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Best Things to Do in Helsinki

Best Things to Do in Helsinki

Finland is the land of a thousand lakes and its capital Helsinki is a beautiful city to live in and visit. Despite the high cost of living, Helsiniki, also known as the ‘Daughter of the Baltic’ is known for its laid back lifestyle. A young average age and a highly creative population makes Helsinki a really interesting place to live and visit. This beautiful city ranks among the top of the world’s most favourable places to stay due very low crime rates, peaceful surroundings, gender equality, great educational system, and of course, the world-renowned healthcare system. Of course, all these wonderful things are applicable all over Finland and not just restricted to the capital city Helsinki. However, in this post we will stick to the best things to do in Helsinki and places to see in and around the capital city. We won’t just talk about the major tourist hubs as we will also focus on some of the slightly offbeat places which the locals love to visit. Even though Finland is quite small in terms of its area there are tons of other places to visit in and quite a few of them are easily accessible from the capital. Some of them can even be covered with a day trip from Helsinki. The city also has a lot of sightseeing tours which will take you around town in a short span of time. 

Let’s find out about

The best things to do in Helsinki:

Enjoy the Saunas

Nothing else could kickstart our best things to do in Helsinki list.

If you are wondering what to do in Helsinki, don’t worry, Helsinki has many things to keep you occupied. However, the first thing you should do in the city, is to visit one of the saunas. Saunas are an integral part of Finnish lifestyle and culture.

If you are wondering what is a sauna, it is basically a room with a sauna stone (with stones on top) either heated by electricity or wood. The whole room is then heated by hot steam which rises as a result of water being poured on the hot stone.

Sauna claims to have many health benefits and it is one of the foundations that stabilizes the Finnish culture. For instance, a family gathers weekly to enjoy the sauna either in their homes or they gather in their summer cottages where  they have a sauna by the lake. It is a custom that is well-loved by the Finns, and it has been carried throughout history. In fact, in Finland alone you’ll find over two million saunas all over the country, that is almost one sauna for every three citizens.

Saunas rose in popularity across Finland for a very interesting reason. As the Finns moved southwards, public saunas rose in demand as the Finns couldn’t find time to visit their cottages for some sauna unwinding.

Public saunas in Helsinki became the hub for the locals to rejuvenate and keep the custom alive. The first one to be opened is located in the Kallio neighborhood and it is called Kotiharju Sauna, it has been in operation since 1928.

Aside from the Kotiharju, here are a few other sauna places to visit in Helsinki:

Arla Sauna, located in Kallio, 

Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall, located in the heart of Helsinki 

Löyly Helsinki, located in Hernesaari

Kulttuurisauna, located in Merihaka

Note: These public saunas in Helsinki are generally located close to the heart of the city.

Kallio

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

If you’re keen on doing anything cool and hip, then Kallio is the place to go. This Helsinki neighborhood is the hub for students, artists, and musicians. In a way, Kallio is the Finnish equivalent of the Jewish Quarter of Budapest where all things weird and awesome happen.

For the young locals, the Kallio neighborhood is the place to be because of all the cool parties that happen there and the rent is relatively cheap.

However, what is it for travelers and tourists? Well, if you like beer and drinking in a vibrant atmosphere then indulge in some bar hopping in Kallio.

If you’re not a drinker, don’t fret, there are also tons of fusion restaurants to visit and beautiful parks to hang out. You’ll find tons of locals just chilling around during the summer so it is certainly the best time to visit Helsinki if you want to interact with some Finns.

How to get to Kallio: Take tram number 3 and it will take you from the city center to Kallio.

TIP: If you take tram 3, take a round trip with it as it will take you to all hyped neighborhoods in Helsinki (Töölö, Punavuori, Kamppi, and Kallio). The locals call it the scenic tram ride because it literally takes you to all Helsinki points of interest.

Korjaamo

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

A total culture hub filled with everything artistic, Korjaamo is for all sorts of people who appreciate culture and arts mixed together. If you’re interested in involving yourself in theatre, music, and fine arts – Korjaamo is the place to be for you.

In the summertime, there are numerous free programs you can attend and you can also visit its galleries that have different exhibitions all-year round. Apart from that, there’s also a nice cafe and bar you can check out.

