5 Reasons To Visit Helsinki

When you’re looking to book a European getaway, Helsinki probably isn’t the first spot you think of. If you’re like us, you’re constantly dreaming about adventuring through Rome or Paris… but Helsinki, Finland?  What’s even there

It’s time to let you in on a little secret… Finland is cool. And it’s just getting cooler.

We just returned from spending a week in Helsinki, not knowing what to expect. We went with zero expectations, and we can honestly say that it blew us away. We’re already planning our trip back - that’s how epic it was.

Here’s why you need to go, too:


Maybe it’s our old age, but we dig a place with good public transportation. Don’t get us wrong, we still walk everywhere (we averaged 7 miles/day in Helsinki), but it’s nice to have options, you know? Public transport in Helsinki is incredibly clean and easy to use, and consists of bus, tram, metro, local railway and ferry services. You can purchase a Dayticket for unlimited use on public transportation for up to a week, making it easy to zip around the city!

Morning walks at the Helsinki Cathedral

The bus system is so easy! And affordable!


We’d go back to Helsinki just for the food. Seriously. They have everything - from traditional Finnish cuisine (reindeer, lingonberry porridge, bear stew), to trendy vegetarian restaurants and dumpling shops… it’s impossible to go hungry! See a list of our favorite Helsinki restaurants here.

Delicious first meal at Ravintola Savvotta

Dumplings in Helsinki? YES!


Shhh.. don’t tell anyone, but we’re normally not big museum people. We get bored. Not the case in Helsinki, every day we went to at least one museum - we couldn’t get enough! From colorful and interactive art exhibits at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, to learning about mammals at the Natural History Museum of Helsinki, to the whimsical architecture at the Amos Rex, we were mesmerized by Finnish history, culture, and arts. And there were still so many museums that we didn’t have time to see!

Living in a Dr. Seuss book!

The most massive game of telephone?

Incredible exterior of Amos Rex Museum

These are all of the components of an iPhone side by side!

One of our favorite exhibits! These light bulbs represent dandelions. So pretty!


Fun fact: There are more saunas than cars in Finland! The population of Finland is just over five million, and there’s three million saunas - that’s one sauna per household! For Finnish people, the sauna is the place where they relax, spend time with friends and family, and find physical and mental healing. It’s a way of life that we can definitely get behind, and there are some pretty remarkable saunas sprinkled around Helsinki. Two must-try saunas are:


Löyly is a pampering and soothing oasis on the Helsinki waterfront. Its modern, wooden architecture is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and the interior is just as stunning. Book your sauna session in advance, take a refreshing dip in the Baltic Sea, and enjoy a drink by the fire.

Löyly is nestled against the frigid Baltic Sea

Allas Sea Pool

Located in the middle of Helsinki, right next to the Market Square, Allas Sea Pool is one of the most picturesque sauna experiences in town. Their hot and cold pools overlook the harbour, and we recommend taking a dip right around sunset.

Amazing views of the city from Allas!


If we learned anything during our time in Helsinki, it’s that the Finnish take two things very seriously - saunas and coffee. They have legal coffee breaks (two 10-minute breaks a day, to be exact), and most drink around 3-5 cups per day! Many cafes will even include a free refill with your cup of coffee, and Cafe Regatta will actually give you 5 cents back for each refill or “santsikuppi” you drink! Other coffee shops that shouldn’t be missed are Good Life, Kaffa Roastery, and Kuuma.

Cafe Regatta is so picturesque!

Too much good coffee

Helsinki surprised us. We had no idea how enchanting this part of the world is, and how quickly it is evolving. From innovative restaurants, to bustling coffee shops and a growing art scene, Helsinki is on the rise. There is no better time to explore it than now - before word gets out about this charming city.

So… Meet ya there this summer?

Where to Eat in Helsinki 2019

We just returned from the dreamiest trip to Helsinki, filled with beautiful sights, mesmerizing architecture, friendly locals, and a LOT of good food. The culinary scene in Helsinki is growing rapidly - everywhere we turned there was a new restaurant popping up! As self-proclaimed “foodies” that can easily get overwhelmed in such a scenario, we’ve made a list of our favorite spots in this epicurean mecca, with the hopes that it will be of help to you. Let us know if we missed a spot! (Because you better believe we’ll be back!)


