The Metalhead Aesthetes

Go grave-exploring in Helsinki’s spooky Hietaniemi Cemetery.Photo: Petri Mattila/Courtesy Hietanieman Cemetery
Photo: Courtesy of the travelers

Sharon Berardino, 37, ad-agency director, and Chad Dziewior, 41, production designer

Budget: Moderate

Duration: 3 Weeks

“Chad is interested in design, and I’m a history, literature, and graveyard geek, so we end up in some weird locations. We really love dark and divey metal bars with cheap drinks and rowdy crowds.”

Go here: Helsinki, Finland

Why now: This year, Helsinki is celebrating both its 200th anniversary as the capital of Finland and the start of its two-year designation as the World Design Capital. Cue new galleries, shops, and other attractions for culture junkies. And no place tops Finland for metal freaks: The country has 53.5 metal bands for every 100,000 people—the highest ratio in the world.

What to do: Take in work from up-and-coming Finnish artists at the new gallery Ateljeejee (Pohjoinen Hesperiankatu 9; 358-44-924-5551). The Hietaniemi Cemetery, a site that dates back to 1829, is a must-see for tombstone enthusiasts: It’s home to the final resting places of famous painters, architects, military leaders, and former presidents. To get your metal fix, catch a live weekend show at headbanger paradise Bar Bäkkäri (Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 21;

Where to stay: At the two-month-old Scandic Paasi (from $134; 358-09-231-1700;, Finland’s first “story hotel”: Each room is designed to evoke a different era (the twenties, the fifties, etc.) in local history. Artophiles may prefer the Klaus K Hotel (from $160;, which recently added two new rooms by Finnish designer Harri Koskinen: One is inspired by a movie theater, the other by a forest.

What to eat: The three-course tasting menu at Michelin-starred Luomo (Katariinankatu 1; 358-09-135-7287) is just $77 a person, but for something more casual, head downstairs to Pure Bistro, which serves modernized Nordic dishes like reindeer tartare. The restaurant at the month-old food hall Kellohalli(Työpajankatu 2 Rakennus 1 E; 358-50-339-5400) is also worth a visit; check the schedule beforehand, as it books culinary talks and workshops throughout the week.

Buy this: The colorful Jenkka laptop bags ($58) at Globe Hope (Aleksanterinkatu 28; 358-50-305-1115), located in Helsinki’s burgeoning new design quarter, are made from recycled banner ads and seat belts.

Also consider: Reykjavík, Iceland, which has a serious metal scene, the provocative Spark Design Space, and the supremely creepy Hólavallagardur cemetery—not to mention a decent chance of spotting the elusive Northern Lights.

The Metalhead Aesthetes