The World Was Here First

The Perfect 2 to 3 Days in Helsinki Itinerary

Last Updated on January 31, 2024

by Olivia Ellis

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plan trip helsinki

Mapping out the perfect 2 to 3 days in Helsinki itinerary isn’t a difficult task when you consider all there is to do in the capital of Finland . Helsinki is easily the most underrated Nordic city, living under the shadow of other capital Nordic cities such as Oslo , Stockholm , and Copenhagen . Despite this, Helsinki in my opinion is one of the freshest, most exciting destinations to visit in the Nordics and Europe.

Many people will head to Finnish Lapland to visit Rovaniemi yet still skip the capital, missing the wondrous culture-filled city. For over 5 years straight, Finland has been voted the happiest country in the world, one of the safest, and with a few days in the city, exploring and meeting locals you’ll understand why. 

Table of Contents

How Many Days in Helsinki?

Before jumping into all of the things to do in the Finnish capital, you’re likely wondering how many days to spend in Helsinki. Well, to begin with, Helsinki is a pretty compact city but still with much to discover and to get out of on a trip to the Finnish capital city.

If you’re in transit to Finnish Lapland and only have 1 day in Helsinki, it’s still possible to see most of the main sights and experience the city.

If you decide to see Helsinki in 2 days, you’ll have plenty of time to see the main sights of the city and wander around without rushing too much.

In my opinion, 3 days in Helsinki is ideal to do the city justice, go at your own pace, and still have enough time to see all the sights and maybe return to a restaurant or cafe that you particularly enjoyed (Finland has a wonderful, fresh, and local food scene). 

When planning how long to spend in the city, an important factor to keep in mind is the time of year.

In the winter months, Finland gets very little sunlight and daylight in Helsinki lasts just for around 9 hours in December. In contrast to the winter, Helsinki gets around 19 hours of sunlight in the summertime.

So with that being said, if you’re someone who likes to sightsee with daylight to see the city, and would like to visit the Finnish capital in the winter , I suggest planning enough days to see what you’d like with at least 2. Otherwise, maybe visit during the summer months instead.

Summer in Helsinki

Getting To & Around Helsinki 

Getting to helsinki.

You’ll likely be arriving in Helsinki one of two ways; by plane or ferry. Helsinki Vantaa International Airport is a large airport with domestic, European, and international routes making it a pretty affordable destination to reach by air, particularly from cities in the region such as Oslo or Stockholm.

If you’re flying into Helsinki Airport, you have a few options to reach the center of the city. The most cost-efficient way to travel to the Helsinki center is by city bus (lines 615 & 617) located outside terminal 2.

Buses come just about every 15 minutes and one-way tickets cost €4.10 if purchased from a ticket kiosk. Expect to pay more if you end up purchasing bus tickets while on the bus.

There are also train transportation links available between Helsinki Vantaa Airport and the Helsinki city center.

The train station is located beneath the airport and has train services connecting Helsinki Vantaa Airport with the city every 10 minutes with a journey of half an hour. Helsinki city transport tickets can be used for these services, but an extended zone (ABC) ticket is required. 

If you’re traveling to Helsinki from Stockholm, Sweden or Tallinn, Estonia and are keen on an adventure, there are also regular ferries between those cities across the Gulf of Finland. You can view ferry schedules here.

Finally, if you’re not visiting on a budget, you can book a private transfer from the airport.

Getting Around Helsinki 

Due to Helsinki city center’s small size, it’s a pretty walkable city, with most of the city’s main sights within walking distance from each other. This is a really big benefit, as the city is a dream for walkers, full of interesting sights to take in that you may miss if you’re underground.

You may be able to manage walking throughout most of your time in Helsinki (if physically capable), except for a bus/metro ride or two.

If you’re visiting in the summertime or during the warmer months, Helsinki is also a lovely city to explore by two wheels with lush nature and greenery and bike-friendly streets.

Otherwise, the city has a wonderful transportation system that consists of bus, tram, metro, and even ferry transport options. Single tickets last for 80 minutes and are inclusive of any mode of transport necessary for 80 minutes.

Most sights in Helsinki will be within the AB zone, but if you decide to visit somewhere outside of the AB zone, you’ll need to pay for a top-up zone extension. 

If you plan on taking a fair amount of public transportation and would like to save money, purchasing day passes for the Helsinki transport system is a great option. Passes are available for purchase for any number of days.

The cost of individual tickets adds up quickly, so this is a great way to make the most of your budget in Helsinki as it is quite an expensive city.

Another great way to save on transport is by using the Helsinki Card which includes unlimited public transportation. It also includes a panorama sightseeing tour and entry into a number of top sites and museums, such as the National Museum of Finland, the Helsinki City Museum and Amos Rex.

Trams in Helsinki

2 to 3-Day in Helsinki Itinerary

Helsinki is truly a quintessentially beautiful city. With a unique blend of classic Nordic and Russian architecture, a fresh and delicious food scene, arts & culture, and sincerely friendly people and locals, it’s hard not to appreciate the city.

Helsinki is truly a European destination off the beaten path and is full of exciting things to discover on just about every other corner. If you prefer to explore with a guide, sign up to this walking tour or this walking tour.

Day 1 – Markets, Museums & Churches

Helsinki market square & old market hall.

A wonderful way to begin your first day in Helsinki is to head to the most famous market in Finland, Helsinki Market Square. The Market Square is located between the south harbour of the city and the esplanade and is one of the quintessential spots to visit while spending time in Helsinki.

Dating back to the 19th century, the Market Square is the perfect spot to enjoy the fresh Baltic air, and maybe pick up a Finnish souvenir or two from the stands. In the winter you’ll find a delightful winter market spanning an even larger area than the typical market, with tasty treats, bonfires, and holiday joy.

If you’ve built up an appetite, there’s no better option at this point than to head next door to the Market Square to Helsinki’s Old Market Hall. The Old Market Hall is quite old, as it’s the oldest indoor market in all of Finland.

The market itself dates back to 1889 and is a Helsinki staple, with merchants selling various delicacies; from fruits/vegetables to cakes and cheese. Among the characteristic design and colours of the stands, you’ll also find cafes and restaurants, the perfect opportunity to enjoy a classic Finnish meal. 

Old Market Hall

Helsinki Cathedral

From the market, walk about 10 minutes to the city’s Helsinki Cathedral in the Kruununhaka neighborhood.

The church is the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral of the Diocese of Helsinki and is easily the most recognised monument associated with Helsinki and an incredibly important landmark for the city and a great place to visit.

The stunning pearl-white, green-capped cathedral towers over the center of the city and is worth a stop during a visit to the Finnish capital city. The church itself is located in the Senate Square of the city (the oldest part), which is a point worth observing the city from and getting your bearings beginning your Helsinki trip.

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki is a city that is filled with interesting museums and, especially if you’re visiting in the winter months, spending some time exploring the various museums is an excellent way to escape the Finnish weather. Though a popular option is the National Museum of Finland, it is currently closed for major renovations until the spring of 2027.

Art fans, however, will have lots to choose from and one of the best places to visit is the Amos Rex Museum . This contemporary art museum is something of a newcomer in the Finnish capital, having only opened in 2018.

There are countless interesting exhibitions to visit here and you can easily spend a couple of hours taking them in. If you’re a fan of contemporary art, then this is one of the best things to do in Helsinki.

Entry into Amos Rex is €20 per person, however, it is also included in the Helsinki Card . The museum is open every day except for Tuesday, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly.

Amos Rex

Temppeliaukio Church

After a short journey by foot from Amos Rex, you’ll find yourself at one of the most interesting sights in Helsinki in the Töölö neighborhood; the Temppeliaukio Church.

While the Temppeliaukio Church at its heart is a simple Lutheran Church, the unique feature of the church is its structure. The church is carved directly into solid rock, giving it the alternative name of “church of the rock”.

Built in the 1960s by brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, the church is unlike any other church you’ll likely come across, and for that reason, is one of the most visited attractions in the city of Helsinki. 

The church is open for visitors every day of the week except Sunday.

Day 2 – Sauna Experience & Suomenlinna 

Finnish breakfast.

Among all the reasons that I love spending time in Finland, I’d be hard-pressed not to say that breakfast is my favourite reason. Breakfast in Finland is truly an experience, and the Finnish have truly figured out how to make it near perfect.

Finland uses some of the freshest and highest quality ingredients and has a knack for combining flavour and nutrition. Many cafes in the city do breakfast in a set meal style, where you have a choice of various menus and these typically include quite a few options, with a hot drink, juice, main, and dessert.

While these can be pricey (like most things in Finland), I do suggest it as it’s a great way to fuel up for the day. My recommendation is to head to Levain Bakery, with 3 locations in Helsinki.

Sauna at Löyly Helsinki

I think it’s pretty safe to say that there are few things more synonymous with Finland than the sauna. Sauna is less of just a “place you go” in Finland and is at the heart of Finnish identity and culture.

One of the best ways to experience Finland like a local and enjoy all it has to offer is to head to a sauna. I suggest heading to Löyly Helsinki , a Sauna located directly on the sea and the perfect spot for tourists and locals to soak up the heat and maybe even take a cold plunge beforehand!

You need to book a spot in advance as they fill up quickly, and €24 gets you two hours at the sauna, a towel, shampoo & soap, and a sauna seat cover. Don’t forget to bring your own towel!

Suomenlinna 

After enjoying a relaxing few hours at the Finnish sauna, the next stop on this Helsinki itinerary is to head to another one of the most well-known attractions in Helsinki.

The Fortress of Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sea fortress made up of 8 islands located just off of the mainland coast of Helsinki. The fortress itself is a neighborhood of Helsinki and is an extremely popular spot to visit for both tourists and locals.

Originally built and occupied by the Swedish and then Russians, hence the Swedish name, Suomenlinna is an important part of Finnish history.

Reaching Suomenlinna is pretty straightforward, with a 15-minute ferry from the Katajanokka ferry port by a ticket that’s included in Helsinki’s public transport or can be purchased here.

The Suomenlinna Fortress itself is free for entry and is an incredibly interesting monument and a beautiful island to explore on a nice day.

The Suomenlinna Fortress

Day 3 – Porvoo or Sipoonkorpi National Park Day Trip

If you’re seeing Helsinki in 3 days, I suggest spending your last day in an area outside of the city as there are lovely spots to visit that are nearby and a completely different experience.

Due to the weather being so different at various points of the year (winter vs summer), I’ve given two different day trip options in this section.

Sipoonkorpi National Park

If you’re visiting Helsinki during the summertime, I highly suggest taking advantage of Finland’s incredibly special nature, rich forests, and diverse landscapes.

The Sipoonkorpi National Park sits directly on the edge of Helsinki and is the perfect taster into Finland’s special natural world.

The best way to reach Sipoonkorpi is to first take a bus from Helsinki to one of the nearby towns in/by the park and then take a local taxi further into the area. It is also possible to take guided tours.

The towns and villages nearby are also lovely spots to enjoy a coffee or lunch before enjoying time in nature. Finland also has a free for all law, so pretty much anywhere in the country is available to wander through and any berries (delicious too) or anything else you can find is yours to enjoy!

For those visiting Helsinki during the winter months, a great day trip option is to head to the neighboring middle-aged town of Porvoo.

Unfortunately, train schedules to Porvoo from Helsinki are pretty irregular so I don’t suggest train transport, but you can get a bus to Porvoo from Helsinki in just about an hour or book a guided tour.

Porvoo is incredibly picturesque, and under the winter snow, it has an even more special atmosphere. The town is the second oldest in all of Finland and this is incredibly well preserved and reflected through the town’s unique architecture.

Spend time wandering through the old town, browsing through shops, sipping hot chocolate, and eating at one of the local restaurants and you have the perfect day trip from Helsinki. 

Town of Porvoo

Where to Stay in Helsinki

Bob W Kluuvi – This mid-range hotel is an excellent choice for those looking for a nice and comfortable place to base themselves in the Finnish capital. Centrally located, they have countless lovely rooms to choose from and there is breakfast available in the mornings.

Hotel Mestari – Those after a luxury stay in Helsinki will love this modern hotel. They have a great location for exploring the city, a number of sophisticated rooms to choose from and countless amenities to ensure your stay is a great one.

The Yard Hostel – If you’re travelling to Finland on a budget, then this hip hostel is a great choice. They offer both dorms and private rooms, have excellent common areas and self-catering facilities and a good atmosphere for meeting other travelers.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Helsinki hotels!

Finland easily seems like one of the closest things to a perfect oasis on earth and just spending time in the capital city of Helsinki and nearby areas will likely solidify this for you. Whether you’re intentionally planning a trip to Helsinki by itself or have a stopover in the capital city before heading to Finnish Lapland, you’re in for a treat.

Are you planning a visit to Helsinki? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

plan trip helsinki

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About Olivia Ellis

Olivia is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Michigan, USA, she is currently living in Athens, Greece exploring Europe and filmmaking. When she’s not travelling or writing, Olivia can be found cooking delicious new recipes from around the world, reading, and spending time outdoors.

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The Mindful Traveller

The Mindful Traveller

Eco Travel Blog & Photography

Helsinki Travel Guide: Perfect 3-Day Itinerary

22 November 2023 · In: City Guide , Finland , Helsinki

helsinki cathedral

Are you looking for an epic  Helsinki 3-day itinerary ? You have come to the right place! From exploring the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress to admiring the stunning Helsinki Cathedral or relaxing in a traditional Finnish sauna, this travel guide is perfect for  first-time visitors  or a  long weekend getaway . It will show you all the  unique things to do and see  to make the most of your time in the Finnish capital.

I travelled to  Helsinki in June  with two friends to visit my brother, who has been living there. I could not wait to discover this new country, and it was a  great experience : the landscapes were vast and beautiful, and  everything was peaceful . I liked it so much that I returned, but this time in  Lapland .

Even though Helsinki is a compact city, you will find  plenty of places to visit and hidden gems . A short stay in the Finnish capital offers an excellent opportunity to enjoy unforgettable experiences, such as  kayaking expeditions , delicious  Finnish cuisine  or  Northern Lights  in winter. 

So, are you excited? Keep reading this  city guide  to discover the perfect  Helsinki 3-day itinerary  covering the top things to do and enjoy your vacation in Finland stress-free, without rushing. You will also find  practical eco-friendly tips  for  responsible travel  at the end. Enjoy!

Disclosure : Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, we will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. For more information,  read our full affiliate disclosure .

7- Take a dip in the Allas Sea Pool

7- warm up inside café regatta, 6- enjoy a finnish sauna at löyly, overview: how to see helsinki in 3 days.

DAY 1 – CITY CENTRE

1- Helsinki Cathedral 2- Ateneum Art Museum 3- Esplanadi 4- Market Square 5- Uspenski Cathedral 6- Suomenlinna Sea Fortress 7- Allas Sea Pool

DAY 2 – CULTURAL WANDER

1- Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden 2- Kamppi Chapel 3- Oodi Central Library 4- National Museum of Finland 5- Temppeliaukio Church 6- Sibelius Monument 7- Café Regatta

DAY 3 – RELAXATION

1- Nuuksio National Park 2- Design Museum  3- St. John’s Church 4- Kaivopuisto Park 5- Huvilakatu street 6- Löyly Sauna

finland

3 days in Helsinki – Map

Click on the top left of the map to display the list of stops and locations.

Detailed Helsinki 3-day itinerary

This Helsinki guide covers all the  best things to do and see in 3 days  and is perfect for travelling with family, friends or as a couple, whether it is your first time in the city or you have been there before.

On the other hand, remember that this itinerary is  only a guide with recommendations . You can spend more days in the Finnish capital or add other stops to your city break.

helsinki 3 day itinerary

Day 1 – Explore the city centre

1- visit the helsinki cathedral.

Your first day in Helsinki begins at  Senate Square  and the impressive  Helsinki Cathedral , one of the  most recognisable symbols  of the Finnish capital and a key landmark for its  grand and symmetrical architecture .

Designed by German architect Carl Ludvig Engel in the neoclassical style, the cathedral features a  white facade with a green dome  and a series of  Corinthian columns . Take a few photos of its exterior from the square before entering its doors.