What do you do when an old McDonalds is up for sale? You turn it into a vegetarian's paradise, of course! YES YES YES wins for freshest, healthiest fare - and also for the most Instagrammable restaurant in town. Make sure you try the Halloumi fries.


This little gem of a spot is perfectly minimalistic and easy to miss, and we love it for that. Way Bakery and Wine Bar specialize in coffee, sourdough bread, natural wines, and light bites that are ideal for sharing. We suggest going around 4pm, for a pre-dinner drink and snack.

We LOVED the little shareable plates!


Ever since our trip to Japan we have become extremely passionate about dumplings. (Bobby once ate over 30 dumplings in one sitting.) It’s an epidemic. We can’t pass them up. Lucky for us, we happened to stumble upon Hills Dumplings, who proudly serve “The best dumplings in Helsinki”, and we’ll gladly give them that title. Try the “New School Dumplings” for something fun and different!


Grön is a newcomer on the Helsinki culinary scene, but they’re quickly taking it by storm. Not only does it have a Michelin Star, but they were just named “The Best Restaurant in Finland”! No big deal, right? Their four-course tasting menus are plant-based, focused, and seasonal. It’s a dining experience you won’t forget. *There are only ten tables, so be sure to make a reservation in advance.

The food is art at Grön!


Ravintola Savotta serves tasty and hearty Finnish food - complete with a picture-perfect view of the Helsinki Cathedral! Their extensive menu features everything from reindeer sausage to vegan soup, and the candlelight and Scandinavian decor makes it one of the coziest spots in town!

One of the best views in town!


Not only is Ekberg Finland’s oldest bakery, it’s also the most delicious. Whether you grab a seat at their cafe or grab some baked goods at their patisserie, it’s a must-try when you’re in Helsinki. Try their famous Napoleon pie!


This traditional little Nordic cafe sits right on the water, and it couldn’t be cuter. Cafe Regatta is one of the more popular places in town, but don’t let that deter you. It’s as charming on the inside as it is on the outside, and the menu is surprisingly reasonable. Order a hot chocolate (with marshmellow), and enjoy it outside by the fire!


One of the best breakfasts we had during our time in Helsinki was at Story Kortteli - a restaurant tucked away on the top level of the Kamppi shopping center! Don’t let the location fool you - their dedication to quality food and modern design is truly inspiring, and the views are pretty epic too!


From the same team as YES YES YES, The Cock is a playful and lively neighborhood restaurant and bar that serves everything from steak frites to sushi bowls! They also make a mean Negroni.


If you’re looking for a tasty, quick bite to eat, or you’re like us and just really like pizza, run - don’t walk, to Pizzarium. It’s Roman style pizza at its best, with plenty of toppings to choose from.


Helsinki is famous for their bustling markets, and Hakaniemi Market Hall is (in our opinion) the best. You’ll find traditional market foods and treats, making it a fun option for breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner.

Touring Ireland with Adventures by Disney - Day by Day

We’ve had SO many questions about our trip to Ireland with Adventures By Disney. Questions about how the tour works, what you do, where you go, how you get there, what’s the food like, does Mickey Mouse make a surprise appearance… you get the picture. We figure what would be most helpful is to give you a clear snapshot of our Ireland Itinerary, day by day. Be forewarned: this blog is long. There’s just too much to share!! So grab an Irish coffee, turn on some celtic tunes, and let’s get started!



We arrived at the Dublin airport to an Adventures By Disney representative, holding a bright sign with our names in bold (not sure why we are always so thrilled by that, but something about it makes us feel important). We were instantly whisked away to our hotel, The Westin, located right in the center of town. It was beautiful. Out of the corner of our eyes we saw two jolly looking men, sitting at a colorful table filled with props, toys, and gadgets. Judging by the smiles on their faces and the disney pins on their shirts, we knew they're our guides.

