Porvoo is a city in southern Finland, just 50 kilometres from Helsinki. It is a bilingual city since almost 33% of its population has Swedish as its mother tongue.
The city of Porvoo is the second oldest in the country, only behind Turku. Its old town dates from the Middle Ages and a large part of its buildings have been preserved, so the vast majority are made of wood.
Things to see and do in Porvoo
The city, founded almost 800 years ago, retains much of the charm of the time, so strolling through the picturesque streets of its historic centre will transport you to another century.
Many artists have used Porvoo as a source of inspiration for their work and the city is home to some of the works of famous Finnish artists.
Porvoo Old Town
Porvoo’s Old Town boasts its famous red wooden warehouses, one of the most photographed landscapes in Finland and one of the must-see stops for any tourist visiting the city.
The colourful wooden houses are found throughout the historic centre of Porvoo and strolling alongside them along the narrow cobbled paths is an experience not to be missed.
The old town also has many cafes, restaurants and various shops and chocolate shops. Many of them are inside the colourful buildings and have period decorations, so we recommend you take a look inside.
Porvoo Cathedral dates back to the 13th century and has undergone numerous changes and renovations throughout history. The church has also been affected by different fires that, luckily, did not seriously deteriorate it and it could be renovated, thanks to which tourists from all over the world can continue to access it.
The Cathedral, despite not being notable for its large size, has hosted some of the most important religious events and celebrations in the history of the country, so it is a place that you should not miss during your trip to Porvoo.
The poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg is considered the most important in the history of Finland and one of the most prominent in all of Scandinavia. The poet is such an important figure for the Finns that on February 5, the day of his birth, a great party is held throughout the country in his honour and a typical cake is eaten that bears his name.
Runeberg lived part of his life in the city of Porvoo with his family and today it is possible to visit what was his home. The house, now adapted as a museum, allows us to visit all the rooms and the decoration, just as his family left it.
The Bishop’s house of the Diocese of Borgå
The house of the Bishop of Porvoo is also the seat of the Diocese of Borgå, the religious group of Swedish-speaking Finns. The see was established in Porvoo in 1923 and, five years later, the bishop’s house was completed.
The interior of the impressive building of intense yellow colour cannot be visited, but it is still advisable to approach and enjoy its exterior.
Linnamäki or the Castle Hills is an extensive nature park located very close to the old town of Porvoo. In it, we can find various interesting points to go through.
On Iso Linnamäki (Great Castle Hill) was one of the largest ancient fortresses in all of Finland. Here a huge castle began to be built, but the project was not very successful and ended up being abandoned. Today, it is still possible to see some dry moats and the wooden bridges that cross them.
Pikku Linnamäki or Lesser Castle Hill has an Iron Age cemetery, which was discovered in 1965. At the foot of the hills is Maari Park, a popular park among Porvoo residents for picnics and walks.
Holm House is located in the historic city centre and was built in 1763, making it one of the oldest buildings in Finland. Inside we find a museum where you can discover the way of life of wealthy merchant families at the end of the 18th century. Throughout the year it is also possible to enjoy different temporary exhibitions
Porvoo Doll and Toy Museum
Porvoo’s Doll and Toy Museum is one of the most comprehensive in the country. His collection, of more than a thousand pieces, includes dolls or other toys, such as teddy bears or toy cars.
All the dolls and toys on display were used in the past, so it is possible to appreciate their wear and tear and that they are not in perfect condition. Thus, not only will children enjoy the museum, but parents and grandparents will also have a great time remembering the toys of their childhood.
How to get to Porvoo from Helsinki
Porvoo is located just 50 kilometres east of Helsinki. The short journey allows you to visit the city in a single day without having to worry about accommodation.
To get to Porvoo, you can choose to take the bus or the boat from Helsinki. The first option is undoubtedly the most recommended since the journey does not take more than an hour and the price of the round trip ticket is about 15 euros.
The bus is taken from Helsinki central bus station, located in the heart of Helsinki, and takes you to Porvoo station, very close to the old city.
If you travel in summer, you can choose to take the boat trip. This alternative is less recommended than the bus since the duration of the journey and the price of the ticket is higher. The trip takes about 3 hours and the ticket costs about 30 euros.
How to get around the city
The city of Porvoo is not very big and all the important tourist spots are located in the centre of the city, very close to each other. For this reason, you will not need any type of transport to move around the city.
The bus station is also just a few minutes from the centre. Thus, it will not be necessary to hire a taxi or other type of transport when you get off the bus that brings you from Helsinki.
Where to stay in Porvoo
As we have already told you, it is possible to take a day trip to Porvoo from Helsinki, so it would not be necessary to look for accommodation in the city.
However, you may want to enjoy Porvoo more calmly or take the opportunity to visit other towns or natural parks in the area. In that case, looking for accommodation in the city is a highly recommended option, since there are quite a few alternatives that suit all budgets.
Where to eat in Porvoo
Porvoo has a large number of cafes and restaurants where you can stop to eat and rest. For this reason, there are options for all tastes.
However, it is important to know that the price in most establishments is high and should be taken into account when choosing the restaurant in which to eat.
We recommend that you take advantage of the visit to try the Runebergintorttu or Runeberg torte, the typical Finnish dessert with almonds that is named after the famous Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg.
We hope you enjoy your visit to the medieval town of Porvoo. We invite you to use the comments section to answer your questions about the trip or to give your opinion about Porvoo if you have already visited the city.