Best things to do in Helsinki
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. Thanks to its location surrounded by the sea, forests, and lakes, and with two National Parks on either side, it is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Find out the best things to do in Helsinki!
Visitors to Helsinki can find almost everything they are seeking, whether they come in summer or winter. Packed with excellent cultural attractions and events, a fascinating blend of architectural styles, and an incredible amount of open and green spaces, Finland’s modern and cosmopolitan capital is an exciting and fun city to stay in.
There is a wide range of guided tours available for visitors, whether they prefer on foot, by bicycle, via the public transport system, or on any number of hop-on hop-off buses that abound. The city centre is known for its broad pavements and plentiful cycling paths, with a well-designed network of trams, all of which combine to make getting around easy.
Green Helsinki – Parks & Islands
Large swathes of the downtown area have been preserved as public parks, including Kaisaniemi with its botanic gardens, Kaivopuisto with its excellent seaviews, as well as those in Hietaniemi and Töölö. As a city built on islands and peninsulas on the Baltic Sea, Helsinki also provides easy access to a large number of islands in the inner harbour, including the wonderful Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These islands provide excellent opportunities for picnics, swimming, public saunas, and fine dining, depending on which you choose to visit. One of those islands is Seurasaari, which is Finland’s largest open-air museum, and which allows visitors to experience the full range of Finnish folk history through its incredible number of original buildings, taken from all over Finland and rebuilt there.
Helsinki’s Harbour Attractions
Helsinki’s main Market Square is one of the more famous landmarks, but recent years have seen the adjacent site in Katajanokka developed with a number of fine attractions. The Allas Sea Pool provides several saunas, outdoor swimming pools, a restaurant, and a cafe with terraces overlooking the busy harbour. Towering above it is the Helsinki Skywheel, which provides excellent views over the city and the Baltic, and also features the only sky sauna in the world, with a hot-tub back on the ground. Nearby you’ll find Flytour Helsinki, which provides a movie experience that will take you up in the air and show you the best sights in the city from a unique perspective.
Maritime Helsinki also offers a range of wonderful experiences to choose from, whether lunch cruises through the archipelago, trips to and from Suomenlinna, as well as day trips to the Estonian capital of Tallinn, or overnight cruises to Stockholm in Sweden.
The Wilderness Next Door – Nuuksio National Park
Another popular retreat from the city is the nearby Nuuksio National Park, just 30 minutes from the city centre. Here visitors can enjoy typical Finnish scenery, with gorgeous forests, lovely lakes, and rugged paths connecting it all. Nuuksio is ideal for memorable guided excursions in the forest, picking wild berries, herbs, and mushrooms, canoeing and fishing trips, a camping break, or a longer stay in one of the many lakeside accommodations available there.