What to do in the capital of Finland on vacation

Helsinki

Helsinki photo 1

Helsinki is a large city, which does not boast its own size. The compact center of the city, which would be very similar to St. Petersburg, if not for injections of original modern architecture, can be bypassed on foot, and scattered on the islands and suburbs sights simply would not notice …

Until the time, of course, for not to notice them is impossible, if you come on vacation with children in Helsinki.

Who of children will refuse to go to the island where the old fortress is located? Who will miss the chance to see polar bears and snow leopards in the zoo in front of a real, not drawn snow?

And who, pray tell, will remain indifferent to the fact that next to the capital of Finland is the cottage of Santa Claus?

Well, and adults at the same time marvel that in Helsinki there are beaches, where in summer full of people, and that winter in southern Finland is not as harsh as it seems. Do you need more arguments that Helsinki is suitable for families? Kidpassage is ready to provide them.

Where is Helsinki?

Helsinki – the capital of Finland, the largest city in the country with a population of 630 thousand people, the center of the province of Uusimaa, and a regular member of the top ten cities with a high quality of life.

Helsinki is located in southern Finland, on the shores of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The distance from Helsinki to Tampere is 178 km, Jyväskylä is 269 km, Rovaniemi is 811 km, St. Petersburg is 387 km, Tallinn is 87 km and Stockholm is 483 km.

Holidays with children

Before you take a real trip to Helsinki, open a map of the city with the kids. What do you see? Instead of a neat polygon on the map you find a scattering of islands of different sizes.

The peninsula and 330 islands are the territory of the Finnish capital. Some plots of land in the Baltic Sea are uninhabited, but suitable for walking and fishing.

Others are built up with residential houses and hotels. And on the third are the most interesting places of the city – the zoo, the fortress Suomenlinna, an open-air museum and natural parks.

If you come to Helsinki with children in the summer, try to have at least a few days to rest in order to have time to do everything: and the best museums to visit (to run into the past, look into the black hole and scratch behind the ear of a mammoth), and go to the water park, and liquorice candy to buy gifts for all friends.

And go for a walk, of course: in quiet parks you may have a rest with the infant while pre-schoolers play on playgrounds. And if you come in winter, to the usual entertainment can be added a meeting with Santa – he has a residence in southern Finland, and he also comes to the capital on Christmas Eve.

Going to vacation with a child in Helsinki, take care of warm clothes in your luggage. Despite the fact that the climate in Finland is even milder than in St. Petersburg in the summer it may be significantly colder. Also waterproof jacket and shoes come in handy – the rain in the country is not uncommon.

Important detail: vacation in Helsinki is worth planning in advance, because the city’s hotels are almost always full.

When best to go

Tourist season in Helsinki does not have a pronounced peak, but still demand for hotels increases in the summer and in anticipation of the Christmas holidays.

It is better to come with a child in the summer – you have a better chance to see all the sights in the open air without rushing, and even find out if you can sunbathe on the Baltic Sea.

The pre-Christmas period is special. If the frost isn’t too severe, it’s a good idea to walk the festively decorated streets of Aleksanterinkatu and buy “Christmas stars” made of puff pastry and figurative gingerbread “piparkakut” at the fairs.

And if December does turn out to be frosty, we recommend moving to the warm hall of the Finnish National Opera and watching the fairytale ballet “The Snow Queen”.

Weather and Climate

Finland is associated with snow and frosts only for those who have never been to this country. Yes, in Rovaniemi above the Arctic Circle it is not particularly warm, but in the south summer is like summer, and even the heat sometimes catches the travelers who prefer the northern seas to the southern ones.

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The climate of Helsinki is defined as temperate continental with a transition to the sea. The most suitable time to vacation with children – summer.

The inhabitants of the country really appreciate this time: the weather in Helsinki is beautiful, a hundred days of sunshine, and the thermometer columns do not fall below +20 ° C.

In June it may be a little cooler, but in July and August, sometimes you can catch a heat up to +30 ° C. But more often it is mild warmth in Helsinki, and tourists can wear a light jacket in a backpack.

Finns themselves are not insulated during this period and, if it’s not raining, sunbathe on well-groomed sandy beaches. Imagine that in the water parks there are open swimming pools, where in the summer full of kids swimming.

