new, and the rest of it historic. I would like to concentrate now on some parts of this beautiful town. I believe it was very important for Finland since it has a river going to the north almost till Lahti. Definitely, it was used for transportation of goods, food and wood, or maybe something else. The other end of the river goes directly to the sea. 

Porvoo Finland

Once you get to Porvoo, you are about to have one of the most enjoyable trips. It is quite simple but charming at the same time. There is a good option between traveling on your own or purchasing a tour. Well, it is up to you what to choose, perhaps, combining both would be great so that you could see whatever is not covered in the guided tour and something according to your wishes.

Traditionally, the old part of the town is considered to be its heart, and thus, perhaps, the city center. It is called Vanha Porvoo. However, Mannerheiminkatu is kind of splitting Porvoo into two parts: the old one and the new one. It is the central street in the town, from which you can easily get to Kaivonkatu and get to Kaupunginpuisto, the central park of Porvoo. If you start moving towards the river being in “new Porvoo”, you are about to cross Rauhankatu, which is one of the edges of the bus station. There basically you can find a lot of central and major buildings of the town, as well as administrative offices. If you continue your walk to the river, you will walk through a beautiful park and get directly to the embankment and there you can enjoy your life under the bright sun. From there you can cross the bridge and get to another part of Porvoo. But we are going to concentrate on that part in our next part of “the journey” in Porvoo. 

 Retro car
Retro car

What comes to accommodation, you are always able to find the most appropriate one for yourself. There are different hotels both in the old and in the new part of Porvoo. Among the best offered and interesting options, there are a couple of hotels. We will start with Ida-Maria (Old Town) hotel B&B. It is one of the most exciting experiences you can get being in the heart of the place.  Another good option would be Hotelli Onni which is also in the very heart of the town. It has charming design and perfect location for tourists. You can rest and have no noise from the speedway, but at the same time being really close to it.

 Onni hotel
Onni hotel

One more option that I would like to cover in here is Hotel Sparre. It is just a few meters away from the bus station and near to Mannerheiminkatu. It is a very modern and comfortable hotel, offering a good service. It can be a perfect option for business travelers or those, who prefer modern to rare old design. But all of the mentioned options are very good and there are more hotels in Portvoo, of course. You can always choose the best way of accommodation for yourself, your friends and/or your family.

Porvoo holds different local marathons for runners (as well as any other town and city in Finland). It has lots of entertainment both for young and for elderly people. In case if you are not satisfied with what you are offered in Porvoo, you can always go to Helsinki and enjoy your day in there. Besides, there is a good bus connection between them. But Porvoo will not make you bored; it is very entertaining to be in the town. 

Porvoo (view from the old bridge)
Porvoo (view from the old bridge)

Moreover, Porvoo has one of the campuses of one of the largest universities in Finland, I mean Haaga-Helia University. We will get back to it in our “journey” in Helsinki and have a closer look at Pasila, a very important district of Helsinki.

Once you have chosen the hotel, seen some places in the “new Porvoo”, you can walk to the old part of the town and enjoy its uniqueness. First of all, if you walk on Mellangatan (Välikatu) and continue your way to the nearest intersection and there you will see a small square where different fairs take place. It is a lovely square with local hand-made souvenirs and some local concerts. Basically if you walk either on Välikatu or Jokikatu, you find plenty of shops where you might find souvenirs and also some other stuff. Once you get to the old part of Porvoo, you can mention all sings are in two languages, so you will have lots of names in Swedish. Basically, Porvoo was made during the reign of Sweden and it affected the style of the town, especially its small streets and design. 


Let us get back to Välikatu, from which you might get to a very beautiful church, if you turn to Flensborgintörmä and keep walking till you actually see the church. It is worth seeing. The whole town is located on the hills and sometimes it makes it difficult to walk up, but there is no rush, you just take your time to get there. There are a couple of restaurants on a way to the church, so that if you feel hungry, you can stop to grab some food. You can choose between Restaurant Timbaali, where you can have lunch or dinner in an elegant atmosphere, or you can stop by Porvoon Helmet, a nice place with its uniqueness and history, a spirit of the old town. Another option is Old Town Public House, where you can have some drinks and something to eat in a very unusual place. Well, right across the pedestrian road, where this place is located, there is another small café, in which I had a chance to have my lunch. Prices were very affordable, 10 euros per meal (as per August 2009), with good drinks, like domestic stuff or regular non-alcoholic drinks. So, choose and enjoy!

After a good meal it is a good time to walk a little more. Get to Jokikatu (Ågatan) and walk till you see Vanha silta (old bridge). From that place you are going to see very beautiful, amazing view. It is considered as one of the symbols of Porvoo. From that bridge you already have something terrific to see, but keep walking ahead on the old road to Helsinki till you see a pedestrian road going back to Mannerheiminkatu.

Near Vanha silta (old bridge)
Near Vanha silta (old bridge)

Once you get there you can enjoy a picturesque view of small red wooden houses and boats nearby (depending on a season). Take your time to enjoy it! And remember, this is not the end; we are going to continue our “journey” in Porvoo later on. Therefore, pack your bag, get a map, and get on track to hit the road! Keep traveling!

Red wooden houses
Red wooden houses (one of the symbols of Porvoo)

Kirill “Traveler” Malyutin

About Travel Smart series:
“Travel Smart” is a section, narrating about different countries and good travel tips, advised by the author, Kirill Malyutin. The series contains recommendations, including selected places to visit, character accommodation, and reasonable shopping. Simply get inspiration!

О серии «Travel Smart»:
«Travel Smart» – раздел, в котором автор Кирилл Малютин рассказывает о разных странах и дает необходимые в путешествии советы. Серия включает в себя рекомендации по посещенным автором местам, характерным средствам размещения, а также разумному шопингу. Вдохновитесь приключением! 

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