Top 5 romantic spots in Helsinki

Even though the Finns prefer to celebrate the “Day of Friendship” on February 14th instead of St. Valentine’s Day, they still know how to be romantic. The Finnish newspaper Nyt (the word for “now” in the Finnish language) has published a top-5 list of the most romantic spots in Helsinki.

Since the list is in Finnish we jumped quickly to translate it, in order to tell you the places to steal a kiss in the capital of Finland. The list was gathered for St. Valentine’s, so these recommendations are thought for a moment of cold weather in Finland. Since we are now in the Ruska time and the cold is coming, we thought it is the perfect time to publish it.

But do not worry: most of these places can be enjoyed during the Summer in Finland too.

Romantic places in Helsinki

Has your significant other ever told you that you need to make more romantic gestures? It has happened to all of us, I guess (not to me, but to a friend). If it is true in your case, you can surprise your other half with a trip to Helsinki and visit one of these ideal romantic spots.

1.- Hietaniemi beach. Hietaniemi is a nice neighborhood in Helsinki. It has a park-like cemetery where the state funerals take place and where important Finnish figures such as Alvar Aalto or Mannerheim rest forever. Nonetheless the Hietaniemi beach – the biggest beach of Helsinki – is the real romantic spot.

Lugares románticos de Helsinki: Hietaniemi
The Hietaniemi beach, in summer, and at sunset time. That adds up to romance. Source (CC: by).

The beach is near the cemetery, but not adjacent to it. It lies next to a nice forest. During winter you can see the frozen sea from the beach. To bring romance to the next level, the newspaper suggests doing a picnic on the ice, with good winter clothing and a nice hot beverage. In summer, the picnic will be easier under the sun.

2.- Any place to ice-skate. Like in a movie where you can see people skating on ice in the central square of the city, the second recommended place for romance is an ice rink. There, your partner and you can spend hours skating while holding hands, next to many other couples. The best place for this, as the article recommends, is Kallion kenttä, in Helsinginkatu; and it also suggests to go and have something hot to drink at the shop Villipuutarha, next to the ice rink.

An ice ring in Helsinki
Romance and ice: hand in hand. Source (by-sa-nd).

3.- A coffee shop in the centre where you can get some hot chocolate: a table and some mugs filled with hot chocolate is the next romantic place that Nyt suggests. They give some concrete picks: café The Exhibitionists (Museokatu 28) and the Fazer café (Kluuvikatu 3). You two can also try, of course, authentic Finnish coffee – a beverage some people try to avoid because they say it’s bland.

Café Fazer: one of the most romantic spots in Helsinki
A romantic spot? A special coffee shop always works. Source (cc: by-sa).

4.- The Helsinki Zoo: if you just met, walking around the zoo and asking each other which animal is your favorite could be pretty revealing of the other’s personality. At least that is what the newspaper says. If it is cold outside, you can go to the tropical houses of the zoo.

A Snow Lion
A snow lion? No, it is a lion on the snow. Source (CC: by-sa-nd).

5.- The daring option: the Vermo’r race track. Why don’t you do it like Henry Chinaski and take your other half to the race track? It isn’t the same because here the horses don’t sprint, they trot. The jockey does not sit on the horse, but behind it in a two-wheeled cart called Sulki. A little more Ben-Hur than Barfly, but with the couple.

A trotting horse is clearly a metaphore for love
A trotting horse: metaphor about love from Nyt? Source (by-sa).

Do you know any other romantic spot in Helsinki that you can recommend to us? Have you visited any of the above spots?

Most popular Finnish names for girls and boys

These days, giving a Finnish name to your newborn girl or boy is an option as good as any. The days when kids could only be named after a saint are long gone. Of course when we talk about giving your babies Finnish names we could also propose to you names from any other country – but we are Big in Finland.

In this post we talk about the Finnish names that parents in Finland give their babies these days. We will only talk about the most popular Finnish names.