Even though its interior is  relatively simple  compared to its elaborate exterior, it is still worth the visit! The entrance fee is  5€  but is  voluntary  and valid only  during visiting hours . You will discover an altar decorated with a large painting representing the Ascension of Jesus.

2- Explore the Ateneum Art Museum

A short walk from Senate Square, you will come across the  Ateneum , a  significant art museum  and one of the three museums forming the Finnish National Gallery. It is a  must-visit destination for art lovers  and anyone who wants to explore the rich cultural heritage of Finland through its visual arts.

Officially opened to the public in 1888, the building that houses the Ateneum is an  architectural monument in itself , designed by Theodor Höijer in a combination of  Neoclassical and Romantic styles . 

Today, the museum is renowned for its  extensive collection of Finnish art  from the 18th century to the modern era, including the  largest collection of classical art  in Finland. Book your visit and explore a  diverse range of artworks , such as paintings, sculptures and drawings. 

3- Stroll through Esplanadi

You will continue your journey through Helsinki with a stroll down  Esplanadi , a  picturesque boulevard  divided into two parts:  Esplanadi Park  (Esplanadin puisto), a beautifully landscaped green space, and the  wider pedestrian street  between two parallel roads. 

Not only a place for  leisure and relaxation , it is also a  cultural and social hub  in the Finnish capital. Whether you are interested in shopping, eating, enjoying green spaces or attending events, Esplanadi offers a  vibrant and welcoming atmosphere  in the heart of the city.

Wander down the street, admire the different  statues and monuments , treat yourself to a  shopping spree  or stop at one of the  cafés or restaurants . It is also a popular area for locals and tourists to relax,  listen to music , watch  performances  or even  have a picnic  during the summer months.

4- Wander around Market Square

At the eastern end of Esplanadi, you will find the  Market Square  (Kauppatori), a  lively harborside market  open year-round, offering a  variety of products , including fresh produce, fruits, vegetables, flowers, handicrafts and  Finnish specialities  like salmon and reindeer.

Not only a bustling marketplace, it is also a  vibrant and social gathering spot  reflecting the  maritime history  of Helsinki and serving as a hub for travellers to experience the  culture, cuisine and community spirit  of the Finnish capital.

Experience  traditional Finnish and local cuisine  at the market, take part in various  cultural events and festivals  throughout the year or relax, enjoy the maritime atmosphere, and  watch the ferries and boats  come and go. You will not get bored!

5- See the Uspenski Cathedral

Before hopping on the ferry to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, take a detour to the Uspenski Cathedral , a  significant religious site  and  architectural gem  adding to the diverse cultural landscape of Helsinki. Its  unique design and historical importance  make it a must-see attraction on your 3 days in the Finnish capital.

Located on a hill in the Katajanokka district, you can enjoy  panoramic views  of Helsinki and the surrounding areas from there, a popular spot to  enjoy the cityscape  and  take photos .

The Eastern Orthodox Cathedral is also known for its  red brick exterior, golden domes and ornate details . Amire its stunning architecture from the outside and step through its doors (for  free ) to uncover a  richly decorated interior  and explore the  ornate   central nave  and different  chapels .

6- Discover Suomenlinna Sea Fortress

It is time to set sail and discover the stunning  Suomenlinna , a  historic 18th-century sea fortress  and  UNESCO World Heritage site  spread across six interconnected islands in the Helsinki archipelago. It is easily accessible by a  short ferry ride from Market Square , with the journey providing  scenic views  of the capital.

Suomenlinna is a fascinating blend of  history, architecture and natural beauty , making it a must-visit destination on your 3-day vacation in Helsinki. It is also a  unique example of military architecture , and its  well-preserved structures  include bastions, defensive walls and tunnels.

Additionally, the sea fortress is home to  several museums , such as the  Suomenlinna Museum . And for all nature lovers, Suomenlinna offers  plenty of outdoor activities , including  walking  along the fortress walls,  picnicking  in parks and admiring the  coastal scenery .

Take the ferry back to Helsinki and end your day at the  Allas Sea Pool  for a  relaxing evening  and a well-deserved break after your first day of sightseeing. This  urban spa open year-round  also offers a romantic experience for couples. 

Located along the waterfront, Allas Sea Pool combines elements of  a traditional swimming pool, saunas and a seawater pool . The complex is designed to offer you a  unique urban swimming experience  with a connection to its surrounding sea.

Thanks to its location, you can  indulge in the facilities , take care of yourself and unwind whilst enjoying the  picturesque panorama  and  beautiful views  of the Helsinki waterfront and cityscape. It is an  unforgettable activity  to end your day, especially in winter.

Day 2 – Cultural & architectural highlights

1- visit the kaisaniemi botanic garden.

You will begin your second day in Helsinki at the  Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden , a  fascinating botanical garden  located in the Kaisaniemi Park, where you can enjoy a  peaceful and educational experience  surrounded by the beauty of  diverse plant life . 

Established in 1678, it was originally founded for the  cultivation of medicinal plants . Today, the garden features a  vast collection of plants  from different parts of the world with both  outdoor and greenhouse sections , showcasing a  wide range of species , including trees, shrubs, flowers and other botanical specimens.

The Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden is also a  great year-round activity  for  families with children , as it offers  educational programs and guided tours , perfect for those who want to learn more about plants and botany in an  entertaining way .

2- Stop at the Kamppi Chapel

Not far from the botanical garden, you will come across the  Kamppi Chapel , also known as the Chapel of Silence, a  unique and modern chapel  located in the Kamppi district, intended to be a place to  calm down  and spend a  moment of silence  in one of the busiest areas of the city.

The chapel is famous for its  distinctive architectural design  in a  minimalist wooden structure  with a  curved shape , standing out amidst its urban environment. Its interior is also  simple and serene , with  wooden benches  arranged in a circular pattern and architecture allowing  natural light  to filter through the curved wooden walls.

Designed for  quiet reflection and contemplation  in the middle of the bustling capital, the Kamppi Chapel serves as a sanctuary for people seeking  peace and solitude , regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs. It is a  must-see  (and experience) during your 3 days in Helsinki.

3- Discover the Oodi Central Library

You will continue your discovery of Helsinki with the  Oodi Central Library , a  modern and architecturally striking library  known for its commitment to knowledge, culture and community engagement. Its  welcoming atmosphere, modern amenities and emphasis on inclusivity  make it a popular destination for residents and travellers.

Oodi houses an  extensive collection of books, magazines and multimedia resources  but is more than just a traditional library; it is a  cultural and community hub . The building features  various functional spaces , including traditional reading rooms, studios, meeting rooms, a cinema and a restaurant.

Additionally, one of its most notable features is its  open spaces , including a  large central hall  with high ceilings and  panoramic city views . You will also find a  public rooftop garden , providing a  green oasis  in the heart of the Finnish capital.

4- Tour the National Museum of Finland

Just a few steps away from the library, you will find the  National Museum of Finland , a museum dedicated to showcasing the  cultural heritage of the country  and highlighting aspects of  daily life, artistic practices and significant historical events  in Finland.

Take time to admire its exterior, as the building is a perfect example of  Finnish National Romantic architecture , with influences from medieval churches and castles. Once inside, you will discover a  wide range of artefacts and exhibits  related to Finnish cultural history, including items  from prehistoric times to the modern era .

And do not miss one of the highlights of the museum,  the Treasure Trove , which houses some of the  most valuable and historically significant relics  in the possession of the museum, such as the Crown of the King of Finland and the Peasant Woman’s Wedding Gown.

5- Explore the Temppeliaukio Church

You will continue your 3-day itinerary with the  Temppeliaukio Church , also known as the Rock Church, a  unique and popular architectural gem  in Helsinki  built directly into solid rock , giving it a striking and organic appearance.

Mined and constructed from  massive natural granite rock , its  innovative design  and  integration with nature  have made it one of the most iconic and visited landmarks in the Finnish capital. As a result, the interior and exterior walls are mostly made of  exposed rock surfaces , and the roof is a  copper dome  with a  skylight .

Admire the Temppeliaukio Church from the outside and explore its interior to appreciate its impressive  architectural and geological features . You will be amazed by the  peaceful atmosphere  inside the rock walls, which creates a  serene and memorable experience  for everyone. 

🎟️ Book your entrance:  Temppeliaukio Church Entrance Ticket .

6- Admire the Sibelius Monument

You will now head to  Sibelius Park  to discover the  Sibelius Monument , an  abstract and modernist sculpture  composed of over 600 hollow steel tubes arranged in a  wavy pattern , resembling organ pipes or waves in water. The design aims to capture the  essence of the music  of the renowned  Finnish composer Jean Sibelius .

Wander around the monument, and do not hesitate to  interact with it . The  abstract nature  of the sculpture allows for various interpretations, and you will be able to explore the  different angles and perspectives  of the artwork.

In addition, feel free to stroll  through Sibelius Park , a popular spot for locals and travellers. It features walking paths, benches and green spaces, providing a  peaceful environment  for a well-deserved break on your busy sightseeing day or a  picnic in the summer months .

Your last stop of the day will be  Café Regatta , a  small red log cabin  and  charming café  located in the Töölö district by the edge of the water, offering  panoramic sea views . Its location on the shores of the Gulf of Finland makes it a  cosy and inviting spot , perfect for ending your day.

Known for its  rustic atmosphere , you will find inside wooden tables, benches and  traditional Finnish decorations . There is also  outdoor seating  where you can enjoy the fresh air and waterfront views as well as a  fireplace  adding  warmth and comforting ambience , especially during the colder season. 

Enjoy a  hot or cold drink  with snacks, pastries and  traditional Finnish delicacies . Or, if you still have some energy, the café also provides a  bike rental service , allowing you to explore the nearby area and many scenic routes by bike. 

Day 3 – Nature exploration & relaxation

1- visit the nuuksio national park.

For your third and final day in Helsinki, you have the option to spend the morning in the capital and explore more, or  take a half-day trip to the  Nuuksio National Park , a  beautiful natural area  located approximately 40 kilometres northwest of Helsinki. 

Known for its  scenic beauty  and characterized by  diverse landscapes , including lush green forests, crystal-clear lakes and rugged rocks, the park is the perfect place to  get closer to nature  and discover a  variety of plant species and animals . 

You will find a network of  well-marked hiking trails  suitable for  different skill levels , including beginners. The tracks will take you through the captivating landscapes of the park, providing opportunities to  explore its natural beauty  and  spot local wildlife  – the  perfect activity for nature lovers  and  photo enthusiasts !

You can organise the visit to the park yourself by taking the bus, or join this guided tour:  Nuuksio National Park: Half-Day Trip from Helsinki . 

2- Explore the Design Museum 

Whether or not you decide to explore the Nuuksio National Park in the morning, you can spend the afternoon relaxing, shopping or continuing to explore Helsinki. 

You will continue your 3-day trip by stopping at the  Design Museum  (Designmuseo), a museum dedicated to the  exhibition and documentation of Finnish and foreign design  in various forms. It was established in 1873, making it one of the  oldest design museums  in the world. 

Its collections cover a  wide range of design disciplines , including industrial design, fashion, graphic design and applied arts. The museum also places a  significant emphasis on Finnish design , celebrating the design heritage of the country and the work of  influential Finnish designers . 

In addition, you will find  different educational programs, workshops and guided tours  for visitors of all ages aimed at engaging and providing further insights into the world of design. It is a  perfect activity  to do  on a rainy day.  

3- Stop at St. John’s Church

Not far from the Design Museum, you will come across  John’s Church , an imposing  Lutheran church from the late 19th century , popular as a venue for  classical concerts , located in the Punavuori district.

Known for its  neo-Gothic architectural style , it is the  largest stone church  in Finland in terms of seating capacity, decorated with  beautiful frescoes  and  stained glass windows . The church exudes a  tranquil and respectful atmosphere , as a place for worship and reflection.

4- Venture around Kaivopuisto Park

You will continue your exploration of Helsinki with a stroll through  Kaivopuisto Park , a  beautiful and popular urban park  located  along the coastline , known for its  picturesque seaside location , offering  panoramic views  of the Gulf of Finland and the archipelago.

A beloved spot for locals and travellers to  enjoy nature  and the  maritime atmosphere , you will also find well-maintained  green spaces ,  walking paths  and  landscaped gardens , creating a pleasant environment for  relaxation and outdoor activities .

The park also features a  seaside promenade  along the shoreline, allowing you to stroll along the water, enjoy the views and  breathe in the fresh sea air  – the  ultimate green oasis  at the heart of the capital.

5- Walk down Huvilakatu Street

Whilst making your way to the Löyly Sauna, take a detour down Huvilakatu Street, a  charming residential street  renowned for its distinctive and  picturesque colourful wooden houses.  

Step back in time as you discover  unique architecture  along the street reflecting the  late 19th and early 20th centuries , with well-maintained and colourful wooden buildings, contributing to the  character and charm  of the street – so do not forget your camera!

You will end your final day and 3-day Helsinki itinerary at Löyly , a  modern and distinctive urban sauna complex  located  along the waterfront , known for its striking architecture. The resort features a  contemporary and sustainable design , with a wooden structure that resembles a log pile.

The complex offers a  unique sauna experience , combining traditional Finnish sauna culture with modern amenities, including both  traditional   wood-fired saunas  and a  smoke sauna . It is the ideal spot to relax and pamper yourself whilst  admiring the Baltic Sea .

Additionally, you will find an  on-site restaurant  which serves a  variety of dishes , including both traditional Finnish cuisine and international flavours. There is no better way to end the day than  taking in the views  whilst  savouring a delicious meal . 

Shop the printable travel itinerary

Plan your perfect Helsinki city break & live a unique experience in Helsinki!

printable travel itinerary

If you have more time

  • Take a day trip to Porvoo
  • Hop on the ferry to Tallinn
  • Explore Seurasaari Island
  • Take a food tour with a local
  • Venture on a kayaking trip
  • Steam up in the Lonna Sauna 
  • Relax in Sinebrychoff Park
  • Visit a Moomin Café
  • Enjoy the views from SkyWheel

helsinki 3 day itinerary

How to get to Helsinki

The best way to get to Helsinki will depend on where you come from and your budget, but there are many options to reach the Finnish capital.

One of the quickest ways to get to Helsinki is by plane . If you are travelling from another country or a distant city, you will likely arrive at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL), the main international airport well-connected to major cities around the world. But please, try to prioritise direct flights to reduce your carbon footprint – if flying is the only option.

One of the most eco-friendly ways to get to Helsinki is by train . Helsinki is well-connected to neighbouring countries by train thanks to its station, Helsinki Central Railway Station, where you will also find international train services, such as Allegro, connecting Helsinki with Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Finally,  the most affordable option for getting to Helsinki is by coach . It is a great way to reach the Finnish capital if you are exploring Europe on a budget, but it may take longer. International and domestic bus services operate to and from Helsinki via its central bus station, the Kamppi Center. For example, check out the  Eurolines  long-distance bus service.

helsinki 3 day itinerary

How to get around Helsinki

Once in Helsinki, you will find many options for getting around the capital. 

The best way (eco-friendly too) to travel around Helsinki is on foot . The Finnish capital is not too big and easily accessible on foot, even on a short day trip or weekend getaway, as the main attractions are within walking distance of each other. Plus, it is the perfect way to experience the best of the capital whilst getting some exercise!

The best option to get around Helsinki faster is by public transport . The capital has an extensive tram network covering different neighbourhoods, making it a convenient, affordable and scenic way to travel around. In addition, the city has an extensive bus network, including local and regional services, which can be better for reaching remote areas not covered by trams.

The last and fun option is to travel around Helsinki by bike . It is a fantastic way to get around the capital whilst reducing your carbon footprint! Helsinki is a bike-friendly city, and you can easily rent a bike at various locations to explore on two wheels, with dedicated lanes in many parts of the capital.

helsinki 3 day itinerary

Where to stay in Helsinki for 3 days

The best neighbourhoods in helsinki.

