Lahti, my home town, self-explanatory, kicks off my City Series, in which I give my tips to experience the city in question.
Lahti is playfully called the Chicago of Finland. This urban hub of some 100 000 people combines rugged street views with great sports opportunities, just one hour away from Helsinki. The jagged architecture reminds a bit of Berlin and you can experience the local slow-paced and authentic ambiance of a Finnish city here.
One peculiarity of Lahti is that it’s one of the main locations where rap culture started building up in Finland. Thus, not surprisingly, many of the famous Finnish rappers are from here. There is a certain bipolarism to my home town; given that confidence is associated with the music style it is famous for, the folk in Lahti is very modest and even minimizes themselves. Luckily, in the last years, we have started to see a shift in this as there is no reason for downplaying.
The restaurants, cafés, shops and events are top-notch. What we lack in quantity, we make up in quality. Here is my idea how to spend a perfect weekend in Lahti.
On a Saturday noon, the city centre is buzzing. But empty stomach is a no-no for any traveller. For a light lunch or coffee, the perfect stop is the cute Horus Cafe & Eatery. Their touch on the Lavazza coffee is tender and the self-made sweet & savory options melt in your mouth. Horus offers also a delicious lunch with a vegetarian option on weekdays.
On that same street (Rautatienkatu), you can find the loveliest shops of the town. Puoti has an eclectic and stylish combination of colorful printed kidswear, vintage or ecological brand womenswear, cool accessories and home products. Topped of with a delicate flower shop!
The chic Petit Saint Louis offers a great mix of hand-picked clothing, accessories, Byredo’s fragrances and their own design products. The Support your local-line is known all around Finland and crystallizes home town love.
For the evening, check the shows in Sibelius hall. The venue has a wonderful collection of both classical and today’s artists. The audio quality is breathtaking there and the architecture mixing wood and old mill house structure makes your jaw drop. My jogging route almost always goes pass the building – it is just so glorious.
For the night, you are able to find everything under one roof. I warmly recommend Hotel Seurahuone. Rooms are great standard and the hotel serves my favorite breakfast in Finland. Local specialities, porridge bar, desert buffet, waffle station.. they have it all. An excellent dinner option is to enjoy hotel restaurant Trattoria’s Italian menu in the cozy dim lighting. For good-vibes and great drinks, pay a visit to the Bar&Bistro facing the main street (Aleksanterinkatu). In the bubbly atmosphere it is fun to watch (and join) the larking of a party night.
If haute cuisine is your thing, you are sure to find couture Finnish cooking in the praised restaurant Roux. Remember to make a table reservation.
After checking-out around noon, take a short stroll to visit the gallery Uusi Kipinä in the city centre. This gallery has interesting exhibitions for all culture lovers. What is even more exciting, is that it is an artotheque displaying a colorful, all-size art work by artists with Lahti-roots for immediate purchase (and lending). Perfect, personal souveniers from Lahti.
The afternoon is dedicated for outdoor activities! Head to the romantic, old-fashioned Cafe Oskarin Piha to buy delicacy to be enjoyed while wondering in the nature or stay there to savor their brilliant quiches and elaborate raw cake. In the winter, you can walk, skate or ski on the ice of Vesijärvi lake. The tracks start from the Lahti harbour, take the park walk to reach the harbour. And please, for your safety, double check from the locals that it is ok to go on the ice.
During summertime, go and explore Lapakisto natural park (Finnish site: video, printable map to be found & use google translate for text or ask more from me) for awesome Finnish scenery. The lakes, streams, forests and ridges are beyond beautiful. Couple of hours there charge you up with positive and calm energy to enjoy long to the following week.
*All tips are my own, no commercial collaboration.