Glancing above my sunglasses, I started whooping and laughing with my fellow travel bloggers as the speedboat we were on suddenly propelled itself in the air after bouncing off a wave on the Pellinki Archipelago Sea in Porvoo. This was the moment when I realised that this gorgeous country has suddenly propelled into my top five favourite countries to be in. This was the moment I knew this part of the world would become special to me. This was the moment I said to myself, ‘Welcome to Porvoo!’
Shakingly standing up at the stern, I took in the picturesque and extremely green islands that dotted the stunning landscape amid the dark blue and enticing waters. This was going to be my favourite part of the little unknown region of Porvoo. I was invited by the Porvoo Tourism Board to check out what there is to offer in this quiet corner of Finland, only one hour’s drive east from the capital that is Helsinki.
The first thing you must absolutely do when arriving in Porvoo is hire a colourful bike, perhaps with basket, as it will become your stallion as you explore the cobblestones of Old Town Porvoo. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the maze of its streets and random shaped plots, Old Town Porvoo showcases a variety of architectural, historical and leisure delights. Ranging from delectable delicacies in warming restaurants, red ochre storehouses along the riverbank to Castle hills where one of the biggest ancient fortresses resides, you can easily take in all the wonders by going on a guided bike tour.
Porvoo is the homeplace of Finland’s National Poet, J.L Runeberg. So much so that his house turned Porvoo Museum is still standing as a yellow painted neoclassical wooden house in the city that is open to all visitors who wants to find about the guy who wrote the Finnish National Anthem. One of his best works is the Tales of Ensign Stal, a series of poems, describing the war between Sweden and Russia in 1808-9. He already became the National Poet in his own lifetime and you should visit Porvoo on 5th February as this day is known as Runeberg day when you can stuff your face with the delicious Runeberg Tarts, a round gateaux with Jan and Sugar Icings readily served in cafes.
Bosgard Organic Farm
It’s clear to see that Porvoo is extremely green in their outlook on the wonderful environment surrounding them and it’s clearly enshrined in the city’s most popular Bosgard Organic Farm. Regarded as one of Europe’s high nature value farmlands, you can visit the working farm complete with free nature trails and a deli shop/cafe to sample their local products. Not only that, you can hold events year-round at their gorgeous main manor and their barn converted festival hall. Perhaps you’ll like to have a dance there? Their deli cafe serves high standard lunches and dinners in which you can discuss the ideals of the farm with its friendly patrons who can be found serving up organic BBQ food or giving guided tours to meet their organically produced cattle. It’s certainly a recommended day out from Porvoo and not a place that you can afford to miss.
No trip to Finland is fulfilled if you haven’t taken part in a Finnish Sauna as I discovered to my laughter. Get this. You cannot wear anything in a Finnish Sauna. Yes, you are indeed naked and luckily for all people, everyone is segregated to their gender. So what happens in here? First off, you are sweated out tremendously at scorching temperatures that can indeed be hotter than the deserts of the world for at most 15 minutes then comes the fun part! Sprinting out of the Finnish Sauna, your eyes will be truly astounded by the view of the quiet and serene seaside landscape before jumping into the near glacial sea! Have fun watching others terrifyingly scream as they launch into the air off the pier before diving into the freezing waters yourself as your body will be cleaned off and revitalised. I did this a few times myself and later on, I could see the punishing treatment work wonders on my skin!
If you’re looking for peace and quiet while getting pampered, try out the Porvoo Swimming Baths. This sleek and modern building only a few steps from Porvoo Hostel, has leisure facilities to rival any in Europe. With a delightful Jacuzzi to loll about in, a diving pool to test your limits, steam rooms to let your cares melt away, saunas to discuss about the world with your new found friends with and several swimming pools for the family, it’s easy to spend the whole of your day here where many locals attend.
Porvoo Hostel is, without a doubt, best value, budget-friendly and basically, a home from home. A total of 10 rooms and 29 beds including single and double rooms and four and six persons family rooms, this hostel is further amiable with a traditional kitchen and a common area where you meet like-minded people in this beautiful and grandiose house. The hostel comes with free wifi, extensive power plugs (don’t forget your plug adapters) and extremely friendly staff who will enthusiastically advise you on what to do in Porvoo. I really enjoyed staying here, especially on the balcony where you can hear the crickets chirping in the quiet of the evening.
Now, here’s my favourite activity of my time in Porvoo. Exploring the Pellinki Archipelago by speedboat is truly the way to sightsee Finland at its best. With clear blue skies and its sun beaming down from above, the fresh sea water sprayed on your face, it’s truly exhilarating. Many islands dotted around have small communities that welcome you to try out their local attractions including the best fish soup that I’ve ever had and especially the beautiful rock pools that reflects your winning face.
Porvoo is certainly a place for a calming and relaxing quiet holiday, far from the pressures of life back home. But the rewards are indeed tremendous as you come back home re-vitalised and at peace. Serving good food, a range of historical and architectural delights, thrilling activities to push yourself to the limit and pampering love, Porvoo awaits you. Perhaps, now that you wish you were in Porvoo. You know what? That wish came true for me.