Meet Stephen, an Irish local, who’s had a lengthy career of giving luxury tours of the Emerald Isle. He’s smart, witty, obsessed with Irish culture, and is a walking, breathing, wealth of information (If you ever meet him, have Stephen tell you about the fairies in Ireland. Fascinating stuff.). Then there’s Landon. He’s a veteran Adventures By Disney Guide who has guided groups all over the world. He’s kind, goofy, and knows your needs before you do. Hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Cold? Hot? Landon to the rescue!

It only took about 20 seconds of chatting with Stephen and Landon to know that we were going to be instant BFF’s… and that this trip was going to be unlike anything we’d ever done before!

That afternoon we toured around Dublin on our own. We grabbed pints of Guinness at The Temple Bar, we danced to live music, and “oo-ed and aww-ed" at the colorful flowers lining every street. It really is an incredible city!

Before we knew it, it was time to meet our Adventures By Disney group for dinner back at our hotel. We were both a little anxious/excited to see who we’d be spending the next seven days with! Not only did they have a feast prepared for us, the room was sparkling with elegant decor, and a harpist serenaded us with traditional Irish tunes! We made fast friends with the other families and couples, and talked for hours about our lives, what we do, what we were excited to see/learn, and how amazing this experience already was. And it had only just begun!


Day two started with a breakfast buffet feast our hotel (still dreaming about their croissants!) and an early call time to begin our day of sight-seeing. First stop was The Epic Museum, which chronicles the history of Irish emigrants who have left their homeland and gone on to impact countries all over the globe. We’re not always big “museum people", but we didn’t want the tour to end! It was fascinating, interactive, and beautifully displayed. Oh, and the best part? We had the whole place to ourselves. When you travel with Adventures By Disney, you’re basically traveling like a movie star (Or in Disney lingo - you travel with an everlasting Fast Pass). No standing in lines, no fighting crowds, no hassle. Ever. We were in and out before the museum even opened!

Next stop was tea, coffee, and pastries galore at Bakehouse Dublin. ABD (Adventures By Disney) knows the way to our hearts.

Next, it was time to walk off all of those said pastries on a walking tour around the city. We wore nifty little earpieces that made us feel like secret agents, and allowed for us to clearly hear our guide - even from hundreds of feet away! We saw government buildings, walked through farmers markets, explored Dublin Castle, walked by a Kanye mural (obviously), and kissed in front of the palace. Dreamy. We ate fish and chips in a famous old pub, and then hopped into a roomy, air-conditioned bus to head to one of Bobby’s favorite places in Ireland. The Guinness Factory!

WOW. If you haven’t been, it’s worth a trip to Ireland just to see that! It’s huge and at first glance rather overwhelming. But like we said before, nothing is overwhelming when you’re with ABD. They had a tour guide ready for us, and we followed them as they taught us the history of Guinness, how it’s made, and even how to properly pour a pint! (It’s an art, and we passed with flying colors. We have the certificates to prove it) 

That night was dinner on our own, and after a much-needed nap (partially because of jet lag, partially because of Guinness), we went off to explore the city. We found a cozy little Italian restaurant just a few blocks from our hotel (we know what you’re thinking - Italian food in Ireland?! We were craving pizza, ok! Sue us.), and had a romantic carb-filled dinner. YOLO.

Later that night we met with the adults in our group for a traditional Irish Pub Crawl. Filled with Guinness, music, dancing, Stephen’s quick-witted sarcasm, and Landon’s punny one-liners. Oh, and Murphy’s Ice Cream. We’d go back to Ireland just for a scoop of that creamy, flavorful goodness.


Time for our next destination! Landon and Stephen instructed us to have our luggage out of our room by 8am, so that they could have everything loaded up and in the bus. 

You’re probably thinking “Cool story”, or “That matters because…?” but just let that sink in. The ABD team does EVERYTHING for you. They handle your luggage. They give you water bottles and snacks. They educate you. They give you hand wipes. They even SING to you. It’s glorious. Well, maybe not Landon’s singing but that’s beside the point. It’s stress-free travel at its best.

We hopped back onto our beautiful air-conditioned bus to start the trek to the quaint little town of Killarney. Prior to our destination, we had a hurling lesson, ate lunch in Kilkenny, and we toured the famous Rock of Cashel. We’re telling you, these days are crammed full of adventure!

