Finns are Nordic but not Scandinavian people, and there are some subtle differences between Finland and neighbouring countries. Expect calm and quiet deliberations, with periods of silence you may be uncomfortable with at first. There won’t be much small talk before getting down to business. Modesty and calmness are considered virtues, so leave self-aggrandisement for your next trip across the Atlantic.
Helsinki is not short of happening design hotels and Klaus K (www.klauskhotel.com) is the pick of the bunch. This 137-room is an exercise in frosty cool and has two restaurants plus a super-hip bar. And more refreshing than a beating with birch twigs, the price for a night starts at around £150.
Olo (www.olo-restaurant.com) may seem low-key, but this typically unpretentious eatery is one of the city’s best. Expect modern twists on Nordic gourmet cuisine, which means fresh ingredients from the Finnish forest and Baltic waters around the country. Two courses for £32 when on business in Nordic Europe will keep your CFO happy too.
Happy is the visitor to Helsinki who is here on long summer evenings, when locals flock to outdoor beer gardens. Cafe Lasipalatsi in the city centre has a terrace which is perfect for a dose of late-night sun – just don’t take your eye off the clock. Helsinki is not immune from the secret-bar trend. If this floats your boat ask around for an unmarked door to knock on.
SAS’s budget subsidiary Blue1 (www.blue1.com) has competitive Heathrow-Helsinki fares, while other options include Finnair from Heathrow and Manchester, British Airways from Heathrow and easyJet from Gatwick.
Vantaa Airport is just under 11 miles from the city centre and a Finnair bus leaves every 20 minutes, taking half an hour to reach most major hotels. Taxis will be quicker but cost around £25.
Finland is the north-east outpost of the euro, so crack into your foreign currency piggy bank for spare coins before visiting what can be one of Europe’s more expensive destinations. It’s two hours ahead of UK time year-round. Peak season to be here is July and August, but if you can combine a spring or autumn visit with a trip further north you’ll be rewarded with either spring blooms or autumnal mellowing. See: www.visitfinland.com.
The huge Kaapelitehhdas (Cable Factory) was both a sea cable works and Nokia factory. Now enjoying a post-industrial boom, this trendy cultural centre is home to galleries and theatres as well as several museums. This is a great place to while away an afternoon.
“In recent years, Finland has been consecutively voted as one of the world's most competitive economies, through its strong position as a home of leading high-tech companies and as a model for an excellent education system”