With its medieval streets, colourful wooden houses and thriving restaurant scene, Porvoo is one of Finland’s top places to visit. From chocolate shops to Instagram spots, here are the top places to see in Porvoo.
Old Porvoo – that is, Vanha Porvoo – is the name for the historic, medieval part of Porvoo. Here, narrow and winding cobblestone streets are lined with colourful wooden houses. Some of the houses are hotels or shops, some restaurants, cafés or people’s private homes. On a little hilltop, there’s also a Gothic cathedral to visit. With its wooden cottages and cosy and cute atmosphere, Porvoo Old Town is very different from other more imposing European Old Towns.
Porvoo’s urban park is a perfect area for nature-driven urban exploration. The city centre park extends approximately 10 kilometres towards the south from the old, picture-perfect wooden house area, via the river estuary to the archipelago, and 8 kilometres towards the east. The park is ideal for walks or cycling – or paddling and boating on the river and sea.
Taidetehdas, or ‘art factory’, is a modern cultural complex in Porvoo. Taidetehdas is located almost opposite from Old Town and hosts art exhibitions and concerts. There is also an acclaimed bistro, Sinne, if you start feeling peckish on your cultural expeditions.
River Porvoonjoki borders Porvoo’s Old Town and is one of Porvoo’s main attractions. The medieval part of the city is situated in the river delta, lined with red wooden houses. This area is one of Finland’s national landscapes – also a perfect spot for some serious Instagramming!
Even if you might not have heard of Finland’s national poet Johan Ludwig Runeberg, you might want to step into his world and wander around the Scandinavian-style rooms of his Porvoo manor house, now a museum. Runeberg lived here from 1852 to his death in 1877 with his wife and sons. The little manor house oozes old-time elegance with wooden floors and floral wallpaper. The building represents Empire Style, which dominates the whole district, just next to Porvoo’s Old Town. And while in Finland, don’t forget to try a Runeberg torte!
For a fancy a piece of gourmet cake or homemade ice cream, Café Postres is the place to be. Café Postres was born out of a Helsinki-based, Michelin-starred restaurant, and is a perfect coffee shop and lunch spot in Porvoo. Popular among locals and tourists, Café Postres’ delicious, unique flavours won’t be found in many places in Finland.
Located on the Porvoo archipelago, Söderskär Lighthouse is well worth a boat trip. The boats leave from Helsinki and Sipoo (just next to Helsinki) and the ride takes an hour. The lighthouse dates from 1862 and is located on a picture-perfect rocky island. Notice that the island is a protected nesting area and entrance is prohibited from May to August.
Albert Edelfelt, one of Finland’s most prolific artists and also dubbed the first cosmopolitan Finnish art icon, was born in Porvoo in 1854. Even though he was accustomed to the city life of Paris, Edelfelt spent 26 summers in his beloved art studio in Porvoo, and painted more than two hundred paintings here.
There are a couple of tasty chocolate shops in Porvoo. The most historic one is Brundberg, dating from 1871. Located right at the entrance of Old Town (if you arrive from the bus station), the chocolate shop is a perfect spot to buy some last-minute souvenirs. Pieni Suklaatehdas is an upcoming little chocolate factory in Porvoo, where you should try the 40% Madagascar, which was chosen as the third-best chocolate in the world in 2017. The last of Porvoo’s chocolate options is Petris chocolate, where you can savour some delicious, berry-filled chocolates in the cosy atmosphere of medieval Porvoo.