Kayaking past Old Porvoo

Porvoo (Swedish: Borgå) is a scenic small town 50 kilometers east of Helsinki, Finland. One of the most popular day trips from Helsinki, its picturesque city center of wooden houses is a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Finland's second oldest city (after Turku), Porvoo has been around since the 13th century, although most of the present buildings date to the 19th century. In 1809, Finland's nobles assembled at the Diet of Porvoo to affirm the country's conquest by Russia.

Today, tourists flock to pad about the cobbled narrow lanes of Old Porvoo (Vanha Porvoo), which has survived the sprawl of the modern city around it remarkably intact. The place is particularly popular in summer.

Get in

Map of Porvoo

By bus

There are buses from Helsinki's Central Bus Station to Porvoo every 15-30 minutes. Standard/express services cost €10.30/13.20 one-way and take 55/65 minutes, so the surcharge is hardly worth it the expresses just stop in Porvoo on their way to points further east.

By train

There is no regular passenger train service to Porvoo, but the Porvoo Museum Railways run a vintage 1955 Lättähattu ("Flat Hat") Dm7 from Kerava to Porvoo and back on Saturdays in July/August only. The trip takes 1.5 hours and costs €15/25 one-way return for adults, half price for children, no reservations, cash only. As of 2009, the train leaves Kerava at 12:10 and sets off back from Porvoo at 4:00 PM. Kerava, in turn, can be reached in 20 min by regular commuter train from Helsinki's Central Railway Station.

By boat

M/S J.L. Runeberg cruises from Helsinki to Porvoo between May and September three to five times a week, departing at 10 AM and returning at 4 PM. The trip takes 3.5 hours one way and costs €25.00/36.00 one-way/return, half price for children. On Saturdays in the summer, you can also opt to take the boat one way and the train back. The boat leaves from Linnalaituri on Helsinki's Market Square, opposite the President's palace.

By car

Porvoo is easily accessed via the E18 expressway east from Helsinki towards Kotka and the Russian border. The other option is the old Porvoo road, Highway 170, but it's considerably slower and not particularly scenic.

By bicycle

Bike fans may want to consider pedalling the 78 km along the scenic King's Road from Helsinki to Porvoo, or 50 km along the more direct Highway 170 or motorway 7 E18.

Get around

Buggy parking in front of the Cathedral

Porvoo is best explored on foot: the pedestrianized Old Town is compact and all main attractions can be easily reached from the bus, ferry or train stations. Parents will, however, probably want to leave the baby carriage at home: the Old Town's streets are cobblestone and often hilly.

There used to be horse and carriage service, but it was shut down in 2010 due to financial problems. The Museum Railways also operate occasional steam train excursions.


Porvoo Museum

The town is famed for its many wooden buildings, picturesquely perched by the Porvoo River (Finnish Porvoonjoki, Swedish Borgå å). These are concentrated in the old city (Fin: Vanha Porvoo, Swedish Borgå), a few hundred meters northwest of the modern city centre, and on a fine summer day a stroll around them is very delightful indeed. For the best view of the iconic red warehouses, cross the river and walk along the park on the other side.


Kayaking and canoeing on the Porvoo River and in the nearby island is a popular summer pastime. It's even possible to make your way down all the way from Lahti, 90 km away. The stream is gentle and it's quite suitable for beginners, but don't venture out into the ocean unless you know what you're doing. Contact Kanotklubben Wiking for more information.


In the old part of Porvoo there are lots of lovely little shops where you can buy anything from dollhouses to hand made jewelry. Many are, however, open only in the summer.







The measure of Porvoo

According to legend, the bailiff of Porvoo used a standard-sized measure to collect taxes of wheat or vodka from its citizens, but a specially altered box with a false bottom for passing them on to the Crown. He pocketed the difference and lived lavishly, and to this day the expression Porvoon mitta (lit. "the measure of Porvoo") lives on in Finnish to describe a generous or plentiful supply.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, November 18, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.