34 best sights of Helsinki – descriptions and photos

What to see in Helsinki in one day

Tourists often make a connection in Helsinki. Instead of waiting for the next flight at Vantaa Airport, you can walk around the center.

There tourists admire the Gulf of Finland and the stylish architecture. Finns know how to harmoniously combine natural and artificial materials, simple and complex shape. Therefore, there are many unusual buildings, monuments and churches. In 2012, Helsinki was even awarded the status of the World Design Capital.

I made a walking route around Helsinki for 4 km. During the walk you can walk around the center at a comfortable pace and see the main attractions of the Finnish capital.

The route

Mannerheim Avenue is the main street of Helsinki. On the map, this is the stretch from Kiasma to the turn to the Esplanade Park. There are many stores, cafes, and popular Finnish department stores Sokos and Stockmann. Usually winter collections are on sale in November and summer collections in July. Sale in Finnish is ale. Even taking into account the euro exchange rate you can find things cheaper than in Russia.

The best time to go to Temppeliaukio is in the morning, when the light shines through the unusual roof. Photo: Jaakko Hakulinen/Flickr

Esplanade Park is a cozy linden park. In summer, it’s nice to just sit on a bench and watch passersby.

Senate Square with its cathedral is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. In the winter, there are Christmas fairs and merry-go-rounds on the square. In summer, tourists sit on the steps of the cathedral and enjoy the view of the city.

You can go to the Kaisa and Oodi libraries as architectural museums or just to read books.

Kaisa-talo is the main building of the university library. The building is built so that when you enter you can see all the floors at once and the transparent roof. Each floor of the building is narrower than the previous one, so it resembles a spaceship.

Entrance to the library is free and does not require a passport. Many books in English are available to the public: take it and read it. Comfortable armchairs are arranged around the halls, some of them opposite the wide windows overlooking the city. You can read in them, have a coffee without the librarian’s disgruntled stare.

Helsinki’s central library, Oodi, opened at the end of 2018. It is a large three-story building with an unusual shape. Admission is free, there are books in Russian, Arabic and even Somali. In Oodi you can also drink coffee, go to the cinema and work at the computer.

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The Helsinki Music House is a large cultural center in the city center. There listen to classical music and jazz. If you like concerts, I suggest stopping by there.

The House of Music has several halls, which are designed for different numbers of people. I like the large concert hall: in addition to the fact that it has great acoustics, the hall itself looks very classy.

Details

Language. Most Finns speak English fluently. There are also many Russian-speaking immigrants in the city. But before your trip, I still recommend downloading a translator: some inscriptions or menus are not translated into English. If you don’t know Finno-Ugric languages, you won’t be able to guess the meaning of words. For example fruit juice is hedelmämehu.

Flight. Through Helsinki, you can get cheap travel to other European cities on the Norwegian low-cost airline Norvidgin. If you get on sale, the flight to France or the Canary Islands will cost 2000 P one way. From Moscow to Helsinki you can get on “Pobeda”. On average tickets cost 5000 P round trip.

Average cost of airfare from Moscow to Helsinki and back

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Anastasia Osian

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Get on the streetcar number 2 or number 3 and drive through all the sights. It is more difficult to write an article on what to do in Helsinki for TWO days.

I am there several times a year, there are always things to do )

Egor, There is also a zoo on the island. I have been to Helsinki 11 times and always had something to do.

Egor, it’s easy – the second day, for example, Sveaborg.

1) You can eat at the Old Market Hall and the square nearby 2) If you have time and it’s summer, it would be interesting to take a boat trip to Suomenlinna

Anastasia, for 7 euros you can get a decent portion of fried fish, similar to our smelt.

Anastasia, from 6 euros for ukha. I liked the fried salmon and smelt. For two about 20 euros. It’s true that eating outside can be cold.

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Anastasia, I do not remember, but cheaper than in restaurants. There are a lot of streetfood style shops – Scandinavian cuisine, soups, fish, etc.

Aleksey, how much is lunch at the market and what can you eat there? I have not been there.

I go to Helsinki 1-3 times a year, but mostly to events like hockey and concerts. For the 30th time there’s not much to do in the city, so with friends (or alone) I go to Suomenlinna, there I get out of the fence and sit with a beer on the beach, waiting for the ferry to pass, it looks nice) And to eat there all the same better in fast food restaurants, but not in a McDak, but in Hesburger: portions more, prices slightly lower.

