Visit Porvoo

30 reasons to visit Porvoo in Finland

The quaint Old Town of Porvoo in Finland is one of the most popular attractions for visitors in the country. For centuries, visitors have flocked to the picturesque area to enjoy the architecture, learn about its long history, and to take in the atmosphere. Today, we’re going explain precisely why you should visit Porvoo!

Porvoo is the second-oldest city in Finland, dating back to the 14th century. The Old Town area, along with the Porvoo River, are featured on the list of 27 national landscapes of Finland that the Finnish Ministry of the Environment maintains. The city itself is relatively small, with 50,000 residents, but its reputation is widespread: more than 1.6 million tourists visit Porvoo each year!

If you are spending some time in Helsinki, Porvoo is the perfect day trip. Only 50 kilometers from Helsinki city center, the Porvoo Old Town is worth the short travel for its world-class restaurants, inviting little stores, and nostalgic atmosphere.

The streets of Old Town are laid in a medieval pattern, with most of the wooden buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The row of red, wooden warehouses alongside the Porvoo River is one of the most popular sights in the area, as is the Porvoo Cathedral, for which construction began as early as 1410.

Porvoo is wonderful during summer, but also particularly charming during Christmastime. Visitors from all around the world travel to the beautiful city of Porvoo to dine, shop, and enjoy history. The Old Town area is very walkable, although the cobblestone streets call for supportive footwear.

If you prefer a guided tour, group tours are available daily during the summer season. No matter your preference, Porvoo is the perfect destination for a quick trip.

Visiting Porvoo from Helsinki

Visiting Porvoo from Helsinki is fast and easy. Taking a bus from the Kamppi center or from the Railway Square is one of the most popular ways to travel to Porvoo. Buses depart every 20 minutes or so and take between 50 and 80 minutes to get to Porvoo, depending on the number of additional stops. The Porvoo bus station is within a five-minute walk of the Old Town area.

Driving to Porvoo from Helsinki with a private vehicle is easy as well, although parking can be difficult to find in the Porvoo city center during the most popular visiting times. Parking must be paid for in the center area from 8am to 6pm during the week and from 8am to 3pm on Saturday. The parking meters in Porvoo accept card payments.

Looking for a more whimsical ride? Porvoo is also reachable by train from Helsinki. The 1960s museum train runs between Helsinki and Porvoo during the summer season on five allotted days from June to August.

The train, affectionately titled The Flat Hat, departs from Helsinki in the morning and arrives to Porvoo around midday, returning to the capital from Porvoo in the afternoon. No reservations are available; the tickets are available on the train on a first-come, first-serve basis.

If you are feeling particularly active, Porvoo is also reachable from Helsinki by bike! The trip consists of approximately 50 kilometers and is considered a fairly easy trek that is suitable for beginners. There are many spots for buying and enjoying snacks and taking in the view along the route.

Kayaking trips between Helsinki and Porvoo via the archipelago are also available, although they are not suitable for beginners and last between one and five days.

The MS J.L. Runeberg is a steamboat that runs between Helsinki and Porvoo from May to September. The boat takes off from Helsinki almost daily (some days are reserved for pre-booked groups) at 10am and arrives in Porvoo at 1:30pm.

If requested, the boat makes stops at the Musta Hevonen island and the Hotel Haikko Manor on the way. Tickets can be purchased for one way or a roundtrip, and the boat begins its return from Porvoo at 4pm and is in Helsinki at 7:30pm. The MS J.L. Runeberg is very popular during the summer season and reserving tickets ahead of time is recommended.

What to do in Porvoo

The narrow cobblestone streets of Porvoo Old Town invite visitors to stroll around the area at their own pace. For those hoping to hear a bit more about the history of the area, guided tours are available from various travel companies. Some of these tours include transportation to and from Helsinki, and others concentrate solely on the Porvoo area.

The Visit Porvoo website offers a free virtual map for the quintessential Old Town walking tour. The Old Town is not only for walking, though: the Porvoo River is popular among kayakers of all ages due to its calm waters and narrow pathway.

Kayaks rent for approximately 50 euros per day.