A name tag
Hello, my name is… Source (CC: by-sa)

Finnish names and surnames

Talking about the meaning of Finnish names is something we have yet to do on this English version of the blog. Another to-do is talking about why most of Finnish surnames end in -nen and where this comes from. In your country there probably is also a suffix is at the end of many surnames like “-mann” in German or “-ez” in Spanish.

Anyways, my favorite Finnish name is – and will always be – Mette Mannonen, like the Finnish weather anchorwoman. In Spanish it sounds funny because it sounds really close to the expression “meter mano”. What this expression means… I will better not reveal here.

The most popular Finnish names for girls and boys (or men and women)

The Civil Registry of Finland compiles, among many other things, the most popular names that Finnish parents give to their children. They keep an annual list here, and they divide the entries between names that parents who speak the Finnish language give their children and names that parents that speak Swedish give.

The last year available is 2013 (you can check other years on the link above) and the names that Finnish speaking parents give their children are:

Finnish names for boys:

  1. Juhani
  2. Johannes
  3. Olavi
  4. Mikael
  5. Onni

Finnish names for girls:

  1. Maria
  2. Sofia
  3. Emilia
  4. Olivia
  5. Aino

Juhani: the most popular of the Finnish names for boys
The Finnish name most used for boys on 2013: Juhani. Source (CC: by-sa).

If you prefer, instead of the year-by-year data (the first time I checked this list was in 2012 and there have been quite a lot of changes to the top 5) there is a second website from the government that lists the most popular names by decade and in total. This list makes no disctintion between languages.

The all-time top 3 male Finnish names for boys since the registry exists are Juhani, Johannes and Olavi. The most popular female names are Maria, Helena and Johanna.

Which Finnish name is your favorite?

The Finnish baby box, now available for Europe and the world

On the Spanish version of Big in Finland, we were the first ones to talk about the Finnish baby box. Specifically, in this post we wrote about it a year before the rest of the internet discovered it (we are quite proud of that), but we didn’t make the same impact as the BBC, unfortunately.

The Finnish baby box since it became famous

This object is already known worldwide, but despite the fact that many people think it is a good idea and that this box should be available in more countries, no other country has implemented the program yet.

The Finnish Baby Box
The contents once you open the box. Source (CC: by-sa-nc).

At the end of the original post in Spanish we said that you could contact KELA (the finnish Social Security office) in order to purchase a baby box from another country. Cheching out KELA’s website today, it seems that this is no longer possible. Either the demand outside of Finland was too high and they decided to reserve the boxes for Finns (it is, after all, a government program), or I understood that the offer was for whoever wanted the box, while actually it was only for Finns living abroad.

Anyhow, now anyone can in fact purchase it from anywhere.

A Finnish baby
This Finnish baby sleeps outside so he can get used to the cold of winter. Source (CC: by-sa)

The Finnish baby box: Now availabe for the rest of Europe and the world

Do you want your baby to sleep in a cardboard box during his first year, as Finnish babies do? Now you (almost) can.

Books like The Four Hour Workweek (wiki) propose that with a bit of cleverness you can do a market study – in order to, for example, estimate how many people are interested in your product – for free just by setting up a website with a “buy” button that goes nowhere. With programs like Analytics you can check out how many people click on the “buy” button. If it is a lot, then… bingo! And all that with a 30€ budget. If it works, you invest more. If not, no time and money was spent in vain.

Exactly this is what three Finnish dads have done. They set up a website to pre-sell the Finnish baby box. If the demand is high, or they reach a given number of pre-orders, they will go into production. Their goal: To generate enough volume to be able to start sending out the first boxes this month of September. Ambitious.

The website that sells the Finnish baby box

They sell the box for 399 dollars(Update: they rose the price to 459 dollars) (almost 305 euro before the update and 360 euro after) on their official website where you can pre-order it with international shipping costs included. Note that on the KELA’s website the parents who don’t want the box can interchange it for 140€ in cash, so that might be its actual value.