Teurastamo in Kalasatama

Kalasatama is a great place to visit in Helsinki. It is located beside Sörnäinen. Teurastamo is an old slaughterhouse which has been turned into a conventional cultural hub where you can either chill out with a pint of beer or eat your way out.

In the summertime, they often have parties in the area and it is notable for its laid-back jazz festival which is great for music lovers.

Apart from that, the growing food culture in Helsinki is strong in Teurastamo so be sure to sample some of the restaurants in the area.

Kaiku and Kuudes Linja 

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

Located in Kallio neighborhood, Kaiku in Helsinki is an underground club where the cool kids of Helsinki release their inner Danny Zuko and break the dancefloor when the beat hits the right spot. Like many European clubs, the music is generally techno and if that’s your jam, then you will have a blast.

Kuudes Linja, on the other hand, has rather similar vibes as Kaiku. However, they play different sorts of music, ranging from electronica to anything you can think of. Don’t be shocked if you hear Aqua’s Barbie Girl playing from the speakers.

Sibelius Park and Monument

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

The Sibelius Park and Monument was established in the memory of the renowned Finnish composer, Johan Julius Christian (Jean) Sibelius. Jean Sibelius is widely known to be the best composer ever born in the Finnish territory, as he could express his feelings for the country very touchingly.

He also inspired the battle for Finnish independence and its soldiers through his writings. The centre of attraction inside the park is the huge monument made by the Finnish artist Eila Hiltunen.

The is made up of 600 steel pipes and resembles a silver tree. The pipes used in the monument resembles the Finnish forests and the pores are made in order to create whistling music as the wind blows by. Since the monument is so massive, visitors can walk around it and underneath.

The sculpted bust of Jean Sibelius is just beside the monument. A similar monument can also be found at the United Nations headquarters in New York and, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris due to its charming elegance.

Seurassari Open-air Museum

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

Seurasaari is said to be the best Finnish island and one of the most popular Helsinki attractions. It houses an amazing exhibition inside, which features old wooden buildings from all over Finland which represent Finnish life from the olden days.

You’ll see an old church, staple houses, and old barns all made from wood and each representing a certain time in the history of Finland. Apart from all this, there’s a picnic area where you can grill. Not far from the entrance is a small beach with a sauna which you can also use if you’re interested.

Parliament House of Finland

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

One of the most iconic places to see in Helsinki, is the Parliament House of Finland.  After the beginning of the construction work of this Parliament House, it took 5 years to be entirely completed in 1931.

The Parliament House’s spectacular architectural designs make it a must-see attraction of Helsinki.

The exterior renovation of the Parliament house was finished in the summer of 2017 after almost two years of construction. However, guided tours are still not permitted within the premises but you can still certainly admire its beauty from the outside. This gorgeous building is highly influenced by early 20th-century era’s Classism designs.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is a priceless treasure of Finland and surely, among the best Helsinki points of interest. Being built somewhere around the middle of the 1700s, this fortress showcases some great history of the might of the medieval military of Finland.

The fortress stands on an island and it is flanked by six nearby islands of Helsinki. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1991 and has been on top of the Helsinki attractions list for tourists around the world.

Alongside many archaeological specimens, the cannons for naval defence and the walls of the fortress are some of the interesting things to see inside Suomenlinna.

Take a walk around the area to discover the biggest sea fortress in the world and be more and more amazed as you keep exploring.

Also, make sure to visit the underground tunnel as it is one of the most exciting places to see in Suomenlinna.

Nonetheless, if you visit in summer, make sure to bring some snacks with you and have a small picnic break somewhere around the premises which overlook the beautiful Baltic sea.

If you’re interested in visiting Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, commuting to this island is relatively easy as the ferries come and go almost every 15 minutes from the Pohjoissatama (North Harbor) and you can easily buy a ticket for 3USD (€2,50). The tickets are valid for one hour.

Another alternative is to buy a day ticket and take a trip to Suomenlinna using some local transport option.  You can use the same bus or tram ticket to get to the island as well. 

Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Arts

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

The Kiasma Museum is definitely a must-see attraction of Helsinki. Along with two other museums, the Kiasma Museum forms the Finnish National Gallery. Its purpose is to introduce art to the next generation. The exterior of the museum is a great example of modern architecture.

Designed by the American architect Steven Holl, Kiasma is an architectural marvel on its own. It is the leading contemporary art museum in Scandinavia . It houses some of the best examples of modern art of today that express and provoke different emotions among the visitors.

Kiasma info:

Opening hours:

Tuesday: 10 AM – 5 PM

Wednesday to Friday: 10 AM – 8:30 PM

Saturday & Sunday: 10 AM – 5 PM

The National Museum of Finland

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

If you are looking for what to see in Helsinki that will take you back to the stone-ages of even 10,000 years before that, ensure that you include the National Museum of Finland in your list and be surprised at the sight as you see the bear statue in front of the entrance.

At the moment, the new Exhibitions include a Russian Imperial Throne, which is currently the most interesting specimen to see. There is a huge collection of vintage materials that draws tourists from all over the world to the museum. 

This fantastic landmark is one of the must-visit Helsinki attractions. You can see and enjoy a lot of things inside the museum but the building itself is a medieval looking architectural marvel.

Temppeliaukio Church

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

It is a Lutheran church that has been made in nature’s bosom. The whole church is surrounded by rocky stone walls and covered by a dome that gets support from parallel pillars that lie diagonally from the edge of the walls with the dome and the gaps between each one hosts the natural sunlight that falls upon the place.

Also known as the Rock Church, it was established in the year 1969.  The entrance fee is 3.50USD (€3.00), which provides a massive bang for the buck. Visitors are usually in awe of the creativity and the natural location of the church. 

It’s a must see for all those tourists who are interested in gazing at architectural marvels.

Finlandia Hall

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

The Finlandia Hall was designed by the famous Finnish architect, Alvar Alto. The Finlandia Hall is a situated in the heart of Helsinki. It was built with the purpose of hosting prime concerts, events, and also the Congress of Finland. The Finlandia Hall is also available for conferences among the country’s executives.

The construction was completed in 1971 and the whole building is colored white with a splendid view of the exterior. The main hall of this famous Helsinki landmark can accommodate up to 340 people. Some places inside this great hall are designed in a way that natural light falls inside the building, a style similar to the piazzas of Italy.

Those who don’t have the time to attend a concert, can take a guided tour of the Finlandia Hall.

Note: The guided tour is available upon reservation and it will cost you about 16USD (€15). You can book it through Finlandia’s webpage.

Uspenski Cathedral

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

Also famously known as the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe, Uspenski Cathedral sports a clear Russian scheme, as the Russian architect, Aleksey Gornostayev had designed the place.

Located in the neighbourhood of Katajanokka near the North Harbor (Pohjoissatama), the cathedral is situated upon a hilly area, where you’ll have a good aerial view of the port and the city. Since it is on a hill, you’ll have no trouble finding this church as it is also located quite close to the Senate Square

Also, there’s no entrance fee to enter this church but there is a great chance of finding a gathering of people here as it has recently become one of the most alluring Helsinki attractions among tourists.

Tuomiokirkko (The big white church)

This is next on our best things to do in Helsinki list.

The big white church. It is officially called Tuomiokirkko but most people refer to it as the big white church.

Tuomion Kirkko, or the Helsinki Cathedral is a must-see monument in Helsinki. It features on the cover of most tourist guides in Finland. It is a Lutheran church and is famous for its astonishing architecture and it certainly takes your breath away once you witness it for yourself.

Entry to the church is free but it’s advisable for tourists to keep their shoulders and knees covered since it’s a religious establishment.

Visiting Tuomiokirkko will not take long, so visit this if you’re on your way to Suomenlinna as the market square, where the boat departs to the sea fortress, is not far along the way.

The Helsinki Cathedral is open to visitors between 9 AM and 6 PM. During the months of June, July and August, it is open till midnight. 

Ateneum Art Museum

This rounds off our best things to do in Helsinki list. 

This is the largest classical art museum in Finland. It upholds the artworks of even some world’s most renowned artists, such as Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh.

The museum lies in a vast construction that is architecturally very appealing. It is included in the consortium of the three museums that make up the Finnish National Gallery. Paintings from the 18th century to the 21st century are exhibited inside the museum.

This museum was established in 1887, and is among the most unique places to visit in Helsinki. You’ll be amazed to see the amount of stuff this historic and artistic place has to offer for its visitors.

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