Helsinki

Helsinki Travel Guide

Helsinki Travel Guide by CC user smerikal on Flickr

Helsinki Travel Guide by CC user smerikal on Flickr

Introduction

Built up as a mini Saint Petersberg after the Russians took it from Sweden in the 19th century, the stunning streets of Helsinki instead serve as the federal capital of Finland in the present day.

While it can be moody place for much of the year, this stylish city saves its best for its short but glorious summers. Bathed in sunlight for 18 hours a day at this time, there will be plenty of time to see everything this northern metropolis has to offer.

Cultural Experiences

Suomenlinna by CC user cmichel67 on Flickr

Out of all the attractions you can see in Helsinki, make sure you start off by seeing Suomenlinna, a massive fortress built over six islands in its harbour.

Constructed when the Swedes controlled this part of Scandinavia in 1748 as a check on Russian power in the region (it eventually fell to the Russians in the early 19th century), it fell into Finnish hands when Finland split from the Russian Empire following its revolution in 1917.

No longer viable as a military base, Suomenlinna is well loved as a tourist attraction and a picnicking spot for Finns on the weekends.

Suomenlinna also has a small permanent population as well, with artists and minimum-security inmates making up the residents of this rocky archipelago.

The bedrock of this part of Finland is a central component that attracts residents and tourists to Temppeliaukio Church, which ranks among the most popular attractions in the city.

While it doesn’t look like much from the outside, once you step inside, the exposed rock walls will take your breath away.

Built in the 1960’s, the modernist design of the roof, skylight and the 3000 pipe organ blend into its natural surroundings perfectly, so if you want to check out a Christian church that breaks with tradition, make sure you work this attraction into your itinerary.

Like in Oslo, Helsinki has a cultural attraction that uses old structures to tell the story of its past. The Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, which can be found on the island of the same name in Helsinki harbour.

With dozens of cottages, farms and other buildings from the past 400 years of life in rural Finland being found here, coming here is a great way to take a trip into the past, while enjoying a beautiful summer afternoon in Helsinki.

Other Attractions

Helsinki Senate Square by CC user miguelvirkkunen on Flickr
If you are looking to experience the civic heart of Finland’s capital city, then spending part of your day at Helsinki Senate Square will help you achieve this travel goal.

Headlined by the iconic neoclassical design of Helsinki Cathedral, Senate Square is home to a number of public gatherings throughout the year, ranging from concerts to Christmas markets.

Other buildings surrounding the central square include the Government Palace and the National Library of Finland.

The campus of the University of Helsinki also abuts this public space, so expect to find this part of the city overflowing with youthful energy, especially during the warmer months of the year.

Another great place to be on a warm and sunny day in Helsinki is Esplanadi Park, which is often billed as this city’s take on Central Park.

While you can count on finding people relaxing and exercising here on any given day when the weather is fine, be sure to take in the Marimekko Fashion Show if you are here in June, or jazz concerts during the month of July.

If you’d rather observe the locals as they go about their daily lives, there are a number of cafes and restaurants that can be found along the boulevard that bounds this park on either side, so pull up a patio chair, order a coffee and watch the world go by.

If you are traveling with your kids and they end up getting restless during the course of their time in Helsinki, feel free to take them to Linnanmaki for a day.

Boasting over 40 rides that range from a carousel that dates back to the late 19th century, to exhilarating, state of the art roller coasters, there are attractions for all ages at this well-loved amusement park. This includes an aquarium as well, which profiles the marine life that calls the Baltic Sea home.