Things to do in Helsinki, Finland [Plus a Sample Weekend Itinerary]

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor October 15th, 2019 Posted in Destination, Europe, Travel Blog, Travel Guides No comments

Finland is the greenest and one of the safest countries in the world but is also considered as the 8th most expensive in Europe. Helsinki is the capital and most populous city of Finland.

One of the many reasons people ask “is Helsinki worth visiting?” is the capital’s rather cold reputation. This place is often associated with two words, “boring” and “expensive”. But if you are looking for peace and quiet, a break from the mayhem, this place’s ambiance is laid back and surely worth the shot with a dose of nature. 

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

The city is so compact that can be easily explored on foot. Large parks, lakes, forests, and coastlines are proof of the abundance of natural presence. Churches, museums and architectures are extraordinarily incomparable. 

I break down a list for you of the places you should visit and explore! During our last visit, we booked a walking tour in Helsinki with Tinggly which covered most of these attractions!

15 Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

1. Helsinki Cathedral

This cathedral is hard to miss and can be seen from different points. Located in Kruununhaka in the center of Helsinki, Finland. The gleaming white neoclassical church was built as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. This is considered as one of the most famous Helsinki’s attractions

2. Seurasaari Island and Open-Air Museum

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland
Photo by Ninara CC BY 2.0

Seurasaari is an island and a district in Helsinki. It is where the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, which consists of old buildings cabins and farmhouses. People can go inside the traditional building to have an insight of life in gone-by years. Seurasaari island is a serene place with a variety of wildlife especially red squirrels and hares. There are plenty of paths to explore and wander around. 

3. The National Library of Finland 

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland
Photo by napfour Public Domain Mark 1.0

The National Library of Finland has one of the biggest geographical maps collection in the world and the largest library collection in the country. It contains vast cultural knowledge from every source available. The National Library is responsible for storing the Finnish cultural heritage. 

4. Sea Fortress Suomenlinna

The fortress of Suomenlinna is one of Finland’s most well-known destinations and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has diverse routes that allow people to do numerous kinds of activities like strolling, jogging, picnic or simply hanging out with friends. 

5. Mannerheim Museum

This museum is the home of items related to the life and times of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, a Finnish statesman, and military officer. Tour guides will fill you in about the history and life of Mannerheim. Some of the original furnishings are still intact including his own bedroom.  Also displayed are his numerous hunting trophies, book collection, gifts and portraits of his ancestors.

6. Kamppi Chapel of Silence

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland
Photo by Alberto Garcia CC BY-SA 2.0

 This odd but stunningly shaped wooden structured chapel is as simple as its purpose. This is the perfect place to reflect, relax, and calm down. This is intended to help people find their inner peace amidst being in the middle of a busy city outside. 

7. Temppeliaukio Church

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland
Photo by Jorge Láscar CC BY 2.0

Also known as “Church in the Rock,” this modern church is carved from rock and has an architectural copper dome designed by architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. Its elegant atmosphere and unique interior will be a spectacular experience.

8. Uspenskin Cathedral

This hilltop cathedral is in a formidable location overlooking the city. This red-bricked with classic golden onion domes and contrasts of greens is truly magnificent even from afar. This is also the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe and a symbol of Russian influence in Finland’s history.

9. SkyWheel Helsinki

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland5

This 40-m tall observation wheel is offering panoramic 360-degree views over Helsinki’s skyline. This is a modern Ferris wheel where you will get your own airconditioned cabin while enjoying the fabulous sight of the Baltic Sea. 

10. Hakaniemi Market

This is a great spot to grab some fresh local seafood, local products, and gourmets. This market also sells merchandise made by the locals; souvenirs, clothing, handbags, arts and crafts and local cuisine. A remarkable area to experience and taste Helsinki’s finest. 

11. St. John’s Church

Designed by the Swedish architect Adolf Melander, this Gothic Revival style Lutheran church is the largest stone church in the country by the seating capacity of 2,600. The twin towers are 74 meters in height that are quite noticeable even from miles that makes it easy to find. ‘

12. The Esplanadi Park

This public park is a popular spot for picnics, city strolling and other fun outdoor activities. It is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, small food stalls, theatre, shops, green fields, and an outdoor performance venue. It also has a statue and fountain where tourists and locals gather around to enjoy the bustling spot.

13. Loyli Sauna

Did you know that sauna is a Finnish word? Finns invented the concept of the sauna. There are over 3 million saunas in the country, a large quantity of which are found right in the city of Helsinki.No trip to Finland would be complete without enjoying a Finnish sauna and experiencing this detoxifying Finnish culture. 

14. Linnanmäki

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland
Photo by Jyri Moisio CC BY 2.0

This wide amusement park has been open for more than 65 years. Throughout that time, this destination is the most popular of its kind in the country, not only because it is fun and exciting, but also it is non-profit and funds are donated to a Finnish child welfare charity, Päivän Säätiö. 

15. Vintage Tram Ride

Experience the olden days on a vintage tram ride! These heritage trams are a century old, and although there’s no tour guide onboard people are provided with a multi-language leaflet to let them know what they’re looking at. The departure point is the tram stop next to the Havis Amanda statue by the Market Square.

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

Sample Weekend Itinerary to Helsinki, Finland

DAY 1

Helsinki’s Senate Square Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki, and Sederholm House, the oldest building of central Helsinki are the famous landmarks that make the oldest part of central Helsinki, Senate Square.

The National Library of Finland This library lies just off of Senate Square. You can find countless of  Finnish culture and heritage. It’s free to enter so why not check and admire the rich history of Finland while walking through the marble-columned halls and endless shelves of tomes.

The Helsinki Cathedral This classic pearl-white cathedral looms over the Senate Square and most recognizable building in the country. It is simple compared to other cathedrals in Europe yet very charismatic in its own way.