It will feature all the products that made the Finnish baby box famous (and that you can see on the KELA’s website) such as a thermal coat, sleeping bag, a little mattress, a set of grooming objects, neutral-colored clothing – so it can be used for both boys and girls – and other objects that at this point aren’t guaranteed to be 100% the same. They are still negotiating with manufacturers.

Would you buy the Finnish baby box for yourself or some of your friends? What do you like most about the box and its idea?

Choosing restaurant in Helsinki: a little selection

Imagine that you just landed at the Helsinki Airport (Vantaa), you got into town and suddenly… hunger. What restaurant should I choose? is the question that pops into mind. Well, let me show you.

Restaurants and food in Finland

We mentioned food here a couple of times before. We named the restaurants in Finland (all of them in Helsinki) that have a Michelin Star in the article where we showed Gordon Ramsay tasting traditional Finnish food.

Dish from a restaurant in Helsinki
A dish from the restaurant Gaijin. Source (CC: by-sa).

If you want to taste Finnish food without leaving home, we have a category on the blog where we sometimes include recipes of different dishes, for instance desserts, Christmas dishes, and traditional main courses. It is the Finnish Food category. Also, interesting food habits, like the Finn’s passion for salty liquorice (salmiakki) can be found on the blog.

Choosing a restaurant in Helsinki

Besides the list of restaurants in the Michelin Guide for Finland, there is a secondary, lesser known list from this company.

It is the “Bib Gourmand” list, and a mention there means that the restaurant offers great value for money, even if the food hasn’t been awarded any Michelin Star. These restaurants have affordable prices – not cheap ones, though – and are therefore a must-try if you want to eat great without spending a fortune.

Below, I have listed the restaurants in Finland that entered the “Bib Gourmand” list, all of them in Helsinki. If you click on the name, you will be redirected to their website, where you can find their address and phone number, as well as the menu and prices. If you go for individual dishes, naturally they’ll be more expensive than in menu form. Some of these websites are pure delight.

A dish from Grotesk restaurant
A dish from the restaurant “Grotesk”. Source.

  • The first restaurant in Helsinki that appears on the Bib Gourmand list is Farang. Their menu features modern Asian cuisine – Thai – and is very well situated, in the historic Kunsthalle Helsinki. The price of the menu is 28€.
  • The second is the Gaijin, which also features Asian food, but in this case from North Asia: Japan, Korea and North of China. Its menu costs – if you choose one or another – between 29€ and 59€.
  • The restaurant Grotesk is specialized in meat. The menu costs 26€, and the style of food it offers is Finnish food. It has a cozy bar that opens in the afternoon, which creates a nice environment.
  • The last featured restaurant in Helsinki on the list is Solna. It offers regional food from Helsinki, and the menu price is between 37€ and 44€. It is somewhat farther from the center than the others, but if it is on the Bib Gourmand list it has to be worth it.

An exotic choice for a restaurant in Helsinki

There is another restaurant in Helsinki that we couldn’t help but feature as well. We placed its photo on our Facebook page some time ago and it generated a lot of interest: it is the only restaurant in Helsinki that features Viking themes.

Its name is the Ravintola Harald, and if you go with a group of people you can have a Viking Dinner or a Buffet. It has subsidiaries in other cities too, so if you want to go Viking, you can do it in many places in Finland.

Restaurant in Helsinki, the viking way
Dinner: Viking Style. Source (CC: by-sa)

You can also go to G.W. Sundermanns restaurant in Helsinki. It was awarded the “Best of Award of Excellence” prize from the US based Wine Spectator magazine in 2012. In other words, this is the restaurant with the best wine in the capital of Finland, since the awards of this magazine are the Michelin Stars of wine.

Have you tried any of those restaurants in Helsinki? Have you tried another one that you want to recommend?

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