Discovering Helsinki

Discover the 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. 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. Here are a selection of the best things to do in Helsinki this summer and autumn!

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 and things to do. Allas Sea Pool is an oasis in the Helsinki harbour with a large outdoor pool deck and traditional Finnish saunas offering views over the Baltic Sea. Their sea water and heated pools are open every day all year round, with the heated kiddies pool open in the summer and under the supervision of a lifeguard.

Maritime Helsinki also offers visitors a range of wonderful experiences to choose from: scenic lunch cruises through the archipelago; ferry trips to and from Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki, which is unique in the world, being located on an island, close to the centre of the city. You can also take Baltic Sea cruises with Tallink Silja, with a choice of day returns to the Estonian capital of Tallinn, or overnight cruises to Riga in Latvia, or Mariehamn in the Åland Islands.

Helsinki’s Cultural Gems

With over 50 museums in and around Helsinki, Finland’s capital city has something for every culture vulture. The best known Finnish museum is the Ateneum, home of Finnish art where this summer the “Inspiration – Contemporary Art & Classics” exhibition explores how the classics of European art inspired international contemporary artists until September 20th. Later in the autumn, on October 23rd, a Magnus Enckell exhibition will be the first ever comprehensive display of the artist’s entire oeuvre. Sinebrychoff Museum is the National Gallery’s home of old European art; this summer until August 23rd, the “Life Under Threat” exhibition presents visions of animals and nature from the 16th century to today, conveying their ever-changing relationship with humans; From the 17th of September, the “Tiepolo − Venice in the North” exhibition will explore the legacy of Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, whose art will be presented for the first time in Finland. Idyllically located on the island of Kuusisaari, Didrichsen Art Museum is a unique combination of an art museum and private villa by the sea. Until August 23rd the museum celebrates Kuutti Lavonen’s 60th anniversary. In the autumn the Didrichsen celebrates its 55th anniversary with an exhibition of works by Vincent van Gogh, centred around a selection of drawings from the beginning of Van Gogh’s artist career.

The National Museum of Finland presents the history of Finnish life from prehistoric times to the present through two permanent exhibitions and changing temporary exhibitions. he current temporary exhibition, showing until July 26th, Ingrians – the Forgotten Finns tells a story about identity and the importance of collective memory. Beginning in July, a new guided tour “Kansallismuseo the Pearl of Architecture” will take visitors to the unique architecture of the iconic building and tell the history of the National Museum. From July 7th to September 30th it will become the main hub for the Helsinki Photo Festival, hosting the main outdoor exhibition, the Nordic Village, and event venues. Opening on August 14th, “Courage, love, freedom! Moomin 75”, will celebrate Tove Jansson’s immensely popular Moomins, taking visitors on a magical journey into their values and philosophy.

Seurasaari is the largest open air museum in Finland, an island that showcases all of Finland’s folk history through cottages, manors, farmsteads and churches, representing four centuries of rural life. The historic Antin Kaffeliiteri café was recently renovated and offers coffee, refreshments and snacks during the museum’s opening hours. Hvitträsk was the studio home of the architecture firm Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen, a completely unique comprehensive work of art that attracts design and architecture enthusiasts from near and abroad.

Hotel Arthur is located in Helsinki city centre just 200m the Central Railway Station, close to the city’s main tourist attractions and ideal for public transport. Helsinki’s most prominent sights, large department stores, theaters and Casino Helsinki are all within walking distance of the hotel. Hotel Arthur has 203 unique rooms, 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.

Day Trips From Helsinki

Approximately one hour from Helsinki lies Finland’s 2nd oldest town, Porvoo, justifiably considered by most visitors to be the most beautiful in the country. The section known as Old Porvoo is famed for its delightful waterfront of red ochre sheds, its medieval cobblestoned streets and alleys, delightful artisanal shops and boutiques, 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.

A little over two hours from Helsinki lies the city of Tampere, known as the Sauna Capital of the world. The Vapriikki Museum Centre in Tampere is home to 7 different museums, including the Natural History Museum of Tampere and the Media Museum Rupriikki. The world’s only Moomin Museum retells the entire story of the Moomins, featuring original artwork by Tove Jansson and a fascinating three-dimensional tableaux. The Moomins and the Sea exhibition takes a look at the Moomins’ nature-loving lifestyle through a selection of Jansson’s original illustrations. An hour from Tampere lies the town of Mänttä-Vilppula, home to the 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.

Less than two hours from Helsinki, Petäys Resort is a full service holiday resort, appealingly situated on the shores of Lake Vanajavesi, and is an ideal stop-over for visitors to Helsinki keen to experience Finnish nature at its best. The region surrounding Petäys Resort is one of outstanding natural beauty, and has provided inspiration for numerous Finnish artists, including Akseli Gallen-Kallela, the poet Eino Leino, and the composer Sibelius.