Are you looking for the  best place to stay in Helsinki  for 3 days? Here is an overview of the  top neighbourhoods  in the Finnish capital:

  • Kluuvi : the best area for first-time visitors
  • Kamppi : the best area for nightlife 
  • Punavuori : the best area for art lovers
  • Kallio : the best budget-friendly area
  • Kaartinkaupunki : the best area for families
  • Katajanokka : the best quiet & hidden area
  • Etu-Töölö : the best area for nature lovers 
  • Ruoholahti : the best area for marine experience

🏡 READ MORE:  Where to Stay in Helsinki: 8 Best Areas (& Hotels)

MY EXPERIENCE

My friends and I booked an Airbnb in the Kallio district, which was lovely. It was quiet and affordable, and we could easily access the city centre by tram. Wherever you stay in Helsinki, the city is not vast, so you will have no problem making the most of your short holiday.

helsinki 3 day itinerary

Best time to visit Helsinki

The best time to visit Helsinki is generally in  summer (June-August) , when the weather is mild and pleasant, with longer daylight hours, which can extend late into the evening. Summer is ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities, like exploring parks, island hopping and picnicking. Plus, you will find many festivals and cultural events during this time.

Spring (April-May)  and  autumn (September-October)  can also be lovely seasons, with fewer tourists and lower prices, allowing for a more relaxed visit. However, the weather might be slightly unpredictable with colder temperatures. But if you come prepared, you will have no problem exploring the capital during those months. 

Finally, if you want to experience another side of Helsinki, plan your visit in  winter (December-February) , when the capital becomes a winter wonderland with snowy landscapes with potential for winter sports activities. The city will be beautifully decorated during the holiday season, with Christmas markets as a popular attraction. Plus, you might have the chance to see the Northern Lights! But be prepared for the cold and shorter daylight hours. 

I went to Helsinki in June, and I loved it. This season was unique as the sun never set, and the daylight lasted an average of 19 hours. We sometimes left a bar or restaurant at midnight, and it was still daylight – a little disturbing, especially when trying to sleep!

helsinki 3 day itinerary

How to reduce your impact in Helsinki

Sustainable travel  means exploring the world whilst being aware of your surroundings and having a positive social, environmental and economic impact on the places you visit.

Being a responsible traveller in Helsinki is possible! Here are some  eco-friendly travel tips  for reducing your carbon footprint:

  • Use the train to reach the capital . Helsinki is incredibly well-connected by train to the rest of the world, so prioritise travelling this way to lower your carbon impact.
  • If you need to take the plane, book direct flights  (which require less fuel than indirect flights)  and  offset your carbon footprint . But, do not use carbon offsetting as a complete solution. Combine it with other sustainable practices, like avoiding single-use plastic on the plane and mindfully packing your suitcase for your green city break. 
  • Select an eco-friendly accommodation . It is not always easy to determine whether a hotel has eco-conscious practices, but try to look on their website for green credentials, such as the Nordic Swan Ecolabel or other recognised environmental certifications, and ask questions. You can also use  Bookdifferent  or  Ecobnb  to help you decide.
  • Be mindful of your energy and water consumption . Turn off lights, electronics and heating/cooling when you do not need it. Reuse towels and linens at your hotel or guesthouse to reduce your usage and impact.
  • Once there, use public transport . Helsinki has an efficient public transportation network with buses and trams that can take you anywhere easily and quickly. Another way to get around sustainably is on foot. But if walking is too tiring, use the bike! It is a great green way to enjoy the sights whilst reducing your environmental impact.
  • Eat at local restaurants or markets  that use produce from the area and emphasise organic and sustainability. It will contribute to the local economy and reduce your carbon footprint by supporting restaurants where food does not come from long distances.
  • Respect flora and fauna . If you are exploring the natural areas of Helsinki, such as parks or islands, follow designated trails and respect the local flora and fauna. Avoid disturbing, touching and feeding wildlife.
  • Always respect the local heritage . Treat people and their surroundings with respect. Sustainable travel is not only about the environment but also about the local communities. So, always be respectful, smile and learn a few Finnish words.

More inspiration for your green vacation:

  • Best Travel Apps for Exploring Sustainably
  • 15 Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Eco-Adventure
  • Best Ecotourism Activities Around the World

Eco-friendly gear you might love:

  • 10 Best Sustainable Backpacks for Travel & Hiking
  • 10 Best Reusable & Eco-Friendly Travel Mugs
  • 8 Best Filtered Water Bottles for Travel & Hiking

Check out  this page  for more inspiration on eco-friendly products & gear.

sustainable travel checklist

Helsinki travel planning guide

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance to travel to Helsinki? Yes, buying insurance is always valuable when travelling abroad. Enjoy your city break in Helsinki stress-free with one of my favourite providers,  Nomad Insurance .

💧 Can you drink the water in Helsinki? Yes, tap water is safe to drink all over Helsinki (which ranks among the highest quality in the world). However, I also recommend travelling with the  UltraPress Purifier Bottle , a lightweight filtered water bottle perfect for reducing plastic and staying hydrated.

🚗 Is it easy to rent a car in Helsinki? Yes, renting a car in Helsinki is easy and a great way to explore the countryside and national parks freely. I recommend booking yours with  Rentalcars.com  – they offer a variety of operators for all budgets.

🏨 How to book accommodation in Helsinki? The best way to book your accommodation in Helsinki is with  Booking.com  – my favourite platform to compare and reserve places to stay each night, from affordable guesthouses to luxury hotels.

✈️ What is the best site to buy a flight to Helsinki? I recommend booking your plane with  Skyscanner . It has been my favourite platform for years, as it allows me to book the cheapest flights whilst lowering my carbon emissions.

3 days in Helsinki – FAQ

Yes, 3 days are enough to explore Helsinki and enjoy its top highlights and attractions. It will allow you to discover its many museums, visit its parks and relax in a traditional sauna. However, if possible, I also recommend spending more time in the Finnish capital, as there is so much to do and see.

Yes, Helsinki is a walkable city, especially in the central areas. The city centre is compact and features pedestrian-friendly streets with the main attractions within walking distance of each other, making it perfect for sightseeing and exploring many of its key highlights on foot.

Yes, Helsinki is considered to be expensive compared to many other European cities, but it is not impossible to explore it on a budget. Save in advance and be mindful of your expenses once there. Walk as much as possible, eat at local markets, stay in an Airbnb and look for city passes.

Yes, English is widely spoken and understood in Helsinki. Finland has a high level of English proficiency, which is commonly used as a second language in different aspects of daily life, even in remote areas. However, extra effort is always appreciated, so try learning a few basic Finnish phrases.

helsinki 3 day itinerary

And you, have you ever visited Helsinki or would you like to go one day?  Let me know in the comments below!

With love ♡ Lucie

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2 Days in Helsinki Itinerary for First Time Visitors From a Local! (2023 Guide)

Planning a weekend trip to Helsinki, Finland ? Read on for a complete 2 days in Helsinki itinerary including the best things to do, where to eat, where to stay and other essential tips written by a local.

– Written by Pia from  Next Stop TBC – Featured on Sambla Lainalaskuri –

2 Days in Helsinki Itinerary (2023)

2 days in Helsinki itinerary and travel blog

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on these links, I may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Helsinki is a perfect destination for a city break as it has to offer a combination nature, history and art in a compact and safe setting for a metropolitan city. Helsinki’s location at the seaside and the distinctive four seasons shape the experience of visitors to the capital of Finland. This 2-day itinerary shares some of the key sights and experiences not to miss on your first visit to the city. On the first day, get to know the most iconic sites of the city center, admire the amazing archipelago and explore some insights to the history of the country. On the next day, make a deep dive to art and culture. Also, make sure to enjoy some breaks with coffee and traditional Finnish food to keep you energized throughout your stay in Helsinki!

Day 1 in Helsinki Itinerary: Cityscape and History

Kick-o ff the day from the  Senate Square and Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki cathedral one day in helsinki

Start your visit to Helsinki from the iconic Senate Square plaza and views to the Helsinki Cathedral . You’re now at the heart of Helsinki’s historic center and some of the city’s oldest streets and buildings are located in this area, for example Helsinki University main building is on the left of the plaza. The Senate Square hosts a variety of events, such as concerts, the Christmas market and New Year’s celebrations. It’s also the place where Finns get together to celebrate after victory in Ice Hockey World Championships, Eurovision Song Contest or success in other major international events.

Have your morning coffee at  Cafe Engel  that is located facing the Senate Square and Helsinki Cathedral and serves all-day breakfast with different sets to choose from. In the summer time the café hosts an outdoor cinema making it a perfect place to round up the day as well.

Pass by Havis Amanda Statue and fountain

Havis Amanda fountain helsinki travel guide

Walk down Sofiankatu and you’ll arrive at the Havis Amanda Statue and fountain. It’s the place where people come together to celebrate the eve of Labour Day on the 30 th  April. The tradition is that students wash the statue and place a high school graduate cap on her head to mark the start of the Labour Day celebrations. From mid-November to early January the fountain plaza hosts Christmas market huts and stalls with local delicacies and handcrafts.

Take a stroll through Esplanadi Park

Esplanadi park helsinki travel blogs

Take a turn right and make your way across Unioninkatu street towards the  Esplanadi Park . In the summer, when the weather is at its best, the park’s lawns become the most popular picnic places in the city center. Often also outdoor concerts are held on the stage. In the winter you can marvel the Christmas lights and the season’s peaceful atmosphere.

If you feel like another cup of coffee or getting hungry for a snack,  Café Esplanad  is a traditional café known for its huge cinnamon buns (“Korvapuusti” in Finnish, you really should try one with coffee!) and fresh salads. In the summer the tables on the street make a perfect spot to watch the people passing by.

Stock-up at  Kauppatori  marketplace

The  Kauppatori marketplace  has a variety of stalls ranging from a traditional farmer’s market selling fresh berries in the summer, fish and other local food products, handcrafts and souvenirs. The presidential palace is across the street and the ferry terminal to Suomenlinna fortress is in the south-west corner of the marketplace.

Submerge in history in the  Suomenlinna sea fortress

Suomenlinna helskinki travel blog

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress  is an UNESCO world heritage site and a very popular place to visit especially in the summer but beautiful in the winter as well (just remember to dress warm!). There is a small population of residents so it’s advisable to be mindful to not disturb private areas of the island. The white Suomenlinna church that’s a short walk from the harbor is one of the rare churches that’s also a lighthouse. A good place for lunch is for example  Bastion Bistro  located in a building that has a fascinating history since it was built in 1892 and has even served as a prison in the past.

The ferry to Suomenlinna runs around the year and it takes about 15 minutes to reach the island. It’s a good idea to pack along a weather proof jacket and good walking shoes as the island is best explored on foot. If you’re visiting in the summer and have more time you could also opt for the island-hopping ticket and visit also two other islands  Vallisaari and Lonna  in addition to Suomenlinna. There’s still a lot of signs of historical military presence on the islands like barracks and canons as all three have had an important role in Finland’s history in protecting the city.

You can also visit Suomenlinna on this sightseeing boat tour .

Marvel the cityscape views from SkyWheel Helsinki

Helsinki Skywheel from sea 36 hours in helsinki

Take the ferry back to Kauppatori from Suomenlinna and find one of the newer landmarks of the city, the  SkyWheel Helsinki just a short stroll away. Enjoy the panoramic views to the sea and over the city from the ferris wheel cabins. There’s even a sauna cabin if you want to try a really unique experience!

Relax at the sauna and outdoor swim at Allas Sea Pool

Allas Sea Pool 48 hours in helsinki

Your visit to Finland would not be complete without going to sauna! One of the most convenient locations to enjoy sauna and a swim in the middle of Helsinki is  Allas Sea Pool  that’s located next door from the Skywheel. Its open around the year with a heated 25-meter pool and a (cold) sea water pool. The kids pool is open in the summer. The day ticket includes unlimited swimming time and use of sauna. Check the website in advance about events – Skinny dip Saturdays are held once a month so depending on your preferences you might want to avoid or join this unique experience (swimsuits are allowed though, even in the sauna – although the local tradition is to go to sauna nude even if it’s not skinny dipping night)! There’s also a café and a bistro in the building and in the summer, the top floor hosts one of the city’s most popular terraces.

For a nice modern Finnish dinner head to  Juuri  (meaning ”root” in Finnish) restaurant that bases its menu on fresh local ingredients and has been mentioned in the Michelin guide annually for the last decade. The restaurant launched “sapas” as Finnish version of tapas, small delicious starters that can be shared.

Or if you prefer to stay in the close neighborhood and opt for a more traditional Finnish dinner, try  Savotta  restaurant instead.

Day 2 in Helsinki Itinerary: Culture and Arts

In the past decade, Helsinki has really become a hub for art, culture and design. The city is home to several inspirational museums from more classical to contemporary art. If you plan to stay longer and explore a high number of museums, the Museum Card could be the optimal solution for you – at the price of 69 euros it includes admission to over 200 museums in Finland!

Enjoy morning coffee and modern art  at Kiasma 

Kiasma – Museum of Contemporary Art is architectural sight both from the outside as well as inside. The museum coffee shop is worth a visit for taking a break. There’s free admission on the first Friday of the month.

Admire the classical works of art at Ateneum

Switch from modern to classical and make your way to  Ateneum Art Museum that hosts the largest classical art exhibition in Finland. It’s home to many of the most iconic masterpieces of Finnish art as well as some well-known international artists work.

Take a lunch break

Have lunch at  Cafe Roasberg  across the street from Ateneum museum. It’s the place to go for some fresh ground cappuccino or latte and salads. It’s also a nice place to work on your computer to catch up on those important emails or get up-to-speed on social media.

Wake up your senses at Amos Rex

Amos Rex Museum 2 days in Helsinki itinerary

Amos Rex museum with contemporary audio-visual exhibitions was recently opened and it became a huge hit instantly – probably for the first time in Finland, people have been queuing to a museum! It’s very popular in the weekends and evenings, so if possible plan your visit for a weekday.

Chill at Central Library Oodi

Central Library Oodi  is the newest addition to Helsinki’s cultural offering was opened on the eve of Finland’s 101st Independence Day on the 5 th  of December 2018. The modern sleek wood-clad building is centrally located next to Kiasma and Helsinki Music Center and has been hailed as an architectural masterpiece making it worth visiting not only if you are a book lover.

Dinner your style

For a gourmet dinner experience head to  Muru  on Fredrikinkatu. Muru is a boutique fine dining restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere. It’s worthwhile to go for the tasting menu. The restaurant is small, and the number of tables limited so advance booking even weeks ahead is recommended (and in case you have special diets it’s useful to inform the restaurant in advance so that they can design the best culinary experience to your diet). Bon appétit!

In case you prefer a more down-to-earth dining experience  Restaurant Zetor  is located very centrally and is decorated in unique Finnish countryside style, you could almost call it having some “hillbilly” charm. Here you can find the most traditional Finnish dishes on the menu such as meatballs, karelian stew, sautéed reindeer, salmon soup, pyttipanna (fried potato, onion, and sausage) – you won’t go home hungry!

Cultural night out: symphony orchestra, opera, jazz or rock concert?

Are you a fan of classical music, opera or ballet? Check out the offering at  Helsinki Music Center  or  Finnish National Opera  when planning your visit to Helsinki. Book your tickets in advance to secure your seat in most popular shows or try your luck to get tickets for performances on the same day. After the performance, head for a glass of champagne on a rooftop bar.  Torni Ateljé bar  is the classic roof top bar in the top floor of Torni Hotel centrally located next to Forum shopping center with amazing views across Helsinki. In the winter there are only a few tables in the small bar but in the summer time there also the balcony seating is in use. The ladies bathroom has a famous toilet with views. Or check out  Clarion Hotel’s  Sky Room that’s one of the latest additions to the Helsinki bar scene.

Clarion rooftop bar weekend in helsinki

If you’re more into pop, rock or jazz music, Helsinki has an active scene for concerts and clubs.  Start the evening at  Teerenpeli  pub and brewery that’s a great place for after work drinks or catching up with friends and tasting the locally brewed beer and cider. There’s usually seats available and it’s not too noisy to enjoy a conversation. Then take your pick on the music genre to continue the evening for example at Tavastia club, established in 1970, that’s one of Europe’s oldest rock clubs or Storyville that’s a well-known jazz club.

Getting Around Helsinki

Helsinki is an easy city to explore thanks to its compact size and many options for getting around including public trams, buses and trains.

You can also use Uber and Lyft or call a taxi through the Taksi Helsinki App .

In addition to various guided tours, an easy way visit Helsinki’s tourist attractions is to use a hop-on hop-off bus .

