It's my last week here in Porvoo before I leave to my parents' place for a few days and then head to Peru via the UK. Therefore, I decided it would be nice to go wander around the old town and pretend to be a tourist. I have been living here only for 9 months so obviously, I don't know all places and things here quite yet. The weather was great and I really enjoyed the tour! So I got this idea of writing a post of things to do in Porvoo - local guide.
I'm quite familiar with Porvoo's tourism as I took part in a project with the tourism office of Porvoo this semester. Our mission was to find out what people mainly outside of Porvoo, in the Southern Finland region think of Porvoo as a tourism destination and as a place to live. We had several different aspects we investigated in different teams such as food tourism, meeting and conferences, families and a few others. This project made us dig deeper to Porvoo's image as a tourist destination and we get to conduct surveys both face-to-face and online.
When talking to people around the world, the first thing that comes to their minds when thinking of Finland is Helsinki and Lapland. These are indeed the main tourist areas here but if you are looking for something different, Porvoo is one option.
Porvoo is easily accessible by bus from Helsinki area, as the buses run at least every hour throughout the day (and night) and take only an hour or less. If you can come with a car it takes only 30 minutes from Helsinki or if you are around in summer time there are cruises from Helsinki where you can experience the Finnish archipelago and finally arrive at the centre of Porvoo by the Porvoo River. If you are into history or just want to experience the old town vibes, Porvoo is a place for you.
Porvoo is only a hometown of 50 000 people but it surely has some interesting things to see. The calm mood of the cafes and high-quality restaurants are a way to go on a summer day!
Most tourists visit the Southern Finland and especially the capital region in the summertime, the busiest tourist season is from June till August. As many other Southern towns, Porvoo has a reputation of a summer town. However, The Christmas market and the winter atmosphere of Porvoo draw tourists to enjoy the snowy Porvoo in winter months.
The most visited attraction in Porvoo is the Old Town including the Porvoo Cathedral as well as the little niche boutiques and high-quality restaurants and cafés there. There are some museums in Porvoo that are open for tourists, for example, The Home of Runeberg Museum in the centre where you can get to know how the life of noblemen was in the mid 19th century and about the personal life of Finland's national poet and his family. Another museum worth seeing is The Old Town Hall in the Old Town.
This year the official tourism office of Porvoo (Visit Porvoo) has been focusing on families when it comes to destination marketing of Porvoo. VisitPorvoo site lists some interesting things to do with kids; visiting a small chocolate factory and a Bruneberg's candy shop as well as a toy museum. These activities are also for adults!
The old town
When asked from fellow Finns what is the first thing comes to their mind when thinking of Porvoo they are most likely to answer ''The Old town'' (Vanha kaupunki). But I'm not amazed, I find it very nice place. The colourful wooden houses, cobblestone streets, small boutiques and the green nature. So it's no wonder this place is said to be one of the most beautiful ones in the whole country.
Porvoo Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous churches in Finland. It was built mainly in the 15th-century. The most known event took part in the church was when emperor Alexander I held the Diet of Finland and due to this event Finland got to keep its own laws even under the Russian reign in 1809. The roof of the church was intentionally set on fire in 2006 and the roof ended up burning completely, luckily most of historically and culturally important movables survived. This event was widely noticed in the whole country. The roof was fully repaired in 2008 and the church was put to use again by the end of the year.
Out of the beaten path
If you have time, you could consider visiting the surrounding nature, which has a lot to offer. You can bike and walk in nature easily as there are numerous paths and tracks crossing the forest areas. You can have a picnic in the park just next to the Old town in the riverside. After that, you can take a trip to the bird watchers' towers where you can see the Finnish nature in its all glory. If you have a car, you could drive to the archipelago located about 30-minute drive away from Porvoo, where you can see untouched archipelago of the Baltic Sea.
This archipelago (especially Pellinki) was a dear place for Tove Jansson,the famous author of the Moomin saga. She had her summer cottage there and she wrote many Moomin stories from this little islet that is open in one week of each summer for visitors. Check the exact dates from VisitPorvoo's website.
What is your favourite thing to do in a summer day?