The Metropolitan area of Helsinki, which includes the nearby cities of Vantaa and Espoo, is the largest urban concentration in Finland, with a population in the region of one million. Finland's capital, Helsinki, is the country's busiest port, and stretches across a number of Baltic islands and peninsulas, while the suburbs spread out into the surrounding forests.
Helsinki has a reputation for being one of Europe's most progressive and modern cities, with a fascinating history going back over 450 years. Its combination of bustling, busy market places, of seaside parks, bars, cafés, and restaurants, its variety of museums and galleries, outdoor music festivals and concerts, all combine to make this a perfect city for visitors.
Amongst the many attractions in the area, the island fortress of Suomenlinna, located in the entrance to the South Harbour, stands out, and is very popular with locals for picnics and family outings. Staying in the islands, a visit to the Open Air Museum of traditional buildings on Seurasaari shouldn't be missed, nor should a trip to Kiasma which houses the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Temppeliaukio, the unique Church in the Rock, both located near the city centre. Take in the history as you stroll through Senate Square, where the focus is the neo-Classical Lutheran Cathedral, and nearby Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral can be seen looming from its hilltop vantage once you reach the market place in the harbour. The city has a wide variety of excursions to avail of, like relaxed cruises around the archipelago, or steamer trips along the coast to the historic town of Porvoo, and even day trips across the Baltic to the Estonian capital, Tallinn.
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.
A bustling metropolis with 5 centres, Espoo is a city rich in culture yet still firmly rooted in nature, nestled between Nuuksio National Park and the Baltic Sea. Home to Finland's largest art museum, EMMA, as well as numerous other museums and galleries, Espoo's cultural calendar is ever a busy one, as the city hosts international music and film festivals and boasts its own acclaimed Symphony Orchestra.
Museums and Science Centres, petting zoos and medieval churches, the largest leisure centre in Finland next to the largest shopping mall in Finland, garden centres, parks and access to untamed woodlands and nature trails: don't miss out on the real Vantaa - it's much more than an airport.