From the famous Helsinki Cathedral to exploring the surrounding islands by boat, there are so many things to see and do in Helsinki. If you’re planning on visiting spending a weekend in the Finnish capital, then this Helsinki guide is just for you!
Helsinki is the capital of Finland, full of art, culture and unique design. The locals are really friendly and there’s a big focus on stopping, relaxing, and connecting with nature, something I think is so important. Finland is said to be the happiest country in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. See how to increase your happiness here.
I absolutely love Finland, and I’ve been here a number of times. From exploring Finnish Lapland, to driving the Koli Ice Road, and from going snowshoeing to enjoying a husky safari in Karelia, Finland offers so many opportunities for adventure, and it doesn’t stop there. Tallinn in Estonia is only a 2-hour ferry away, and you can get to Stockholm on an overnight ferry, so it’s easy to turn your trip to Helsinki into an international adventure!
I last visited Helsinki on a cruise, where I saw 6 cities in 7 days: Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Tallinn, St. Petersburg. It was an incredible adventure, and I learned and saw so much in each of these unique but nearby cities.
I also explored Helsinki as part of an adventure exploring Southern Finland, where we also stopped in Hanko and Salo. Check out my 4-day itinerary for Southern Finland here.
I’ve put together my knowledge, tips and tricks from these trips into the ultimate Helsinki travel guide, ready for your next Finnish adventure! Let’s get planning!
Helsinki airport (HEL) is Finland’s largest airport and welcomes international flights every day.
You have a few options:
For a night out in Helsinki, consider Post Bar, Pub Sirdie and Kaikukatu, all in the Kallio neighbourhood!
For cocktails, try Steam Hellsinki or Ateljee Rooftop Bar.
There are so many museums in Helsinki; I’m pretty sure you could fill a few days looking at what the museums have to offer!
Art museums in Helsinki:
History museums in Helsinki:
If you don’t want to ride the vintage tram, ‘modern’ tram line 2 will take you through the landmarks too!
“Espa”, as it’s known by the locals, is a welcome escape from city life.
Another park slightly further out, but worth visiting, is Kaivopuisto Park.
Offering up a bit of real life Finnish history and culture, these districts were built for the working class in the 20th century. Of the few that remain, two worth exploring are Puu Vallila for the coffee shops and bars, and Puu-Käpylä for its green space.
On the walk you’ll see Hietaniemi Beach (a sandy beach you can relax on during summer!) and the Sibelius Monument which commemorates a famous Finnish composer.
There are a whopping 3 million saunas in Finland! Many of these are open to the public, and since sauna is a Finnish word, it makes sense to try one while you’re here.
For public saunas, you should try the districts of Kotiharju, Merihaka, Hermanni, or the “Löyly” urban sauna complex.
In July and August the seafood restaurants in Helsinki are packed. It’s crayfish season, and this dish is usually paired with a shot of Akvavit. Cheers!
Book your 90-minute cruise around Helsinki’s islands here.
The National Parks are also great places for adventure sports such as hiking, kayaking and rock climbing!
These islands between Finland and Sweden are well worth a visit if you can squeeze them into your time in Helsinki!
This suburb outside of Helsinki is full of amazing street art. You can also visit the Fazer Chocolate Factory and go ice swimming in Kuusijärvi Lake!
Students, artists and creatives love this area of Helsinki! Kaiku and Kuudes Linja are two nightclubs you should definitely visit if you like to party.
Yes, on your trip to Helsinki you can visit another country! Tallinn is only two hours away, so could be done as a day trip or an overnight trip.
Check out my 48-hour guide to Tallinn here.