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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
HomeWorld MapFinlandGuns & Butter: Helsinki Travel Guide

Guns & Butter: Helsinki Travel Guide

This is part of the Trip Report Welcome to the Cold where I went from NYC to:

If you’re just tuning in now be sure to read how I ended up with this unique itinerary by checking out The Original Plan: The $77,000 Trip Heard Round the World, the subsequent Change Up: Riga, Latvia? and the Mongolia angle: IGLOO-GER: The Helsinki-Ulaanbaatar Trip Report.

What should you do when you are clueless in Helsinki? Consult TPOL’s Travel Guide using the Guns & Butter methodology:

  • A trip is composed of two factors: Labor And Lazy
  • Anything on the line (Production Possibilities Frontier for my fellow economists) is an efficient use of your time depending on your tastes and preferences.
  • Anything inside the line is inefficient as should be avoided.
  • Anything outside is aspirational but may be impossible to do given the constraints of time and resources.
  • The opportunity cost (what is given up) for relaxing and being Lazy is gained by being adventurous in the form of Labor and vice versa.


helsinki travel guide
Getting to work in Helsinki


What should stand out from this elementary graph is how ‘sleep’ requires the greatest amount of Labor. This is the case if you go to Scandinavia during the summer. It is so weird that the sun never goes down. It’s 10PM at night and it looks like 6PM in the Midwest.

This guy must be exhausted that the sun never goes down and this damn bird never leaves him alone.
This guy must be exhausted that the sun never goes down and this damn bird never leaves him alone.

As I wrote in the Hotel Kämp Hotel Review, blackout shades are a necessity if you want to have some sense of normalcy. Concurrently, you won’t have to feel anxious about taking a nap during the day and missing out on the daylight.


If you do manage to get some rest in the purgatory state when day meets night, the work will continue should you choose to go out. Helsinki’s nightlife has plenty to offer if you know where to go. With no local guide, I wandered the city from pub to bar to club till I finally found a happening spot. Upon arrival, the doorman refused to let me in since I was a male traveling solo. A quick flash of the Hotel Kämp room card granted me the privilege of skipping the queue altogether. I’m kicking myself for not writing down the name of the club (hopefully someone will put it in the comment) because the venue reminded me of my underage days at Clutch Cargos in Pontiac, Michigan. It had multiple floors with different music. On the ground floor, the DJ played Finnish music. After a few Koffs even I knew the words. Do bring your best credit card as drinks in Helsinki are not cheap.

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Clutch Cargos!
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It used to be a university.
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Bring your wallet.
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The notable alum.
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Closing time. Probably still sunny outside.

Local Food 

What should one eat when they are in Finland? Salmon and seafood is the obvious answer but if you’re going to be a tourist then go all out and own your tourist designation. That means one thing, reindeer balls. Reindeer meatballs are served with lingonberry jam and French fries. The meat is the roughest, toughest next to human flesh. It’s not appetizing to say the least but it is one of those things you should try in case you are in need of material for a blog post.

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Ridiculously priced strawberries
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5 Euros for reindeer
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More reindeer
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I Love Pho in Helsinki!
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Reindeer Kebab ha!
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Side of fries with your reindeer
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Rough reindeer
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Yum, salmon soup


During the summer the Esplanadi is the place to see and be seen. The Hotel Kämp is located right on the Esplanadi and offers a nice little bar for people watching. If you’re looking for a bargain on espresso or alcohol best of luck. Everything is expensive even with the devaluation of the Euro. My philosophy is that I’m on holiday so paying $5 for coffee or for a $15 basic sandwich comes with the territory. The return on this investment is sitting in the sun and watching the people come and go by bike or fancy car.

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Well hello
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Beautiful Architecture
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Night or Day?
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Galleria Esplanad
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The Press in Helsinki
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People watching

City Center

The cobbled streets of Europe is what makes Europe enchanting. It doesn’t matter if you know where you are going or are aimlessly wandering. Whether you are walking left, drifting right, you certainly will find something to do that isn’t in a Lonely Planet guide. My stroll through the streets of Helsinki in search of an ATM landed me in the neatest metro I’ve encountered. It was like entering the bat cave. Armed with more cash, I continued my blind path around the city all the while enjoying the feeling of being lost.

Cobbled streets
Cobbled streets
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Nokia lol
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City Center
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The Metro Art
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Coolest Metro
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They do use the euro in Finland.
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Wandering wherever
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Till I found beer.


Suomenlinna is a fortress island only a short ferry away from mainland Helsinki. I have it as something that should be skipped only because my hour stay there did not do it justice. There is plenty to see both historically and naturally but do some research ahead of time so you don’t miss out on the attractions of this beautiful place.

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Leaving Helsinki
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Helsinki port
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The Ferry
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Life preserver
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View from the ferry
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Reaching the fortress
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Too much to do
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Pit stop
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The brewery
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Welcome to the fortress


Sure it’s not in Helsinki but if you do have some extra time, how can you skip going to Lapland home to Santa Claus village?

Overnight Ferry to Stockholm 

The epitome of lazy is reserving a cabin aboard Viking Line and sleeping for 16 hours. If you choose to be a bit more active then continue onto the next post. There you will see how a seemingly innocent boat ride can lead to drunken debauchery.

Off to Stockholm!
Off to Stockholm!

<–Back to Hotel Kämp – Onto Stockholm Via Viking Line–>






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