Heading to Helsinki? Lucky you! Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a true gem of a city. It has the cosmopolitan feel, stunning architecture and interesting sights of a bigger city, yet it is compact enough not to feel overwhelming.
If you are exploring Helsinki on your own, make your first stop the Helsinki City Tourist Information Office, which is located on the downtown street Pohjoisesplanadi 19, close to both the harbor and the Market Square. This is a great place to find out what unique events might be going on during your stay or to pick up a money-saving Helsinki Card. By purchasing this card, you won’t have to pay again for admission to any of Helsinki’s museums or sights, and it also gives you access to free unlimited public transportation, including the ferry for the famed Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.
So where should you go now that you are armed with a Helsinki Card and access to free transportation to anywhere in the city? Following are a few suggestions about what to see and do in Helsinki.
Old Market Hall and Market Square
If you are looking to experience a bit of the real Helsinki, enjoy a bite to eat and do a little shopping, then head to the indoor Old Market Hall and the shops of the charming, open-air Market Square. This is a bustling waterside area filled with vendors selling everything from fresh local produce, to seafood, to tourist trinkets and local arts and crafts.
This impressive and imposing sea fortress, which was built in the 1700s on a group of islands, is a popular tourist attraction. Suomenlinna Fortress is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Visitors to this historic building can learn about its important place in Finland’s history and tour the grounds.
Ateneum Art Museum
Helsinki takes its art and culture seriously. The Ateneum Art Museum, which was designed by one of this country’s most famous architects, Theodor Hoijer, is Finland’s national gallery. This museum currently houses more than 20,000 works of art that were created between the mid 1700s and the mid 1900s.
Winter activities outdoors
Helsinki residents love the natural beauty of their surroundings and spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities, so why not join them? In the winter, you will find seven outdoor artificial skating rinks as well as a number of maintained natural rinks. Cross-country skiing is also big in Helsinki. Assuming you have prepared for your trip by purchasing international insurance, you can test your mettle at these exciting outdoor sports.
Summer activities outdoors
During the short summer season, join Helsinki residents sunning themselves on one of the city’s fine beaches. Helsinki boasts more than 300 islands, with the most popular being Hietaniemi Beach – or Hietsu, as it is called by the locals.
Helsinki is a clean, safe and beautiful city to visit. Its residents are proud of their city, and it will be easy to see why once you stroll its lovely streets.