Where to Stay in Helsinki

There are plenty of accommodation options for different budgets in Helsinki. There isn’t a bad area to stay in but do check out the map and evaluate how much walking you like to do from the places you plan to visit. A few hotel recommendations would be the boutique  Hotel Haven , centrally located  Scandic Simonkenttä  and  Clarion Hotel Helsinki  for seaside glamour with rooftop pool.

Things to do in Finland beyond Helsinki

There’s naturally much more than the capital to see in Finland. For an ideal Finland holiday, include a visit to northern Finland in your journey – from late autumn till late spring you are likely to find a winter wonderland there while in the summer months the midnight sun lights up the scenery even at night. You can visit Nuuksio National Park on a half day. Ruka  is just a short flight from Helsinki and is easily explored in just 3 days. For an authentic Lapland nature experience  Pallas-Yllästunturi national park  would be an ideal destination.

Hope you find these insights useful and enjoy your visit the Finland and Helsinki!

Bio:  Pia Oravainen is a Finland based part-time blogger passionate about traveling, learning, nature and well-being. Hoping to inspire people and families to seize opportunities to explore the wonders of the world and be energized to stay active and healthy.  Follow her on her website ,  Facebook , Instagram and Twitter .

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Helsinki isn’t the most remembered place to travel but certainly is a good alternative, specially for who don’t want to be ran over by a crowd of tourist.

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The Ultimate Travel Guide to Helsinki (Things to Do)

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

Updated September 2023

With a second opportunity to visit Helsinki, I was more than excited to make the return to Finland’s capital. Helsinki has always been a place of inspiration for design, the proximity to the outdoors, and one of those cities that always surprises.

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

When I went over three years ago on the #MyHelsinkiResidences program with the My Helsinki tourism board, I went during the winter months and saw a side of Helsinki that I hadn’t expected. This time, I was here for summer and was ready to bask in those long days of light and discover more.

I returned to the same program and one I love to partake in. The goal is to live like a resident of Helsinki as there’s no set itinerary, no places I have to be. During that time, I stayed in an apartment in the heart of downtown, given a few travel recommendations, and the keys to discovering the city as I would like to.

The result? Spontaneous adventures traveling like a local and having an immersive experience.

Much of Helsinki had changed since I had been there last. New museums, restaurants, and coffee shops were sprinkled throughout, all places I was excited to explore. But at the same time, it hadn’t. There was still that friendly welcome I remembered from the last visit.

There’s a passion for sharing what makes Finland truly a unique and wonderful country to not only visit but live in. There’s a love for slowing down, being connected to the outdoors, and, of course, that incredible design scene.

It’s all of these things and more that make traveling to Helsinki an experience to remember. If you’re looking to explore more of Helsinki, be sure to check out my in-depth guides to the best restaurants and best things to do .

Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels and Things to Do in Helsinki:

  • Hotel St. George , for the best modern luxury hotel
  • Hotel Kämp ,  for the best design hotel
  • Noli Studios Katajanokka , for the best designed apartment-hotel
  • Hotel Mestari , for the best hotel for larger groups or families
  • Hotel F6 , for the best boutique hotel

Things to Do

  • Helsinki Architecture Walking Tour

Visit the Reindeer in Nuuksio National Park

Take a day trip to tallinn, estonia.

  • Tour the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

What to know about visiting helsinki, finland, how do i get around helsinki.

The best part of visiting Helsinki is no car is needed. On arrival at Helsinki Airport, take the “L or P” train between Terminals 1 and 2 right to the city center in 30 minutes. Be sure to purchase a ticket before boarding. Once in town, the metro and bus system is extensive. I took Uber pretty frequently as it’s not terribly priced, else, the city of Helsinki is incredibly walkable.

What Language Do They Speak in Helsinki?

Finnish, Swedish, and English are spoken here. Finnish is the national language.

Is Helsinki Good for Tourists?

It’s one of the best Scandinavian cities to visit for travelers. It is easy to get around, has several low-cost flights between other countries, and has lots to do.

What Currency is Used in Helsinki?

On the Euro currency, cash and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. I always advise you to have some cash on you in case.

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Helsinki?

For the more milder months, May through September will be the best. With the least amount of rainfall, you’ll have warmer days. Come winter, it can be very cold — some may prefer a winter adventure pending your itinerary.

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

Where to Stay in Helsinki, Finland

For this trip, I was put in a long-term apartment-hotel stay that is unfortunately no longer available to book. I know there are some wonderful hotels in the city, some of which I stopped by, and wanted to recommend. Read on to see some of the best hotels to book while visiting Helsinki.

Hotel St. George

Hotel St. George

Nestled in the heart of the city, Hotel St. George isn’t just another luxury stay. Overlooking the serene Old Church Park, this hotel is a blend of art, design, and holistic care. With 148 rooms, each thoughtfully curated, and five suites that whisper elegance, it’s a haven for those seeking moments of tranquility. Dive into a world of well-being, from a contemporary spa to a gym designed for the modern traveler. Book the best rates here .

Hotel Kämp

Hotel Kämp , located in the center of Helsinki, has been a hallmark of luxury since its establishment in 1887. Situated on Pohjoisesplanadi, this esteemed hotel offers a blend of historical charm and modern amenities. Guests can enjoy a variety of services, from dining at the renowned Brasserie Kämp to relaxing treatments at the Kämp Spa. Additionally, the historic Kämp Bar provides a selection of beverages in a sophisticated setting. Book the best rates here .

Noli Studios Katajanokka

Noli Studios Katajanokka

Noli Studios Katajanokka , located near downtown Helsinki, is housed in a historic red-brick building that once served as the headquarters for the grocery giant, Kesko. Offering stunning sea views and surrounded by a mix of modernist and Art Nouveau architecture, this hotel is within walking distance of Helsinki’s vibrant city center, the Allas Sea Pool, and the bustling restaurants of Kanavaranta. With 263 stylish studios, guests can enjoy amenities like a modern gym, sauna, restaurant, co-working spaces, and community areas. Book the best rates here .

Hotel Mestari

Hotel Mestari

Hotel Mestari , located in central Helsinki’s iconic House of Master Builders, offers 237 elegantly designed rooms and suites. Renowned for its exceptional service, the hotel provides curated experience packages tailored for guests. The venue, historically a hub for dialogue, is equipped for both intimate and large-scale events. With its blend of beautiful design and luxury amenities, Mestari ensures a stay that’s both comfortable and memorable. Book the best rates here .

Hotel F6

Hotel F6 , located in central Helsinki just off the well-known Esplanade, is a unique boutique hotel emphasizing genuine service and a home-like atmosphere. Housed within 76 elegantly designed rooms that blend style, comfort, and sustainability, guests are treated to Finnish home-style breakfasts made predominantly from organic local ingredients. The hotel’s bar, Runar, offers authentic flavors in a warm setting. For those keen on fitness, a gym equipped with top-tier equipment is available, and in collaboration with Wolt, guests can have meals from local restaurants delivered directly to their rooms. Bicycles are also available for guests wishing to explore the vibrant surroundings of Helsinki. Book the best rates here .

Where to Eat in Helsinki

Yes yes yes.

20 Best Restaurants in Helsinki, Finland

For a vegetarian option, look no further than Yes Yes Yes. I love how bright and cheerful the restaurant is. Their tandoori bread and dips are delicious and also be sure to try the halloumi fries!

Address: Iso Roobertinkatu 1, 00120 Helsinki, Finland

Restaurant Savotta

For a very traditional dinner with a view of Senate Square, book a reservation at Restaurant Savotta . Their menu has traditional platings like game meat logs to traditional stews. It’s a must-dine for a taste of Finland while in Helsinki.

Address: Aleksanterinkatu 22, 00170 Helsinki, Finland

The Cock

The Cock is always a win in the city. Their well-rounded menu has a few different classics to favorites like the tartar.

Address: Fabianinkatu 17, 00130 Helsinki, Finland

The Bistro at Food Market Herkku

The Bistro at Food Market Herkku

For a more unique dining experience, head to The Bistro at Food Market Herkku . Formerly known as the Stockman Grocery Store, the new edition of Herkku is a food market inspired by market halls found around the world. It may seem strange to dine in a grocery story, but the Bistro is a high-end experience centered around a bar at the back of the restaurant. The salmon tartar was delicious and fresh.

Address: Aleksanterinkatu 52, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

Sushibar + Wine

plan trip helsinki

If you’re looking for sushi, the lunch menu at Sushibar + Wine is great and well-priced, 10-piece nigiri sets starting at around 15 euros a plate. They now have 4 locations throughout the city.

Address: Kaivokatu 8, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

Ekberg Cafe

20 Best Restaurants in Helsinki, Finland

Dating back to 1852 and Finland’s oldest bakery, Ekberg has traditional pastries and desserts. It’s hard to choose here!

Address: Bulevardi 9, 00120 Helsinki, Finland

St. George Bakery

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

Located in the Hotel St. George , St. George Bakery is another one of my favorite bakeries in town with fresh bread and baked goods.

Address: Yrjönkatu 13, 00120 Helsinki, Finland

Coffee Shops

There are great coffee shops throughout the city. A few of my favorites are Andante , Kaffecentralen (multiple locations), Cafe Regatta , and Kaffa Roastery .

Things to Do in Helsinki

Museum hop through the city.

plan trip helsinki

If there is one thing Helsinki has in plenty, it’s museums. There is something for everyone here. If you’re looking for contemporary art, head to the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma . For a history on Finnish design, the Design Museum has rotating exhibits.

The National Museum of Finland is the perfect spot to get insight into Finnish history and culture.  The Helsinki Art Museum or HAM features unique exhibits that are thought-provoking. And for those looking for international art, head to the Ateneum Art Museum .

Take a Boat to Suomenlinna, Tour the Sea Fortress , then Hop Over to Lonna for a Sauna

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

Surrounded by many islands and the sea, Helsinki is a great spot to get out into nature. One island nearby that offers an opportunity to walk around and see a historic site is Suomenlinna. Take the JT line from Market Square and get a scenic view of the city as you head there.

On the island, there are walking trails throughout the historic Suomenlinna Sea Fortress which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you want something that is more informational, I would book this guided tour that takes you throughout Suomenlinna .

What I would do afterward, is take the JT Line right over the island of Lonna and reserve in advance a two-hour sauna experience . The island is very small and has a restaurant in addition to the public sauna building. It’s a scenic spot to end the day and perfect for a traditional Finnish sauna experience.

Book a Guided Walking Tour

With so much to discover in Helsinki, one of the best ways to learn and experience the city is with a knowledgeable local. While I was able to do this with a local I knew myself, I did some digging for the best walking tours with a guide in the city.

The first one I found was this small group walking tour (137 reviews, 5 stars!). It’s limited to 8 people and the local guide takes you through important historical and cultural sights throughout the city. This other small group tour in Helsinki was rated similarly in case the other one sells out.

For those who are into architecture, you’ll fall in love with Helsinki. With Finnish architects like Alvar Aalto and alike, there is a lot to love. This Helsinki architecture walking tour will take you to some of the most important architectural sights in the city, giving you background on the buildings.

Take a Tour of Alvar Aalto’s Studio

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

One of the most unique things I did this time was taking a tour of Alvar Aalto’s studio . Well known for his work in architecture and his furniture at Artek, his studio is just a quick 10-minute drive from the city (Uber will take you there). Book a tour in advance and explore the studio and space that he worked out of.

Shop Local Designers

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

With a strong design scene, Helsinki is the ultimate shopper’s paradise. You may want to bring an extra suitcase as it’s that good. There are so many places to shop for design, so I’d head to the Design District’s website and select the category you’re looking for as it’s broken out accordingly.

Try a Finnish Sauna at Löyly

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

It’s a must-experience when in Finland. Löyly is just a quick Uber ride away from downtown and has an incredible location on the sea. You’ll need to reserve in advance a two-hour window at the sauna here.

I’d come for lunch or a bite before or after and then steam away in their two sauna rooms. To cool down, you can even jump in the sea if you’re brave enough.

Walk Around Senate Square

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

One of my favorite areas to walk around is the Senate Square . Head here to see the Helsinki Cathedral and the National Library of Finland . Continue on through the winding neighborhoods into the center.

The Ultimate Helsinki Travel Guide

One unique day trip you can do while visiting Helsinki is taking the Tallink Star over to Tallinn, Estonia . I’d book a ticket on the boat in advance and make the two-hour journey to Tallinn for the day. The 7:30 a.m. departure gets you there at 9:30, giving you a full day when you take the 7:30 p.m. return.

With one day in Tallinn, you can easily explore the top sights like Alexander Nevsky Cathedral , the Old Town, and the Tallinn Town Hall .

One meal not to miss while there is at the traditional restaurant, Olde Hansa for local, Estonian food. Afterward, I’d head to the Kohtuotsa Viewing Platform for a view over the city and consider exploring the area of Kalamaja.

On one of my first Helsinki trips, I headed out to Nuuksio National Park to visit reindeer. It was dead of winter, and with snow falling, it felt like a storybook scene. It’s a bit of way out of the city, so it’s recommended to do this on a guided tour like this one.

Once there, you’ll have the opportunity to see and interact with the reindeer. This private tour is one of the top-selling and does sell out so book in advance.

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Ps — are you booking a trip soon use my booking checklist.

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you . If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here .

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:

  • World Nomads (best for all-around)
  • Safety Wing (best for frequent travelers)

Xx, Jessica

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I love the city of Helsinki, this is an amazing place to visit. Thanks for your beautiful travel guide. I want to come back here again and again.

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Nice suggestions. Löyly is perhaps the most modern public sauna in Helsinki but there are many more authentic saunas in Helsinki too and they are cheaper. For example, try Kotiharjun Sauna or Sauna Hermanni.

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Helsinki 2 day Itinerary

The Perfect Helsinki 2 Day Itinerary

When we first started planning our trip to Helsinki we had about a week’s worth of things to see.  Then time being what it is, i.e. precious, we had to cut that down, so that we could see all the other amazing places on our Nordic Road Trip, and so we ended up with 2 days in Helsinki, and we had to plan around that.  However, we did manage to visit during the long summer days of June, so seemingly endless daylight means that you can see way more, and stay out for longer.  Here’s an epic Helsinki 2 day itinerary.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED AND AFFILIATE LINKS MORE INFORMATION IN  OUR DISCLAIMER

Helsinki

Guided walking tour of Helsinki

To get a full appreciation of the city you should take a guided walking tour of Helsinki and visit Suomenlinna Fortress with a knowledgeable English-speaking local guide.

Practical Considerations for Visiting Helsinki

Our Helsinki 2 day itinerary is packed, but also easy to do if you have a weekend in Helsinki, or even better if you come mid-week, as there will be fewer people visiting the places that you’ll be going to.  This is also designed as a 2 day in Helsinki in summer itinerary.  Winter here is a very different proposition.  However, that said, you’ll need to plan to make the most of your time in Helsinki. where you’re here for one day, two, or longer.  Here’s what you’ll need to organize before you arrive.

Arriving in Helsinki

You’ll arrive in Helsinki in one of three ways.  Most people will arrive here by plane at the airport, but there’s also a ferry that comes here from both Stockholm, Sweden, and also from Tallinn, Estonia. I’ll cover those options too.  And then finally, you could arrive by car from elsewhere in the country, like we did (we came from Turku, Finland’s oldest city, and my guide to Turku is here )

Helsinki Airport to Helsinki

It’s about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Helsinki Airport (HEL) to the center of Helsinki.  It takes about 30-45 minutes to travel by car, which is the quickest way to get to the center.  You can rent cars from Helsinki Airport, but I recommend taking a transfer, and if you need a car later in your trip, then rent it later.  You won’t need a car to get around Helsinki, it will be more of a hindrance than a help.  Book an airport transfer from Helsinki Airport to Helsinki here.

You can also take the train from Helsinki Airport to the center of Helsinki.  You can buy your train tickets on the HSL website here and you’ll want either the I or the P trains and they take about 30 minutes.  You can also buy tickets from the machine at the train platform.   You’ll need a ticket for zones ABC and a single ticket will cost 4,10 €

If you prefer to take the bus, then you’ll want bus number 600, and it takes about 40 minutes.  Again buy tickets on HSL’s website or at the ticket machine at the bus station.

