We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
The medieval town of Porvoo is a hard-to-beat destination if you are looking at day trips from Helsinki. Porvoo ticks all the day-trip boxes. It is an easy ride away, the scenery en route is fantastic, and being the second oldest town in Finland, a visit to Porvoo is also a great way to know more about Finland, its history, its culture, and its people. A Porvoo day trip from Helsinki is a must for anyone with a little extra time.
In summer, Porvoo is lush green, and in winter, its cute dollhouse-like buildings get sprinkled with white snow, the ground freezes, and one can indulge in ice swimming, a famous Finnish tradition. Porvoo’s Christmas market, the best in Porvoo, happens in December.
Porvoo, pronounced ‘Porvoh,’ is right on the shores of the Gulf of Finland along the Porvoo River, northeast of Helsinki. It is much different from the busy Finnish cities such as Helsinki. It’s laid back. The cobbled streets going up and down will take you back to the medieval ages. Its traditional bakeries and restaurants offer original tastes that are exclusive to Finland.
The best way to travel to Porvoo from Helsinki for a day trip is by road. Porvoo is about 45 minutes from Helsinki via the scenic E18, which goes towards St. Petersburg. Buses leave every 20 minutes from Kamppi Bus station towards Porvoo.
Onnibus bus operators are efficient and reasonably priced. If you have the Finland bus pass, then no extra charges apply. You can also hire a car to reach Porvoo. The town offers many free parking slots. You can park your vehicle on Pappilankuja Street or Näsinmäki Hill (close to Iso Linnamäki Hill.)
Best Things to See in Porvoo
Porvoo’s old town (Vanha Porvoo)
The best part of Porvoo is its old town. The old town is idyllic, with its pastel-colored wooden houses having sloppy roofs on the cobbled stone streets. Most of the buildings date back to the 18th-19th century. Some of the prominent tourist attractions of Porvoo are located in the old town. You’ll also see some boutiques, cafes, and restaurants as you walk.
Cathedral of Porvoo
Up the Iso Linnamäki castle hill in Porvoo’s old town is the cathedral of Porvoo. Built in the 15th century, compared to the other cathedrals in Finland, the structure is not too grand but is a must-visit place. It is among many Evangelical Lutheran Churches you shall find across Finland. Most of Finland’s population is part of the Lutheran faith, introduced by the Augustine monk Martin Luther. The Cathedral of Porvoo has been destroyed several times. Multiple fires and attacks destroyed the cathedral. The roof you see is not the original one. The interiors are original and beautifully done in green and gold.
The Runeberg Home
Ex-home of the national poet of Finland, J.L. Runeberg, who wrote the national anthem of Finland, The Runeberg home is Finland’s first house museum. The poet lived there with his wife, Fredrika Runeberg, a novelist and vocal women’s rights activist.
The house was built in the 1800s, and much of it remains untouched. It is like a small peek at how a regular house in Porvoo looked in the 1800s. Exceptionally well maintained, there is a fine collection of art treasures collected by the Runebergs over their lifetimes.
A fascinating sculpture collection is open for public viewing sometimes. Fredrika Runeberg’s green gardens have beautiful plants. There are English, Swedish, and Finnish tours at allocated time slots. There is a museum shop where you can pick up items with Runeberg home pictures printed on them.
Among the must-sees of Porvoo is the Porvoo Museum. The museum is inside Porvoo’s town hall building, which faces the main square of Porvoo: Raatihuoneentori. The structure dates back to 1764. The town hall, in the past, was home to the rich.
Within the building are many exhibits, objects, and items representing the Finnish past. Once in a while, they display exhibits showcasing the work of present-day artists. Porvoo museum is also called Holm House (Holmin Talo). The museum is not too big and takes less than an hour to experience.
Art Factory (Taidetehdas)
The Art Factory in Porvoo is a great place to get a feel of the present-day cultural side of Porvoo. The building is modern and has art galleries featuring the works of contemporary local artists. Also within the premises are restaurants, shops and a cinema hall. Once in a while, a concert will be held here (most of them are in the regional languages, though). If you are visiting Porvoo, the Art Factory is worth exploring. Check Art Factory’s happenings right here.
The Porvoo Lighthouse (Söderskär Lighthouse)
Built around 150 years ago, Poorvo’s lighthouse is a bit off the main town. You will have to get on a ferry to reach it. Poorvo’s Lighthouse is in Majakkasaarim, part of Porvoo’s archipelago. The area is rocky and has been declared a natural reserve and a known place for bird spotting.
Facing the Baltic Sea, Söderskär served as a lighthouse in olden times. Today it offers basic, non-fussy rooms to stay in. You can even book a sauna! Don’t forget to buy souvenirs and try some Finnish cuisine at their cafe, especially their traditional Finnish porridge.
The chocolates crafted in Porvoo are the best and greatly superior to other chocolate brands available in Finland. Brunberg Factory, where the Brunberg chocolates are produced, is a mecca for Finnish chocolate lovers who know the essence of Brunberg chocolates in the Finnish culture and heritage. At the Brunberg Factory, you learn more about chocolates and what goes on behind its manufacturing. They retail their products from the Brunberg factory shop and have a shop in the old town, too.
Poorvo’s Old Railway station
Close to Linnanmäki Hill is the Poorvo’s Old Railway Station. It is a hidden gem in Porvoo. You will see old train carriages parked, which you can explore. There is a teeny-weeny museum where you can learn more about Porvoo’s rail history.
Poorvo’s old station is also the trendy Porvoo Jazz Festival venue. That’s when the place comes alive with lights, music, and a huge crowd.