Summer is also a period of white nights. Daylight time in the second half of June lasts 19 hours, and evening twilight slowly turns into dawn.

Helsinki weather peculiarity – the winds in any season. The wind is especially felt in the coastal areas.

September brings a noticeable chill. Prepare for the fact that the temperature will not exceed +15 ° C, and by the end of the month will be cooler, about +10 ° C. October is still in the low plus range, but by November the thermometers will most often show 0°C.

From December to March Helsinki is a freezing winter. The average temperature during this period is -3°C to -6°C, but January can be a bit colder. Luckily, temperatures rarely drop to -20°C. Winters in Helsinki are snowy, with snowfall peaking in December and January.

Winter is characterized by very short days and long twilight – influenced by the proximity to the Arctic Circle. But the reward for those who come to Finland in winter is the opportunity to see the Northern Lights.

While March is considered a winter month in the Finnish capital, the weather in April already feels a bit like spring. The temperature increasingly stays on the plus side, and by the middle of the month the figure will reach +8 ° C. Cool May resembles September, but after winter, +15°C seems like real warmth.

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What to do.

At number one on the list of attractions for children in Helsinki is the amusement park Linnanmäki. In the summer in the panoramic tower, tourists climb to a height of 53 meters to see the entire city and the Gulf of Finland, and the incredible roller coaster spend a lot of adrenaline.

Among the fifty rides of the park there are a lot of family attractions, and what is nice, there are free entertainment for children, from swings-and-rolls to water rope maze. To have enough energy for all the fun, you can have a Linnanmäki bun to go with it.

In winter, when it is too cold for outdoor activities, let your child play at HopLop, Leikkiluola (Play Cave) or Super Park in Vantaa. Indoor complexes are equipped for playful activities and have arcade rooms as well.

The better the weather, the more chances you have to relax outdoors. On a warm day you can spend time with the kids at the huge Serena Water Park in Espoo . There are two play areas for children outdoors and another two indoors.

Entertainment for adults is also plentiful, just to mention the names of the slides “Tornado” and “Wild Flow”. With the first snow, the water park opens the ski slopes, and for the extreme, a snow park with figures for performing stunts begins to work.

Water park Flamingo in Vantaa is smaller, but the water in its pools is so warm that you do not want to get out. While the kids are having a blast in the paddling pool, you can try out some of the steep slides or relax in the jacuzzi.

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Parks and sightseeing tours

For a walk with your child, you can go to any of the many parks in Helsinki. The central park Esplanadi is a popular destination for families with children, the alleys of Alppipuisto are great for taking a walk in a baby carriage and Kaivopuisto is a popular place for sunbathing on the Gulf of Finland (and has great playgrounds for kids).

But there is also a park in Helsinki, where coffee, cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon grow. These plants can be seen in the botanical garden Gardenia-Helsinki. Get acquainted with the flora of different parts of the world, continue in one of the botanical gardens of the city and in the winter garden.

But how, being in a strange city, not to visit the sightseeing tour? Choose the mode of transport, on which it will be interesting to travel: a double-decker bus, pleasure boat or streetcar number 3T.

The Finnair Skywheel, installed in the center of the city, can also be classified as an excursion vehicle. During 20 minutes while the wheel makes a full turn you see the multi-storey ships in the port, and the walls of the fortress Suomenlinna, and clear lines of the streets of Helsinki.

And you can stroll through the historic center on foot, looking at monuments and stopping for coffee with a traditional Finnish bun korvapuusti.

If you want to create a travel guidebook about your trip to Helsinki with your child later, be sure to include a cinnamon stick and boxes of cardamom – these sweet spices remind you of the aroma of Finland’s delicious baked goods.

What to see in Helsinki

If you sailed to Helsinki by ferry, the child will get to the capital of Finland already with a baggage of delight. But those who have traveled by other means of transport, only have to gain experience.

And you should start, of course, with the science and entertainment center “Eureka” . Go snowboarding in the absence of snow, take up residence in a bear den, enter into a dialogue with time, make a virtual ascent of Everest – these are just a few of the many amazing opportunities that Heureka offers.

