A Travel and Design Guide to Helsinki, Finland

A Travel and Design Guide to Helsinki, Finland

Color, creativity and favorite childhood stories are waiting in the Nordic city of Helsinki By: Dana Rebmann
<p>Head to World of Tre for an unconventional shopping experience. // © 2018 Getty Images</p><p>Feature image (above): Finland is known for its bold...

Head to World of Tre for an unconventional shopping experience. // © 2018 Getty Images

Feature image (above): Finland is known for its bold art and design. // © 2018 World of TRE

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Finnish design has a unique way of standing out. It’s well-known around the globe, but it’s more than just an art form — it’s a way of life.

This is especially true in Finland’s capital of Helsinki. In this bustling city, bold, bright colors are the norm, rather than the exception. And good design is expected and delivered in every aspect of day-to-day life, from local cafes and hotel decor to world-famous fashion.

Here’s how clients can have their most aesthetically pleasing vacation in Helsinki.

A favorite childhood story comes to life in a cozy cafe setting at Mumin Kaffe, which attracts tourists, Moomin fans, families with children and simply curious folks. Helsinki is home to five cafes that pay tribute to the Moomins, a family of round, white, troll-esque characters with large snouts who are found in the classic Finnish children’s book series that takes place in fictional Moominvalley.

Although no two cafes are alike, the idea behind them is the same. In each kid-friendly space, furniture features Scandinavian design; Moomin prints adorn walls; and books and stuffed animals are within reach. The menu offers items such as brightly frosted pastries, sandwiches and coffee, in addition to ice cream, soft drinks, hot chocolate and juice. There’s also Moomin-themed merchandise and products for sale.


Located in Helsinki’s Design District, Hotel Indigo Helsinki – Boulevard knows how to fit in with the surrounding neighborhood. Freestanding, open shelving separates the compact lobby from the bar and showcases Finnish design goods. Meanwhile, light fixtures are brilliant and modern, and a walk down any hallway — which features cheerful carpet and walls lined with modern artwork — will communicate to guests that Hotel Indigo is not afraid of a little color. Along with a full wall mural, each of the 120 guestrooms is decorated using Finnish design materials and furniture. Design-themed rooms are also home to a single shoe — displayed in a shadowbox — by famed Helsinki footwear designer Minna Parikka. 


Helsinki is a shopper’s paradise, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to reap the benefits of retail therapy. Window shopping and simply browsing meticulously styled shop interiors can easily fill days here. For a look at what many Finnish designers are up to all under one roof, head to World of Tre. The downtown Helsinki flagship store carries 300 brands that include well-known classics displayed alongside goods from new designers. Products range from jewelry, accessories and clothing to piggy banks in a rainbow of colors.

Or, for a more traditional shopping experience, head to Marimekko, which was founded in 1951 and is arguably one of Finland’s best-known design companies. Prints and vibrant hues are found on everything from clothing and accessories to home decor. Its bags are particularly handy for carrying home souvenirs that won’t fit in a suitcase.


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