Perhaps you’ve never heard of Porvoo because when people consider traveling in Europe they most often think of all the capital cities they know well. Porvoo counts as Finland’s second oldest town and is a lovely city which is rich with history. It attracts tourists from all around the world and over the years has developed into an eastern node of metropolitan Helsinki. The city is situated in the eastern Uusimaa-region right on the coast of the Gulf of Finland.
Take a walk in Old Porvoo a most colorful sight and popular tourist attraction. It’s famous for its narrow lanes and brick-colored riverside warehouses. Along the old streets you can easily step back into history. Walking in the Empire-style part of town you’ll discover low wooden houses which belong to the classical town plan where all the street form squares. In this part you’ll find the house of Finland’s greatest poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. In the house of the national poet you’ll be able to view works of art, hunting weapons in the “fox skin room” and porcelain in the cupboards from days gone by. In the garden you’ll see lovely roses, mock orange and fruit trees filling the air with wonderful perfume in the summertime.
The heart of the city is the Market Square, surrounded by City Hall, the bus station, specialty boutique and services among them Lundi Shopping Center. A popular gathering place is the market café. At Jokiranta you’ll find the guest marina and ferry dock. This is a most busy place during the summer. The newly restored area and the bridge at Aleksanterinkatu encourage people to go out for evening walks. Here you can see beautiful flower beds and fountains. You can relax at the cafes and sit on sundecks.
Take a relaxing walk among the castle hills found north of Old Porvoo where you can delight in ancient monuments. Iso Linnamaki or Great Castle Hill is the site of one of the biggest ancient fortresses in Finland. Pikku Linnamaki or Lesser Castle Hill has an Iron Age burial site where even though the moats are all dried up you can cross them on wooden bridges. Here you will also find the great pine with twisted roots that was the subject painted by artist Albert Edelfelt in his painting “Porvoo seen from Linnamaki”. In the wintertime children come here to do some sledding and in the summertime children can have a fun time with the guided Viking Adventure on Castle Hill. At the foot of the hills there is Maari Park which a favorite place for walking and picnicking.
Take in some of Porvoo’s culture like The Art Factory housed in an old factory and is a place for various events where on the upper floors artists rent studios.
A fascinating place to visit is the Provoo Doll and Toy Museum which is the best toy museum in the country. Here you’ll find thousands of different dolls and toys on display. All of these toys have been played with at one time and from the coat of a teddy bear to the tires on a toy car you can see how much these toys were once loved. Everyone can have fun here. Children can delight in the toys and parents and grandparents can reminisce about their childhood.
The outdoor museum Postimaki is one of Finland’s best preserved areas of cottagers’ dwellings. All of the buildings here are from the 19th century and most of them are still on their original sites. Take a look at how women and craftsmen lived during those times. Visitors can take part in a handicraft day or in community singing, arrange for a dramatized guided tour or watch a play in the summer theater.
Visit Noark Miniature World where a model railway departs from Helsinki station and then travels through Finland all through the year. An outdoor exhibition, the Lattahattu or Flat Hat railcar will take visitors through the landscape of Porvoo and Loviisa in the 1940s and 1950s. You’ll also find a café here and the Noark boutique. Children can have fun playing in the play corner Noah’s Ark.
If you’re interested in taking a look at art works go to the gallery in the center of Old Porvoo near Raatihuoneentori Square. This is one of Porvoo’s most beautiful galleries. There are wide, bright rooms, painted deal floors and tile stoves dating back to the 18th century. This all creates a nostalgic atmosphere for all the art exhibitions.
There is a lot more to do and see in Porvoo which is also known for its many wonderful cafes, restaurants and bars. There are plenty of other museums, galleries, churches, chapels and amazing manor houses to delight visitors.