In the warmer months you can afford a little trip by ferry, even if you are already in Helsinki: this is one of the fastest ways to get to the zoo on the island of Korkeasaari.

The animals, for whom the cold latitudes are their home, have a special luster here. But the warm-loving inhabitants of the tropics also feel great in the zoo. In winter, ice sculptures decorate the huge area.

If you have the time and desire to get up close and personal with the animals, visit the Fallkulla pet farm. Here you are allowed to pet and feed the animals, and you can also take care of goats, sheep, piglets and poultry for a short while.

And then there is the Sea Life Center in Helsinki. 50 aquariums with different fish, an underwater tunnel, behind the glass which sharks swim, a contact pool with sea inhabitants – this is a permanent exhibition of the oceanarium.

But from time to time interesting exhibitions are held in the center: for example, here you can see the inhabitants of waters that survived dinosaurs. The Tropicario terrarium, with its reptiles and tropical birds, is an interesting place for children.

And what’s good for travelers with children: the Helsinki City Museum has a section for children. It is called the Children’s City and it is … a city in which you can live. Entrance to this museum is free, as well as to all the other exhibitions of the City Museum.

Which museums are worth a visit?

Meanwhile, in Helsinki, it is quite possible to show your child a few adult museums. The first of them is the fortress Sveaborg, or Suomenlinna . On the islands, where the bastions of the XVIII century, too, you need to get by ferry.

In the fortress works Military Museum of Finland, and during the tour you can visit the renovated submarine “Vesikko. And next door is the Toy Museum, where among the 2000 old dolls live charming mummy-trolls and their friends.

Undoubtedly, the National Museum of Finland is able to attract the attention of children. Its building was built 100 years ago in the imitation of the architecture of Finnish castles of the Middle Ages.

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In the halls of the museum collected objects that can tell about life on the territory of Finland dozens, hundreds, thousands of years ago. It is interesting that the museum has placed not only artifacts typical of bygone times, such as clothes made of animal skins and rusty swords, but also things of our time (from plastic bottles to mummy-troll figurines).

Kids love the Christmas hall and the interactive exhibit, where history can be explored, shall we say, experientially.

There is another museum to visit in Helsinki with your child if you are interested in Finland’s past. Instead of stories about wars and revolutions, you’ll find the comfort of an old Finnish village on Seurasaari Island.

It’s an open-air museum with folk architecture from all over the country. Squirrels wander around the island, not shy about accepting offerings of seeds and nuts.

On Juhannus, the longest day of the year and Finland’s national holiday, the museum hosts a colorful folk culture festival. And in December, on Christmas Day, the “Christmas Path” is laid out on Seurasaari, a path full of wonders.

To the list of things to see with children in Helsinki, add the Museum of Natural History. Each of its exhibits is fantastic. Skeletons of dinosaurs, you can immediately guess which one of them trustingly chewed ferns, and which one was hunting other lizards.

And stuffed animals don’t look like stuffed animals: it looks like a tiger is about to catch up with a deer, and a panda is about to jump from branch to branch closer to the juicy bamboo leaves. Also very interesting is the exhibition “Ice Age.

Helsinki Card and savings on tours

The Helsinki Card (Helsinki Card) can help you save money on excursions and travel. With this card you can use public transport free of charge, take a guided tour of Helsinki, visit the National Museum of Finland, the Seurasaari Ethnographic Museum, as well as get a discount on tickets to other interesting museums.

Helsinki Card for an adult with validity of 24, 48 and 72 hours costs 44, 54 and 64 euros respectively. For children 7-16 years old the card costs 22, 27 and 32 euros.

To decide whether you need a card, try to determine the list of excursions: in many museums visitors under 18 years of age enjoy free admission, and some large museums set hours and days when admission is free for all visitors.

If you plan to visit the suburbs of Helsinki (Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen), you can buy a Helsinki Card Region.

In addition to the water park and amusement park, Espoo is home to Santa Claus’ southern residence. Ask when Santa Claus is visiting Espoo and make an appointment for a visit – he’s a delight to visit and his elf assistants will teach you all about getting ready for Christmas.

What to do.

