My boyfriend and I spent a weekend in Helsinki last month. Even for January, the winds were unusually cold, so I didn't take as many photos as I had wished for and we couldn't walk around more than 20 mins without freezing our asses off.
I think I would have enjoyed Helsinki a lot more in April, or September. But to be fair, Stockholm isn't all that fun in January-March either. That said, we did find some lovely places and as a whole, Helsinki felt like a good mixture of Scandinavian design/architecture and eastern European melancholy.
The only proper research I did before visiting was looking up design and semi-unknown fashion shops. Most of my google-results ended up in an area called Design District, or Punavuori on an actual map, so we decided to find an apartment there on Airbnb.
Fredrikinkatu felt like the "main street" in the area and we found some nice shops there.
Pino (products) Fredrikinkatu 22 Website
R/H Studio (fashion) Fredrikinkatu 18
After walking around Punavuori, we went to Esplanadi, which is the "heart of Helsinki", and found the Iitala and Marimekko flagship stores.
I couldn't leave the Iitala store without purchasing a lovely Moomin-bowl. Their 2015 collection "Tanssi" was great too.
Marimekko Aleksanterinkatu 50 Website
Iittala Pohjoisesplanadi 25 Website
We ordered the "salad+soup+warm dish" take away and got enough food for lunch and dinner that day. Really good food as well, especially the dates and the hummus.
Apparently their brunch is one of the best in Helsinki as well, but we didn't try it.
Information Tehtaankatu 34 D Website
Weekend brunch Saturdays: Vegan & Veggie Garden Sundays: Marrakesh Madness
People who know me know all about my love for chocolate and pastries, so this was an obvious "rest our feet and warm up" stop for me. I had a semla/laskiaispulla and a double espresso, yummy.
Also, Gateau in Sweden is owned by the same company, don't miss it.
Information Keskuskatu 6A Website
We went to BrewDog for a Friday beer, and even though it was early in the evening, the place was packed.
The building is an old bank, and I don't know if the brick walls were added later, but they still look cool. I had a nice wheat beer, but I can't remember it's name.
Information Tarkk'ampujankatu 20 Website