HELSINKI, THE STYLISH AND YOUNG (BY NORDIC STAN­DARDS) CAP­I­TAL OF FIN­LAND,

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is a hot new de­sign hub that churns out some of the most elec­tri­fy­ing fash­ion and art in the world – it was des­ig­nated World De­sign Cap­i­tal in 2012, and has not lost mo­men­tum since. A hip­ster heaven of craft-beer bars, bou­tique cof­fee roas­t­er­ies, artist work­shops and gal­leries, and glo­ri­ous art-nou­veau build­ings, the city (once ruled by the Swedish, then the Rus­sians) is an in­trigu­ing mi­cro­cosm of cen­te­nar­ian ar­chi­tec­ture and conservative Fin­nish her­itage, jux­ta­posed by cut­ting-edge art and in­no­va­tive gas­tron­omy. Food in Fin­land has a strong em­pha­sis on local sourc­ing, with cream-based dishes mak­ing a stronger pres­ence dur­ing the winter months. Other in­ter­est­ing eats in­clud­ing smoked rein­deer, bear meat, pick­led her­ring, and a va­ri­ety of nu­tri­tion-rich ‘su­per­foods’ in­clud­ing cloud­ber­ries, sea buck­thorns, and birch sap. Sauna (cor­rectly pro­nounced sao-nah, not saw-nah) is the way of life in Fin­land. That and liquorice; even choco­lates here come with liquorice cen­tres. For the dar­ing of heart, be sure to sam­ple some salmi­akki while you’re here, a salty ver­sion of the candy that has been flavoured with am­mo­nium chlo­ride. With the re­cent launch of Fin­nair’s di­rect route from Sin­ga­pore to Helsinki, and the Stopover Fin­land pro­gram – jointly or­gan­ised by Fin­nair and Visit Fin­land – that al­lows pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling via Helsinki to tran­sit for up to five days be­fore con­tin­u­ing on to their des­ti­na­tion coun­try, Fin­land has never been more ac­ces­si­ble than it is now, whether it’s a quick sam­pling of Helsinki, a visit to Santa Claus in Ro­vaniemi, or an ex­tended trip up to La­p­land for a glimpse of the North­ern Lights. 2017 will also be a great year to visit Helsinki be­cause of its cen­te­nary, which means a plethora of cel­e­bra­tions, ex­hi­bi­tions, and spe­cial events for you to play away un­der the mid­night sun.

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