Sampo Puppet Theater

Päivälehti Seal Museum

Korkee Rope Adventure Park

Where to stay: The districts

The number of hotels in Helsinki can accommodate the huge number of tourists coming to the capital of Finland. And yet, the where to stay in Helsinki with the kids should be taken care of in advance – the most convenient and reasonably priced rooms are sold out very quickly.

Most hotels in Finland’s main city correspond to the category of 3-4 stars, although often do not have an officially assigned category. There are also several 5-star hotels.

Accommodation in Helsinki is not cheap, but the quality of service fully meets the cost.

Many hotels have family rooms, some offer free accommodation for children. In the price is usually not included food, or included only breakfast buffet. A plus of hotels for those who travel by car is availability of own parking (though not always free).

Most hotels in Helsinki use centralized air conditioning, so rooms can be cool. It is worth taking slippers and warm pajamas for the child.

A little cheaper to rent apartments. They usually have a well-equipped kitchen, where you can cook for yourself. In Finland, common fast food, but to find an inexpensive restaurant with a healthy menu for a child is not so easy, so self-cooking will help solve the problem of nutrition.

At the same time, it is useful to know that many cafes open early in the morning, so if you want you can have breakfast outside the house. It is worth focusing on cafes labeled buffet – it is a cheap catering, where food is organized on a buffet basis.

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In terms of comfort and peace of mind, to live with a child suitable for almost all districts of Helsinki. Although many attractions are located in the center, but to the zoo in Helsinki, Seurasaari Museum and Suomenlinna Fortress have to get on public transport, regardless of where the hotel is located.

Parks and green areas can be found in any part of the city, as well as supermarkets. But if you are in the capital in transit, it makes sense to stay in the center or near the train station, namely in the following areas:

  • Kruununhaka
  • Kluuvi
  • Katayanokka
  • Kamppi

You can also live in the outskirts of Helsinki, although it should be noted that the cost of rooms in hotels in Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen is almost equal to the price of rooms in the capital.

At the same time you can settle next to Helsinki, if you plan not an excursion but an entertainment program – the suburbs of the capital there are water parks and children’s amusement parks. In Espoo you can relax in nature, staying in a cottage or camping in a forest park.

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Finland’s capital is the perfect place for people of all ages to have a great time. In our pick of 9 magical places, a visit to which will leave an indelible imprint on the soul of every child.

Top 9 interesting places for children in Helsinki

Linnanmäki Luna Park

Linnanmäki is the oldest amusement park in Finland. It opened more than half a century ago, in 1950, and the symbol and most recognizable attraction of the park is wooden roller coaster. Now the park has 43 rides for children of all ages, including several extreme rides, traditional carousel and race track, dead loop and the chamber of horrors for those who like to tickle their nerves, and the Ferris wheel, which offers a beautiful view over the entire city.

One ride costs 7 € and a bracelet, which gives the right to try every ride in the park, costs 35 €. The park is open to visitors from late April to late October.

Tivolikuja 1, Helsinki

Leikkiluola game center

Leikkiluola Play Cave is an indoor play center for children located near the center of the Finnish capital, just under Hakaniemi square.

Leikkiluola Play Cave offers a variety of games and activities for children of all ages, from the very youngest. Among other things, there are inflatable trampolines, an obstacle course, a ghost cave, a climbing wall and a sea of balloons.

A wristband, which serves as an entrance ticket, costs from 8 to 12 euros, and accompanying adults can enter the territory of the Cave completely free of charge.

Sörnäisten rantatie 6, Helsinki

Korkeasaari Island Zoo

One of the most interesting zoos in the north – the Helsinki Zoo on Korkeasaari Island – is also one of the oldest zoos in the world. It was founded more than 100 years ago in 1889.

Today in the spacious park you can see about 200 species of animals and 1000 plant species from all over the world: from the Arctic tundra to the tropical jungle. There are representatives of endangered species: the snow leopard and the Amur tiger, and the pavilions “Africasia” and “Amazonia” present a tropical variety of species. Since the zoo is located on an island, unique conditions have been created inside for the animals, which really feel at home here.

The zoo is open to visitors all year round. In summer a special ferry regularly leaves from the Market Square, and in winter you can get to the zoo by metro or bus.