Helsinki Ferry Port to Helsinki

Ferries from Tallinn and Stockholm arrive in Helsinki at different terminals, however, both are relatively close to the city center.  If you’re coming on the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, then you’ll arrive at the Länsisatama (West Harbour), Terminal 2 in Helsinki.  It’s connected by trams and buses, or you can take a taxi to where you’re staying in Helsinki.

If you’re coming from Stockholm on the ferry, then you’ll arrive at the Olympia Terminal (I’ve marked it on the map for you).  You can take a tram or a bus from here, or a taxi.

Arriving in Helsinki by Car

There are no toll roads in Finland – unlike Norway and Sweden – but you’ll need to ensure that if you’re staying in Helsinki with a car that you have parking arranged.  This site details all the parking areas and parking prices for parking in Helsinki.

Where to stay in Helsinki for 2 days

With just two days in Helsinki, you’ll want to stay somewhere central to maximize your time in the city.  I recommend the Scandic Helsinki Hub – it is in a great location for exploring the city, has private parking if you are driving, but is also close to transit links.  A note on accommodation in Finland – decent quality, well-priced places to stay book REALLY quickly, so please, get the best price by booking early.   We booked all our Finnish accommodation about 2 months before our trip.

If you struggle to find somewhere central, then Helsinki has a great public transit system, so you can even stay a distance further out, but remember you’ll be taking public transport for perhaps 30 minutes each way.  The Forenom Aparthotel or the Noli both at Herttoniemi are good value, with self-catering kitchens, and are very close to the Herttoniemi train line, which is an easy commute into central Helsinki

Getting around Helsinki

If you’re driving, then the best thing that you can do when you arrive in Helsinki is to park up and leave the car.  Helsinki’s public transit system is EXCELLENT.  It’s called the HSL and comprises buses, trams, metros, trains and ferries.   Single tickets are valid for a set period of time and you can even transfer between transport modes so long as your time period is still valid.  Day tickets are great value and you can also buy multi-day tickets for up to 13 days.  Read the HSL site here for more details.

However, that doesn’t mean you’re going to spend all your time in Helsinki on a bus or metro, far from it.  The attractions in the center are very, very walkable, and if the weather for you is as glorious as it was for us, then it’s an absolute delight to be out and wandering around.

How to spend 2 days in Helsinki

Right, now that we’ve sorted out the details of getting here and getting around, let’s get down to it, shall we?  How we’re going to spend 2 days in Helsinki and what there is to see here.

Day 1 Itinerary for Helsinki

2 days in Helsinki is a great amount of time to see the highlights of Finland’s capital city, in a relaxed fashion, and long enough to decide if you want to return.  I’d love to come back in the winter and see the ice-breaking boats in action.  But let’s not digress any longer. 

Have Breakfast at Story in the Old Market Hall in Helsinki

If your hotel (or aparthotel) doesn’t provide breakfast, then head to the Old Market Hall in Helsinki for a great breakfast to get you started on your Helsinki itinerary.  Oatmeal might be the traditional breakfast here in Finland, but the Story café in the Old Market Hall has a huge variety of breakfast options.  The Old Market Hall is open from 08:00.

Inside the Old Market Hall Helsinki

Take a Walking Tour of Helsinki

This is hands down the best way to explore Helsinki – taking a walking tour with a knowledgeable local guide.  Like many other cities, Helsinki offers “free walking tours” – which are essentially tip-based.  You can reserve a place here for a nominal amount.  You’ll want to get the 10:30 am timeslot.  And don’t worry about cash for a tip.  Finland is one of the most cash-free places ever.  You can tip with a card or via Paypal.

If that timeframe doesn’t suit you, and you’d prefer to have a tour that’s tailored specifically to your group, then book a private tour, and tailor it to your interests, and in the order that you’d prefer.  Book this private tour, it gets superb ratings.

Whether you take a walking tour or not, then you’re going to want to explore the highlights of Helsinki.

Explore Helsinki’s Senate Square

Starting your exploration of Helsinki in Senate Square is a great place to understand a little of the history of Finland and the city of Helsinki.  The vast square is (almost) centered around a statute of Alexander II – known as Alexander the Liberator for his emancipation of Russia’s serfs in 1861, he was the Emperor of Russia, King of Congress Poland, and Grand Duke of Finland until his assassination in 1881.  (he was assassinated in the hope that it would cause a revolution).  Right, so there you are starting Finland’s history, with a statue of a Russian Emperor.  A reminder, Finland wasn’t actually an independent country until 1917.  (Go on, book that walking tour and you’ll learn about all this).

Senate Square Helsinki

The square is built on what was originally a graveyard but was envisaged as the main square of the city in 1812 when Helsinki became the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland.

The square’s architecture comes from Carl Ludvig Engel (1778 – 1840) and is an example of Neoclassical architecture.  There are four primary buildings that surround the square, the most distinctive of which is Helsinki Cathedral, which I’ll come to in a moment.  The three other buildings that surround the square are the main building of the University of Helsinki, the National Library of Finland, and the Government Palace.  You’ll also find Helsinki’s oldest stone building, the Sederholm House which contains the Helsinki City Museum.

Helsinki Cathedral

Originally the Church of St Nicholas, (as a tribute to the Russian Tsar, Nicholas I), the Cathedral was finished in 1852, 12 years after its architect (Engels) died. The cathedral’s design is that of a Greek cross when looked at from above, it has a primary green dome and four smaller ones.   It’s the most photographed place in Helsinki.  The Cathedral is Lutheran, the primary religion in Finland.   If there are no special events on you can enter the Cathedral.

Helsinki Cathedral

The National Library of Finland

Finland’s National Library is part of the University of Finland and this library is responsible for storing Finnish Cultural Heritage.  It receives copies of all printed materials and AV materials, outside of films, that are either produced or distributed in Finland.  They also collect and preserve digital materials in the Finnish Web Archive.  Most of the collection of materials here are stored in an enormous solid rock Kirjaluola (Book Cave), which is 18 meters (59 feet) below the library.  The interior of the library is a delight, with the booktower rotunda being the most spectacular part of this building which contains more than 109 kilometers (67 miles) of shelf space.

Finland National Library Helsinki

The Presidential Palace of Helsinki

You’ll just have to look at this building from the outside as Helsinki’s Government Palace is where the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office, the Chancellor of Justice, and the Ministry of Finance are found.  It’s rarely open to the public.

These are the main buildings of Helsinki’s Senate Square and you can see where they are on our map of things to do in Helsinki, for our next stop, we’re going to take a slightly circuitous route to the Old Market Square in Helsinki, as we have a couple more stops yet.

See Helsinki’s Wise Mouse aka Viisas hiiri

You’ll find the Viisas hiiri, Helsinki’s Wise Mouse making notes on the stairs outside the National Archives of Helsinki.  This sculpture, of a tiny mouse with a pencil comes from a series of art projects celebrating Helsinki as the European City of Culture in 2000.   Now cut across on Snellmaninkatu pass a couple more Government buildings, and onto Kirkkokatu (Church Street), and walk towards the waterfront, taking a right when you get there.

Wise Mouse aka Viisas hiiri

Check out Helsinki’s Ice Breakers

In the distance you’ll likely see the large boats, these are Helsinki’s icebreaker boats.  There are six icebreakers, which make their home on the Katajanokka peninsula near the Old Market Square.   If you want to see them up close you can walk by on Merikasarmi Quay.  Since the 1970’s these boats have moored up here, but in the winter they’re busy keeping the shipping lanes open along Finland’s coastline.   You can read more about Finland’s fleet of icebreakers, including the Polaris, the newest (and most environmentally friendly) here.

Ice Breaking Ships Helsinki

See the Uspenski Cathedral

Built to a completely different design to the Helsinki Cathedral is the red brick Uspenski Cathedral.  This is Helsinki’s Eastern Orthodox Cathedral.  It was built between 1862 and 1868 with funds from salt import taxes. It was Alexander I who required that 15% of these taxes would be set aside for the building of two churches, the Lutheran Helsinki Cathedral, and one for the Orthodox community.  This is the Orthodox, Uspenski Cathedral.  The bricks – and there are 700,000 of them – came from the Bomarsund Fortress, which had been demolished in the Crimean War of 1853-1856.  The design and interior are significantly different from that of the Helsinki Cathedral. 

Uspenski Cathedral Helsinki

The name Uspenski comes from the word “uspenie”, which is Old Church Slavonic and means “Dormition” (the celebration of the “falling asleep (aka death) of Mary, Mother of God, and her being taken up to heaven).

Interior of Uspenski Cathedral

Kauppatori Old Market Square

Helsinki’s Old Market Square, or Kauppatori is a delight.  In the summer months, there are stalls for buying local goods, fruits, and vegetables.  And there are food stalls to sit and have your lunch, either in the sun or the shade.  Take a while to explore.  If you eat beware of the seagulls, they’re an absolute menace.  There’s a drinking fountain here if you need to fill your reusable water bottles. (and yes, it’s potable water).

Old Market Square Helsinki

While you’ll find the square busy during the summer months it’s actually at its most popular in October, when the Helsinki herring market starts, it’s run here since 1743!

This is where many of Helsinki’s ferries leave from, including those to the fortress island of Suomenlinna, and in summer it’s here you can catch the M/S J. L. Runeberg, for a day trip to Porvoo – boat trips usually start in Mid-May.

If you didn’t have breakfast inside the Old Market Hall, then I recommend taking a look now. 

Have Lunch at the Old Market Hall in Helsinki

The market hall was established in 1889, it was fully renovated between 2012 and 2014 and today hosts food vendors, both for sit-down and takeaway.  And there are some great options here.  Grab some lunch.  There are several dishes that you should try here – and whether you get them now for lunch, or dinner later, or for tomorrow’s picnic, be sure to try them.

Karjalanpiirakka (rice pies)

Originally from the Karelia region of Finland (in the northeast), these rye crust pastries are filled with rice porridge and topped with egg butter.  Karjalanpiirakka are popular for breakfast, but also as snacks.

Karjalanpiirakka (rice pies)

Leipajuusto (bread cheese)

This fresh cheese is to a certain extent similar to halloumi – it’s known as squeaky cheese.  It’s made from the rich milk – or beestings – of a cow that’s just calved.  Eat with cloudberry jam and drink coffee with it.

Leipajuusto (bread cheese)

Muikku (fried vendance)

Vendace is a small freshwater fish found in lakes in northern Europe.  It’s very common in Finland and you’ll find several vendors selling it here.  You eat the fish whole (they’re small), even the bones and the tail and the head if you want to.  They’re cooked by breading it and frying it in butter.   If you get some of this, watch out for those menace seagulls.

Muikku (fried vendance)

Graavilohi (cured salmon)

There’s a lot of salmon in Finnish dishes, and this is one of the best ways of eating it.  The raw salmon is cured in sugar, salt, and dill.  Eat it thinly sliced with dill sauce on bread.

Lohikeitto (salmon chowder)

This is a fabulous and filling dish.  You’ll easily find it here in the Old Market Hall, on the stalls in the square, and also in a variety of places in supermarkets (in tins, in fresh tubs in the chiller departments).  Salmon filters, boiled potatoes, and leeks are seasoned with fresh dill, allspice, salt, and pepper.  It is delicious.

After you’ve eaten your fill, we’re going for a ride, high up in the sky.  That’s right, the Ferris wheel that you can see is our next destination.

Skywheel Helsinki

Helsinki’s Ferris wheel or Observation Wheel gets you the best views in Helsinki.  It reaches a maximum height of 40 meters (131 feet), while slowly turning.  But that’s not the best bit.  Want a champagne experience – you’ve got it. Want something truly, truly Finnish?  Go for the sauna experience on the Skywheel. 

Skywheel Helsinki Sauna Gondola

The special sauna gondola takes up to 5 people at a time, but the experience is available for up to 15 people – when you’re not in the sauna you can relax in a hot tub, on the terrace, or in a private lounge.  There’s more information here.

Take a Wander around Helsinki’s Esplanade

Head on now to Helsinki’s Esplanade, known as “Espa” to locals, this green space is the most famous park in Finland and the design was by Engel who designed Senate Square.  The leafy, tree-lined walks here are a delight.  There are a variety of sculptures throughout the park, the most famous of which is of JL Runeberg, Finland’s National Poet.  The summer months bring musical theatre here – bands play, and picnics happen under the trees.  It’s really rather lovely, but don’t linger long we still have much to do.

Next, you’re going to head up towards Helsinki’s Central Station for a brief stop.

See the Lantern Bearers of Helsinki’s Central Station

The four Granite lantern bearers of the central station have been here guarding the entrance since 1914.  The muscular torsos of the figures hold globes that are lit up at night.  The lower part of the figures are columns. 

The Lantern Bearers of Helsinki Station

The Lyhdynkantajat (Lantern Bearers) are one of the symbols of Helsinki and they’re often “dressed” in garb of the moment – like masks for Covid-19 precautions, or the Finnish National Football Team clothing. 

Now you can hop on the number 7 tram from here for 15 minutes to the  Länsiterm. T1 stop. 

See the Bad, Bad Boy in Helsinki

The 8.5 meters (28 feet) Bad, Bad Boy has been here, outside the Verkkokauppa electronic store since 2016, although he previously spent 2 years located at Helsinki’s East Harbour.   He’s the work of artist, Tommi Toija is made of concrete and is, well a naked, urinating boy.   The water that flows through the statue is heated, so that he can urinate year round, even in the deepest of Finnish winters.

Bad, Bad Boy in Helsinki

And now that you’re here, outside the Verkkokauppa store you’re going to want to go inside, for another fabulous view of Helsinki – and something rather spectacular on the roof.

See the MiG-21BIS on the Observation Deck of the Verkkokauppa store

If you’re visiting Helsinki between the 1 st of April and the 22 nd of November then there’s a treat waiting for you.  The roof of this flagship store of Finland’s Verkkokauppa electronics store is not only an observation deck with fabulous views of Helsinki, but it’s also home to a retired fighter jet.

MiG-21BIS on the Observation Deck of the Verkkokauppa store

The MiG-21 BIS, or MiG-1300 interceptor jet fighter came from the Soviet Union.  It was during the Cold War that Finland, a neutral country sitting between two opposing forces, began buying MiG-21 planes.  The planes were in service until they were replaced by F-18 Hornets in 1998.  It’s free to come up to the terrace during store opening hours (Monday to Saturday 09:00-21:00 and Sunday 11:00 until 19:00) between April and November.  Take the middle lift to the terrace.

You’ll want to get back on the number 7 tram for your next stop, the Kampi Chapel

Visit the Kamppi Chapel in Helsinki

Helsinki’s “Chapel of Silence” is found in the busy Narrinkkatori Square and it’s not what you’d call a traditional chapel in any way whatsoever.  While there are prayer meetings held here, there are no weddings or baptisms.  This is simply a place for silence. 

Kampi Chapel Helsinki

It’s something of a bizarre shape, looking a bit like an egg, but it’s designed to be calming and somewhat womblike.   It’s been open since 2012 and attracts around 250,000 visitors a year, who all pay the €5 per person entrance fee.

Take a Tour in a Mobile Bar in Helsinki – this is SpåraKOFF

Now, I said earlier that Helsinki’s public transit system was brilliant.  And this next stop in Helsinki is on a tram.  But it’s no ordinary tram.  This is the SparaKOFF tram, and it has been converted into a mobile bar that takes you on tours of the city.  There’s beer, wine, cider, and soft drinks available on the tours that last 45 minutes.   You can buy crisps and peanuts too.   You’ll notice that it looks different to the other trams in the city, so you can’t miss it.  It’s bright red.

SparaKOFF Tram Helsinki

The name comes from a combination of “Spara” (tram) and the beer brand KOFF, which comes from the largest brewery in Finland (and the oldest in Scandinavian) Sinebrychoff Brewery .  The tram operates with departures on the hour from 14:00 until 20:00 from17 Mikonkatu.

  • May 17 – June 1: Fri-Sat
  • June 3 – August 31: Mon-Sat (no service on June 20-22)
  • September 6-14: Fri-Sat

The tram takes 30 passengers, and you can sit, or stand.  There are no guides on the tram, but usually, the bartender is a wealth of information.  There are no reservations, simply board at 17 Mikonkatu.  Tickets are €12 for adults and €5 for children.

