From the beginning of 2016, the #HelsinkiSecret Residence serves as a base for international social media influencers reporting from the city center of Helsinki. The #HelsinkiSecret Residence is an initiative by Visit Helsinki and represents a globally unique form of city marketing utilizing social media. The residence comprises a studio apartment in the city center that will be open for the entire year, accommodating up to 100 international social media influencers with expertise in tourism, start-ups, education and the creative industries, for example. The #HelsinkiSecret Residence is a great example of the distinct, multi-sectored and partner-based form of marketing that Visit Helsinki believes in.
In the beginning of February, the #HelsinkiSecret Residence welcomed American Cory Lee & Sandra. This blog post showcases their favorite memories of Helsinki.
Cory Lee: “My week at the #HelsinkiSecret Residence was unbelievably amazing! To be completely honest, I really didn’t know too much about Finland (other than the fact that it was very very cold in the winter) before I visited, but it has surpassed my expectations in every possible way.
As a wheelchair user, navigating European cities can often be quite a challenge, but not in Helsinki. I actually think that it might be the most accessible city that I’ve been to so far in Europe; it’s easy to get around the city and most places are wheelchair friendly. I tried out the public transportation while in Helsinki and it was convenient to use, especially with Aallonkoti Hotel Apartments, where we stayed, being so close to the central train station. There are also plenty of accessible taxis available and they can usually pick you up within about 10 minutes of calling for one. I wish that other cities would learn from how Helsinki is handling wheelchair access.
Since getting around the city was such a breeze, I was able to easily visit quite a lot of attractions, restaurants, and shops. My absolute favorite thing that I did in Helsinki was visit Suomenlinna Sea Fortress Island. It snowed a good bit on the day that I visited, which made it even more beautiful I believe. It was while I was at Suomenlinna that I realized how spectacular Helsinki is. The city literally offers something for everyone! Other highlights for me included going on a tour with Happy Guide Helsinki, trying out Finnish sauna, and eating tons of good food.
Helsinki encompasses everything that I love when traveling; convenience, beauty, and options. I usually don’t like cold places that much, but I think winter might be the best time to visit Helsinki, and I’m so glad that I was able to experience it. The outdoors may be cold, but the people that make up Helsinki are certainly warm and accommodating. I can’t wait to return to this city for more exploration (and more pastries!). Thanks so much to everyone involved in making my #HelsinkiSecret Residence such an unforgettable one!”
Top 3 Places:
I went on a guided tour, which really allowed me to understand what makes the island so magical.
This was my favorite restaurant in Helsinki. Request a table by the window and you’ll have a killer view of Helsinki Cathedral while enjoying delicious food.
I was able to see many churches and cathedrals while in Helsinki, but the Rock Church has to be the coolest and most unique one.
Top 3 Experiences:
- Trying out Finnish sauna
I tried out a wheelchair accessible sauna at the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia and loved it! This was my first time ever in a sauna and I can see why the Finns love it so much.
- Going on an accessible city tour with Happy Guide Helsinki
On this lively driving tour, I got a nice introduction to the city and saw many notable sights, including Helsinki Cathedral, Uspenski Cathedral, the Sibelius monument, and more.
- Shopping in Helsinki
Helsinki has a lot of great shopping options, but my favorites included Stockmann‘s (a huge department store) and the Old Market Hall. I even got to try a Runeberg Torte at the Old Market Hall, and it was fantastic!
Cory Lee’s social media platforms: