Helsinki is hot in Monocle survey

Helsinki citizens prepare for celebrations to mark Helsinki Day by cooling off in the city’s parks and heading for the beach.

Temperatures reaching 30 Celsius, a clear blue sky and half the city stretched out on the grass of the Esplanade park to enjoy the sunshine – what better time for Helsinki to hear the news that it has claimed top spot in Monocle magazine’s 2011 Quality of Life Survey.

The Finnish capital has jumped from fifth position in Monocle’s 2010 survey, climbing above Zurich and Copenhagen in second and third places. The magazine praises Helsinki for “its fundamental courage to rethink its urban ambitions, and for possessing the talent, ideas and guts to pull it off”.

“We decided it was time for a new strategy,” says Tyler Brûlé, Monocle’s editor-in-chief, explaining how the survey shifted its emphasis this year. “The 2011 results focus not only on the nuts and bolts of the city, but also on the end product.” Quality of Life gives recognition for cities that don’t shut down at 10pm, for their balance between old-fashioned architecture and forward planning, and “ongoing criteria such as the amount of outdoor seating, green space and hours of sunshine”.

“Helsinki is on a roll,” says Brûlé. “Crime is low, unemployment rates sound, the education system world class, and the city’s food culture is thriving. Entrepreneurship and innovation is present in a young, skilled and technically proficient business culture. And the city’s hardware generally manages to perform like a dream.”

Launched in February 2007, Monocle is a premium media brand with magazine, web, broadcast and retail divisions and focusing on global affairs, business, culture and design.

Helsinki on a roll

Hot city, cool cafes: Helsinki is streets ahead. Photo: Amanda Soila

When the going gets hot, Helsinki heads for the beach. Photo: Amanda Soila

Park life: Helsinki’s citizens indulge in a taste for drama. Photo: Amanda Soila

Wherever you go in Helsinki, water is never far away. Photo: Amanda Soila

Wherever you go in Helsinki, water is never far away. Photo: Amanda Soila

One step ahead: dancing in the sunshine near the National Opera. Photo: Amanda Soila

The message is clear: Helsinki is simply the best. Photo: Amanda Soila

In tune and in harmony: live music in the Esplanade. Photo: Amanda Soila

Helsinki has the wind in its sails: a cruise sets off from the South Harbour. Photo: Amanda Soila

In tip top condition: a keep-fit class pays homage to the sun in the Hesperia park. Photo: Amanda Soila

Guaranteed to melt the ice: an ice cream girl offers refreshments in the Esplanade. Photo: Amanda Soila

By Tim Bird, June 2011
Photos by Amanda Soila