Porvoo is one of my favorite cities. I mean what not to like?! Lovely old wooden houses that look like a fairy tale illustration, little markets where locals are selling handcrafted goods: jewelry, clothes, accessories, candles, home décor, etc.
I could wonder the narrow streets of old town for hours and hours, – there are plenty of things to see and do, places to visit, restaurants to go to… Just writing about it makes me want to go back and spend there a day or two. Ah, it really is an adorable and charming place!
We usually come here by car because it’s easy to reach and ride from Helsinki without stops takes about an hour or so.
But this time we’ve decided to go there by ship! Although it’s not the wisest choice if you (like us) are having a “hobbit” trip – there and back same day, since you’ll have only 2-2,5 hours to spend in Porvoo. So, if you want to actually see the city and enjoy your time there, then I suggest you to go to Porvoo by bus. But if you wish to go by ship, then better to take a return ticket for next day. That way you’ll be able to get most of the trip.
I’ve chosen to travel by ship because of several reasons. First of all, Finland is a beautiful country and going on a ship trip is one way to see its beauty. Second, summer is very short here, so I always try to do as many outdoor excursions as possible. And thirdly, it’s not our last visit to Porvoo, so we can come back here any time we want.
Original plan was to take a museum train to Porvoo and go back to Helsinki by ship. That way we would have one extra hour to spend in the city. But unfortunately, trains were not going there that date what we have chosen. And it was a bummer. Of course, we could reschedule and go some other day… But weather is a very unpredictable lady, so we decided not to risk and skipped the train.
We ordered tickets here and purchased them in the selling booth beside the ship. Roundtrip price for one person is 39 euros. Ship leaves from Kauppatori (Helsinki Market Square) at 10AM. But better to come earlier if you wish to have better seats… or any seat at all, if it’s overcrowded.
M/s J.L. Runeberg was built in 1912 and has been used as passenger ship ever since. So over 100 years!
Trip takes about 3.5 hours.
Ship passes through the river Porvoonjoki.
And as soon as you are ashore you’ll have about 2-2,5 hours in the city. Old town is quite close, one kilometer away or so. Easy to find and easy to get to.
Porvoo Cathedral was built in the 15th century.
We decided to find a restaurant first and after eating start slowly walking back to the ship through the old town, maybe even visit a shop or two on our way. Yes, that was the plan… but sometimes plans don’t work out and things just don’t go the way you wished them to. And this time the reason was… restaurant SicaPelle.
Lunch menu did look really good and we ordered three course menu.
Caramelized egg yolk with herbs for appetizer…
It was very small but interesting and delicious. The positive note ended right there, – in one hour and twenty minutes that appetizer and bread were the only things we got! On our questions, how long we still need to wait for our dishes we only got “sorry” in response. Time has passed quickly and we had to go back, otherwise we would miss the ship. At the last minute waiter brought the main course… and it was a disaster! Two skinny carrots and a super small piece of lamb liver covered with two leaves…
I mean come on! It supposed to be one of the best restaurants in the city! But looking on my plate I had a feeling that a first grader of a culinary school has made this.
We ate our “mains” in a hurry and since there was no time left, we had to skip the dessert and rush back, in a hope to catch the ship. At that moment I was feeling sad, disappointed and… angry. Very angry. For two beers, two appetizers and disastrous mains that didn’t even look like main dish we paid 64 euros… and we were still hungry. I had a feeling that we were cheated. Only good thing in that restaurant was their bread. That’s all.
But luckily, I could drown my sorrow in the warm tea and famous Runeberg’s tart – my absolute favorite Finnish dessert.
They say that Fredrika, the wife of Finland’s national poet – Johan Ludvig Runeberg – used to bake these tarts for her husband.
5th of February Finland is celebrating Runeberg day and that is the only time a year when you can find Runeberg’s tarts in the food market. But in Porvoo they sell it all year around! And that’s one more reason why I love this enchanted town.
Can’t wait to go there again! Maybe next time we’ll take a bus…
Hope you enjoyed it!