Porvoo is Finland’s second oldest city after Turku. It is located about 50 kilometers away from Helsinki perfect for a day trip from the Finnish capital. Buses from Kamppi bus station in Helsinki travel regularly to Porvoo; the trip takes less than an hour.
During the summer months, visitors have a more scenic option: a round-trip by boat from Helsinki harbour on board MS J.L.Runeberg. It is a much slower trip than the bus as it takes about 3-4 hours (each way) to reach Porvoo on a cruise around the Eastern Archipelago. Along the way there are plenty of opportunities to view the Finnish countryside, forests and islands and enjoy the quietness of the peaceful surroundings. On a sunny day the top deck of the boat is the perfect place to be to top up the suntan!
On arrival at Porvoo visitors are given two and a half hours to visit the town before boarding the boat back to Helsinki. It is a short walk from the modern town to the Old Town; the red warehouses on the riverfront are one of the main attraction in Porvoo; used in the past to store goods, they are now privately owned.
Walking uphill away from the river the Cathedral comes into view. The roof was completed destroyed in an arson attack in 2006 but, after a careful restoration, the Cathedral reopened two years later; next to the cathedral is the bell tower.
Porvoo Old Town is very small and can be easily visited on foot either alone or by joining one of the walking tours on offer. The narrow streets are lined with colorful wooden houses, shops and restaurants; many of the buildings have beautifully crafted weathervanes on top of them.
Porvoo is also famous for its chocolate factories; close to the Cathedral is Pieni Suklaatehdas (Little Chocolate Factory), a small shop with an open kitchen to see the chocolate being made. Brunberg’s Chocolate Factory can also be found in the Old Town.
There are a number of museums in Porvoo, including the curious Doll and Toy Museum and the house where Finland’s national poet J.L. Runeberg used to live. Walking around the Old Town there are many sights to be explored: a fenced off iron pole it is all that is left of the Pharmacist’s Sundial and from the top of the Devil’s Steps, a rock formation resembling a set of stairs, there are good views of Porvoo Old and New Town.
The town can be visited all year-long and it is beautiful both in summer and on a cold winter day when the snow on the buildings makes the whole town look like a winter wonderland.