Suomenlinna is a great place, a fortress on an island not far from Helsinki. The ferry a year ago was 5 euros, departs from the waterfront, travels about 10-15 minutes. I advise to take a full day.

Marina, you can get on the ferry with a regular transport pass, which you can buy in the HSL app.

I would add another option to get to the center of Helsinki from the airport. An electric train for 5 euros, goes 25 minutes straight to the station.

Temppeliaukio church in November 2018 the entrance cost 10 euros.

I would also recommend visiting: “Helsinki City Museum” Helsinki, Aleksanterinkatu, 16, it’s on the corner of Senate Square. There are a lot of interesting things, interactive exhibitions, I spent three hours there. I was really happy. And the souvenir store was the cheapest there. I went to the IKEA museum in Helsinki, which was a great place to hang out. “Assumption Cathedral in Helsinki”.

And in general, I download the app “izi.Travel” – it offers good hikes.

For a budget lunch I can recommend Deli Cafe Maya, for 12 euros (salad / soup / second / dessert / coffee / tea – as a buffet).

I was in Helsinki – 2 full days. For one city, that’s a LOT. For example Debrecen was a lot of 3 days :)

Helsinki

Helsinki (Finland) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Helsinki with descriptions, guides and maps.

Helsinki (Finland)

Helsinki is the capital of Finland and the administrative center of the province of Uusimaa. It is the largest city in the country, located in its southern part on the Gulf of Finland. Helsinki is a beautiful modern city that was built on the model of St. Petersburg after a fire that destroyed 1/3 of the historic core. As a result, the Finnish capital has a neoclassical center with wide, beautiful streets and boulevards. Helsinki is a city with the makings of a metropolis, which has preserved its provincial character and measured rhythm of life.

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Things to do (Helsinki):

Atmospheric Helsinki: the modest charm of the bourgeoisie

€91 per excursion

Atmospheric Helsinki: the modest charm of the bourgeoisie

Explore the Jugendstyle architecture and get a non-trivial glimpse into the historic center

Helsinki city tour + transfer

€250 for a transfer

Transfer + sightseeing tour of Helsinki

A rich driving tour for transit passengers

Geography and Climate

Helsinki is located in southern Finland on the shores of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city has grown up on a rocky coastline with little variation in elevation. The historical center is located on a peninsula. Helsinki has a temperate climate, transitional from maritime to continental. Summers are cool and winters are quite cold and snowy.

Helsinki in winter

Helsinki in winter

For tourists

  1. Population – more than 640 thousand people (agglomeration of 1.3 million).
  2. Area – 715.48 km 2 .
  3. Language: Finnish and Swedish.
  4. Currency – euro.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – UTC +2, in summer +3.
  7. The best time to visit – summer and winter.
  8. Tourist Information Center is located on the corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Unioninkatu Streets (near the Market Square).
  9. International Airport is located 18 km north of the city and is the largest in Finland. The best and cheapest way to get to Helsinki from neighboring countries is a ferry. Regular ferry connections are available to the following cities: St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Stockholm, Gdynia (Poland), Rostock (Germany).
  10. The main shopping street of Helsinki – Aleksanterinkatu. There are many stores and the largest department store in Scandinavia – Stockmann. Parallel street Esplanadi with many brand-name boutiques. Itis (subway station Itäkeskus), the largest shopping center in Scandinavia, is located 15 minutes from the city center. A large shopping center in the center of Helsinki – Kampin Keskus.
  11. Markets – Hakaniemen (food and souvenirs), Vanha kauppahalli (old market hall), Kauppatori (Market Square).
  12. Go to a restaurant in Helsinki is quite expensive. Budget food: fast food, pizza and various kebabs.

History

Helsinki was founded in 1550 by the Swedish King Gustav Vasa. The first settlement arose on the site of today’s Arabia district and was called Gammelstadt. But the harbor here was too shallow and the city was moved to another place (in the area of today’s Market Square). The new settlement was named Helsingfors. Gradually the two settlements were merged into one city.

