If you happen to be in Helsinki and have a day spare, head towards the old town of Porvoo which is only an hour away by bus.
This charming old town of Porvoo will take you back in time and give you a glimpse of what life used to be like in Finland, with its old colourful wooden houses that line the streets and a weekend market in the square, Porvoo has a lot to offer for visitors.
Getting to Porvoo
You won’t find any trains connecting Porvoo to Helsinki but you will find a frequent selection of buses making the hour trip to Porvoo.
I travelled with Onnibus that leaves from the Kampi bus station in Helsinki, and will take you to the Porvoo bus station in around an hour’s time.
One way ticket prices can cost around €5-6 on the day. I booked in advance and managed to get tickets at €5 return total online.
Walk around the old town of Porvoo
When you arrive in Porvoo best to head directly into the old town covered with traditional cobbled streets. You will walk into the old town square and can walk up to the cathedral on the hill for a good view overlooking Porvoo.
If you want to gather any information about visit Porvoo, charge your phone, use the toilet, refill your water bottle, or go on a free walking tour, they have a helpful tourism information office in the square that can assist you.
The most photographed spot in Porvoo is when you cross over the bridge and get a look of the old town from a distance, glimmering over the river with the wooden boat houses at the front. It’s a special moment to take in and appreciate the town from a distance.
Porvoon Paahtimo Bar & Café
Porvoon Paahtimo Bar & Café is a perfect weekend location for people watching, and if the weather is nice they have a terrace located on a boat.
Here they also roast their very own coffee beans and you can try a special exclusive Porvoo roasted blend which goes very well with the cake or Karelia pie.
A nice spot to look over the docks of Porvoo on a good clear day. Enjoy life by the river for a little bit.
Cafe Fanny for Runeberg cake
Johan Runeberg is the national poet of Finland and lived in the city of Porvoo. In fact, you can visit his house that has since been turned into a museum of his works.
Funnily enough many will know his name not for his poetry, but for the Runeberg cake that his wife famously invented the recipe for.
Every year on his national day in Finland many Finns enjoy Runeburg cake to mark the occasion. Luckily for you, Runeburg cake is sold all year round in Porvoo and you can find the cake at Cafe Fanny.
It goes wonderfully with a coffee after a long day’s walk. It’s one of my favourite cakes so any excuse to have one is a welcomed extravagance.
Take a walk into the woods and explore the Castle Hill
One of my favourite things to do in Porvoo is to escape the old town and head towards the castle hill. A short trail walk is well signposted and won’t take much time at all.
You can easily get lost amongst the trees and wooden bridges, but you won’t find any remaining castle – just the dugout moat that once surrounded the walls many years ago.
It’s always nice to escape to nature in Finland and you will also get a nice distant glimpse of the old town at the end of the trail that’s well worth a photo.
Brunberg Chocolate Factory
A visit to Porvoo wouldn’t be complete without first stopping off at one of Finland’s favourite chocolate shops, the Brunberg Chocolate Factory.
Here you can find endless choices, and the prices at the factory are tempting enough that you will leave with more than you expected.
You can walk around the shop trying many of the samples on offer and choose the ones you like the most to buy.
Perfect location if you want to pick up some gifts for a loved one.
Hotel Haikko Manor and Spa
If you need a good reason to escape the capital city of Helsinki and stay overnight in Porvoo, it has to be the hotel Haikko Manor and Spa. You can explore Porvoo over two days and fit a day at Haikko Manor perfectly in the middle of your trip.
Located around 15 minutes drive time away from the old town of Porvoo (best take a taxi or local bus) you will discover the enchanting grounds of Haikko manor that have a wonderful old school charm and feel.
The hotel complex connected to the spa is both modern, cosy and inviting. Guests have access to the thermal pools, hot tubs and sauna rooms on offer which makes for a perfect escape after exploring Porvoo by foot.
Another highlight has to be the wonderful breakfast buffet which is served at the close by manor which is like going back in time with a timeless Rolls Royce waiting outside.
Be sure to spend some time walking around the estate and admiring the gardens and lakes. If you have some spare time, why not try some frisbee golf.
Head of Hanna-Maria for an incredible Salmon soup
Hanna-Maria cafe is located in the heart of the old town and is very easy to find. I found the salmon soup here to be incredible and totally worth stopping off if you happen to be passing by.
Friendly service and great value as you get a choice of salad, bread, coffee and water to choose from as well as your order which makes this spot great value for what you get.
I love when you get all these added extras in Finland – it does help with your budget and makes this a must-visit spot for me.
Did I mention already how incredible the salmon soup was?
Vanhan Porvoon Jaatelotehdas
This popular Gelato-making company in Porvoo can be found scattered around the city in the form of pop up shops and bicycle carts. Every batch of ice cream flavour is served fresh and is no more than 24 hours old.
I also like that you can pay by card even though it’s served on a bicycle. The hardest part will be having to choose from the endless variety of tasty flavours on offer. I went for the blueberry and was not left disappointed.
pizza at Gabriel 1763
Recommended by my blogging friend Veera, I went to check out restaurant Gabriel 1763 for dinner, which has a lovely location looking over the old town square.
The pizza menu will blow your mind as you discover many different toppings you wouldn’t expect on a pizza that weirdly work such as popcorn.
I loved the seafood option and enjoyed the dining experience here as it blends with the old town feel. For the best pizza in Porvoo, Gabriel 1763 has my vote.
Thank you for reading my post about the old town of Porvoo
I loved visiting Porvoo on a weekend trip whilst in Helsinki, Finland.
I hope you plan to do the same as you won’t regret visiting this close-by town that has a lot to offer visitors. Have a lovely trip to Finland and happy travels.