Best Cultural Experiences in Helsinki and beyond

Although Helsinki is a relatively small city, it is packed with cultural gems for visitors to explore and enjoy. In this post we look at some of the capital’s most impressive museums and the exhibitions showing this summer and autumn, as well as some other cultural attractions close enough to Helsinki to enjoy on a day trip or stop-over.

Ateneum Museum of Art

Finland’s best known museum, the Ateneum Museum of Art is the home of Finnish art, with extensive collections that date from the 19th century to the modern era.

Ateneum Museum of Art
Ateneum Museum of Art

Sinebrychoff Art Museum

Situated opposite Hietalahti Market on Helsinki’s leafy Bulevardi, Sinebrychoff Art Museum specialises in old European art from the 14th century until the 1850s. The building was once home to Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff family, and today visitors can explore their private collection, for free, on the 2nd floor. Fashioned like the stately homes of European collectors, this section of the museum is packed with carefully hung paintings, art objects, porcelain, silver and furniture. The bottom floor is devoted to changing temporary exhibitions.

Sinebrychoff Art Museum
Sinebrychoff Art Museum

Didrichsen Art Museum

This delightful private museum is located on the island of Kuusisaari, which connects Helsinki and Espoo, and is a unique combination of an art museum and private villa by the sea. The museum has attracted visitors from around the world for over half a century, charmed by its excellent exhibitions, modern Finnish architecture, and beautiful island location. The Didrichsen Art Museum is surrounded by a public sculpture park, the only one in the Helsinki metropolitan area, which was completely renewed between 2013 and 2014.

Didrichsen Art Museum
Didrichsen Art Museum – photo © Rauno Träskelin

The National Museum of Finland

Operated by the Finnish Heritage Agency, which preserves Finland’s material cultural heritage, the National Museum of Finland presents the history of Finnish life from prehistoric times to the present through three permanent exhibitions and changing temporary exhibitions.

Kansallismuseo
Kansallismuseo – National Museum of Finland

The Finnish Heritage Agency also operates Seurasaari, the largest open air museum in Finland, and Hvitträsk, the studio home of the architecture firm Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen. Seurasaari is an island that showcases all of Finland’s folk history by recreating its traditional way of life through cottages, manors, farmsteads and churches, representing four centuries of rural life. Seurasaari’s historic Antin Kaffeliiteri café was recently renovated and offers coffee, refreshments and snacks during the museum’s opening hours.

Hvitträsk is a completely unique comprehensive work of art that attracts design and architecture enthusiasts from near and abroad. The architect trio Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen fell in love with the scenery at Lake Vitträsk and built their own studio home there, in the National Romantic style in 1903.

Seurasaari Open Air Museum
Seurasaari Open Air Museum
Hvittrask
Hvittrask

Culture Beyond Helsinki

A little over two hours from Helsinki lies the city of Tampere, home to the Vapriikki Museum Centre and the only Moomin Museum in the world. Idyllically located next to the Tammerkoski rapids, Vapriikki hosts around a dozen new exhibitions every year, covering various subjects from history to technology and natural sciences. The centre is home to the Natural History Museum of Tampere, the Media Museum Rupriikki, the Mineral Museum, the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame, the Doll Museum, Postal Museum and The Finnish Museum of Games. Visitors to the centre will also find the Valssi restaurant and a museum shop offering a wide selection of gifts, souvenirs, and books.

The world’s only Moomin Museum moved into Tampere’s iconic Tampere-talo a couple of year’s ago, where its first permanent exhibition retells the entire story of the Moomins. It features original artwork by Tove Jansson as well as fascinating three-dimensional tableaux made by Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä. The Moomins and the Sea exhibition takes a look at the Moomins’ nature-loving lifestyle through a selection of Jansson’s original illustrations.

Moomin Museum Laura_Vanzo
©Moomin Museum – photo © Laura_Vanzo

A little over an hour from Tampere lies the town of Mänttä-Vilppula, known as the art town thanks to the twin museums of Serlachius Museums Gösta and Gustaf. At the Serlachius Museum Gösta old masters meet new artists in the midst of a beautiful lake landscape, while Serlachius Museum Gustaf and its exhibitions tell stories about the legends of industry as well as about art.

A day in Tampere is rarely enough. There is a wide range of hotels to choose from. Stay over night and enjoy your stay! https://visittampere.fi/en/accommodation/

Serlachius Museum Gösta
Serlachius Museum Gösta

Approximately one hour from Helsinki, Finland’s 2nd oldest town is Porvoo, and justifiably considered by most visitors to be the most beautiful in the country. The section known as Old Porvoo is known for its delightful waterfront of red ochre sheds, its medieval cobblestoned streets and alleys. Visitors are invited to stroll around Old Porvoo to best experience its charms, admiring the delightful artisanal shops and boutiques along the way, and discover beautiful Porvoo Cathedral, and the small market place in front of the old town hall. It is also home to the house museum of Finland’s national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg and his wife Fredrika Runeberg who lived there with their children. The works of art on display, Runeberg’s hunting weapons in the ‘fox skin room’, and the porcelain in the cupboards all serve as reminders of both everyday and social life of the family.

Porvoo
Porvoo

Known for its friendly personnel, great breakfast, good service and value for money, the private and cosy Hotel Arthur is located in Helsinki city centre just 200m the Central Railway Station. Hotel Arthur’s location is ideal for public transport: The Helsinki University metro station and tram stops for tram lines 3, 6, 6T and 9 are next to the hotel. Helsinki’s most prominent sights, museums, theaters, restaurants, parks, marketplaces and churches are all within walking distance of the hotel. Hotel Arthur has 203 unique rooms which are divided to 14 room categories, including single economy rooms, Deluxe rooms for couples, family rooms for 4-5 people, and two suites with private saunas – all rooms come with free wifi. During Autumn 2020, renovated Bistro Arthur will be opened serving breakfast, lunch, Bistro menu and á la carte Dinner during weekdays.

Hotel Arthur
Hotel Arthur