Vanhakaupunki is a neighborhood in Helsinki, and it literally translates as the "old town." In fact, Helsinki actually started from this small place. Back in 1550, Gustav Vasa decided to establish a new city right near the Vantaa River. Nowadays, people come to Vanhakaupunki for many reasons; you can find outdoor enthusiasts, fishers, or museum geeks wandering around the Old Town Bay. Interesting enough, the main city center is nowadays quite far from the old town. You can still reach the Old Town Bay by buses from the Central Railway Station and Pasila.
Let's start with fish. The Old Town Bay is a famous spot for fishing. There are regular fish migrations through the bay, so the fish flow is plentiful and diverse. You will notice billboards with information about all kinds of fish passing through the river. Just do not forget to get your fishing permission! Also, check the signs on your location, since some of the rapids are not offered for fishing.
The Old Town Bay is a lovely spot, and an excellent place to enjoy it is at the Koskenranta restaurant. Koskenranta is open all year round, providing visitors with lunches, coffee, and the possibility to entirely book it for an event. The best part of it is a terrace overlooking the stream; it seems like a perfect place for a cup of coffee.
The Old Town is also a popular nature spot, offering many hiking trails and pretty sceneries. On one side of the river, you can find a park which provides a long stroll and many places for a picnic. On the other side of the Vantaa river, you can find a large outdoor area with multiple walking paths and birdwatching towers. Situated in the middle of Helsinki, this outdoor area is famous for its accessibility.
A great place to visit in the Old Town is Finland's general Technology Museum. The museum is spread into two buildings, which were constructed to be the country's first waterworks. That is why you will find an old power station in one of the buildings. It is quite atmospheric and brings up steampunk vibes. This building is open only in summer, but there is another thing you can see all year round: behind the power station, you will find yourself overlooking the dam, gazing at the best view of the Old Town.
The main Technology Museum building beholds permanent exhibitions that will take you through the development of technology in Finland during the last 100 years. Just to tell you, my favorites are the old telegraph and a retro video camera. You can also find some additional temporary exhibitions held from time to time. The museum is not that interactive, but all the kids I saw inside were excited to be there. I guess big tractors, even nowadays, are holding kids' attention. If you are visiting with children, I can highly recommend visiting the Museum of Technology! By the way, walking around the museum buildings, you can also find unexpected art objects, so take your time wandering around.
Walking around the Old Town, don't forget to pass by the Villa Annala. You probably have already noticed it on your way to the bay. I always take a walk through Villa Annala on my way back to the bus stop. It is the oldest villa in Helsinki and the garden surrounding it is quite nice. On Sundays, there is an open cafe inside the house. Annala also beholds many gardening events. Believe me, only by watching the garden around it, you want to attend them, even if you do not have a garden of your own.
All in all, the Old Town area is a perfect place to escape the hustle of the capital for a few hours. Depending on your interests or mood, you can go hiking or fishing, discover things in the Technology Museum, or just take a break on the terrace of Koskenranta restaurant. Don't forget about all the hidden gems you can find around the area, like the oldest villa in Helsinki and hidden art objects around the museum.
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