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European Port Cities: Insider Guides

Chef Viki at Mordisco in Bercelona.

Photo: Paula Ospina/Courtesy of El Mordisco

Helsinki, Finland

Ville Kokkonen, director of Artek, the Finnish furniture company cofounded by Alvar Aalto in 1935: “With its Modernist designs and small islands just off the coast, Helsinki tends to inspire creative minds.”

8 a.m.: Kokkonen’s preferred breakfast spot? Café Ekberg (breakfast for two $25). “It’s got an old-school atmosphere and the best puuro [porridge].”

10 a.m.: From Market Square, take a ferry to Suomenlinna (suomenlinna.fi), an 18th-century island fortress and unesco World Heritage site. Explore the huge granite ramparts before heading to the cliffs for “an unforgettable Baltic vista.”

Noon: For Finnish specialties like pike cake with a pickled-cucumber sauce, Kokkonen visits Ravintola Juuri (lunch for two $40), in Kantakaupunki. While in the area, he drops by the national Design Museum.

2 p.m.: Aalto House (admission $23) is a “unique shrine to the Modernist era.” A minimalist white box, it contains many of Aalto’s iconic, sculptural pieces.

4 p.m.: When it comes to vintage shopping, the Kruununhaka district is unbeatable. Vanhaa Ja Kaunista, Finnish for “old and beautiful,” sells tumblers by Aino Aalto (Alvar’s first wife).

8 p.m.: Ateljé Finne (dinner for two $100), a former sculptor’s studio in the Töölö area, has contemporary local dishes (elk sausage; stuffed Baltic herring) and “lots of character.”

10 p.m.: Sip champagne in Maxill (drinks for two $22), a cozy Helsinki bar and restaurant. —Stephen Whitlock

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