Porvoo is easily approachable outside the Old Town as well: the more modern side of Porvoo, on the other side of the river, features the cultural center Art Factory and many restaurants.

In terms of nature, Porvoo also has a lot to offer: the Castle Hill viewpoint is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the area and features an Iron Age burial site that was discovered in 1965.

Art aficionados may enjoy seeing the view that famous Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt (who lived in Porvoo for decades) depicted in his painting Porvoo Linnamäeltä nähtynä.

The area is also home to many nature trails, varying in difficulty and length. Most of the trails begin at least a few kilometers outside the city center, so a car is the easiest mode of transportation.

The gorgeous Porvoo archipelago is open for explorers as well: companies like Elämyspoukama offer boat safaris, kayaking trips (both guided and self-guided), water jet rentals, and even stand-up paddle boards. The forests that envelop Porvoo have many routes for trail biking, for which there are also guided tours available.

However you are looking to enjoy Porvoo — by foot, bike, kayak, boat, or jet — you can be sure to find what you need in the area.

Visit Porvoo

Places of interest in Porvoo

Porvoo Old Town

The Porvoo Old Town is the heart of the city. The picturesque cobblestone streets, paved with colorful wooden houses, are perfect for a stroll before grabbing lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants in the area.

Porvoo is also known for its robust food scene  —  here are some of the best restaurants in the Old Town area.

Where to eat in Porvoo Old Town

Zum Beispiel

The kitchen at Zum Beispiel relies on local, largely organic ingredients, as well as the heart of the restaurant: the Bertha charcoal oven. The restaurant’s organic sourdough bread and sourdough pasta (the first of its kind in Finland!) are very popular.

Lunch is available at Zum from 10am to 3pm, and the restaurants also offers breakfasts and an extensive a la carte menu.

SicaPelle

SicaPelle is perhaps best known for its popular Sunday brunch, but the surprise menus that change weekly are crowd-pleasing as well. Fresh ingredients in a bistro setting are at the heart of the SicaPelle fine dining experience.

The restaurant is located centrally in the Old Town area, just steps from the Porvoo Cathedral.

Salt

Located next to the Porvoo Cathedral in the heart of the Old Town, Salt offers a view of the Porvoo River and a menu focusing on fresh, no-fuss ingredients and flavors. The restaurant prides itself in making everything from scratch, ranging from cured meats to freshly baked bread.

In addition to the a la carte, Salt offers two three-course menus: the Menu Salt and a vegan version.

Meat District

As the name suggests, Meat District is the perfect choice for meat lovers looking for a bite in Old Town. Meat District specializes in unpretentious dishes made with ecologically produced meats and produce.

Like at most restaurants in Old Town, the kitchen at Meat District makes as much from scratch as possible  —  often everything! Although meats are the specialty, the restaurant also offers a vegetarian menu.

Gabriel 1763

For a mixture of old and new, head to Gabriel 1763. The restaurant and bar is housed inside a building that was built — you guessed it — in 1763 by the then-mayor of Porvoo, Gabriel Hagert.

The restaurant features a lunch menu and is known for its pizzas. During the summer season, the Gabriel 1763 outdoor terrace is bustling with locals and tourists enjoying their meals.

Cafés in Porvoo Old Town

Adorable little cafés are everywhere in Porvoo Old Town. Some of the most popular ones include:

Café Fanny

Café Fanny is a family-run establishment with an outside seating area that overlooks the center of Porvoo Old Town. The café is known for its elaborate cakes and pastries, and is also licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

Porvoon Paahtimo Bar and Café

The Porvoon Paahtimo, which translates to the roastery of Porvoo, sits on the riverfront in a historical red brick storehouse. The bar and café offer a wide selection of beers, in addition to sweet and savory pastries.

The roastery is open for group tours, and coffee is roasted almost daily. Of course, bags of coffee are also available for purchase.

Visit Porvoo

The Tea and Coffeeroom Helmi

Entering the Tea and Coffeeroom Helmi is like stepping into 18th century Porvoo. The décor and wall art depict past times, and the charming courtyard allows visitors to enjoy their cakes and beverages in the midst of old stock houses that are at the heart of the Porvoo Old Town experience.