Dinner in Helsinki

All that remains for the end of your first day in Helsinki is to find dinner.  There are several outdoor and sea view restaurants – try Meripaviljonki on the floating platform in the center of Helsinki or Lappi Ravintola for Lappish reindeer or seafood dishes.

Day 2 of 2 days in Helsinki

We’re going to start the day with breakfast at a Helsinki staple.

Breakfast at the Fazer Café

Stop by the famous Fazer Café for breakfast.  This cafe has been delighting Helsinki families since 1891 and is usually a great option for the sweeter side of life (their chocolate – Finland’s favorite since 1922 is fabulous), but do try a Helsinki favorite of a Korvapuusti (cinnamon bun).  Their breakfast buffet is great value.

Fazer Chocolate

After breakfast stock up on picnic items, as we’re heading out on the Finferries boat to the fortress island of Suolominena for the day.

Take a trip to Suomenlinna

The UNESCO World Heritage Suomenlinna Fortress is an enormous site accessible only by ferry from Helsinki (the ferry leaves from Old Market Square) and takes about 25 minutes to thread through some of the islands of the archipelago and arrive at the fortress, which actually comprises 6 islands, connected by bridges.  There is a heck of a lot to see here – and centuries of history – this guided tour takes you around the island with a local knowledgeable guide.

The Suomenlinna site has restaurants, cafes, a theatre, six museums, parks and walking trails.  It’s big.  You’re going to want to plan to be here for the rest of the day to explore it properly.  This site is unique.  Following its construction in 1748, it has defenced three different countries – the Kingdom of Sweden, the Russian Empire, and the Republic of Finland. 

Suomenlinna

The fortress was initially built by Sweden for protection after a war between Sweden and Russia.  In 1808 the fortress was ceded to the Russians, and they expanded the fortress, adding an Orthodox church and barracks.  It was heavily bombarded during the Crimean War, but repaired and then defended Russia in World War I.  After Finnish independence in 1917, the fortress was taken over by the Finnish government in 1918 and duly defended Finland during World War II.  It’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991 and currently houses 800 residents.

Suomenlinna Fortress Walls

You’ll want to ensure that you’re back in Helsinki by around 17:30 as we’ve got a treat for you at the end of your second day in Helsinki.

Take an evening Archipelago Cruise

There’s no better way to wrap up your 2 days in Helsinki than by hopping on another boat.  This time, there’s a bar and you can also book a table and enjoy the onboard buffet of local delicacies.  This cruise operates from the beginning of June and the light nights mean that you’ll get to see the stunning scenery for 2.5 hours as the boat winds through the archipelago. 

If you decide not to dine on the cruise, then head over to Mattolaituri for dinner.  This unique and popular with locals place to eat is also a popular carpet-washing pier!  It’s the perfect ending to a glorious 2 days in Helsinki.  Reserve a table here

Map of Things to See and Do in Helsinki

You can see the full map of Helsinki’s things to do  here .

Map of The Perfect Helsinki 2 Day Itinerary

Where to go after Helsinki

This is a glorious part of the world to explore, so you’ll likely want to spend more time in the Nordic region.  If you’re staying in Helsinki, then I recommend the gorgeous old town of Porvoo – it’s one of the best day trips from Helsinki , but heading there for longer is also a delight.  If you want to spend more time in the south of Finland, then head on over to Finland’s oldest city, Turku .  Get out into the islands on the Archipelago Trail . 

Heading north, then there’s the glorious Koli National Park, which has some of the most stunning hikes, and even further north, the Brown Bear Center , where you can spend the bright nights of summer watching for bears . 

Or head west to Sweden, Stockholm is just glorious, and I have another 2 day itinerary here for you.  Or take the ferry from Helsinki into the capital of Estonia , Tallinn, which we first visited 10 years ago, but it’s well worth a second or even third visit, it’s just so lovely.

Travel Tips for Finland

  • Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
  • Get online NOW with an eSIM for Finland
  • Rent a car to explore Finland with Discover Cars
  • Get your Finnish airport transfer here with Welcome Pickups.
  • Book the best tours, attractions and guides on Get Your Guide and Viator
  • Save money in Finland with a Wise debit card
  • Book accommodation in Finland with Booking

Final Words on our Epic Helsinki 2 Day Itinerary

Helsinki is a glorious city to explore, we loved our 2 days here and managed to explore lots, both on the public transport system and on foot.   We parked the car for the entire time we were here and used ferries, the metro, trains, trams, and buses.  Our 2 days in Helsinki were in June, with long glorious light nights and superb weather.

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Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

Helsinki Travel Guide

Last Updated: August 9, 2023

colorful buildings in Helsinki

But it’s definitely worth taking the time to see.

Historic, small, brimming with green space, and set on the Baltic Sea, Helsinki is a picturesque city filled with friendly people and few tourists. It’s especially great if you love art and music as they have a ton of museums and a vibrant music scene.

If you ask me, Helsinki is one of the most underrated capitals in Europe . I always love my time here!

This travel guide to Helsinki can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your visit.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Helsinki

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Helsinki

The snowy skyline of downtown Helsinki, Finland in the winter

1. Visit the National Museum of Finland

This museum has a large collection of Finnish artifacts from the Stone Age to the present, including jewelry, coins, tools, weapons, and more. Containing the most comprehensive collection of cultural history in Finland, the museum is ideal for learning about Finnish folk culture and the Finno-Ugric people. The collection didn’t actually have a building until an architectural contest was held to build the structure that houses the current museum (construction started in 1910). It was officially opened as the National Museum of Finland in 1916. Permanent collections can be viewed alongside a fascinating array of rotating pop-up exhibits. The museum also hosts workshops and tours. It’s a good place to get an overview of Finland’s history. Admission is 15 EUR and is free every Friday from 4pm–6pm.

2. Relax at Kaivopuisto Park

During the summer, residents and tourists alike flock to this park to hang out, play sports, picnic, and enjoy the view of the Baltic Sea Located on the southern point of the peninsula in a high-end neighborhood, it has well-maintained paths for walking, plenty of green space, and some old growth trees. It’s the oldest park in Helsinki and the Ursa Observatory sits atop the highest point of the park. Cafes and restaurants are scattered around the shoreline and islands. Concerts and other events are often held in the park during warmer months. During the winter, the largest hill in the park is a favorite spot for tobogganing. If the weather is nice, bring a book and lounge the day away!

3. See the Helsinki Cathedral

This cathedral was built in the 19th century as a tribute to Czar Nicholas I, the Grand Duke of Finland, and was known as St. Nicholas Church until Finland gained independence in 1917. Built in the Neoclassical style, it’s one of the most recognizable sights in the capital’s skyline and can be seen from almost every vantage point in Helsinki. If you’ve visited a lot of cathedrals, you likely won’t think this is one of the greatest in Europe but I think it’s one of the best in Scandinavia.

4. Explore the Museum of Contemporary Art (Kiasma)

Opened in 1990, Kiasma is housed in a unique modern building not far from the Post Museum (see below). The collection consists of over 8,500 works and pays tribute to Finnish art from the 1960s to the present day. Part of the Finnish National Gallery, Kiasma is Finnish for “chiasma,” a term describing the crossing of nerves or tendons, and was named by the American architect, Steven Holl, who designed the unique building. Concerts and events are often held within Kiasma and the building contains a theater, a library, a café restaurant, and a bookstore. Tickets are 18 EUR for adults and free for anyone under 18. Admission is free on the first Friday of every month.

5. Tour Suomenlinna Fortress

This island fort was constructed by the Swedes in 1748 as a defense against the Russians. When Russia took over Helsinki in 1808, they used it as a garrison. The designers and architects of the fortress incorporated the unique geographical features of the area and constructed many of the buildings using stones from the islands. Since 1748, different groups added on to the sea fortress and it has served to defend 3 separate nations. It now covers six islands, all of which belong to the city of Helsinki. After World War II, the fort was converted for the people of Finland to use. Today, it’s a park and residential area. There are a lot of interesting buildings, secluded beaches, and parks here. Guided tours cost 11 EUR.

Other Things to See and Do in Helsinki

1. tour the post museum.

This museum is dedicated to the history of Finland’s postal service. It sounds absolutely boring but I found it surprisingly interesting and educational. It highlights the history of the mail service in Finland, from ships and sleds in the 1600s to their modern-day delivery service. There are all kinds of artifacts, photographs, and short films about how they made mail delivery work in such a sparsely populated and harsh environment. Admission is 14 EUR.

2. Visit the Finnish Museum of Photography

The photography museum houses a sizeable collection of works by Finnish artists (there are over 2 million photos here). You’ll find photos from famous Finnish photographers like Elina Brotherus and Pentti Sammallahti. They also host rotating international exhibitions as well. Tickets are 12 EUR.

3. Shop at the Central Market

Located near the harbor, this market is where you can do lots of souvenir shopping, eat some local food, and buy fresh vegetables (and lots of fresh berries in the summer). It’s usually swarming with tourists, but I heard enough Finnish there to know it isn’t a complete tourist trap. There’s also a covered portion of the market where you can find pastries, fish, meat, and cheese. Eat at the Soup Kitchen if you’re hungry (they have an amazing seafood soup).

4. Visit the Sinebrychoff Art Museum

This museum houses a lot of old paintings and portraits from the 14th-19th centuries. It’s the only museum in the city that really focuses on old European art. The bottom floor of the museum has a lot of photos and more modern works, while the top floor has the older paintings that you see as you walk through the old Sinebrychoff residence. Portrait of a Lady by Alexander Roslin and Portrait of Mademoiselle Charlotte Eckerman by Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller are two noteworthy pieces in the collection. Admission is 16 EUR and entry is free on the first Wednesday of the month from 5-8pm. Admission to the house museum on the second floor is free.

5. Relax in Sinebrychoff Park

Right near the Sinebrychoff Museum is a nice little residential park worth hanging out in. Dating to the 18th century, the park was originally a private garden belonging to a Russian businessman before becoming a public park in the 1960s. Today, you’ll find lots of coffee shops nearby so you can grab a snack and relax. Bring a book, grab a coffee, and lounge away the day!

6. Visit the Bank of Finland Museum

This museum was one of the coolest museums I’ve seen in a long time. While it does a good job illuminating the history of money in Finland, what it really does well describes the history of finance and modern finance. You get to see Euro coins from all the European countries and discover what a gold nugget looks like, but you’ll also learn how to spot counterfeit money. It offers up detailed background information and great exhibits. It was quite a learning experience! Admission is free.

7. Admire the Uspenski Cathedral

Sitting on a hill overlooking the city, this massive red cathedral is hard to miss. Uspenski is an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral with large domes and gold crosses. Made of red brick, it stands out nicely against the rest of the city. Consecrated in 1868, it’s the largest Eastern Orthodox church in Western Europe. The interior is lavishly decorated with typical Eastern Orthodox iconography (though many of the statues and items have been stolen over the years). It’s a place of worship, so dress respectfully when you visit. Admission is free.

8. Explore the Helsinki City Museum

Like the National Museum of Finland, the Helsinki City Museum offers an in-depth look at the capital’s history. There are plenty of great exhibits and photos with detailed descriptions that bring the history of the city to life. There are also photos by famous Finnish photographers like Signe Brander as well as exhibitions featuring typical Finnish homes from the 1950s and 1970s so you can see what life used to be like here. Admission is free.

9. Relax in Esplanade Park

This park (called “Espa” by the locals) is a popular place to spend a lunch hour if the weather is nice. There are usually a number of street musicians around and there are also a few eateries nearby too. Opened in 1812, you’ll find several statues honoring Finnish poets and writers such as Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Zacharias Topelius, and Eino Leino. Come here to relax, picnic, read, or people-watch!

10. Visit the Harbor Islands

There are over 330 islands that make up the Helsinki city archipelago. Suomenlinna is the easiest to reach with regular municipal ferries (you can take a ferry directly from Market Square). Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari are two other islands worth visiting, as they used to be military bases closed off to the public (during the Viking era, Vallisaari was used as an outpost that would light a fire whenever a Viking raid was coming so people could prepare). The islands have since been reclaimed by nature and turned into parks dotted with abandoned fortifications. You can explore on your own or take a guided tour; there are a ton to choose from, most last 1-2 hours and cost around 25 EUR.

11. Have Fun at Linnanmäki

Just north of the city, this amusement park is a fun place to visit if you’re traveling with kids (or if you just want to act like a kid yourself!). Opened in 1950, the park is actually owned by a non-profit that donates money to child welfare programs. There are over 40 different attractions here, including 8 roller coasters (one of which is a traditional wooden roller coaster). A wristband is 45 EUR, which gives you access to all the rides. Entry to the park itself is free, so if you want to just visit and explore you can do that without spending money.

12. Experience a Finnish Sauna

Saunas originated in Finland ( sauna is a Finnish word meaning “Finnish bath”). There are some 2 million saunas in Finland — a country with just over 5 million people — so you won’t have a hard time finding one. Many hostels, hotels, and even apartments have their own sauna. Löyly Helsinki is the most popular public sauna in the Finnish capital. A two-hour session costs 19 EUR. Just be sure to keep sauna etiquette in mind: bring your swimwear, men and women are separated, towels are acceptable (but people are usually naked), and don’t be loud.

13. See the Temppeliaukio Church

Temppeliaukio Church, also called Church of the Rock, is a Lutheran Church built directly into solid rock and partially underground. The Suomalainen brothers won an architectural competition for their design and started construction in the 1960s. The walls are all exposed stone and the roof is a huge dome that lets in natural light. Over half a million people visit the church each year, and the venue is also used regularly for concerts and large events.

14. Wander the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

Located north of Helsinki on Seurasaari Island, the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum allows you to get up close to numerous traditional Finnish buildings from the early 18th-20th centuries. They aren’t replicas either; the buildings were collected from all over the country and brought here. There are houses, cottages, outbuildings, a windmill, and more. Opened in 1909, guided tours are available daily during the summer (it’s closed in the winter). Admission is 10 EUR.

15. Visit the Design Museum

Finnish design, like its Scandinavian counterparts, is incredibly popular, known for seamlessly integrating design elements into regular life. The Design Museum allows you to learn about the history of Finnish design and Finnish architecture over the last 150 years. It opened in 1873 and holds over 75,000 objects, 40,000 drawings, and 100,000 photographs. The museum also publishes books and exhibition catalogs about modern design. It’s 15 EUR to get in but it’s free on the last Tuesday of every month from 4-8pm.

16. Ride the Skywheel Helsinki

Located a few minutes away from Uspenski Cathedral, Skywheel Helsinki is a Ferris wheel offering panoramic views of the city. Standing 40-meters (131 feet), it’s the best way to see the city from “above” since there aren’t really any skyscrapers here. Rides are 14 EUR and last around 12 minutes. It’s also possible to have a sauna experience while riding the Skywheel too (though it’s not cheap). Prices for the SkySauna start at 240 EUR per hour for up to 4 people, including two drinks per person.

17. Visit Amos Rex

This art museum opened in August 2018 and it’s already one of the most popular in Helsinki. It’s named after Amos Anderson, a Finnish patron of the arts. You’ll find a rotating series of temporary exhibitions from local and international artists here so check the website to see what events/exhibitions are coming up. I don’t love modern art myself, but I’m told this gallery has really cool exhibitions. Admission is 20 EUR.

18. Admire some classical art

Ateneum is one of three museums that forms the Finnish National Gallery (with the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum). It has the biggest collection of classical art in Finland, with over 4,300 paintings and 750 sculptures. You’ll also find pieces by artists such as Van Gogh and Cézanne. If you love classical art, don’t miss this museum! Admission is 18 EUR.

Helsinki Travel Costs

colorful leaves in a park in Helsinki, Finland in the autumn

If you’re traveling with a tent, wild camping is legal outside of the city on public land. Just make sure to be respectful and use common sense. There are also plenty of campgrounds nearby, usually charging 10-25 EUR per night for a basic two-person plot without electricity.

Budget hotel prices – Generally, you can expect to pay 75-115 EUR per night for a budget hotel with free Wi-Fi and basic amenities like TV and a coffee/tea maker. During the summer, prices are closer to 100-150 EUR per night.