First things first, let’s talk about hurling. It’s way harder than it looks. Alli’s dream of being a professional hurler went out the window the second she picked up a hurley, but we had a blast learning the history of the sport and playing a good old fashioned hurling match. Even with Alli’s poor form and lack of skill, our team still managed to win. The Irish fairies were on our side!

We celebrated our victory at a Irish sports pub in downtown Kilkenny, followed by celebratory Murphy’s ice cream (thanks Stephen & Landon, we’re hooked). We walked up and down the colorful streets, took photos along the water, and worked on our Irish accents. The accents improved daily (don't ask us to prove it).

Next was a tour through the Rock of Cashel. The little ones in our crew went on a shamrock hunting adventure, and the “older folks” learned the history of this iconic place. The buildings date back to the 12th and 13th century, and it reputedly was the site of the conversion of Aenghus the King of Munster by St. Patrick in 5th century AD!

Our “home” for the next few nights was the gorgeous Great Southern Killarney. Our ABD team had our luggage sent to our hotel, and hosted us for another beautiful dinner in one of the grand ballrooms of the hotel. Yet again, we felt like movie stars. It was exquisite.


The mornings in Ireland were early, but we have never been more eager to get up! Every day the itinerary just kept getting better… and day four is no exception.

After breakfast at the hotel, we headed off to the breathtaking Ross Castle on Lake Leane. There we split up onto a handful of fishing boats, where local Irish fisherman took us on a scenic boat ride down Lake Leane, the “Lake of Knowledge”. It’s the largest of the three lakes in Killarney, and is home to the famous monastery on Innisfallen Island, where our boat tour docked and let us to explore. 

There’s something so enchanting about seeing old ruins, running your hands across so much history. We could imagine monks walking through each room, praying alongside the water. It was beautiful.

We took the boats back to shore and headed to the quaint town of Kenmare, where we explored on our own and grabbed lunch at our leisure. We found a restaurant with salads and avocados (we sure do miss avocados when we travel!), and spent some time meandering around the cobblestone streets.

As if this day couldn’t get any better, next on the agenda was a chocolate tasting and workshop at Lorge Chocolatier. We spent the rest of our afternoon not only learning how to make fancy chocolates, but we got to make our own as well! (Bobby would like everyone to know that he won the chocolate making competition and you can call him the “Chocolate Master”, thank you very much.)

The night ended with dinner on our own Killarney. We stumbled upon a cute little pub with live music, and spent the rest of our night snacking on french fries and singing along to Journey covers. Basically living our best lives.


Chances are you’ve never heard of Foynes before. You’ve probably never heard of Foynes Museum either. Neither had we. One of the many reasons we love Adventures By Disney is that they take you to places you never knew existed… and they blow you away.

Day five began with a trip to Foynes, home of the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, the only aviation museum in Ireland and the only “Flying Boat Museum” in the world. Flying boat? That’s ok, we’d never heard of one either! From 1937 to 1945, Foynes was the hub for these gigantic flying boats that would be flown across the Atlantic. They have a replica of one of the boats (or planes?), and it is incredible! Especially for over 75 years ago!

If that wasn’t enough, Foynes is also where the first Irish coffee was made! We learned how to make real, authentic Irish coffees (shoot us a DM for the secret recipe) and they were absolutely delicious!

Now it’s time for our favorite part of the trip. The whole ABD team really hit it out of the park with this one… three nights and three days in a castle. Yep, a castle!! 

We arrived at the historic Dromoland Castle wide-eyed and jaws-dropped. It’s everything we could’ve dreamed and more! Built in the 15th century, Dromoland is not only dripping with history, but with luxury as well. The rooms are stunning, they treat you like royalty, and the amenities are endless. We’re still pinching ourselves that this place is real!

Day five ended with an authentic Irish farm dinner, complete with cheese tasting. scone making, sheepherding,and a traditional Irish sing-along. Is that the dream or WHAT? Alli kept repeatedly thanking Stephen and Landon for taking us there - it was something out of a movie!

We honestly can’t put into words how incredible the night was. So, we’ll let these photos do the talking. It was an evening we’ll never, ever forget.