Shopping in Porvoo Old Town

For shopping, the Old Town has a lot to offer as well. The little boutiques are great for both window shopping and buying gifts and souvenirs. Here are some of the most intriguing shops in the area:

Riimikko

A toy shop is perhaps not the first thing you might expect to find in the Porvoo Old Town, but Riimikko is too special to miss.

Located inside one of the pastel-colored wooden houses that make Porvoo so special, Riimikko is filled with intricate doll houses, handmade toys, and other curiosities for kids and adults that are young at heart.

The largest collection of children’s ride-on cars in Finland can be found here!

Ometta

Home decor store Ometta offers locally made textiles, candles, kitchen goods, and decorative items. If you are looking for gifts to take home, Ometta is the ideal stop on a walk around Porvoo Old Town.

Paperipilvi

Located alongside the Porvoo River at the entrance of the Porvoo Old Town, Paperipilvi is a specialty shop dedicated to paper goods and handicrafts. Anything one could need for painting, drawing, fabric printing, or making candles, jewelry, or wreaths can be found at Paperipilvi.

Welmans

Home and kitchen shop Welmans has been a Porvoo Old Town staple for more than two decades. The style of Welmans goods reflects the style of Old Town: rustic and nostalgic with a modern twist.

Perfect for gifts and little memories of a trip to Porvoo!

PetriS Chocolate Room

The Brunberg chocolate factory may be the best-known chocolatier in Porvoo, but visitors should also take note of the PetriS Chocolate Room shop. The chocolates, macarons, and other pastries at PetriS are well worth trying!

Restaurants outside Porvoo Old Town

Although the Porvoo Old Town is known for its extensive restaurant scene, the rest of Porvoo is abundant with places to eat as well. Bistro Sinne, for example, is located inside the Porvoo Art Factory and offers Italian food made with fresh Finnish ingredients.

Bistro Gustaf, located at the meeting point of Old Town and Porvoo center, is a great destination for French country cuisine. The Hamarinranta harbor café and restaurant is open for private boats during summer and features a menu with small snacks and salads.

Visit Porvoo

Brunberg factory & shop

For chocolate lovers, the Brunberg factory and shop are must-sees in Porvoo. The factory was founded in 1897 (the company was first launched in 1871 as a bakery) and is one of the most beloved chocolate producers in the country.

The factory and its accompanying shops are among the most popular visitor destinations in Porvoo. Although the factory, which is located approximately five minutes from Old Town by car, is not open for visitors, much of it can be seen through the large windows inside the factory shop.

A separate Brunberg shop is also located inside Old Town. Among the most popular Brunberg treats are the fudges, which are available in various flavors, truffles, salty licorice, and the cream-filled, individually wrapped chocolate kisses.

Visit Porvoo

Porvoo Cathedral

The Gothic-style Porvoo Cathedral dates back to the 15th century and has experienced a lot throughout the years. The Cathedral stands majestically on top of a hill in Porvoo Old Town and welcomes visitors to explore the premises daily, with guided tours available and services held on Sundays in Finnish and Swedish.

It is somewhat a miracle that the building is still standing after centuries of attacks: it was partially destroyed by Russian and Danish forces four times between the years 1508 and 1708. In 2006, the Cathedral withstood its most recent blow when arsonists burned down its outer roof to the point of collapse.

Despite the numerous attempts to destroy it, the Porvoo Cathedral stands tall today and is among the most popular destinations for tourists in Finland.

Visit Porvoo
Credit: Nemo bis

Runeberg house museum

The famed Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, who is in fact the national poet of Finland, spent much of his life and career in Porvoo and eventually died there in 1877. The Runeberg family house, where he lived with his wife, fellow writer Fredrika Runeberg, and their children, is located in central Porvoo.

Runeberg’s birthday on February 5th is a national holiday and carries with it a beloved tradition: the Runeberg torte, which is a small pastry made with almond flour and arrack, with a dollop of raspberry jam and icing on top. The tortes are usually available in cafés and supermarkets in Finland starting at the end of January, but many cafés in Porvoo serve them year-round.

