Porvoo is a small and idyllic town located only a 35 minute car ride away from Helsinki, the capital and the biggest city in Finland. Porvoo is ideal for those who enjoy the small town charm and living close to nature. Internationality in Porvoo is visible; almost half of the town’s population are Swedish speaking and other nationalities. Additionally, multiple tourists visit Porvoo every year.
Town full of history
Porvoo is a town full of history – it is a medieval town founded nearly 800 years ago, which makes it the second oldest city in Finland. It is located in the southern part of Finland. The town is divided in two by the Porvoo river that flows through the city. Along the river, there are various cafes and restaurants as well as the famous red coastal houses of Porvoo. Since many tourists around the world visit Porvoo every year, the town is lively, offering many things to see, do and experience.
Charming old town
The old town of Porvoo is situated in the heart of the city and is known for its charming wooden houses, boutiques, cafes, art galleries and restaurants. When you walk along the cobblestone streets, you will instantly feel that you have stepped back in time. A famous Finnish chocolate brand, Brunberg, also has a small factory shop in Porvoo’s old town, where visitors can buy delicious chocolates. Wander the narrow streets of Porvoo’s old town and grab a cup of coffee in a family-owned café!
Population: 50 219 permanent residents
Founded: ca. 1380
Foreign nationals: 6.3%
Languages: Finnish, English and Swedish
Total area: 2139,81 km2
Warmest month: July
Coldest month: February
Currency: Euro (€)
The town centre of Porvoo is located between hills, in the valley of the Porvoo river, and by the shore of the gulf of Porvoo. There are also multiple archipelagos and island surrounding the town of Porvoo.
The big cities nearby are the capital Helsinki, which is about 50 km away, Kouvola (85 km away) and Lahti (85 km away).
Climate and weather
The climate in Porvoo is temperate. Porvoo is located in the southern part of Finland, which makes it a bit warmer compared to other parts of Finland. The warmest month is July when the average temperature is 22C°, and the coldest month is February with an average temperature of -10C°. There are many rainfalls throughout the year in Porvoo.
There are many shopping opportunities in Porvoo. The shops vary from big international fashion stores to small boutiques, design shops and second-hand stores. A small shopping centre, ‘Kauppakeskus Lundi’, is located in the town centre, right next to the bus station. Some popular fashion stores, like H&M, Vero Moda, Dresmann and Cubus, are located right next to the Haaga-Helia Campus in Porvoo. The bakns of the Porvoo river as well as the old town are full of charming small shops that sell Finnish design, delicacies and clothes among other things.
Food and drink
Porvoo’s restaurant and cafe scene is rich and vibrant offering many different flavors and atmospheres. There are dozens of dining places to choose from, especially in the old town of Porvoo. If you are looking for traditional Finnish food, there are many restaurants, from fancy to casual, offering local Finnish cuisine. There are also a variety of different international cuisine restaurants from European cuisines to Asian and American.
Porvoo also has some bars, pubs and clubs to offer to its youth. Usually, the student parties are thrown on Wednesdays.
Porvoo is located only about 50 km from Helsinki and the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. From Porvoo, it takes about 35 minutes to reach the Helsinki Metropolitan-area. Around the area of Porvoo, one can easy travel with the local bus.
Porvoo, like the rest of Finland, is extremely safe.
Porvoo has student apartments in three different locations. The newest building is located right next to the campus (500m) and has mostly studio apartments, but also a few family and shared apartments. The other buildings are located 2-3 kilometers away from the campus and have mainly shared apartments.
Most of the shared apartments come with basic furniture. All residences have access to washing-, sauna- and recreational facilities.
From Helsinki to Porvoo:
You can travel from Helsinki to Porvoo by either a regular bus operated by Matkahuolto or with Onnibus. The ticket price of regular buses normally vary from 7 € to 9 € per adult. The price of Onnibus is usually between 3-4 €.
From Helsinki-Vantaa Airport to Porvoo:
You can travel with a regular bus, operated by Matkahuolto, directly from Helsinki-Vantaa airport to Porvoo. The buses leave in front of Terminal 2.