Airbnb is a great budget option in the city, with private rooms starting at 40 EUR (though they average double that). If you’re looking for an entire home or apartment, expect to pay at least 70 EUR, though prices average over 120 EUR.

Average cost of food – Finnish cuisine leans heavily on fish, meat (specifically pork), and hearty vegetables like potatoes. Reindeer is commonly eaten as well as wild game like deer and moose. Smoked salmon and smoked or pickled herring are also popular dishes. Like their Scandinavian neighbors, Finns also enjoy dark bread and cheeses, usually as part of an open-faced sandwich (these are the go-to breakfast choice).

Overall, the food here is expensive in the city. Your average cheap casual restaurant charges around 13 EUR for a meal while fast food (think McDonald’s) is 9 EUR. For a three-course meal with table service, expect to pay at least 50-80 EUR.

Pizza costs around 10 EUR for a large pizza while Thai or Chinese food costs 10-15 EUR for a main dish. If you want to splash out, I suggest Ravintola Aino for good Finnish food (try the reindeer). Dishes cost between 50-62 EUR but are incredibly tasty!

Beer costs 7 EUR while a latte/cappuccino is 4 EUR. Bottled water is 1.70 EUR.

If you plan on cooking your own food, groceries cost between 50-65 EUR per week for basic staples like vegetables, bread, pasta, and some fish or meat.

Backpacking Helsinki Suggested Budgets

On a backpacking budget of 70 EUR per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, cook all your meals, limit your drinking, take public transportation to get around, and do free activities like visiting the free museums, hitting the beach, and relaxing in the parks. If you plan on drinking, add 10-15 EUR to your daily budget.

On a mid-range budget of 140 EUR, you can stay in a private hostel room or Airbnb, eat out for some meals, have a couple of drinks, take the occasional taxi, and do more paid activities like visiting the Post Museum or taking a guided tour of Suomenlinna Fortress.

On a “luxury” budget of 290 EUR or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out for all your meals, drink as much as you want, rent a car to explore, and do whatever activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

Helsinki Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Helsinki is a super expensive destination to visit. It’s hard to visit here “on a budget” but, fortunately, there are ways to save money if you know where to look. Here are a few tips to help you keep your budget intact when you visit:

  • Get a Helsinki Card – There’s a lot to see in the city and paying 10-15 EUR per attraction adds up. This tourism card grants you free admission to the main sights (as well as access to the hop-on/hop-off bus) for 50 EUR (for a 24-hour pass). You can also get a 48-hour pass for 63 EUR or a 72-hour pass for 74 EUR. It includes discounts on some restaurants as well. For an additional charge, you can add free public transit on your card too.
  • Avoid taxis – Helsinki is easy to navigate with public transportation and on foot. Skip the taxis here — they add up fast!
  • Stay with a local for free – Couchsurfing connects you with a local who can host you for free. You may have to sleep on a couch, but you’ll get to make a new friend and get tons of insider information about the city.
  • Skip the drinking – A night out in Finland, especially in Helsinki, can put a deep hole in your pocket. To maintain your budget, avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Go grocery shopping – Buying basic staples like bread, meat, and cheese for breakfast or for a quick lunch on the go can save you quite a bit of cash. By cooking your own meals you’ll save a ton of money, enabling you to eventually splurge on some great local dinners and traditional fare.
  • Take the free city tours – Green Cap Tours offers daily free walking tours around Helsinki. You get to see the main sights while interacting with an expert guide who can answer all your questions. Just be sure to tip at the end!
  • Check out free attractions – The Bank of Finland Museum and the Helsinki City Museum are always free. The National Museum of Finland is free on Fridays from 4:15pm-6pm. The Museum of Contemporary Art is free on the first Friday of every month. Don’t miss them when you get there without paying, you’ll save money!
  • Bring a reusable water bottle – The tap water here is super clean, so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and lower your plastic usage. LifeStraw makes a bottle with a built-in filter so you can always ensure your water is clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Helsinki

Here are some of my favorite places to stay in Helsinki:

  • Cheapsleep Hostel
  • Hostel Diana Park
  • The Yard Hostel

How to Get Around Helsinki

Busy public transportation in downtown Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki also has one of the oldest tram networks in the world (it’s been around since 1891). The trams work on the same ticketing system as the metro and bus.

Bicycle – Helsinki is small so it’s easy to get around by bicycle. Bike rentals start at 15 EUR per day.

Taxi – Taxis start at a whopping 7 EUR and go up 1 EUR per kilometer. Avoid them if you can.

Ridesharing – Uber is available in Helsinki (it’s the only city in the country Uber operates in).

Car rental – Cars can be rented for as little as 25 EUR per day for a multi-day rental. Drivers must be at least 20 and have an International Driving Permit (IDP). That said, unless you’re planning on leaving the city to explore, you won’t need to rent a vehicle here. The city is easy to get around on foot and by bus.

When to Go to Helsinki

Summer is the most popular time to visit — and the best time as well. Temperatures hover between 19-21°C (66-71°F) and green spaces (and beaches) are busy but not crowded. Prices are slightly higher, however, there are lots of events happening and the city is at its busiest. That said, “busy” in Helsinki is a far cry from “busy” in cities like Paris, London, or Barcelona so it won’t be crowded

Spring is a nice time to visit Helsinki, especially in May and June. The weather is warm and there are many events, such as the Vappu Festival on May 1st (which marks the end of winter) and the Finnish Carnival in early June. Moreover, not many tourists visit in spring so things are more relaxed.

Autumn offers changing leaves and chilly weather. Daily highs average 6-8°C (43-48°F). The days are still long enough to enjoy everything, though you may need a rain jacket or a sweater if it gets cool.

Winter is a nice time to visit if you’re into winter sports. Otherwise, it’s very cold and dark so I’d avoid visiting unless you’re going to get out of the city to ski and enjoy the snow.

How to Stay Safe in Helsinki

Helsinki is a safe city. In fact, Finland is considered one of the safest countries in the world. Pickpocketing can still occur so keep an eye on your belongings while at bus stations and on crowded public transportation. Incidents are rare, but being vigilant is always a good idea.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here as Finland is very progressive and has a lot of woman’s rights. That said, the standard safety precautions should apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). For specific advice, read one of the many solo female travel blogs about the city.

If you rent a car, don’t leave any valuables in it at night. Break-ins are incredibly rare but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Scams here are very rare, but if you’re worried about getting ripped off you can read about common travel scams to avoid here .

If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Helsinki Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Helsinki Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Finland travel and continue planning your trip:

The 5 Best Hostels in Helsinki

The 5 Best Hostels in Helsinki

The 21 Best Things to See and Do in Helsinki

The 21 Best Things to See and Do in Helsinki

How to Spend Three Days in Helsinki

How to Spend Three Days in Helsinki

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  • Where To Stay
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2-Day Helsinki Itinerary

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  • Helsinki in 2 days
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Table of contents

Day 1: most popular attractions, day 2: south side of town.

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SEA LIFE Helsinki

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Helsinki Olympic Stadium

Hakaniemi markethall, where to eat, restaurant blinit, restaurant kuu, market square, skywheel helsinki, uspenski cathedral, stockmann helsingin keskusta, art museum ateneum, helsinki cathedral, senate square, morrison's, restaurant shelter, allas sea pool, top searches in helsinki, popular road trips from helsinki, what's the weather like in helsinki.

It depends on when you visit! We've compiled data from NASA on what the weather is like in Helsinki for each month of the year: see the links below for more information.

  • Weather in Helsinki in January
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  • Weather in Helsinki in April
  • Weather in Helsinki in May
  • Weather in Helsinki in June
  • Weather in Helsinki in July
  • Weather in Helsinki in August
  • Weather in Helsinki in September
  • Weather in Helsinki in October
  • Weather in Helsinki in November
  • Weather in Helsinki in December

All road trips from Helsinki

  • Helsinki to St. Petersburg drive
  • Helsinki to London drive
  • Helsinki to Paris drive
  • Helsinki to Stockholm drive
  • Helsinki to Berlin drive
  • Helsinki to Prague drive
  • Helsinki to Amsterdam drive
  • Helsinki to Moscow drive
  • Helsinki to Vienna drive
  • Helsinki to Budapest drive
  • Helsinki to Copenhagen drive
  • Helsinki to Florence drive
  • Helsinki to Riga drive
  • Helsinki to Venice drive
  • Helsinki to Milan drive
  • Helsinki to Krakow drive
  • Helsinki to Oslo drive
  • Helsinki to Warsaw drive
  • Helsinki to Munich drive
  • Helsinki to Brussels drive
  • Helsinki to Vilnius drive
  • Helsinki to Hamburg drive
  • Helsinki to Vatican City drive
  • Helsinki to Turin drive
  • Helsinki to York drive
  • Helsinki to Bruges drive
  • Helsinki to Gdansk drive
  • Helsinki to Dubrovnik drive
  • Helsinki to Salzburg drive
  • Helsinki to Cologne drive

Explore nearby places

  • Kirkkonummi
  • Nummi-Pusula

All related maps of Helsinki

  • Map of Helsinki
  • Map of Kauniainen
  • Map of Vantaa
  • Map of Espoo
  • Map of Vierumaki
  • Map of Klaukkala
  • Map of Tuusula
  • Map of Kerava
  • Map of Kirkkonummi
  • Map of Sipoo
  • Map of Nummi-Pusula
  • Map of Jarvenpaa
  • Map of Nummela
  • Map of Siuntio
  • Map of Rajamaki
  • Map of Veikkola
  • Map of Degerby
  • Map of Vihti
  • Map of Porvoo
  • Map of Lohja
  • Map of Hyvinkaa
  • Map of Palsbole
  • Map of Inkoo
  • Map of Askola
  • Map of Mantsala
  • Map of Karkkila
  • Map of Pukkila
  • Map of Riihimaki
  • Map of Loppi
  • Map of Viinistu
  • Map of Tervakoski

Helsinki throughout the year

  • Helsinki in January
  • Helsinki in February
  • Helsinki in March
  • Helsinki in April
  • Helsinki in May
  • Helsinki in June
  • Helsinki in July
  • Helsinki in August
  • Helsinki in September
  • Helsinki in October
  • Helsinki in November
  • Helsinki in December

Looking for other day-by-day itineraries in Helsinki?

Check out our other curated itineraries that are also filled with jam-packed days:

Day itineraries for nearby cities

  • 2-Day Espoo Itinerary
  • 2-Day Porvoo Itinerary

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One Day in Helsinki, Perfect Itinerary

What to do in Helsinki in a day

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a fascinating city that is wonderful to explore both as a weekend break and as an interesting stopover destination. Due to its location high up in the Northern Hemisphere, Helsinki has huge seasonal changes in terms of climate and daylight hours. This one-day Helsinki itinerary is great for the summer when the days are long (18-19 hours of daylight!) and you have time to visit everything.

Whether you have a few hours between flights and want to choose some of the top attractions, or you are visiting for a few days or want to squeeze some sight-seeing while you’re on a business trip, this one day in Helsinki itinerary should give you plenty of ideas of what to see and do in the city.  

We visited Helsinki after spending a weekend in Tallinn . It took us around 2 hours to cross from Tallinn to Helsinki with the ferry .

Planning to spend one day in Helsinki and looking for information? In this post find a detailed one day Helsinki itinerary.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission. It costs nothing extra to you but helps keep my site running. Thank you for supporting me in this way.

Table of Contents

How to Spend One Day in Helsinki 

Map of one day helsinki itinerary.

plan trip helsinki

Your one-day Helsinki itinerary will take you around some of the city’s best tourist attractions including historical buildings, churches, sculptures, and squares to give you a taster of the top spots. In between your cultural attractions you’ll want to pop in and out of Helsinki’s cafés, restaurants, and rooftop bars to try some local fare and take in the sights with a drink or a bite to eat. Baltic herring, pea soup, grilled sausages, and cabbage rolls are all savoury favourites and sweet treats like lingonberry pie and pulla (Finland’s version of cinnamon buns) are must-tries!

1. Central Railway Station

helsinki-central-station

Helsinki Central Station, also known as Helsingin päärautatieasema, is the main train station in the city which thousands of people visit every day for both transportation means and as a tourist attraction. It is often featured in lists of the World’s Most Beautiful Railway Stations so it is well worth a visit.

Central-Railway-Station

The grand central station building was designed in an art nouveau style by Eliel Saarinen and the 48.5m clock tower is one of the city’s main landmarks. It is thought that around 400,000 people walk past and check the time here every day! The station also has two large “Lantern carrier” statues on each side of the main entrance which were designed by Emil Wikström as part of the Romanticism movement.

2. Esplanadi

Esplanadi

Helsinki’s Esplanadi is an urban park located in the heart of the city that is a favourite for both locals and tourists alike. Known colloquially as Espa, the Esplanadi is a lovely place to enjoy a stroll on a sunny summer’s day. The Esplanadi is situated between the Erottaja square and the Market Square and it’s, therefore, a picturesque way of connecting some of the city’s main sights.

Esplanadi-park

If you do choose to visit Helsinki in winter, the Esplanadi is likely to be doused in snow and will feature Christmas lights and decorations which make it equally atmospheric and worthwhile visiting. 

3. Market Square

Market-Square-2

Once you’ve walked eastwards down the Esplanadi, you will reach Helsinki’s Market Square. This is arguably the heart of the city where events and market stalls have been held for hundreds of years. There is always something different going on within the square so you might want to come and go here throughout the day (or over the course of a weekend if you’re staying longer).

Market-Square

Whether you’re visiting the market to pick up some snacks or souvenirs there are plenty of different stalls to fit the bill. The market square is also located right next to the harbor which allows you to connect to ferries to Suomenlinna, the Presidential Palace, and the Uspenski Cathedral.

4. Suomenlinna

Suomelina

Suomenlinna is one of the most fascinating sights in Helsinki as it is an 18th-century sea fortress situated across six linked islands. This fortress is quite unlike any other settlements across Europe, with interesting features like star-shaped walls, natural beaches, churches, and a museum. Suomenlinna can only be reached by boat but it is well worth a visit if you have the time.

Suomenlinna-soldiers

Of course, Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist attraction, but what you might not know is that it is also home to around 800 residents!

5. Uspenski Cathedral

Uspenski-Cathedral - one day in Helsinki

Uspenski Cathedral is a magnificent Eastern Orthodox church that is not only a tourist attraction in terms of its architecture, but it also gives an insight into the Russian impact on Finland. The grand, redbrick building stands proud against the neighboring buildings, and the golden cupolas glisten beautifully in the summer sun.

One-day-in-Helsinki

Uspenski Cathedral is over 150 years old and is considered the largest orthodox church in Western Europe. Inside the cathedral are a number of rare and valuable icons displayed on the alter and the colouful domes are intricately decorated with murals and mosaics.

Entrance to Uspenski Cathedral is free.

6. Senate Square

Senate-Square

Senate Square in Helsinki is another huge focal point for the city as it is dominated by four buildings designed by Carl Ludvig Engel. These include Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland, and are supposed to represent the political, religious, scientific and commercial powers in the centre of Helsinki.

Senate-Square-Helsinki

Senate Square also includes a statue of Alexander II as well as the Sound of the Senate Square installation which is a modern version of a glockenspiel that is played every day at 17.49. This is best heard from the middle of the square to really get a feel of the composition as it moves from building to building.

7. Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki-Cathedral

The Helsinki Cathedral is one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks thanks to both its sheer size and its bright, white colour which is especially impressive in summer. The neoclassical church (now a Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral) has a number of notable features including the large green domes, two free-standing bell towers, a sweeping staircase down to the square and larger-than-life sculptures of the Twelve Apostles guarding the city from the roof of the church.

Helsinki-Cathedral-4

The interior of the church is fairly simplistic in style but the organ is beautiful and if you can visit during one of the free organ recitals you’ll be in for a treat.

plan trip helsinki

8. Temppeliaukio Church

Temppeliaukio-rock-church Helsinki

The Temppeliaukio Church, also referred to as the Rock Church, is a relatively new addition to the city having only opened in 1969, despite having been originally designed back in the 1930s!

