What to see in Helsinki on a budget
Finland’s capital city offers lots to see, do and experience year round. Explore many museums and sights, meet the friendly locals and enjoy the city life of Helsinki. Helsinki can be experienced for less money than you might think. The most popular attractions can be visited for little to no cost, and — of course — we’ve got you covered when it comes to affordable accommodation.
Things to do for free
Designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, Helsinki Cathedral is one of the city’s most popular attractions and can be visited for free. Find all twelve apostles on the rooftop standing watch, and enjoy a picnic on the steps on a sunny day.
Next up, and right at the foot of the cathedral is Senate Square with more Neoclassical architecture from Carl Ludvig Engel, including the Government Palace, the University of Helsinki’s main building, and the National Library of Finland. Check out Sederholm House, which is Helsinki’s oldest stone building, and current home to the always free Helsinki City Museum. Pop in for a look back through the city’s history.
Market Square is the city’s most famous market, and its stalls sell everything from fish to produce to locally made crafts. You can keep costs down by simply strolling through and window shopping, however this is an excellent place to try traditional foods and support local artisans selling crafts.
Kamppi Chapel offers you an opportunity to calm down in the middle of lively city centre. The small curved shaped Chapel is located in a corner of the Narinkkatori square in Helsinki, at the entrance of the Kamppi shopping center.
In summer Helsinki you can also spend a beach holiday. There are many maintained and supervised beaches in the city, from which Hietaniemi beach near the center is probably the most popular.
A €5 ferry ticket is all you’ll have to pay to check out the 18th-century Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site spread across six islands. Walk the 1.5km Blue Route to see the fortresses’s most important sites and learn about its diverse history.
For a very reasonable €3, you can go see the unique Temppeliaukio church, which has been nicknamed Rock Church due to the fact that it was constructed directly into solid rock. The copper-lined dome connects to the church walls, which are made up of the rocks it was built into, by windows that allow natural light to flood the interior.
It’s estimated that Finland is home to some 2 million or so saunas, which means that for a truly authentic Finnish experience, a visit to a sauna is obligatory. A legendary common sauna, Kotiharjun Sauna is the only traditionally wood-heated sauna in Helsinki. Buying a vihta (birch leaves which you use to hit yourself in sauna) is something that you should consider. It doesn’t sound relaxing, but it is! Forget your doubts, pack your sauna gear and leave your stress in the sauna as the Finns have done for centuries. Fee €13.
If you also wish to swim outdoor, you can go to popular outdoor swimming pool area Swimming Stadium. It is open during the summer months and the entrance fee is only €4,50.
Because of its smaller size, Helsinki is easy to navigate on-foot. Free, sustainable, and good for you, walking also creates more opportunities for discovering quaint shops, hidden gems, and tucked-away streets just waiting to be discovered. For those looking for a quicker way of getting around, unlimited use of public transportation costs start at €9 for a day and drops in price as the number of days increase.
Where to Stay
Centrally located right by Market Square, Eurohostel Helsinki has everything you need for a comfortable stay including daily breakfast buffet, and a sauna (of course!), as well as bicycle rental and 24 hour reception selling varies tickets and passes for attractions throughout the city.
For a unique and serene stay in an old school building, try Hostel Suomenlinna, which, as you may have guessed, is located in the Suomenlinna UNESCO World Heritage Site. Board games, books, complimentary tea and coffee, and a cosy lounge area complete the tranquil setting.
Hostel Domus Academica is located in the city centre close to the beautiful Hietaniemi beach, Kamppi shopping mall, restaurants and sightseeing attractions. The hostel is a summer hostel, open between June 1 and September 1. This environmentally-friendly hostel has rooms equipped with a private bathroom, shower and a kitchenette with refrigerator. There’s also the chance for guests to use the sauna in the morning!
Make your plans and book your stay in Finland here.