This morning began with a leisurely breakfast in the castle (obviously), and a Birds of Prey Demonstration complete with hawks, owls, and falcons. Dromoland Castle has a team that is dedicated to the art of falconry, and their knowledge and care of the birds is truly remarkable. Not to mention they’re absolutely stunning creatures! (The birds, not the staff.)

Mesmerized by the sheer vastness of the property, we then embarked on a walking tour around Dromoland Castle. Our quirky and charming guide taught us the history of Dromoland, showed us around the grounds, and entertained us with his quick Irish wit. And this was all before noon!

The rest of the day was spent at our leisure. The ABD team gave us a plethora of entertainment options… We could go golfing, partake in archery, go on a  “Hawk Walk”, go fishing, indulge in a spa treatment, and so much more. Being the over-achievers that we are, we tried to cram in as MANY activities as possible. And we did a darn good job.

Bobby Golfed…

Alli went to the spa…

And together we went on a hawk walk, where we got an advanced lesson in falconry and learned how to train a falcon. We definitely scored a few cool points for that!

Dinner was in a formal dining room in the heart of the castle. The layout of our trip was a little different than typical ABD Ireland adventures (since many guests were media/staff), so what they call the “Farewell Dinner” happened tonight. We were greeted with bagpipes, entertained by the Irish version of The Von Trapp family (they were AMAZING), and traditional Irish dancers. Bobby’s been attempting to imitate their dance moves ever since! (Still not close)

The ABD team even put together a special slideshow with photos from our trip so far. Reflecting on how much we’d done in 6 short days was unbelievable. It truly was the trip of a lifetime. And we still had one more day!


Day seven. The day we’d been dreading because it meant our ABD adventures in Ireland were about to come to a close. Even now it brings tears to our eyes. But nonetheless, we went out with a bang.

Our ABD family ventured to a spot that’s been on our bucket list for years: The Cliffs of Moher. Standing 700 feet above the sea, it’s one of those places that instantly takes your breath away. 

In true ABD fashion, we rolled right up before the crowds (Everlasting Fast Pass!), had tickets in hand, and explored the majestic cliffs before half of the tour buses and groups even arrived in the parking lot. We spotted puffins, took hundreds (maybe even thousands) of photos, and sat to take in the sheer greatness of these cliffs. Photos don’t do them justice. (Even though we have enough to fill five photo albums!)

Even though we didn’t want to leave the Cliffs of Moher (we’ll be back!), it was time for lunch. The ABD team brought us to a traditional Irish pub in the small town of Droolin, that’s been run by the same family since 1867. How they find such hidden gems we’ll never know!

We ended the afternoon with a tour through Ailwee Cave - one of the oldest caves in Ireland. Our private guides taught us about the history of the caves and how they formed. They even turned off all the lights inside and has us stand there in pure, black darkness. It was terrifying and totally awesome. 

And just like that, we reached our final dinner with our ABD family. As amazing as our itinerary, lodging, meals, and experiences were… the people we met during this week-long adventure were the real highlight of the trip. There’s something so bonding about experiencing new cultures with a group of strangers. Even though we’d only spent a week with these people, they already felt like family! We hugged, cried, exchanged information, and cheers-ed to the trip of a lifetime. It really was just that.

Roadtripping through the Scotch Mecca of Speyside

This past July we had the opportunity to visit Scotland after an epic adventure in Ireland with Adventures by Disney. We never like being away from our fur-baby Sally for too long, so we figured that after 8 days in Ireland, our little bernedoodle could manage another 6 days without us (a BIG thanks to our puppy sitters, Alli’s parents!).

We decided to blitz through Scotland by car, and in 6 days we did just that. We drove over 700+ miles, stayed in three hotels, we (mostly Bobby) tried over 20 different unique scotches, drove on countless slow, windy roads, we saw highland cows (Alli’s dream!), and we oo-ed and awe-d over breathtaking scenery.

All that to say, we’re going to break this recap blog into three chunks… this one will be focused on Speyside (where much Scotch is made and was drank), another will focus on Edinburgh, and the third will share all about the Isle of Skye (no doubt one of the most underrated places we have ever seen). We hope you enjoy them both!


