Iida & Nelli
You don’t always have to go into the centre of town, as there’s something going on everywhere.
Iida Riilas and Nelli Silander are both natives of Helsinki. The two friends met in high school while playing football in Malmi.
“We realised immediately that we shared the same sense of humour, so we began hanging out together also after training. We also lived close to each other growing up, so we saw each other often.” They both love their hometown because there are always interesting people and things to do throughout the city, not just in the city centre. “There’s something going on everywhere. In summer I really look forward to getting out among the people,” Silander says. Riilas and Silander also appreciate how close the nature is in Helsinki. “We spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors,” Riilas says.
She lived for several years in the Sörnäinen district but recently moved back to her childhood neighbourhood in North Helsinki. Silander has spent her entire adult life in Herttoniemi, but now she is moving in with her boyfriend and also closer to her childhood home in North Helsinki.
“There is a tennis court near my home, and winter it is to go out skiing. I enjoy sports and not just sitting around. I often meet friends while exercising,” Riilas says. Silander too makes the most of the recreational opportunities near her home. She praises Helsinki for all its sports facilities, many of which are free of charge. “I do a lot of sports. I play football, tennis, badminton and paddle tennis, and I also work out at outdoor gyms.
The two friends, who are familiar to Finns from TV. also like to hang out in the centre of Helsinki at restaurants, terraces and shopping centres, as well as sitting in parks with friends. “Everything is close to each other here, and getting around on public transport is really convenient,” Silander summarises. “Helsinki is a multifaceted city in which you can get everything you want fast,” Riilas adds.
Nelli: Iida and I have played football since primary school. The Helsinki Cup is an international junior football tournament that takes place in July and always brings back good memories. Even as an adult, it has been fun to attend the Helsinki Cup and watch the kids and teens competing.
When I was little, my parents let me choose my own nameday present from the Helsinki Cup boutique. I once chose a football jersey with my name and number on the back. That shirt was really important to me for a long time.
Iida: Mustikkamaa was suitably halfway between us when I lived in Sörnäinen and Nelli in Herttoniemi. We used to cycle there from opposite directions and meet up to take walks together. Mustikkamaa is a great recreational area where you can swim and play basketball and tennis. You can also walk across the bridge to Helsinki Zoo on the island of Korkeasaari. The views are really beautiful, and I love sitting on the rocks and looking out to sea.
Nelli: Cafe Korvari is a delightfully cosy little café in Töölö that has the best cinnamon buns. If I had to choose just one treat to eat for the rest of my life, it would have to be cinnamon buns. The café has a small street terrace with a few tables. It’s nice that Helsinki still has these kinds of traditional cafés.
Iida: This lifestyle shop is conveniently situated next to the Tapanila train station in an attractive old brick building. The products are modern and trendy, and the shop sells lovely seasonal items. For example, you can buy decorative items, candles, pillows, tableware and accessories.
Nelli: Paint Punavuori is a cosy little hair salon. Even though it is quite new, it has already become my favourite. The visual look of the place is also pleasant. I am really picky about my hair, and I don’t let just anybody touch it! I like to go to hair salons to be pampered.
Iida: The Market Square is a real summer tradition. You cannot avoid buying fresh peas and strawberries there. It’s also fast and easy to get from the market to Allas Sea Pool or by ferry to Suomenlinna or the other islands. You can buy all your picnic supplies from the market, just be careful of the seagulls! A nice new terrace, Kauppatorin Laituri, has also opened next to the Old Market Hall.
Nelli: I have lived near the steps on Majavatie, near the old ski jump in Herttoniemi, for the past eight years. I do a lot of sports and like to use the steps for training. When you get to the top, you can enjoy a beautiful view over the Old Town Bay. The scenery is spectacular, especially at sunset.
Iida: This small café on Fleminginkatu in Kallio serves delicious and affordable Vietnamese home-cooked food. I used to live next to NamNam and eat there often. I like to buy summer rolls from the café and take them with to Tokoinranta, for example.
Nelli: I often take walks along the recreational and nature trails at Uutela in Vuosaari. There is also a guest harbour there and the lovely Kampela café, which serves really delicious salmon soup. You can also cook your own food on the public grills.
Iida: This old manor house alongside the Vantaanjoki river in Tuomarinkylä has a café, restaurant, interior and clothing boutique, art and riding school. My parents often took me there as a kid to admire the horses. There is also a park, and lots of sunflowers grow in the surrounding fields.