Helsinki by the book

An interview with blogger and co-creator of Helsinki: People Make the City, Melanie Dower about what makes her new home in Finland so special.
July 9, 2016
By Mitchell Jordan
Posted: Updated:

New Zealander Melanie Dower always planned to move to a different country. She just didn’t expect to find herself on the other side of the world in Helsinki.

After 11 years in Sydney, Australia, Melanie’s husband was offered a job in Finland so they packed up and set about creating a new life for themselves. If Helsinki proved a stark contrast to Sydney then it was also a place whose influence and allure grew over time.

“I now love returning to Helsinki from places like London, where I find the crowds and time spent on the tube too much sometimes,” Melanie admitted.

From blog to book: Melanie Dower.

Writing also helped with settling in. After starting the blog, Hey Helsinki, Melanie went on to write interviews for a local site, Creating Helsinki. Teaming up with its creator, Laura Iisalo, the two decided to make a book about the creative individuals that make the city so great. The result was Helsinki: People Make the City, launched in May this year.

“It’s an insiders’ guide to the city and the local way of life with recipes, DIY projects and our tips for the best places to visit, drink, dine and sauna,” Melanie explained.

“It feels great to have turned my own exploration of the city into a tangible product.”

Melanie has kindly agreed to share some of the book with us below. But first, here’s a list of her top-five favourite places in Helsinki.


This new bar and restaurant has a summer terrace in one of my favourite parts of town, Katajanokka. The food is really fresh and flavoursome and the service is friendly too.


I really love the views back to the city from this island pizza bar, made all the more worth it as it is only open in summer.

Café Regatta

This rustic café is in an old boatshed and is open every day of the year. We often walk through heavy snow to get there and eat cinnamon buns or sit near the outdoor fire.

Chapel of Silence

In one of the busiest stretches of road in Helsinki sits a wooden boat-shaped church with pillows that look like river rocks. You can come here to sit quietly and calm your mind before heading back out into the world.


Helsinki’s newest sauna has views out to Estonia and offers the chance to dip in the Baltic Sea before dinner and drinks from the bar.

Detail from Helsinki: People Make The City. (Photo by Viola Vertimo)

Detail from Helsinki: People Make The City. (Photo by Viola Vertimo)







About the Author

The boy with the thorn in his side. Still looking for the light that never goes out.

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