City breaks are great and all that. But, sometimes, it’s nice to go beyond the capital and sample something a little more authentic. Thankfully, Porvoo provides the perfect romantic retreat for weary city-slickers and it’s just a stone’s throw from Helsinki.
We travelled to the Finnish capital on a weekend trip from Tallinn. So, because we had limited time, we had no intention of venturing beyond the city limits. However, when my friend, Noora, told me about Porvoo, we decided we had to squeeze it into our schedule.
The city is around one hour away from the capital and easily accessible by coach from the city centre. The journey costs €9 each way and you can use the Moovel app to find the best route for you. As a result, a trip to the scenic spot is achievable as a morning or an afternoon activity.
Porvoo is around 800 years old – making it Finland’s second oldest city. And, it was here that the country was handed over to Russia to become the Grand Principality of Finland in 1809.
The location is famed for its picturesque old town. The area consists of a grid of cobbled streets, neatly lined with the cutest little wooden houses you’ve ever laid eyes on. Interweaved between the charming chocolate-box cottages are a number of quaint cafes. When we were there, punters spilled out onto the street in a bid to soak up the fleeting Finnish sunshine.
Porvoo isn’t massive. And, there’s not a great deal to do beside strolling its enchanting streets and soak up the scenery. However, if you cross the bridge there’s a nice walk along the river where you can get a glimpse into how the other half live with their summer boat houses on the water.
You can also visit Porvoo Cathedral, which is rather cute in its own right. Some of it dates back to the 11th century when it was a Catholic church. Curiously, during the First World War the now Protestant church took a direct hit from a bomb. But, miraculously, it fell straight through the roof without exploding.
Alternatively, if museums are more your thing, there’s one dedicated to Dolls and Toys and another that chronicles Porvoo’s history and Finnish artists’ love affair with this charming city.
Apart from that, there’s nothing much more for me to say about Porvoo. It’s beautiful, it’s historic and it provides a breath of fresh air when the city becomes too much.