Uspenski CathedralJust very near the marketplace, this stunningly red-brick, gold onion-shaped domes cathedral is such a head-turner you won’t want to miss.  It is free to enter. Although, it is closed during ceremonies and on Mondays. 

The Kamppi Chapel of SilenceThis unusual wooden building located in one of the city’s busiest squares. The double-hull structure keeps the outside noise to a minimum that makes the inside so serene and peaceful.  

DAY 2 

Suomenlinna  – Suomenlinna is one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world and is the most significant monument in Finland. It is a very popular tourist attraction and home of around 900 people who reside in the renovated ramparts.

Helsinki ZooHelsinki Zoo is on the island of Korkeasaari that can be easily reached by ferry from the market square. It is one of the oldest zoos in the world dating as early as 1889. Today, it features about 150 different animal species.

Linnanmäki Amusement Park – The place for thrill-seekers., This park now has 40 different rides to get your adrenaline going. Linnanmäki is only open from May-October.

Sauna VisitDid you know that Finland is the happiest country in the world? Maybe because despite living in a competitive world, Finns know how to relax and take a break. With over 5.5 million population, Finland has 3.3 million saunas. Proof that it really is their culture and still an essential part of their lives. 

DAY 3

Seurasaari Open-Air MuseumThe Seurasaari Open Air Museum was built in 1909. It is home to old farmsteads, barns manor house, church boats, cabins, farms, storehouses, and an old church, most of which dates back to the 17th century. This museum is only open in summer.

National Museum of FinlandThis museum is the home of Finnish culture from prehistoric times up to the present day. There are artifacts like religious relics, cultural exhibitions, ethnographic and other significant archaeological finds that you discover. 

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland8

Where to Stay in Helsinki, Finland if you’re a Backpacker

CheapSleep Hostel Helsinki

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

This hotel has a  mix of dorms and private rooms. Each bed has an electrical outlet and reading light with an outside view of Vallila’s historic wooden house district. They also offer a free continental buffet for all guests. Towels and slippers are available from reception with additional charges. Also with free wifi, large common room, fully equipped kitchen and a nearby supermarket.

Price rate starts at US$24,includes taxes and charges, non refundable, free breakfast

Hostel Diana Park

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

This hostel is just a 10-minute walk from Helsinki Train Station, with free WiFi access, fully equipped communal kitchen, shared bathroom facilities,  rooms have an in-room sink and some have TV. The surrounding area offers a range of bars, restaurants and shops which is very convenient for travelers.

Price rate starts at US$29,includes taxes and charges, non refundable, breakfast at US$7

Where to Stay in Helsinki, Finland if you’re on a Budget

The Yard

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

Located in the heart of Helsinki, his hostel has both private rooms and dorms with privacy curtains. A large lounge, free Wi-Fi,  kitchen is well equipped so you can prepare your own meals and they offer a free breakfast every day. It is quite and peaceful so you can really rest and relax.

Price rate starts at US$61 ,includes taxes and charges, free cancellation, breakfast included

Forenom Hostel Helsinki Pitäjänmäki

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

This hotel  offers self-catering guest rooms with an easy, keyless entry system and free WiFi, shared lounge and bathroom, refrigerator, coffee/tea facilities and a flat-screen TVCentral Helsinki can be reached in 25 minutes by public transportation. Private parking is available on site.

Price rate starts at US$69 ,includes taxes and charges, non-refundable 

Where to Stay inHelsinki, Finland if you want Luxury

Hellsten Helsinki Parliament

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

This modern apartment hotel is just 10 minutes’ walk from Helsinki Central Station. All rooms have kitchenettes with refrigerators and tea/coffee makers. Sauna access is also free. This hotel offers bright décor and light wood floors,  TV and free wired internet access. Opera House and Temppeliaukio Church is just 800 meters away, shops, bars and other entertainment are all within walking distance.

Price rate starts at US$112,includes taxes and charges, non refundable 

Omena Hotel Helsinki Lönnrotinkatu

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

This hotel is a great choice for travelers interested in design, shopping, and culture, located in Kamppi area. It offers an easy keyless entry system and simple rooms and with free WiFi, a flat-screen TV, fridge and microwave. Vending machines can be accessed at all times in the lobby.

Price rate starts at US$115, non refundable

Hotel Indigo Helsinki-Boulevard

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

The eco-friendly hotel has rooms with modern décor and amenities like hardwood floors, Nespresso coffee machines and rainfall showers are standard. Facilities include electric-car charging stations, free WiFi and a free 24-hour gym. It is surrounded by shops, restaurants, cafes and market, also Helsinki Central Station is only a 15-minute walk.

Price rate starts at US$152,includes taxes and charges, non refundable, breakfast at US$28

Where to Eat in Helsinki, Finland

Ravintola Juuri

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

Finland has its own special version of Spanish tapas: the sapas. This restaurant is one of the early promoters of sapas, that has become the restaurant’s highlight. 

Operating hours:
Sun
4:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Mon – Fri
11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
5:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sat
12:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Address: Korkeavuorenkatu 27, Helsinki 00130, Finland

Cafe Regatta

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

This small wooden cabin cafe is well known for its cinnamon bun. Sipping coffee and tea outside its relaxing ocean-view is a great way to spend your afternoon. 

Operating Hours: Sun – Sat   8:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Address: 8 Merikannontie, Töölö, Helsinki, 260, Finland

Sandro Kallio

Things to do in Helsinki, Finland

This restaurant offers Moroccan, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. The unique range of foods is unusual for Finnish plates that is why it became popular among locals. 

Operating hours:
Sun
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Tue – Thu
11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Fri – Sat
11:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Address: Kolmas Linja 17, Helsinki 00530, Finland

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

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