Our journey in Scotland started and ended in Edinburgh. We always rent a car wherever we go, because we like the freedom of exploring on our own. We rented through Auto-Europe, (they are AWESOME because they scan all the companies for you and find the best deal!) We ended up with a small wagon from Europcar, and after a quick check-in we were on our way!  

**NOTE TO THOSE AFRAID OF DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD - DON’T BE! If you don’t know how to drive stick and you get a manual, then maybe you should be afraid. But driving on the left is no big deal… just pay attention and take it slow for the first couple hours. You’ll be fine.**

Before driving out into the country, we made a quick stop in a small area of Edinburgh called Leith. Alli’s dad is named Leith, so we figured we should probably check it out... And we were blown away at how cool Leith is! This little port town is full of hip restaurants, cute shops, and picturesque streets. If you have a few days in Edinburgh, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Our first destination in Scotland (and the focus of this blog) was the Speyside region. Speyside is a lush, fertile valley situated along the River Spey, and it has the greatest number of whisky-producing distilleries of any region in Scotland. (Basically, Bobby’s HEAVEN!) Balvenie, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Macallan, Glenfarclas, Aberlour, Benriach, Glen Moray, Craigellachie… they’re all here (plus 20 more!). If you love whiskey and you love beautiful scenery, move Speyside to the top of your bucket list.

It goes without saying that the drive to Speyside is beautiful. Many people day trip there from Inverness or Aberdeen for tastings, but we would encourage you to stay in the heart of it all. We stayed at the Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside, and it was the very definition of charming. The Craigellachie is like a countryside home with a warm, welcoming staff and modern touches. It also boasts the best pub in town in The Copper Dog, as well as one of the best whisky bars in Scotland in The Quaich Bar (Over 800 single malt scotches!).

Note from Bobby: If you’re adventurous, you should try some of the cuisine that is traditional to Scotland. The most famous is Haggis, and I won’t tell you what it is or you probably would stop reading. (I WILL say that we both had it, and I actually liked it.) Then there is Black Pudding, aka Blood Sausage, which is made from pork blood, oats, and some other miscellaneous ingredients. (But it’s mostly blood.) I ate it (feeling quite invincible from enjoying Haggis), but when the waitress told me it was mostly blood, I definitely turned green. Ha! Regardless, their worth a try if you’re up for it!


We spent our days exploring the local distilleries. We visited Glenfiddich, Macallan, Glenfarclas, and Aberlour. If you really want to visit a specific one, be sure to book an advance. Balvenie, one of our favorite scotches, books out MONTHS in advance! (We’ll try again next time!)

The Speyside region is a great place to be lazy, especially if you’re staying at the Craigellachie. Have a slow morning with breakfast at the Copper Dog, do a distillery tour or two along with some tastings, and then spend the afternoon in your room reading a book. The views are spectacular, so definitely rest and enjoy them. But if you’re like us and you can only sit still for too long, go explore! Overall it’s not too large of an area, so you can day trip in any direction and be back in the afternoon.

We loved our time in Speyside and plan on returning with reservations at Balvenie, as well as a few extra days to relax. And maybe (obviously) drink a little (a lot) more scotch…

The Isle of Skye: Jaws Dropped for 3 Straight Days

We had no idea what was in store for us when we visited the Isle of Skye. We decided to go there on a whim, and this last-minute decision ended up being one of our very favorite places in the world

We're going to keep this really brief and simply share a ton of photos, because the landscapes were the best part (and pictures mean a thousand words, right?). Photos don't do this place justice at all, so consider this a teaser.

Some logistics (in case you're interested):

We were on the Isle of Skye for three days. We rented an AirBnB and explored by car daily. Our highlights were:

  • Hiking to the Old Man of Storr
  • The weather... we lucked out
  • Driving the Quiraing
  • Exploring the small town of Portree
  • Our tiny house AirBnB in Staffin
  • All the sheep

For those that are planning a trip (and we really hope you do!) Cross your fingers for good weather, rent a car, reserve an AirBnB, and get over there before the secret gets out... Skye is spectacular. 

Last thing... zoom in on some of the photos towards the end and see if you can find people hiking. It gives some good perspective!