Helsinki is the number one summer holiday destination in Finland, a suitably spacious city where there is plenty to do and experience for the whole family. Read on to discover all the great activities and attractions for all the family in Helsinki.
Seurasaari is a favorite outdoor, hiking and picnic area for Helsinki residents, known for its tame squirrels. At the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, you´ll experience and learn about the lifestyles of rural Finns during the previous centuries. You can also visit the charming Antin Kaffeliiteri museum café and the museum shop, perfect for having a snack and for buying some souvenirs. The island also has a beach and is easily accessible all day long. You can get to the island from the city centre by bus, tram, car or city bike.
Helsinki’s unique island zoo, Korkeasaari, also welcomes summer holidaymakers. The island’s restaurants, cafés and outdoor dining areas with barbecues are open every day. Korkeasaari works for biodiversity, and by visiting the zoo, you support this work and contribute to the preservation of wildlife. Korkeasaari can be reached by water bus from Kauppatori or Hakaniemi.
Maritime Helsinki offers easy access to several nearby islands, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Suomenlinna. On Suomenlinna you can hike, swim, sunbathe and enjoy the island’s restaurants and cafés. The newest summer excursion destinations in the Helsinki archipelago which have recently opened to tourists, are the islands of Lonna, Vallisaari and Isosaari, with connecting ferries leaving from Helsinki Market Square. You can get to Pihlajasaari and Uunisaari by water bus from Kaivopuisto.
Beaches and Pools
Did you know you can sunbathe and swim in outdoor pools right in the centre of Helsinki? The stylish Allas Sea Pool is located beside Helsinki’s famous Market Square, at the foot of the SkyWheel Helsinki. The saunas, the heated pools, and the seawater pool serve swimmers as well as those just looking to relax and enjoy the view. Their sea water and heated pools are open every day, and under the supervision of two lifeguards. The outdoor terraces have great sea views and plenty of space, there are as many as six terraces this summer. Restaurants and cafes are open to everyone. Tickets are needed just for sauna and pool-area.
There are plenty of swimming beaches to choose from in Helsinki. The most popular are Hietsu, or Hietalahti beach near the city center, which can be reached by bike, bus or tram. The best beach in Helsinki, even in Finland, has been called Aurinkolahti beach, which with its fine sand, beach boulevards and restaurants resembles the beaches of southern resorts. Other popular beaches close to nature are Iso Kallahti beach, Munkkiniemi beach, Marjaniemi beach and Mustikkamaa beach next to Korkeasaari.
Helsinki is full of large parks where you can escape the urban landscape in nature. There is a beautiful cycling route around Kaivopuisto Park, along which you can admire maritime Helsinki and enjoy the delicacies of the Helsinki ice cream factory. On the bench or lawn of the lively Esplanade Park, you can watch the hustle and bustle of people passing by. Sinebrychoff Park next to the art museum is a great place for a picnic. Admire palm trees and other tropical plants in the Kaisaniemi Botanical Garden in Kaisaniemi Park. A popular walking route runs around Töölönlahti Bay, along which you can see beautiful villas and charming cafés. You can also rent an SUP board, rowing boat or kayak from Töölönlahti.
Things to do on a rainy day
For anyone interested in the history of Finland, The National Museum presents life in Finland from the prehistoric era to the present. The National Museum is an interesting destination for the whole family. Should the weather permit, you could also spend time and have a picnic in the Museum´s Summer Yard as well as enjoy some refreshments in the Summer Garden Terrace. Not far from there is the Finnish Museum of Natural History, very popular with children thanks to its many dioramas of Finnish nature, and its dinosaur exhibition. If you fancy a little shopping, there are many large shopping malls, including Kamppi, Forum and City Center, all within walking distance of one another, while the brand new Mall of Tripla is a short train or tram ride from the city centre.
Stay at a hotel in the center of Helsinki
The family-friendly, cozy Hotel Arthur is located right in the center of Helsinki, and is known for its great service, friendly staff and excellent breakfast. The hotel is just 200 meters from the main train station. Helsinki’s main attractions, museums, markets, parks, restaurants and shopping malls are within walking distance. The hotel has 203 individual rooms, ranging from the Sir Arthur Suite with sauna to the Economy Single Room for the budget traveler. Families and larger groups stay comfortably in Superior Rooms, 3-Bed or 4-Bed Rooms or 5-Bed Family Rooms. Breakfast is included in the room rate, and all rooms have free WiFi.
The best day trips from Helsinki
What would summer be without a cruise? This summer Tallink Silja cruises from Helsinki include 5-hour shopping cruises to Tallinn on the Megastar or Star, 11-hour day cruises to Tallinn on the Victoria, or a Day in Riga cruise on the Silja Serenade. It is also worth spending a little longer in Tallinn for and staying comfortably in one of the Tallink hotels.
Porvoo is one of Finland’s most popular travel destinations and is only less than an hour’s drive from Helsinki. Beautiful Old Porvoo is known for its ochre boat sheds on the waterfront, medieval cobbled streets lined with colorful wooden houses and small, charming boutiques. Porvoo is worth visiting just for the charming cafés and quality restaurants! Less than an hour away by bus or car, you can also get to Porvoo by boat, cruise from Helsinki Market Square on the m/s J.L. Runeberg, or even cycle along the idyllic Old Porvoontie.
Tampere is the city best loved by Finns, with plenty to see and do there. It is home to the only Moomin Museum in the world, the Vapriikki Museum Centre, the famous Pyynikki observation tower (and its donuts!), Särkänniemi Amusement Park, and the Näsinneula Tower. Tampere is also the sauna capital of the world and there are more than 30 public saunas in the area, most of which are conveniently located so you can take a dip in the cool lake water between sessions. Tampere is a paradise for families with children, where one day is hardly enough. A wide range of comfortable accommodation can be found at Tampere Accommodation.
Petäys Resort is a luxurious and active full-service resort on the shores of beautiful Vanajavesi, about an hour’s drive from both Helsinki and Tampere. Renowned for the beauty of the surrounding landscape, Petäys Resort also has an excellent reputation for the quality of its services, with a range of accommodation options, restaurants, top quality wedding and conference services, and a wide range of activities available to guests. The resort has several saunas, including a smoke sauna and its novel Zetor sauna, which heats up on top of a tractor trailer. There are over 20 free activities, including tennis, mini golf, frisbee golf, gym, canoes and rowboats.
How to move around?
The wide pedestrian streets and good cycling routes in the center of Helsinki make it easy to explore the city. Helsinki City Bike racks have 3,500 bicycles that are easy to use for a day or just an hour.
Trams, along with the subway, buses, local trains and ferries, make moving from place to place quick and easy. The traveler should download the HSL application to their phone. From the app you can buy tickets for yourself or even for the whole party. The app’s convenient route guide shows you the routes and the zone for which you are purchasing a ticket.