Helsinki, Finland
Nara, 32
Service Designer
see her Helsinki city guide

ask Nara about

café parks bakery scandinavian food pub

What do you do and why do you do it?

My name is Nara and for the past 8 years I have been living in Helsinki, a city of long dark winters and short sunny summers. I love the city for it's local feel and flavors, design-minded atmosphere, and most importantly - people. I'm a service designer working for a company that is improving the flow of urban life. Long dark winters.. you ask, what am I going to do in Helsinki? I say, plenty: cozy bars, coffee shops, saunas, walking over the frozen sea?? You might even see the Northern lights! And summer? Well, you might spend outside close to 24 hours and never go to sleep because it's too bright outside. Sounds tempting?I thought so too.

Name some spots in Helsinki that are good for a Tinder date.


What’s the most decadent / extreme dish you ever ate in Helsinki and where did you get it?

Koskenkorva as an appetizer. You can get it in any restaurant. Just ask and be surprised!

Is there a hidden bar / hole in the wall in Helsinki that you particularly like?

I would say there are many small local bars that don't "scream" come inside but once you are there, the feeling is very good! There are couple of my favourites in Kallio: Cafe II-Linja and 5th street bar & cafe.

Which snacks can you only get in your country, and which ones do you recommend?

Salmiakki which is a salty liquorice . If you are brave enough, go get those black candies in any store. You will hate it, but at least you tried!

What’s the one place you think is overrated in Helsinki?

Aleksanterinkatu which is a street right in the city centre. It has same shops as any major capital in Europe. Don't spend you time there, go local!

What’s the one place you think is underrated in Helsinki?

Somppasaari. This industrial area has been going through a lot of changes and it will probably disappear in the next couple of years. But if you have a chance go and visit Somppasauna, a sauna built and run completely by Helsinki citizens.

What are the Helsinki spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?

The one and only place you have to be in Helsinki is Kallio district. I love it and you will love it too. The place authentic neighborhood has plenty to offer: local bars, restaurants, coffee shops, even a small cinema inside the residential building. Come and get lost here.

Tomorrow’s your last day in Helsinki. How do you spend it?

I'd probably go to one of the public saunas (Kotiharju, Kulttuurisauna) to chill, and grab some coffee after. Saunas in Finland have a special place in peoples lives, it's a place to gather, relax and talk about life. I quite enjoy it, especially when i to go there with my friends.

What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?

Asia in general and particularly Seoul, South Korea. The combination of traditional and modern, citizen-friendly, delicious vegetarian food, amazing coffee shops, local designers and art scene left such a good impression that i wanted to go back immediately after i left. It is also very close to nature, 2 hours to the East and you are next to the sea and mountains.

photos by

Callum Hale-Thomson