Finland’s capital, Helsinki has been around since the 16th century. However, the current layout of the city you see today took form during the 1800s, when the Russians designed it to look similar to St. Petersburg. That’s why you see broad streets and a plethora of neoclassical mansions. It is arguably a distinct and charming city with plenty of things to do and see for all kinds of travelers. Whether you are into history, architecture, art, or food, Helsinki has a nice blend of attractions for you. Scroll down below to learn about some of the top things to do in Helsinki, Finland.
1. Tour the magnificent Helsinki Cathedral
Helsinki Cathedral is the tall green dome that forms part of the city’s vital landmarks. It is a whitewashed neoclassical cathedral that is believed to have been constructed during the mid-19th century in honor of Tsar Nicholas I. The cathedral was initially known as St. Nicholas Cathedral, but that was changed to Helsinki Cathedral when Finland became independent in 1917. The gigantic structure is a sight for sore eyes—and also a cradle of history, especially about Russian rule in the region.
Address: Unioninkatu 29, 00170 Helsinki
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 10 USD
2. Enjoy mad outdoor fun at Linnanmaki
Linnanmaki is an amusement park that has been around for more than 65 years, making it one of the oldest amusement parks in the country. That it sounds ancient may make you cringe for your safety, but rest assured that it is perfectly well-maintained. It is in fact a popular hangout spot for most families within the capital. The park features a famous white-knuckle rollercoaster, amusement arcades, and a myriad of family-friendly attractions and shows, which make it deserve a top spot in your itinerary if you will be coming to Finland with family.
Address: Tivolikuja 1, 00510 Helsinki
Price: 10 USD
3. Board a ferry to Suomenlinna
Suomenlinna comprises a series of seven islands, and it was and still is a giant maritime fortress in the region. The most fascinating thing about the islands is that they are all manmade. It is believed that they were constructed by the Swedes way back in the mid-1800s to help fortify the city’s eastern territories. Though this was not enough to save them from being overrun by the Russians during the 19th century. Since then, the islands have not undergone any serious changes, and what you’ll see is exactly what used to be there centuries ago. The gun positions, the star-shaped walls, and the well-thought-out arrangement of the islands will leave you with a lot to admire about the olden defense systems.
Address: 00190 Helsinki
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
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4. Learn more about Finnish buildings at Seurasaari Island
Seurasaari Island features an open-air museum with a decent collection of various types of buildings inhabited by the Finnish in several parts of the country. It is a magnificent place to learn about some of the cultural aspects of the nation, especially when it comes to housing and the reasons for the differing house types from one region to another. The museum offers tours by professional guides who will tell you all there is to know about rural Finland—and the rich history of local housing that has spanned over 400 years.
Address: 00250 Helsinki
Website: Seurasaari Island
5. Buy souvenirs at Market Square
Market Square is located in the port area, and it is one of the city’s life and commerce epicenters. It is where the locals gather to trade their merchandise. Here you can find a wide range of goods, including but not limited to wooden mugs, fresh fish, reindeer hides and horns, and other various types of handmade jewelry. This is one of the places where you will have a good chance of buying truly unique items that you can carry home as souvenirs.
Address: Eteläranta, 00170 Helsinki
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
6. Walk down memory lane at The National Museum of Finland
It is always a good idea to learn more about the past of the places you visit, and when you are in Finland, a trip to The National Museum of Finland will present you with an awesome opportunity to do so. The museum is a melting pot of the Finnish culture and showcases a detailed history of how the society developed through the periods—when it was ruled by the Swedish Kingdom and later the Russian Empire. It is full of exhibits about the country’s early civilization too, with wonderful artifacts, including jewelry, medals, coins, weapons, and silver.
The National Museum of Finland
Address: Mannerheimintie 34, 00100 Helsinki
Website: The National Museum of Finland
Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 5 USD
7. Enjoy the evening breeze by Senate Square
Senate Square is a great place to consider if you are looking to link up and interact with the locals. The square features the white cathedral and several other beautiful government buildings, and it is a very popular meeting spot for the locals during the evening. During winter, it normally converts into a beautiful Christmas market with a variety of items on sale, including Christmas gifts, food, snacks, and festive décor, among others.
Address: 00170 Helsinki
Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)
8. Marvel at the magnificent Uspenski Cathedral
Uspenski Cathedral is one of the sites that demonstrate Russia’s long engagement with Finland. It is the largest orthodox cathedral in Western Europe, and its location on Helsinki’s upmarket area makes it very conspicuous and a popular attraction for most tourists. Its grandeur, architecture, and the iconostasis that features breathtaking paintings that depict the Virgin Mary surrounded by several saints are some of the cathedral’s features that stand out the most.
Address: Kanavakatu 1, 00160 Helsinki
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 9:30am - 7pm; Sat: 10am - 3pm; Sun: 12pm - 3pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 10 USD
9. Learn more about Sibelius
Sibelius Monument is constructed in honor of Jean Sibelius—one of the finest composers Finland has ever produced. It is located at Sibelius Park. Its design is completely unique, featuring the composer’s head perched on a stone wall and his likeness rendered in the form of free-flowing pipes. What you will see here is an amazing concept that was perfectly executed to remind generations to come about the legendary artist.
Address: Sibeliuksen puisto, Mechelininkatu, 00250 Helsinki
Price: 10 USD
10. Discover the country’s design prowess at Design Museum
A stop at Design Museum in Finland is simply unmissable. The museum contains a permanent collection that explores the deep roots of Finnish traditions when it comes to design. The exhibits here feature contemporary works, ranging from furniture to household items. A visit to the museum is a great way to appreciate the rich diversity that exists in the country.
Address: Korkeavuorenkatu 23, 00130 Helsinki
Website: Design Museum
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 11am - 6pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 16 USD
Have a wonderful time exploring Helsinki
A trip to Helsinki should never lack enthusiasm. Use our recommendations for the top things to do in Helsinki, Finland, to ensure the best experiences. These activities are bound to make your trip to the Finnish capital all the more exciting and memorable.
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