Porvoo is a picturesque medieval town in Finland situated around 50 kilometres east of the country’s capital Helsinki. It, therefore, makes a really great day trip option for those wishing to explore more of Finland’s cultural heritage and see a smaller, quainter slice of Finnish life.
But how easy is it to organize a day trip to Porvoo? And what is there to do in Porvoo when you get there? Read on to discover all you need to know about planning a day trip to Porvoo from Helsinki and what you’ll want to put on your agenda…
Porvoo is thought to be the second oldest city in Finland with some of the buildings, such as the cathedral, dating back as far as the 15th century. The Old Town houses and colorful riverfront warehouses make for postcard-perfect pictures, and the cultural and artistic attractions will have you recommending a day trip to Porvoo to everyone you know.
You might also like: How to spend one day in Helsinki.
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How To Get From Helsinki To Porvoo on a Day Trip
The trip from Helsinki to Porvoo takes around one hour so it makes for an easy day trip option. Travelers can choose between taking public transport to Porvoo and choosing an organized tour. Once you arrive in Porvoo you’ll be able to explore all the main sights on foot so you’ll just need to decide whether you want to pay the extra for an informative tour guide along the way.
Helsinki to Porvoo By Public Transport
The bus from Helsinki to Porvoo takes around an hour (between 50 minutes and 1 hour 10 minutes depending on the service you catch), and can be caught from the Helsinki bus station, Kamppi. It then arrives at the main station in Porvoo from where you can walk to all the main city sights.
A round-trip ticket on the bus from Helsinki to Porvoo costs around €9 for children and €18 for adults (at the time of writing).
You can find out details or bus timetables and prices from the bus station in Helsinki or you can plan your trip in advance using the Matkahuolto website.
Taking the public bus means you can spend as long as you like in Porvoo (buses run until 11 pm at night!) and won’t be tied down to any structured schedules.
Helsinki to Porvoo Organised Tour
If you don’t fancy taking public transport you can organize a guided day trip to Porvoo which allows you to take an alternative form of transport with your group and to enjoy a guided walking tour of the town when you arrive. Most tours allow you some additional free time so that you can explore further or grab a cup of coffee or some lunch before returning back to Helsinki.
A great tour option is this 4.5-hour Porvoo guided tour which offers a walking tour with an English-speaking guide. Coach transfers are included.
Things To Do In Porvoo
Explore Old Town
Of course, the main thing to do during any day trip to Porvoo is to explore the historic Old Town. Porvoo is thought to have been inhabited since the Stone Age and has more recently been ruled by Germans, Swedes and Russians. There have therefore been many changes to the town’s architecture, with most of the structures still standing today dating from the 18th and 19th century (since a previous fire burned most former structures to the ground).
The Old Town features quaint buildings, cobbled streets, small shops and interesting museums to keep you entertained. You could spend hours simply wandering these streets by yourself or you could opt to take a guided walking tour.
See The Red Shore Houses
Perhaps one of the most famous sights of Porvoo is the red warehouses that grace the banks of the river. These wooden buildings are all painted in a deep, red colour and were once used to house wines, coffee, tobacco, wood, spices and other food stuffs during the area’s river trade period.
The warehouses were originally painted this red colour to please Swedish King Gustav III during a royal visit in the late 18th century and have been kept that way ever since. While they are no longer used for trade purposes, the store houses are still an important site in Porvoo.
Visit The Porvoo Cathedral
The Porvoo Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Porvoo and it dates back to the 15th century (with some parts thought to be even older dating to the 13th century!). This Evangelical Lutheran Church is one of the oldest in the country and was the site of the Diet of Porvoo which stated that Finland would be a Grand Principality of Russia instead of being ruled by Sweden.
While the church is not always open, it is still picturesque to witness from outside and is free to enter when it is open.
Do Some Shopping/Window Shopping
One of the things people love when visiting Porvoo’s Old Town is the number of boutiques and craft shops that line the streets. These range in size and style and offer everything from souvenirs and shoes to antiques, artisanal goods and handicrafts. While you might not have much space in your luggage for too much shopping even a spot of window shopping in Porvoo can be fun!
Try Some Traditional Finnish Cuisine
If you’re planning on spending a full day in Porvoo you’ll want to enjoy a coffee and a cake or a spot of lunch before venturing back to Helsinki. In this case it’s a good opportunity to try some traditional Finnish cuisine. Local favourites include reindeer meat, smørrebrød, lingonberry pie and great small batch coffee.
Visit The Porvoo Museum
The Porvoo Museum is housed across Holm House and the Old Town Hall and feature historical exhibits, objets d’arts and furniture, mostly from the 18th century. Your entrance ticket allows you access into both buildings which is an ideal way of seeing more of the Old Town from the inside.
Visit The Home Of Johan Ludvig Runeberg
Another notable site in Porvoo is the home of the Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. His home has been open as a museum since 1882 and houses a range of works of art, hunting weapons and family porcelain.
Go To The Art Factory
If you decide to travel over the river to Modern Porvoo you’ll want to head to The Art Factory, an art studio and cultural centre that hosts exhibitions, events, concerts and cinema screenings. The Art Factory is also home to a few craft shops and independent artists stalls where you can buy interesting artwork and souvenirs.
If you decide to stay longer in Porvoo or find that you have additional time before your journey back to Helsinki, you might want to enjoy one of the following additional activities in and around Porvoo:
- Kayak/Canoe/Paddle-Board Around Porvoo
- Discover The Iso Linnamäki Fortress
- Take A Boat Trip Around The Pellinki Archipelago