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Buildings in the Old town

Porvoo (Swedish: Borgå) [13] is a scenic small town 50 kilometers east of Helsinki, Finland. Dating back to the 14th century, its iconic red wooden buildings on the riverside are a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Get in

By bus

There are buses from Helsinki's Central Bus Station to Porvoo every 15-30 minutes. Standard/express services cost €10.30/13.20 one-way and take 55/65 minutes, so the surcharge is hardly worth it — the expresses just stop in Porvoo on their way to points further east.

By train

There is no regular passenger train service to Porvoo, but the Porvoo Museum Railways [14] run a vintage 1955 Lättähattu ("Flat Hat") Dm7 from Helsinki to Porvoo and back on Saturdays in July/August only. The trip takes 1.5 hours and costs €15/25 one-way return for adults, half price for children. As of 2008, the train leaves Helsinki's Central Railway Station (platform 11) at 10:52 AM and sets off back from Porvoo at 4:30 PM. No reservations, cash only.

By boat

The m/s Runeberg [15] cruises from Helsinki to Porvoo between May and September three to five times a week, departing at 10 AM and returning at 4 PM. The trip takes 3.5 hours one way and costs €22.50/33.00 one-way/return, half price for children. On Saturday, you can also opt to take the boat one way and the train back (€33). The boat leaves from Linnalaituri on Helsinki's Market Square, opposite the President's palace.

By bicycle

Bike fans may want to consider pedaling the 50 km along the scenic King's Road [16] from Helsinki to Porvoo.

Get around

Map of Porvoo

Porvoo is best explored on foot. Parents will, however, probably want to leave the baby carriage at home: the Old Town's streets are cobblestone and often hilly.

In the summer time, you can also opt to clip-clop your way through the streets with a horse and carriage. The Museum Railways also operate occasional steam train excursions.


The town is famed for its many wooden buildings, picturesquely perched by the Porvoo River (Finnish Porvoonjoki, Swedish Borgå å). These are concentrated in the old city (Fin: Vanhakaupunki, Swedish Gamla Stan), a few hundred meters northwest of the modern city centre, and on a fine summer day a stroll around them is very delightful indeed.

  • Porvoo Cathedral (Porvoon tuomiokirkko). The Porvoo Cathedral is among the oldest in Finland, with parts dating back to the 11st century. The building was burned down four times between 1300 and 1700, and took a direct hit from a bomb in 1914 — miraculously, the bomb fell through the roof, but did not explode. Alas, the church was burned down by an arsonist in 2006; reconstruction is presently under way for reopening sometime in 2008.
  • Porvoo Doll and Toy Museum (Lelumuseo), Jokikatu 14, [1]. Mon-Sat 11 AM-3:30 PM, Sun noon-3:30 PM. Contains over 1000 dolls and hundreds of toys dating from 1800 to 1990. Open from June 1st to August 10th only. €1/2.
  • Porvoo Museum (Porvoon museo), Raatihuoneenkatu 21, +358-19-5747500, [2]. Daily 11 AM-4 PM May-Aug, Wed-Sun noon-4 PM Sep-Apr. History and art museum in the heart of the Old Town in a building dating back to 1760, showcasing artifacts from peasant life and a collection of old photographs. €5.



In the old part of Porvoo there are lots of lovely little shops where you can buy anything from dollhouses to hand made jewelry. Many are, however, open only in the summer.

  • Brunberg, Välikatu 4, +358-19-5484235. Mon-Fri 10 AM-6 PM, Sat 9 AM-4 PM. One of Finland's most famous confectioners, this family-run business was founded in 1871 and is best known for their Pusu ("Kisses"), or giant puffs of flavored whipped cream encased in a thin chocolate shell. (Until recently, they were known somewhat politically incorrectly as "Negro Kisses".) The liquorice (lakritsi) is another local favorite. Most products are actually made at a factory on the outskirts of town (Teollisuustie 19 B, Mon-Fri 9 AM-5 PM, Sat 9 AM-3 PM), but their Old Town shop is considerably more convenient.


  • Timbaali, Välikatu 8, +358-19-5231020, [3]. Daily 11 AM-11 PM. Famous restaurant that specializes in a rather un-Finnish delicacy, namely snails. Snails from €10 per half dozen, mains (not all of which involve snails) from €20.
  • Wanha Laamanni, Vuorikatu 17 (opp Porvoo Cathedral), +358-20-7528355, [4]. Classy restaurant in a building dating back to 1790, now serving up modern fare with a Finnish twist: try the deer carpaccio or tar-flavored salmon. €50.


  • Paalaamo, Mannerheiminkatu 20 C (downtown), [5]. A dance club located in the basement of a downtown building. It is quite busy, filled with youth from Porvoo and the surrounding area. To see such a busy club in contrast to the typical daytime Porvoo is an interesting juxtaposition.



  • Gasthaus Werneri, Adlercreutzinkatu 29, +358-400-494876, [6]. Basic guesthouse, 400m from the bus station. No breakfast, but free use of kitchen facilities. €35/50 single/double.
  • Porvoo Camping Kokonniemi, Uddaksentie 17 (1.5km from city centre), +358-19-581967, [7]. Camping and caravan ground plus 10 cabins for up to four people. Showers, sauna, kiosk, BBQ shelter, playground. Open June-August only. Cabins €58-67, camping €12/space plus €4/person.
  • Porvoo Hostel (Porvoon retkeilymaja), Linnankoskenkatu 1, +358 19 523 0012, [8]. HI-affiliated hostel in a Porvoo-style red wooden building. 33 beds in 10 rooms. Single/double €29/38, €2.50 discount for HI members.


  • Seurahovi, Rauhankatu 27, +358-19-54761, [9]. Has a popular restaurant. €80.
  • Sparre, Piispankatu 34 (near bus station), +358-19-584455, [10]. Pleasant, centrally located business hotel. Breakfast and sauna (weekdays only) included. €85/100 single/double.


The measure of Porvoo
According to legend, the bailiff of Porvoo used a standard-sized measure to collect taxes of wheat or vodka from its citizens, but a specially altered box with a false bottom for passing them on to the Crown. He pocketed the difference and lived lavishly, and to this day the expression Porvoon mitta (lit. "the measure of Porvoo") lives on in Finnish to describe a generous or plentiful supply.

  • Haikko Manor (Haikon kartano), Haikkoontie 114 (6 km from city), +358-19-57601, [11]. Old feudal manor turned luxury spa and hotel by the seaside, popular with Finnish honeymooners. Features a Japanese-style Yorokobi bath section. €200 in new wing, €280 in manor wing.
  • Onni, Kirkkotori 3 (next to Cathedral). The name means "joy", and this charming small hotel in the heart of old Porvoo (the building was built in 1840) was boutique before they invented the word. Four rooms decorated in various retro styles from Functional (as in the 1920s architectural movement) to Manor. Breakfast included. €180.
  • Porvoon Mitta, Jokikatu 43, +358-19-580131, [12]. Another quirky small hotel in the heart of Old Porvoo. Ten rooms named and individually decorated after merchants and artisans who once worked in the building, ranging from tar merchants to glass blowers.

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