Like Krakow’s Kazimierz or Berlin’s Kreuzberg, Kallio is Helsinki‘s rebel child. With an unapologetic culture of non-conformist bohemian souls, home to artists, designers, and students, Kallio is the place in Helsinki where everything progressive and revolutionary happens. Use this guide to discover the best things to do and see in the area.
They say the best way to feel the vibes of a city is to walk around its streets. Starting the day in Kallio with exploring the area is definitely the way to go. After putting a pair of comfy shoes, check out the monumental architecture of the multi-purpose Hakaniemen Hall, equipped with everything from brooms to coffee just like Finns love it and a home-made food atmosphere. Walking around from there in any direction is more than recommended, either to find some national romantic/art nouveau architecture – such as the Kallio Church, designed by the popular Lars Sonck – or just to get lost and be charmed by the neighborhood.
Take a look at the collaborative urban canvas Suvilaht’s Graffiti Wall, a 100 meters long plywood wall. The place provides a legal platform for social and artistic expression from locals, visitors, taggers and basically anyone with a marker in their hands and with an creative imagination. There are of course a number of rules, which contrary to popular beliefs do not forbid a certain kind of drawings, but they require respect for every contributor to Kallio’s outdoor narrative.
Once upon a time in the North, the passion for exquisite North-African cuisine and contemporary culinary art dragged the team of Hicham, Hicham Daoussi, Pasi Virta and Richard McCormick to create the most culturally diverse restaurants in the city, Sandro. A madness of Moroccan flavors is to be found in the Marrakech Madness Brunch. Sample the Jerusalem’s Fatan and aubergine ragout, and the Iranian sabich among countless other dishes.
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs and Sun 10.30am – 12am, Fri-Sat 10am – 2am
Kallio is drenched in a deep culture of retro revival in terms of fashion, and most of the unique pieces of clothing come from places like Frida Marina, where you can get the authentic 50s pin-up swing dress and the 70’s hippie pants. While this is a place for bona fide dress-up parties, next to it you’ll find the Moonk shop, a multi-cultural second-hand shop. Moonk is also seen as a place for inspiration for developing an individual style, for getting courage for creating personal designs, and for social encounters and networking. Of course, the place is also popular because it represents the environmentally-friendly concept of reusing existent fabrics.
Promoting the unspoken Finnish rules of relaxation and socializing, sauna is an establishment that is an essential part of the Kallio’s book of exploration. If you are a student or a busy professional and want to sweat the stress away and simply do nothing for a change, Arlan Sauna is the place to be. Let the traditional Finnish steam from natural gas and wood make you feel relaxed. And don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe, since Arlan Sauna is one of the last three public saunas in Helsinki, and it has been making people feel batter since 1929.
Eat local and play sustainable is the philosophy of Oma Maa (which in English can be translated as ‘a land of one’s own’). Based in a small café in Helsinki but connected to a small farm in Tuusula, about 30 km away from Helsinki, Oma Maa is a concept co-operative based on an ecological food production system, which is, by the way, the most diverse Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiative in the world. The community owned and supported café is where producers and consumers meet for a coffee and think of a green future. People also come to do some tomato planting and get their fresh bag of organic food at their doorstep.
Progressive and unorthodox, radical and seductive, Kalleria is a gallery with a living room feel which sets the tone all year round for explosive talks on art around many critical themes. On the art market since 2010, Kalleria is a place where emerging artists find a place – they can stay for even a month – to turn their ideas into pieces and find a new meanings for their works. From documentary photography to political collages, straight-forward religious satire, new wave abstract expressionism and visual installations from porn to cartoons, the post-modern gallery aims to challenge all visual barriers and conceptual doctrines. All of this with a soothing black metal soundtrack in the background.
Imagine you can go back in time ten, twenty, even thirty years and have a real experience of the music of the past. Well, here is Kallion Retro Music, the chaos that has an order, the place that calls all retro music aficionados. It might not seem like anything more than an old and dusty audio shop, but don’t get fooled by its shabby appearance. Kallion Retro Music Store is a connoisseur’s place for vinyl, cd and cassette players, evocative antiques, speakers, radios, amplifiers, projectors and an it features an impressive stockpile of groovy vinyls, from all-time progressive to funk recordings of the 60s and 70s.
Hotel Room is an alternative concept hotel that offers visitors and adventure seekers accommodation promoting the spirit of local exploration. It is strategically situated in the heart of Kallio, so that the pulse of the neighborhood actually leaves a mark on the experience of guests. Its 30 square meters of cozy urban lodgings are designed in Finnish style. The rooms feature a bed and a couch and have a homely atmosphere.
A small and cozy space with a living-room atmosphere, offering all possible drink combinations and an up-to-date cultural events program, the charming Musta Kissa is a nightlife establishment of Finnish awesomeness. Cultivated conversations can be heard before a jazz concert – Musta Kissa (translated as the Black Cat) is simply the gathering spot for Kallio’s most exquisite bohemian souls.