Helsinki: Beautiful but boring

Porvoo, Finland's second-largest city
Porvoo, Finland’s second-largest city

Fairly sizable, but Finland is a relatively small country. Sitting between its two former rulers, Russia and Sweden, this Nordic country has a population of about 5 million people. Its biggest city Helsinki houses about 600,000 people.

A quick visit to Helsinki and its neighbouring city, Porvoo gives you that similar feeling of being in Canada’s Maritimes or the New England suburbs in the United States.

When you think of Finland, you will probably think of Nokia, the birth place of the former tech smartphone darling. But since Nokia isn’t doing all that well anymore, the Finns are now selling Angry Birds as their new, hip invention.

By the way, Nokia is also the name of a small town north of Helsinki.

A quick visit to Porvoo, Finland’s second oldest city, is nice but not all that necessary.

The cost of living is high, but that was kind of expected when visiting the Nordics.

Street signs across the country display in both Swedish and Finnish, and about 10% of the Helsinki population speak Swedish. The two languages, however, aren’t all that similar. Finnish is similar to Hungarian and Ukrainian languages, while Swedish is similar to Norwegian and German.

What impressed me the most was Helsinki’s canal bike path. Well constructed and designed, the Finnish government used older, unused water canals as their bike paths.

I probably wouldn’t spend more than 2 days in Finland, unless you have a friend to stay with. Summer is probably the most ideal time to visit.