Bridges in Porvoo
There are two prominent bridges in Porvoo, which offer great views and have a history behind them. The Old Bridge, also called the Porvoo’s Bridge, is the oldest and served as a highway that connected two important cities of Finland: Turku and Vyborg.
Another bridge, ‘Bridge on Mannerheiminkatu Street,’ offers excellent views of the river with the red wooden houses lining up beyond it. In the past, this bridge served as a loading/offloading point for cargo ships. Today’s red wooden houses were warehouses storing different products.
Porvoo Doll and Toy Museum
A Porvoo attraction for all age groups is the Porvoo Doll and Toy Museum. The museum is open only during the summer months. It’s hard to believe that the whole collection on display is of a single person, Evi Söderlund, who has been collecting toys since 1963.
The museum covers two floors. It houses an uncountable number of toys displayed neatly in wooden cabinets. The museum has over 1000 dolls, including Barbies and stuffed dolls from other countries, and toy cars and bikes from different eras. The collection is mostly vintage to the present day. There are various board games, wooden toys, and much more.
No trip to Porvoo is complete without munching on its specialties. Parvoo’s gastronomy scene is much talked about all over Finland. From quaint cafes to trendy eateries and street food stalls, all stand out.
Runeberg torte, named after the national poet of Finland, is the star dish of Porvoo. Porvoo is also known for its confectionery products. Try Porvoo desserts like pastries, chocolates, and souffles. They are freshly prepared and just melt in one’s mouth.
Brunberg Chocolate Shop has the finest chocolates from Finland. The good part is that you can take them home with you. The Small Chocolate Factory, next to the Cathedral, is another good place to try Porvoo chocolates.
Then there is Porvoon Paahtimo Bar & Café, which specializes in coffee, drinks, and food. Their coffee products are fresh from their roastery. The owners also offer tours of their roastery if you wish to know more about Parvoo’s coffee and its history. It is the best place to buy packets of coffee.
Porvoo is also known for its ice cream without any artificial flavors. Old Porvoo Ice Cream Factory (Vanhan Porvoon Jäätelötehdas) produces ice-creams made out of local ingredients.
Experiences to Try During a Porvoo Day Trip From Helsinki
Each city has some unique experiences and activities to indulge in. Porvoo has a neat list of it. Listed below:
Boating is one of the best things to do in Porvoo in summer. You can also rent a kayak or canoe. Porvoo sightseeing boat tours are an excellent option to opt for. Eating or having drinks in a boat restaurant is a unique experience that Porvoo offers. A fun way to reach Porvoo from Helsinki is on a steamer ship, but that option is limited to the summer months and can take several hours.
Porvoo is known for its second-hand and vintage shops offering antique products. There are many outdoor stalls selling random stuff. Löytöpistekirppis is the largest flea market in Porvoo. Vaja Finland is another excellent place to pick up traditional high-quality Finnish items with a designer touch. Don’t forget to buy chocolates from Porvoo.
The best way to know more about Porvoo is by walking and checking out the nooks and corners of its quaint alleys. Walk along the Porvoo River (or walk on it when it is frozen in the winter! ). As you walk, don’t forget to say hi to the statue of Albert Edelfelt (the famous Finnish painter). Visit the Devil Stairs, a rough rock formation believed to be constructed by the devil. Pass by Porvoo’s Castle, which was the first stone building in Porvoo.
Two famous hills in Porvoo are Linnamäki Castle Hill and Pikku Linnamäki. There are walking paths and wooden bridges to assist climbers. In the summer, the hills glow in different hues of green, and in the winter, they gleam white with snow.
Iso Linnamäki Castle Hill is more popular and frequented by tourists. What existed on top in the past is still a mystery. Some believe a castle stood there many centuries ago. Presently, there is nothing but a central platform and two dry moats. Pikku Linnamäki, often called the ‘Lesser Castle Hill,’ has an ancient burial site that is believed to date back to 0-400 AD.
PRO TIP: For Insta-worthy photos, climb the Iso Linnamäki Castle Hill.
Explore nearby areas and towns using the marked cycling routes. Routes are season-dependent. A good course in summer might not be a good one in winter. Grab a map, and you are good to go!
Among the best things to do in Porvoo in winter is ice swimming. It is a 300 old Finnish tradition. The water is -10 degrees Celsius in winter, and the idea of swimming in frozen water may sound absurd, but it is one of its one-of-a-kind experiences. The Finnish believe this has physical and mental benefits and helps one get rid of aches and pains.
Porvoo is a great place to ski in Finland. The well-maintained slopes feature ski lifts. The area is well-lit, with all amenities provided.
Where to Stay in Porvoo
Decided that you wanted to spend more time in Porvoo? Here are some accommodation options:
Luxury: RUNO Hotel: Located right downtown, guests of this hotel love the great service and facilities. The on-site spa is a treat. The included breakfast even offers vegan and gluten-free options.
Mid-range: Hotel Villa Monlnby is still in Porvoo but away from the touristy areas. Guests can select from regular rooms to more expansive studios featuring kitchens, making it ideal for longer stays.
Final Thoughts on Porvoo Day Trip From Helsinki
Porvoo’s ochre and red-colored buildings paint a picturesque small town. Whether you visit in summer or in winter, you’ll be able to learn more about Finnish history. Of course, for me, the Runeberg torte and Brunberg chocolate made the experience even more delicious! Step outside of Helsinki and explore this quaint town.
Check out these other related posts:
Annick, The Common Traveler