Mustikkamaanpolku 12, Helsinki

Science Center Heureka

The slogan of this center is: “Eureka drives you crazy! And indeed, the first time you look at these amazing exhibits, you feel like the world is turned upside down.

Eureka is a unique interactive museum for children, although, frankly speaking, any adult will find something to occupy themselves in this museum as well. Here you can touch everything with your hands, try out simulators and educational exhibits. The main exhibition introduces the structure of the human body, the laws of physics and natural phenomena. Visitors can take part in the process of making paper or spin the wheel of energy.

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On the second floor you can go on a journey through the universe. Theater of emotions “Vern” is simultaneously a planetarium and a cinema. One of the permanent thematic exhibitions is the park in front of the center. Here you can find a collection of minerals from Finnish rocks. And in the scientific shop “Magnet” sold a lot of interesting things, toys and souvenirs, some of which are sure to want to take away with you.

The museum is located near the station Tikkurila, which can be reached by bus number 611 from the railway station in Helsinki.

Sveaborg Toy Museum

The Toy Museum, located on the territory of Suonmenlinna Fortress, which we have recently written about, is located on the island of Iso Mustasaari in an old wooden house built in 1911.

The toy museum was originally based on the collection of artist Piippa Tandefelt, who managed to collect a large number of old dolls and other toys. She bought the first old toys for her daughter, and since the family lived poorly, the artist bought dolls already old. Later Piippa became interested in collecting antique objects. And in 1979, working in Suomenlinna, the art center asked Piippa for her collection of toys for the exhibition in the coastal barracks. After the success of the exhibition, a permanent exhibition was created.

Real porcelain dolls from the beginning of the last century in handmade dresses, tiny Finnish houses cut into sections, whole armies of tin soldiers from different eras – all this awaits you in this island museum.

Suonmenlinna C66, Helsinki

Sea Life Aquarium

The aquarium is located in the Linnanmäki Luna Park and, unlike the park, is open year-round. The two-story aquarium building offers a plunge into the underwater world and meet the inhabitants of both the cool Baltic Sea and the southern seas.

The journey introduces hundreds of species of marine animals collected from all over the world, from starfish and shrimps to sharks. The graceful shark hunters, ferocious piranhas, funny seahorses, plucky clownfish and octopuses – the life of the deep sea inhabitants of both hemispheres will be presented to you in the smallest detail.

Tivolitie 10, Helsinki

Children’s Town Exposition

The merchant’s house Cederholm is the oldest stone building in Helsinki, built in 1757. At first it was home to temporary exhibitions, but since November 21, 2012 it has been home to a permanent exhibition called Children’s Town.

In this touching museum you can learn almost everything about the lives of children and their parents and grandparents over the past 300 years. You can take a fascinating journey through eighteenth-century Helsinki, visit a public school in the 1930s, and peek at grandparents in the 1970s. Here you can not only see photos, old posters, but also touch the authentic objects of those years, try on vintage costumes and play with toys.

Admission to the Söderholm House, like all branches of the City Museum, is free, but it is worth noting that the museum is currently closed for restoration until mid-spring 2016.

Aleksanterinkatu 16-18, Helsinki

Terrarium

Those who are not terrified of seeing live snakes and lizards will enjoy visiting the Tropicarium, which mainly features the world of tropical animals.

Here you’ll find Scandinavia’s largest collection of southern latitudes. Giant pythons and the world’s most venomous snakes, colorful brisk lizards and wallowy monitor lizards, as well as spiders, turtles, frogs, and even a crocodile can be seen behind the huge windows. Tropicarium’s inhabitants are divided by species, and you can read information about each animal on the stand near the terrariums. It is even possible to order a tour in Russian with a professional guide.

by the art director at ul. Sturenkatu 27, Helsinki

Fallkullan kotieläintila pet farm

At the farm, founded in 1989, you can get to know the traditional pets, which include sheep, goats, horses, piglets and geese. Although there are no exotic animals here, young visitors usually get excited when they are invited to take part in caring for some of the farm’s inhabitants themselves.

For a fee, you can try your hand at riding a horse from the local stables.

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