The tickets are always cheaper when purchased online and in advance. Additionally, you can get a discount from traveling with a regular bus by showing a student card. You can book tickets for regular buses at Matkahuolto.fi and for Onnibus at Onnibus.com.
In Porvoo, you can travel around by a local bus. You can check the routes from Matkahuolto’s website. One bus ticket normally costs around 3 €. If you travel around Porvoo a lot, you should consider getting a bus card that is valid for 30 days and you can travel with the local bus as much as you want.
The main library in Porvoo is located in the town centre, where you can borrow books, DVDs, CDs, and other materials. Additionally, there are three smaller libraries around Porvoo.
There is also a library in Porvoo Campus, where students can borrow course books.
In Finland, the meals for students are state supported, and thus healthy, nutritious, and very affordable.
With a student card or meal subsidy card, you can buy affordable food at Haaga-Helia’s student restaurants and cafes. The price per meal is 2.60 € if you show your student card to the cashier.
On Porvoo Campus, the student restaurant is operated by Amica. The meal options you can choose from are typically two different warm meals including meat or fish, one warm vegetarian meal, one vegetarian soup or a salad. Additionally, you can buy sandwiches, pastries, drinks, fruits and candies from the cafeteria. In the mornings, there is also breakfast available. The weekly menus of Amica are visible online.
In Finland, the health care of students is organised by Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS, in Finnish: Ylioppilaiden terveydenhoitosäätiö, YTHS). The FSHS services are available for all students studying at bachelor’s or master’s level at universities and have paid their student union membership fee to a student union that is affiliated with the FSHS. Those studying for a Licentiate of Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Medicine degree are also entitled to use the FSHS’s services. The health services are not available for Doctoral students, so if you are admitted to Doctoral level studies, please contact your university for advice and options on local health care.
If you are studying at a university of applied sciences (UAS), the health care services are usually provided through municipal health care providers. You can find more information on your health care arrangements from your UAS directly.
Please note that even when your student status makes you eligible to access the student health care services, this does not replace the need for a valid insurance.
You can find more information from FSHS website or directly from your own UAS or university.
As Porvoo is a tourist city, visited by 1.6 million tourists every year, there are naturally many attractions and things to do for its visitors.
Art Factory is a culture center in Porvoo, located right next to the Porvoo Campus of Haaga-Helia. In the Art Factory, there are restaurants, cafés, art exhibitions, shops and a cinema. Also, various events are held there throughout the year – for example, Art Factory holds a Christmas fair every December, where people come to sell their art work, crafts, food and pastries.
Porvoon Paahtimo Bar & Café
Located in Porvoo’s old town next to the river Porvoo, there is a red brick store house that was built in 1902. Nowadays, it operates as a bar and a café. At Porvoon Paahtimo, you can get freshly brewed coffee, some salty and sweet pastries, various kinds of beers as well as other drinks. The atmosphere in Paahtimo is worth experiencing – the upstairs of the building is dark and cozy, only lighten up with a few candles. In summertime, you can enjoy your coffee on a boat terrace by the river. Paahtimo is a very popular café within students as well, who tend to gather there after the classes for a cup of coffee, a drink or to play cards.
The old Porvoo is very unique – in fact, it is hard to find the same kind of atmosphere and idyll anywhere else in Finland. The line of red houses by the river in Porvoo’s old town is one of the most photographed landscapes in Finland among tourists. In the old town, there are multiple souvenir, design and clothing boutiques, atmospheric restaurants and small family owned cafes with freshly baked goods for the visitors to enjoy.
There are a few companies that arrange cruises in Porvoo: one cruise goes along the river Porvoo and the other one goes towards the sea. On the cruises, you can learn about the history of Porvoo while watching the views and enjoying some beverages! There also cruises going from Helsinki to Porvoo and back, which is a great alternative to a bus on a sunny day!
The Runeberg home
The Runeberg home is a museum in Porvoo that used to be home of Finland’s national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg and his family. In Finland, there is a day dedicated for Runeberg called “Runeberg’s day” in February, when people tend to eat “Runeberg’s tarts”, which are little pastries flavored with almonds and rum, topped with raspberry jam and sugar. Some popular cafes in Porvoo sell these pastries around the year.