Discover Porvoo, Finland’s charming medieval town

Mar 9, 2018

Founded two centuries before Helsinki, the 14th-century town of Porvoo sits pretty by the Porvoonjoki river, just beyond the Gulf of Finland.

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Its wooden waterfront houses painted a bright red – in honour of Swedish king Gustav III’s visit in the 18th century – are one of Finland’s most iconic images. The medieval town itself retains the vitality of its trading heyday, when it was Finland’s second largest town, and its river houses stored spices and other exotic imports from far-flung lands. At its heart is Old Town Hall Square, still bustling with markets, cafes and a museum – occupying two characterful 18th-century buildings – chronicling centuries of history.

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The cobbled streets and bright clapboard houses are still home to around 700 residents. Some houses, though, have become hip design outlets such as Colmio Slow House, where vintage pieces mix with contemporary gems such as Päivi Mikola’s modern rocking chairs.