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Until the mid-16th century, Helsinki was a small provincial town with wooden buildings. In 1748 the Swedes began construction of the fortress Sveaborg, which was to protect the coast from the sea. During this period in Helsinki appear first stone houses. During the 18th-19th centuries, Russian troops captured the city four times until in 1809 Finland became part of the Russian Empire.

Market Square in Helsinki

Helsinki Market Square

In 1808 a large part of the city was damaged by a large fire. In 1812, Helsinki was declared the capital of the Principality of Finland. In 1816, the German architect Carl Ludwig Engel was appointed chief architect of the city, who rebuilt the center of Helsinki into a modern neoclassical look.

In 1918, Helsinki was the capital of independent Finland. The city was bombed during the Soviet-Finnish War in 1939 and World War II. Helsinki hosted the Summer Olympics in 1952.

Streets of Helsinki

Streets of Helsinki

Attractions

In the historic center of Helsinki there are no sights of the Middle Ages period, as the city was founded only in the 16th century and was actually built in the 19th century on the model of St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, Helsinki is a beautiful, modern city that’s great for walking and weekend visits.

Sveaborg

Sveaborg

Sveaborg or Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 20 minutes from the center of Helsinki. This structure was built in the 18th century on an island to protect the coast of the Gulf of Finland from the sea and is often called a Swedish castle. The fortress was taken by Russian troops and later expanded. Until our time in Sveaborg some old buildings, many fortifications, catacombs and cast-iron guns have survived. A visit to the island is free. The best way to get here is to take a ferry that leaves from Market Square.

Market Square

Market Square

The Market Square is the main square of Helsinki and one of the oldest places of the Finnish capital, and one of the most famous street markets in Northern Europe. The square is located on the shores of the Baltic Sea and is famous for Finnish products and souvenirs.

Cathedral

Cathedral

The Cathedral is the main Lutheran church in Helsinki, which is the architectural dominant feature of Senate Square and one of the symbols of the city. The Cathedral was completed on the project of Carl Ludwig Engel in 1852. It is an imposing building of white marble, built in the style of classicism.

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Assumption Cathedral

Assumption Cathedral

Dormition Cathedral is one of the most imposing buildings in Helsinki. This Orthodox church is the largest in Western Europe. It is a beautiful brick building with numerous towers topped with golden domes.

Temppeliaukio

Temppeliaukio

Temppeliaukio is a Lutheran church of very unusual architecture, built right in the rock at the end of the 1960s. It has a minimalist interior and excellent acoustics.

Railway Station

Train station

The railway station is an original Art Nouveau building.

St. John's Church

Church of St. John

St. John’s Church is the largest stone church in Finland built in the late 19th century in the Gothic Revival style.

Finland Hall

Finland Hall

Finland Hall, a white Carrara marble building, was built in 1971 and serves as a concert and conference hall.

Central Park

Central Park

Interesting places in Helsinki:

  • Keskuspuisto – a huge central park of over 1,000 hectares.
  • Seurasaari – a small island north of downtown Helsinki, filled with hiking trails and authentic old Finnish houses.
  • Helsinki Zoo, which is located on the island of Korkeasaari and has 200 species of animals.
  • Kaivopuisto – a beautiful park by the sea in the southern part of the city.
  • Linnanmäki – amusement park with 43 rides.
  • Sibelius Park, dedicated to the famous Finnish composer. Known for its original monument of large metal pipes, which create music under the influence of wind.

Interesting museums in Helsinki:

  • Museum of the famous Finnish artist Gallen-Kallela, located in a picturesque location on the shore of Laahalahti Bay in the eastern part of Helsinki.
  • Finnish National Museum – collection of archaeological artifacts, Finno-Ugric collection with traditional costumes and objects of everyday culture, exhibitions on the history of Finland from the Middle Ages to the present.
  • Finnish National Art Museum has over 600 paintings including works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Gallen-Kallela. The museum is located on the south side of the station square in a beautiful late 19th century neoclassical building.

Interesting tours

Helsinki for Kids!

€100 per excursion

Helsinki for Kids!

Have a great time at the zoo, museum, aquarium, or amusement park!

Evening Helsinki

€100 per excursion

Helsinki in the Evening

Take a leisurely stroll around the city after the sunset and see the sights

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