Planning a trip to Helsinki? Here are some of the reasons why you really should. Helsinki is the capital of Finland, or the home country of Santa Claus, as you might know. But there is a lot more to Finland than snowy winters and Aurora Borealis.
After a harsh and dark winter, Helsinki’s public spaces really come to life during summer. Fun fact: during summer Finland has (almost) endless daylight. This magical phenomenon is called the Midnight Sun, where the sun only sets only for a couple of hours in the south. North of the Arctic Circle the sun won’t set from May to August, so if you’re heading that way, make sure to pack a sleeping mask with you!
Where to eat
Helsinki has a lot to offer when it comes to sights, restaurants, and experiences. New trendy restaurants are popping up like mushrooms in rainy weather (an old Finnish saying). If you’re looking for modern Finnish and Nordic cuisine, we have a few exceptional choices for you.
- For local, organic and authentic Finnish flavors, head to restaurant Juuri. Make sure to try their sapas aka Finnish tapas!
- If you appreciate fine beers, wines, and a casual atmosphere restaurant Spis is perfect for you.
- Last but not least, you can find this stylish Nordic restaurant in a shopping mall in the heart of Helsinki! In Jord, dishes are imaginative and skillfully prepared from surprising ingredients.
Other great choices for a trendy meal are
Capture the Moment
Here are some of the most iconic sights to photograph and pose in front of. Helsinki Cathedral is one of the most known sights in the capital. The Cathedral is a true landmark for those arriving from the sea and a must stop when visiting the capital.
Only a short walking distance away, you can catch a quick ferry from Market Square to the historical Suomenlinna sea fortress. Nowadays Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular sights in Helsinki. We recommend you buy some snacks like strawberries from Market Square and head to Suomenlinna for a picnic!
Are you interested in design and architecture? Well, you’re in for a treat because Helsinki has a lot of that to offer. Right next to the Central Railway Station of Helsinki, you can find the new “national treasure” of Finland. The new public library Oodi (= an ode in Finnish) is a showcase of Finnish architecture, a library of a new era and a meeting place for all people.
Sauna bathing is a vital part of Finnish culture and national identity. Another great place for architecture lovers is the public sauna and restaurant complex, Löyly (meaning the steam that comes when you throw water on hot stones in a sauna). Named one of the World’s Greatest Places in 2018 by Time magazine, Löyly is the trendiest eco-friendly sauna in Helsinki and probably in the whole world.
The most colorful street -prize in Helsinki definitely belongs to the Huvilakatu street. This street full of candy-colored villas is a gem for photography lovers. If you want to learn a bit more about the architecture, visit the Design Museum before heading to Huvilakatu.
This Japanese inspired Cherry Tree Park in Roihuvuori is one of the many parks in Helsinki, but maybe the most exotic of them all. The park has 240 cherry trees which usually blossom in May. Go and take a walk or even have a picnic in the beautiful pink fairytale land. Another picturesque park in Helsinki is the Rhododendron Park in Haaga area. The park is easily accessible with public transport and a great addition to your holiday. Make sure to bring your camera!
It’s time to take your vacation to another level. This idyllic town is the perfect destination for a day trip since it’s only an hour away from Helsinki. Porvoo is the 2nd oldest towns in Finland and well known for its historic and picturesque Old Town. In Porvoo we recommend you walk the Old Town, visit the house of Finland’s national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg, and dine in a great restaurant. You can reach Porvoo by bus or even a boat. The bus is faster, but the boat ride will give you a lovely scenic river route.
Where to stay
Here are a few great options to stay in Helsinki from a truly affordable stay to a more experiential one.
Eurohostel is one of the biggest all-year-open hostels in Helsinki. Eurohostel is an eco-friendly hostel that specializes in smaller shareable rooms. Located in Katajanokka, the hostel is only a few minutes tram ride away from the city center. Eurohostel is also close to some very interesting sights such as the Uspenski Cathedral, Allas Sea Pool and the Market Square (with the ferries to Suomenlinna Sea Fortress).
Both Helsinki is an eco-friendly hostel located in Kamppi and it is the biggest summer hostel in Finland. In Both, you don’t have to choose between a private or social experience. You can experience Both. Some of the rooms are decorated with Artek, famous Finnish design furniture. The hostel also has murals painted by Tove Jansson, the creator of Moomins!
Hostel Suomenlinna is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The hostel is located in the historical UNESCO World Heritage Site: Suomenlinna sea fortress. You can reach the hostel with a 15-minute ferry from Market Square. The hostel is actually the only accommodation option on the island! Truly a unique and exclusive experience.
If you want to extend your stay in Porvoo, we recommend you choose Porvoo Hostel as your accommodation. The hostel is located in a 100-year-old building that used to function as a maternity hospital. The hostel very close to the city center and only a kilometer away from the Old Town of Porvoo. Experience this easy-going and historical Medieval Town and stay in Porvoo Hostel!