Creative Cities: Helsinki

Reporter Aleksi Ylä-Anttila of Finnish magazine Markkinointi & Mainonta shows us his creative highlights of this Nordic hub.

The most creative museum or gallery

It has to be Kiasma (Mannerheiminaukio 2), a modern art museum. It is located in the heart of the city and very near to the place where I work. The museum organizes exhibitions, events and sometimes even performances. I usually enjoy traditional art more, but at Kiasma one can understand what people are talking about when it concerns arts and graphic design. Also the unique building is interesting sight in itself: it was designed by the American architect Steven Holl and reminds me of Sydney Opera House in way. 

The café where you go to read, write or be inspired

Like most Finns I usually enjoy my coffee at home or take it with me on the streets. But when I go to café, I usually choose Strindberg (Pohjoisesplanadi 33). It is a legendary café in Helsinki city centre; some might even say that it is a bit of a fancy place since the design is beautiful and traditional. But it takes me back to older times and this helps me to think. Many politicians and artists frequent the place, but the good location and unique atmosphere make a pleasant experience for tourists too.

A restaurant with a difference

I am fan of German Biergartens – and  perhaps the closest thing to that concept in Helsinki is the restaurant Wanha Mylly (Linnanrakentajantie 12). You can eat in a very nice garden or just enjoy a pint of beer or a glass of wine if you are not hungry. The menu is quite simple, yet tasty. The restaurant is located in Herttoniemi in the eastern part of the city, so it can be a bit tricky for a tourist to get there on public transport. And of course the garden is not a place to eat during winter time. But during a fine summer day I really enjoy the place. 

The most creative neighbourhood

For many years, the most creative neighbourhood in Helsinki was Punavuori, home to many leading creative agencies. But a strong contender today is Kallio. The place is full of different shops, cafés and young companies. It is a common sight to see artists, journalists and influencers sitting in a café talking about their work or society as a whole. For a young tourist with limited budget Kallio is a great place to spend an evening, because the prices are in general bit lower than in the inner city.

The store you can’t walk past without going in

Nowadays people buy more and more online, including me. For example, I often buy used books online. That said, I have to admit that it is almost impossible for me not to go in when I walk past the bookstore Akateeminen Kirjakauppa (Pohjoisesplanadi 39). It is one of the biggest bookshops in the Nordics; there are so many sections that one can easily spend a whole afternoon just browsing. But when I go in, I usually end up buying something.