photo © Discovering Finland
A modern city featuring some of the most distinctive architecture in the world, both old and new, Helsinki is one of the cultural hot spots of Northern Europe. An ideal holiday destination for both for lovers of the arts and those who relish its exciting and vibrant nightlife, Helsinki is also a child-friendly city perfect for family vacations, and being surrounded by forests, lakes and the sea, it is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Find out what to do in Helsinki.
What to do in Helsinki
Situated on the Baltic Sea, Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is a modern city of over half a million people, and is the second most northern capital in Europe. Surrounded by an archipelago of hundreds of tiny islands, and culturally influenced by both the East and West, Helsinki is unique, combining both modern and historic architectural styles with a love of open spaces that is at the very heart of Finnish identity.
Helsinki is world famous for its architecture; the city centre is renowned for its neoclassicalism, especially around Senate Square where the Government Palace, Cathedral, and Main Building of the University of Helsinki, all designed by C.L. Engel, stand out. Close by on a hilltop stands the Uspenski Cathedral, Europe’s largest Russian Orthodox church, and a stunning example of the Byzantine-Russian style. Scattered about the city are fine examples of Jugendstil, or Art Nouveau, noticeably developing into a National Romanticist style, particularly in the case of the National Museum of Finland and the magnificent Railway Station. Elsewhere, the Temppeliaukio Church and Finlandia Hall represent early Modernism.
As befits one of Europe’s foremost capital cities, Helsinki is vibrant, yet paradoxically as laid-back as the Finns who call it home. Wide and spacious streets and avenues allow for a multitude of cafes and restaurants to serve outdoors, where you sit back and relax, and at night there is no shortage of bars, clubs and venues to choose from. Throughout the year, Helsinki offers an incredible variety of activities for people of all ages, whether they prefer challenging sports, or gentle investigations of the natural beauty all around them. Cruises around the archipelago, trekking in the nearby forests, and traditional Finnish saunas, are some of the more popular choices, but there’s plenty more besides.