Best Things To Do In Helsinki

Helsinki is the capital of Finland and began life in the 16th century. However, 200 years later was when the capital really took shape as the Russians began to develop the city in line with that of St. Petersburg, giving it broad streets and neoclassical mansions. There is so much to see in the city, so we have put together a list of the best things to do in Helsinki.

Helsinki cathedral at night

Suomenlinna

The Suomenlinna ferry

Take a ferry from Kauppatori and in a short trip, you will find yourself staring at one of the most spectacular man-made areas of Scandinavia or maybe even the world. This is a giant maritime fortress that is spread over seven islands and was created by the Swedes in the 19th century in order to protect and defend their country.

Amazingly, nothing has changed to the place and so, you can take a look at the star-shaped walls and gun positions although this is still home to around 1,000 people.

Helsinki Cathedral

View of the Helsinki cathedral

The unmistakable green dome of this impressive building can be seen way above the Helskink skyline and even from the water, it is every bit spectacular. While visiting Helsinki, this is one of those sights that you have to see for yourself because it whitewashed neoclassical look is grand and spectacular.

It was built in the mid 19th century and was known as St. Nicholas’ Cathedral in honour of the Russian Tsar Nicholas but after the Finnish independence in 1917, it became know as Helsinki Cathedral.

Esplanadi

Esplanadi Park in Helsinki

The locals refer to this as Espa and this beautiful slither of green space in the heart of the city is a place where you can relax, picnic and enjoy the entertainment in the summer months. Here you will find shows and live music performance on stage during the warmer time of the year but if walking and enjoying open space is your thing then this has a lot to offer you.

Temppeliaukio Church

Interior of the Temppeliaukio church

Temppeliaukio Church by Jorge Láscar  – Source: Flickr

This church is every bit unique and you certainly won’t find many like it throughout the world. This church comes as a result of competition that took place post-war and it was won by the Suomalainen Brothers and was inaugurated in 1969.

Some of the building is underground and has been made from bedrock and that can be seen on the interior walls and around the central dome is a circular skylight that lets light flood into the main chamber in the daytime. The architects designed every aspect of the church including the decoration and the furniture.

Urban Sauna visit

Inside urban sauna helsinki

With over 3 million saunas in Finland, you simply have to visit one! Many of them are open to the public and so, whether it is winter or summer, you should spend some time trying one out. If you decide to give one a go, remember that there are rules to follow such as men and women being separate and naked is best but towels are permitted and if you have to talk, you should be as quiet as possible.

Linnanmäki

Amusement park in Helsinki

Linnanmäki by markow76 – Source: Flickr

With a history of more than 65 years, this is an amusement park that you need to visit. Throughout its life, it has donated all of its profits to a Finnish child welfare charity and with over a million visitors a year, it is certainly a popular attraction.

There are white-knuckle rollercoasters on offer and amusement arcades along with a host of shows. In fact, here you will find Finnish record-breaking rides such as the highest and fastest but many that date back to the 1950s.

Crayfish parties

Bowl of crayfish

During the months of July and August, the citizens of Helsinki dress up and head to the seafood restaurants in the city. This is crayfish season and so, the shellfish is consumed with Akvavit in a complicated set of rituals.

Waiters will be more than happy to explain to you how to eat crayfish in the correct way and when you should drink your shot of Akvavit.

Wooden House Districts

Wooden houses in Helsinki

During the 20th century, the city began to grow and with that came a need to provide housing to the working class. The houses in these districts were made of wood and although many of them have now been demolished and replaced, there are still a few that still remain.

The smart painted timber houses are now home to the bohemian, care-free types of people and are a reminder of what this city used to be like. However, areas such as Puu Vallila have trendy bars and coffee shops while areas such as Puu-Kapyla is known for its green space. This is an impressive suburb and a great way to look back through its history.

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