The capital of Finland.
The Finnish capital of Helsinki (Helsingfors) is known for its great mixture of neo-classical buildings, orthodox style churches and chique bars and restaurant scene. Alvar Aalto, a world renowned Finnish architect and designer has contributed to much of the functionalistic architecture in Helsinki that is loved and hated by so many. On your way east, Helsinki is the gateway to Russia and the Trans Siberian railway with direct connections to the metropolis of St Petersburg, as well as by ferry to the Baltic States. Helsinki has a strong focus on sports often holding major athletics events, including the 1952 Summer Olympics.
In 2000 Helsinki was an official European City of Culture while celebrating its 450th anniversary. The lifestyle in the second-most northern capital city in the world is full of contrasts and activities in the form of hundreds of events and friendly people. Helsinki’s identity has been formed by cultural influences from both the East and West.
The archipelago that surrounds Helsinki with hundreds of tiny islands creates an idyllic environment for cruises.
Over 450 years of history, several architectural layers and the impact of different periods can be clearly seen in Helsinki. Finnish design has also made the country’s capital city world famous. Helsinki was designated as the World Design Capital (WDC) of 2012. The beauty of the surrounding nature blends seamlessly together with high-tech achievements, while old traditions mix with the latest contemporary trends. The city centre has many beautiful parks, and the nearby forests offer an ideal setting for peaceful and quiet walks.
Helsinki’s rhythm is laid back yet at the same time refreshingly active in terms of both the number and quality of restaurants and nightclubs.
Everything is nearby – Helsinki is a pocket-sized metropolis that is ideal for visitors!
Highlights of a tour to Helsinki:
Helsinki has many world class attractions, shopping districts and parks to enjoy. There are plenty of sightseeing buses, boats and walking tours to give you an easy overview of all the sights to visit. There are also night cruises if you wish to see the islands and enjoy the water – remember, in summer, daylight hours are long so you can enjoy the views with a glass of sparkling wine.
Please note that most museums are closed on a Monday.
Be sure to discover the saunas of Helsinki – there are public ones that expose an interesting side of Finland. Sauna Arla, in Kaarlenkatu 15, Kallio, is an old public sauna. Separate saunas for men and women cost approx. €9 for adults. Washing service and traditional bloodletting (kuppaus) is also available.
Another great sauna to visit is Kotiharju, Harjutorinkatu 1. This is one of the few wood burning public saunas in Helsinki. Separate saunas for men and women and there's a good chance you'll find a top level chess match in the dressing room. Don't miss cooling off outside, especially in winter. €10 for adults, towel €2 extra.
Read our Finnish Destination Specialist, Leena's post about what to do in Helsinki.
Some places to dine in Helsinki:
Restaurant Olo - one michelin star, modern Scandinavian cuisine - www.olo-ravintola.fi
Farang - serves modern Asian cuisine and was voted the best restaurant in Helsinki. Bookings essential! www.farang.fi
Savoy - very central, iconic fine dining restaurant www.ravintolasavoy.fi