Updated: Jan 30, 2020
Day in the life of a Finn - winter edition
This post’s aim is not to directly guide you to where you must go when in Helsinki (you
have other posts for that and a million more wherever you look), but this post will
(hopefully) teach you to see Helsinki through a local’s eyes and maybe inspire you to try
out the habits a Finnish person has in the city; making you feel like a local, while visiting! I
know I love trying out local spots when traveling as well as doing local things when in new
cities and maybe you’re just like me in which case continue reading as this post is for you!
And if not then you might want to read on anyhow as I do share some useful tips about the
Waking up in the winter time isn’t fun… it’s dark until lunch time! This is partly because we
usually have early lunches, but still it’s dark for a while after I wake up. At least it isn’t very
cold this winter, but the news headlines over here are still trying to figure out whether it’s
actually a good thing or not.
First thing’s first, coffee! And breakfast…, but coffee! Jokes aside, I take coffee very
seriously (as one should if they’re Finnish) and I drink at least two cups with my breakfast.
I drink my coffee black, obviously. Is there even any other way to have coffee? There isn’t
if you’re Finnish (in my own humble opinion) I’m also very specific about which coffee I have.
I drink, ironically, a coffee called Sydney and no not just because it comes in a pink
package (even though that was the feature that drew me to try the coffee in the first place),
but because of its soft and silky taste. If you think that I can’t be truly Finnish if I drink
Sydney coffee, think again because the coffee is made by Finland’s oldest coffee brewery
called Paulig. I won’t go into too much detail, but it’s pretty great and you can read about it
here https://www.paulig.com/en/company/company-history and you can find its coffee
everywhere in Finland!
With my coffee I usually have a salty breakfast, which is typical here unless you’re having
porridge with frozen berries (also very typical). My breakfast consists of rye bread, butter,
cucumber and ham. All of the items are plant based and they’re very easy to find in stores
as plant based eating is very common in Helsinki even though only about 1% of the
population is vegan. A lot of people still opt to consume plant based foods when they can
or want so options are plentiful!
If on the off chance I don’t have the time to have breakfast at home, I get a coffee on the
go from a place called R-Kioski. It’s a kiosk, which is usually located at metro stops and
serves students any sized coffee for 1,50€! I don’t know what coffee is priced like where
you’re from, but here that is called a bargain and what’s best is that they usually always
serve Sydney a long with other options of Pauling coffee!
During the winter when it’s cold I always travel to places using public transportation. It’s very
prompt in Helsinki so there’s no reason not to. Also, it’s a great way to escape the cold
even if I just use it for short distances within the city. However, if it’s a sunny day then I
walk because I need to soak up any vitamin D I can get while it’s being given out! Oh, and
I will probably post about the shocking sight that is the sun on my social media (a long with
all the other Finnish millennials). HERE is a link to public transport in Helsinki!
When I’m in the city I usually study with a cup of coffee and depending on my mood I
either go to a busy cafe or my usual calm spot at the university library. Bare in mind its
winter and chilly so finding a warm and cozy spot is essential. If you’re looking for some
are chain cafes and are usually packed during the day no matter where you go, but there’s
always something so calming about sinking into your load of work in the midst of all the
If I, however, want some peace and quite, which for us Finnish people is not uncommon, I
would go to the library with my Sydney coffee of course! The library I’m talking about is
called Kaisa talo where if you go to the top floor you have an amazing view, especially if
it’s a sunny day. I won’t spoil what it is; you will have to go there yourself to find out!
Another amazing library you can go to is Oodi. It also offers a great view and architecture,
but not so much calmness. If you want to however, study inside while still have a living tree
sit next to you as you pretend you’re outside then Oodi is the place for you.
For lunch I usually search through the uni cafes’ menus to find what I want and then I find
my way to the one I like the most that day. The uni cafe is a lunch place for students where
we can get a meal for 2,60€. So far with my student coffee and student lunch my day is
sounding very cheap!
However, I don’t always end up in a uni cafe as I should and instead I grab something
quick either at the super market, which always has a great salad bar or I go to Fafa’s or
Momotoko. Both of these restaurants or eateries, rather, are quick and not too unhealthy.
Fafa’s is mostly known for its pitas and Momotoko for its ramen soups, both of which I love
very much and are very popular in Helsinki. So if you are looking for fast eats that aren’t
Finnish food, but are something that people in Helsinki eat often then these two are my
When I get the chance, I go to the gym. Mostly for the sauna, but it’s the though that
counts and that gets me to the gym so that is all that matters. During the winter time my
exercise is limited to running from one metro to the other and avoiding going out too much;
hibernating if you will. But this is not the case with everyone. A lot of people ski (this winter
is a little bit difficult as you know, there is no snow), skate and continue running and biking
through out the winter, but there is a proportion of the population that hibernates of which I
After the gym and more importantly; I enjoy my sauna & planning my dinner. I love to cook and try new things, so I check k-ruoka.fi for recipes, which is a Finnish supermarket website that also offers, you guessed it, recipes. If you’re staying in an airbnb or somewhere with a
kitchen not only are you lucky enough to experience the Finnish invention that is the drying
cupboard on top of the sink (you’re welcome), but you could also try one of the recipes you
find in the website! What’s great about it is that it also tells you the price/portion for every
recipe so you can stay on budget!
I hope this summed up version of my routine gave you an idea of how to spend a day in
the city and what should truly be your priority (*cough cough* sauna) while exploring it!
Happy local pretending!