When Runeberg was still alive, local children in Porvoo used to stand outside his window to sing him happy birthday — the poet was bedridden for the last decades of his life after a brain hemorrhage. Today, the Runeberg house is a popular destination for visitors in Porvoo.

The museum offers a glimpse into the creative family’s life in the 1800s, with the artwork on the walls and even the porcelain in the cupboards left untouched.

Visit Porvoo
Credit: Mcigorsklan

Söderskär lighthouse

The Söderskär lighthouse, which was built in 1862, is located on a small island in the Porvoo archipelago. Ferries take visitors to the island daily from Helsinki between May and August. An exhibition showcasing the vast history of the lighthouse and its past residents is available inside.

The privately-owned lighthouse is open while the ferry is docked on the side of the island, but private boats are not allowed on the island before August due to the sensitive landscape — many birds nest on the premises during the summer and should not be disturbed.

A ferry ride between Helsinki harbor and the lighthouse takes approximately 90 minutes.

Visit Porvoo
Credit: Eteil

Porvoo Museum/Holm House

The Porvoo Museum consists of two buildings that were built in the 1760s, the Old Town Hall and the Holm House. The latter was home to the family of Johan Holm, a wealthy Porvoo resident who had the house built after the great fire of Porvoo during the summer of 1760.

Today, the house remains as a peek to life during that time. The adjacent Old Town Hall is the oldest town hall building in Finland and features both permanent and variable art and history exhibitions inside its premises.

One ticket allows visitors access to both the Old Town Hall and the Holm House.

Albert Edelfelt studio museum/Villa Albert

The former studio of painter Albert Edelfelt is located roughly ten minutes from Porvoo Old Town by car. Edelfelt spent his summers at the villa starting in 1879 and transformed it into his personal studio in 1882. The artist painted many of his most significant works at the studio.

The Villa Albert is a much newer addition to the location and was opened to the public in 2019. The villa includes an exhibition space for art, as well as a museum shop.

Visit Porvoo

Hotel Haikko Manor

The Hotel Haikko Manor is right next to the Albert Edelfelt Studio and carries a similarly long history: the manor was built in 1362 and was owned by many families throughout the years. The Grand Duke of Russia escaped the 1917 revolution to the manor. By 1966, the manor transformed into a hotel and has been a popular destination in the Porvoo area ever since.

The manor is located by the sea in the midst of a lush park, where visitors can stroll and imagine how painter Edelfelt did the same hundreds of years earlier. The Hotel Haikko Manor features numerous restaurants, banquet halls, a popular spa, and more than 200 rooms.

It is a wonderful choice for Porvoo visitors who wish to spend a few days in the area or just want to relax and unwind.

Visit Porvoo
Credit: Amusa Kulttuuritori

Porvoo Art Factory

The Porvoo Art Factory stands across the river from Porvoo Old Town and, like nearly every other attraction in the area, is a historical destination. The factory area was built largely in the 1920s and housed factories for horseshoes, frames, and different kinds of machinery.

Fiskars, the famed Finnish company best known for its iconic orange scissors, owned the factory between the 1960s and 1980s.

The modern-day Art Factory features, as the name suggests, constantly changing art exhibitions; a permanent art collection; such restaurants as Sinne, Fabriken, and Villinä; and concert and theater halls.

Are you ready to visit Porvoo?

As this list tells you, there is no shortage of things to do and see in Porvoo! Whether you want to stroll along the Porvoo Old Town or visit the museums, restaurants, and other attractions nearby, Porvoo is an ideal destination from all over the country. A short bus or car ride from Helsinki center and you’re already in Porvoo, ready to take on the sights.

And if you need a place to stay, here’s some hotels you can check into.

Scandification: Discovering Scandinavia.

Scandification explores and celebrates the magic of Scandinavia. Stay tuned and we’ll bring the essence of Scandinavia to you.

Advertising enquiries

Scandification explores and celebrates the magic of Scandinavia. To advertise your brand to a global audience, contact our advertising team below.

advertising@scandification.com