The Lutheran church is built directly into the solid rock so the walls have a rustic, natural style, while the copper-domed roof looks more like a sci-fi UFO than a church. This church is a completely unique work of architecture, with slatted sides allowing light to flood the building which changes the atmosphere depending on what time of day you visit.

plan trip helsinki

The Temppeliaukio Church is now a popular tourist attraction thanks to its unique style and is often used as a concert venue due to its excellent acoustics.

9. Sibelius Monument

Sibelius-Monument

The Sibelius Monument, designed by Finnish sculptor Eila Hiltunen, is an abstract art monument in homage to composer Jean Sibelius. The Finnish composer once stated “Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic.” and Hiltunen decided to commemorate this with a sculpture of a cluster of organ pipes.

Of course, critics were quick to comment that Sibelius has not composed much music for organs, so the designer added a second sculpture of the composer’s face next to the original so as to ensure there was no confusion as to who the monument was for.

Sibelius-Monument-2

The monument is a beautiful collection of around 600 abstract organ pipes put together in a soundwave pattern to represent the compositions created by the famous composer.

So, there you have it, the top sights that you should be able to see on a one-day itinerary in Helsinki. This will give you a great insight into the city’s culture, architecture and history and will leave you loving Finland’s capital and longing to return for more.

Where to stay in Helsinki

Here are my top tips on where to stay in Helsinki so you are well located for seeing the sights and enjoying the city’s food scene and nightlife.

Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa

plan trip helsinki

The five-star Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa is one of the best waterfront hotels in the city with excellent views and a whole host of on-site amenities. It is located a short tram ride away from the city centre. The bedrooms are modern, clean and comfortable, as you would expect from a Hilton, and the large buffet breakfast offers you plenty of options to start your day off right. The Hilton also provides guests with access to a wellness centre including a gym, sauna and swimming pool so you can unwind after a day of sight-seeing.

Click here for more information and to ckeck availability.

Seurahuone Helsinki

Seurahuone-Helsinki

Hotel Seurahuone is located directly opposite Helsinki Central Station so is ideally placed for exploring some of the city’s top sights. The building was designed in art nouveau fashion, with a castle-like roof, large windows, impressive interior domes and balconies, and intricate detailing throughout. The hotel features large bedrooms giving guests plenty of room to relax and guests can even choose their own menu to ensure their comfort is second-to-none. The staff at Seurahuone Helsinki are friendly, helpful and welcoming and will be able to assist you with planning your trip.

Click here for more information and to check availability.

Staying for more days in Finland? You might be interested in this one day trip from Helsinki to Porvoo.

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A First Timer’s Guide to Visiting Helsinki, Finland

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Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links to the products we earnestly love and recommend, meaning at no extra cost to you, we might make a teeny-weeny commission if you click on the link and decide to buy something. The money will be used to sustain this little cozy blog we call our virtual home.

We’ve crafted this travel guide to Helsinki with a mission to help all who plan on visiting Helsinki, Finland, and are looking for detailed yet crisp information. So, grab a cup of coffee or tea and read on.

Before You Plan a Trip to Helsinki

  • Know if you need a visa for Helsinki. The holders of uniform visa (C) for two or multiple entries, valid for all Schengen Area Member States don’t need to apply for a separate visa for Finland.  Read our complete guide to Schengen Visa.
  • Make sure to have a  guidebook  before you set foot in Helsinki. That makes getting around the city easy.
  • As Helsinki is designed for strolling, you need comfortable and super light walking shoes. I wear  Skechers  while hubby loves  Adidas  and mini-me has got  Adidas  too. Read our guides to the  best shoes for women  and the  best shoes for kids  for your European family vacation.

Visiting Helsinki Travel Guide

Helsinki, fondly known as the Daughter of the Baltic is full of life. Helsinki stuns its visitors with its simple yet beautiful charm. You can’t help but awe at the magnificent design and architecture as you walk the streets and squares of Helsinki. Finnish cuisine is as famous as Finnish design. From strolling its historic lanes to hopping its islands to chilling at its beaches to hiking in its forests to stretching a leg in its urban parks and gardens to cozying up in its world-class sauna – You gotta fall in love with the city, one step at a time.

Here’s a guide to get you started in this uber-cool city!

Where is Helsinki in Finland?

The largest city and the capital of Finland, Helsinki is located on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. The most northerly of the capitals of Europe, Helsinki is often referred to as the white city of the north as most of its buildings are crafted using light-colored granite.

where is helsinki in finland

Things to Know Before Visiting Helsinki

Best time to visit helsinki.

Spring (May and June) and Autumn (September and October) are the best times to visit Helsinki. Summer (July and August) is good but crowded.

The plus point of traveling in the summer months is the great weather and long, mild, and warm days. We visited in July and enjoyed the long summer days. I mean, summer days just don’t end here. You can explore all day long. Isn’t it amazing?

How to Get to Helsinki

The capital and the largest city of Finland, Helsinki sits in Europe’s northernmost corner squeezed between Sweden and Russia.

You can fly or sail or drive into Helsinki depending upon where you’re coming from.

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport  is served by all major international airlines to and from major cities around the world.

For a classic Finnish experience, fly with  Finnair . We loved flying with them.

We recommend  Skyscanner  for the best flight deals.

You can sail via the Baltic Sea from Sweden (Stockholm), Russia (St. Petersburg), (Tallinn) Estonia, and even Germany.

The major ferry companies include  Tallink Silja Line, Viking Line, Linda Line, Eckero Line, Finnliness,  and  St. Peter Line .

helsinki ferry silja line

Finland has a good road network. It’s easy to rent a car and drive to Helsinki from other cities in Finland and from Russia.

You can also plan a road trip to Finland from other Nordic countries but that’ll include a ferry.

The major routes include  E18, E12, E75,  and  E63 .

We recommend  Discover Cars  for all your car rental needs in Europe.

Helsinki Central Railway Station  in  Kluuvi  has excellent train connections from all the major cities in Finland and from Moscow and St. Petersberg in Russia.

Helsinki’s  Central Bus Station  in  Kamppi  has a regular bus service to and from all the large cities in Finland.

Read More:  Train from Oslo to Bergen on a Scenic Bergen Railway

How to Get to the City Center from the Airport

I  and  P  trains from the airport take about 30 minutes to the city center.

Alternatively, you can board the Finnair City Bus  or  Airport Bus 615  from the airport to the city center. The night bus service ( 415N ) is also available.

Taking a taxi is the easiest and fastest option but then it costs much higher.

taxi from helsinki vantaa airport to the city center

Related Read:  The Little Fairytale Finnish Town on Porvoo

How to Get Around Helsinki

Walking is the best way to explore the attractions in and around the city center. You can take a self-guided tour or a guided walking tour to explore the center.

Biking is the second-best way to get around the city.  Check out the cycling routes in Helsinki .

Helsinki has a vast public transport network of bus, metro, tram, train, and ferry services.

The city has a zoned public transport system.

Choose a ticket that best fits your needs. If you’re sticking to the city center, you should buy a ticket for the main zone (AB) or for the airport downtown (ABC) but if you’re planning a day trip from Helsinki, you’d need a different ticket. Click here to learn how to use a public transport system in Helsinki.

You can buy a ticket from HSL ticket machines, train stations, R-Kioski (convenience stores in Finland), or the HSL Mobile Ticket app.

I’d suggest you buy a Helsinki Travel Card that allows unlimited travel for the duration (24, 48, or 72 hours) on all modes of transportation – trams, buses, the metro, trains, and the Suomenlinna ferry.

Helsinki Card is another awesome option. It not only allows free, unlimited travel on all modes of public transportation but also gives free access to a ton of attractions and museums in Helsinki.

Trams are the best and most beautiful way to explore the center of Helsinki.

trams in helsinki finland

Public buses are also an efficient way to travel from one location to another in Helsinki but are not helpful in the center of the city. Trams make sense there.

getting around helsinki buses in helsinki

Helsinki’s metro system is the world’s northernmost and has two lines – M1 (Matinkylä–Vuosaari) and M2 (Tapiola–Mellunmäki) that serve about 25 stations.

Helsinki Commuter VR Trains form an important part of Helsinki’s public transport system.

how to get around helsinki travel by train

What to do in Helsinki

There are some beautiful places to visit in Helsinki. We have a complete post about the best things to do in Helsinki, Finland for you.

Walking (tip: take a guided walking tour) in the center of the city is mandatory, you see. You can also ride the sightseeing tram to get pally with the city. Island hopping and café hopping remain the quintessential things to do in Helsinki.

Take a dip in the Finnish sauna to get off the tiredness of the sightseeing before you dine in on delicious Finnish cuisine. And, how can you not check out the impressive Finnish design and architecture? You must plan a visit to the Design District of Helsinki.

Where to Stay in Helsinki

We stayed in a spacious 50s house with a wood-heated sauna in Lintuvaara, Espoo, and loved every bit of it. Our host Marko and his family were welcoming and helpful.

It’s away from the center but the bus stop is just a few meters away from the house. We boarded a bus that dropped us at  Sello Mall  and then a train from  Leppävaara  train station to the  Central Railway Station  to reach the center of the city.

If you want to stay near the city center,  check out these best hotels right in the heart of Helsinki.

For those who wanna luxe it up, we recommend  Hotel F6 ,  Hotel St. George Helsinki , and  Lapland Hotels Bulevardi .

Check out the Best Luxury Hotels in Helsinki.

If you prefer living like a local like us, there are a ton of lovely apartment options, like  this Apartment Hotel Aallonkoti in the heart of the city ,  this stylish studio in Ullanlinna ,  this artist apartment in Kallio , or  this cozy, super-cute apartment in Vironkatu .

You Might Like:  Driving from Bergen to Oslo

What and Where to Eat in Helsinki

  • Restaurant Savotta : Traditional Finnish Cuisine
  • Juuri : sapas
  • Konditoria Hopia : Karelian pies or Karjalanpiirakka
  • Robert’s Coffee Gelato Factory : Gelato
  • Lappi Ravintola : Poronkäristys
  • Cafe Regatta : Korvapuusti  and Finnish Coffee
  • Mumin Kaffe : Berry tea

cafe regatta helsinki finland

If you want to  visit Helsinki  sometime soon, make use of our  Helsinki guide . We sincerely hope our  travel guide to Helsinki  helps you plan a perfect  trip to Helsinki . If you have any queries, let us know in the comments section below. We’ll be happy to help.

Recommended Reading:

  • Renting a Car in Europe
  • Schengen Visa for Europe
  • How to Plan a Trip to Europe
  • Best Things to do in Helsinki, Finland
  • Porvoo in Finland
  • Trip to Finnish Lapland in Summer
  • Where to Stay in Rovaniemi, Finland
  • Nordics Itinerary

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Anjali Chawla

1 thought on “A First Timer’s Guide to Visiting Helsinki, Finland”

Somehow the link to your Airbnb does not open Marko’s property, but coincidentally we may have booked the exact same place. We are planning our trip for August 2023, so just starting researching. Your “First timers guide to Helsinki, Finland” is my first “pin” on my Finland board. Excited to start planning our trip!

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Detailed itineraries + travel guides

Ultimate 3 Day Helsinki Itinerary with the Go Helsinki Card

Last Updated March 20, 2023 William Tang

You are here: Home » Travel Itineraries » Ultimate 3 Day Helsinki Itinerary with the Go Helsinki Card

Helsinki is many things but what you’ll find about the Finnish capital is that it’s 100% friendly and easy to explore. From the boulevards, green spaces, magnificent architecture, and the dotted archipelago that were splashed into the Baltic Sea, this is a city you’ll fall in love with so much that you wish you could stay longer – at least that’s how I felt!

The last time I was in Scandinavia was when I studied in Lund, Sweden and once I stepped off the plane, I felt at home again.  There’s something about being in this part of Europe that is so refreshing.  The only remorse I had with this 3 day Helsinki itinerary was that I wish I had more time before the start of the PING Helsinki conference .

Helsinki is quirky.  Helsinki is pristine.  Helsinki is a haven for design.  Helsinki is naturally beautiful.

Read more about the Nordic countries

  • Best free things to do in Copenhagen
  • PING Festival experience in Helsinki
  • 10 of the most beautiful places in Sweden
  • Worthy things to do in Malmo

Where to stay in Helsinki?

  • While I was in Helsinki, I stayed at the Forenom aparthotel in the city which was super affordable but later moved to the Clarion Hotel Helsinki which was absolutely amazing. Completely different properties for different budgets.

In This Article

Day 1 – Let’s See What Can Do With A Few Hours

Day 2 – i see a fortress, day 3 – cruising the canals, day 4 – squeezing in a little more, what i loved about the go helsinki card, get the go helsinki card, map of helsinki in 3 days.

In search for a cost-effective way to see all the main sights in the city, I stumbled upon the Go Helsinki Card and the 72 hour pass including transportation to and from the airport with the Region Upgrade .  I’m normally not one to use city passes but it provided access to all the places I wanted to visit.  I made it a mini-challenge for myself when I landed in the city – how much could I see while the card was active and how much money could I save?

What’s the Go Helsinki Card?

It turned out to be way simpler than I ever thought it could be.  It’s a tap-friendly card that once you activate, gives you access to all transit in the city and can be scanned to get you into many of the attractions for free .  For 74 EUR, keep on reading to find out if it was worth it!

The 3 Day Helsinki Itinerary

Here’s a detailed view of what I did in Helsinki and how I managed to squeeze in as much as I did.

Upon arrival in Helsinki’s international airport, I made my way down to the basement level at a place called Airpro.  When ordering my Go Helsinki Card , there were options to mail it but since I had ordered pretty last minute, the pick-up at the airport option made the most sense.  All I had to do was show my printout of my voucher and the attendant was able to find my card all set up and ready to go.

The Helsinki Card also comes with a few books and pamphlets which I know is advertised as freebies but to be honest they’re nothing different from the types of books that you can get at the visitor centre.  That said, it was nice to have it all in hand which allowed to hit the road right away.

Since I landed in Helsinki mid-afternoon, I knew that there wasn’t much time to fit anything but I was determined to not let the day go to waste!

I found my way to the train and since I had added the “ Region Upgrade ” to my card (74 EUR total), I could take the train all the way from the airport since it’s not considered to be in the core Helsinki zone.  I just tapped my card at the little blue machine and my 72 hour clock started.

helsinki central station in the sun

With my bags with me, my first order of business was to drop them off at the aparthotel I was staying at (more on that below).

Funny thing is that I was all sorts of confused trying to find the Forenom , but I was at first a little confused how to get there because there is a subway and there’s also the tram.  I took the metro to get there but soon learned that the city’s tram system is much more expansive and provided route flexibility than the subway.

skateboarders outside kiasma museum in 3 day helsinki itinerary

Taking a look at all the free activities that are included with the Go Helsinki Card , I spotted that there was one museum that was open late and that turned out to be the museum of contemporary art, the Kiasma ( official website for Kiasma ).

interactive art installation in kiasma helsinki

Even though I only had 2 hours to see the whole museum, I thoroughly enjoyed all of it.  I especially loved photographing and filming the foyer that was built to combine the design aspects of light, shadows, lines, and curves.  All of the installations were incredibly captivating and mind boggling at the same time.

I stayed until the museum closed at 8PM and then made my way over to Cafe Bar No. 9 where I had the most unique Pollo Limonello pasta.

72 hour helsinki card tap

  HEADS UP: Once you tap your card for the first time, your card is activated.

  HEADS UP: For tram, metro, or train transit, look out for the tiny kiosk machines.  It’s all honour system in Helsinki so just tap before you get on.

sea fortress soumenlinna view in 3 day helsinki itinerary

Like what I did there with the header?  See…Sea?  Okay, I tried!

Before coming to Helsinki and doing any research, I had no idea about the history of everything the now-independent country of Finland had gone through through the ages.  My favourite part of the trip was hands down the second day where I got to take a short ferry over to the island of Soumenlinna, often referred to a Sea Fortress.  Of course the ferry ride was just a simple tap and I was on.

soumenlinna entrance clock tower

Soumenlinna is set on a cluster of islands that are part of Helsinki’s archipelago off its coastline and as I learned from the guided tour and museum that were all free thanks to the Go Helsinki Card, resulted in the building up of Helsinki as a city, and besides Gibraltar is biggest fortress in Europe.

I spent a good 4-5 hours on the island, starting from one end and making my way down all the way to the southern tip which is where the fortifications can be found.  The Soumenlinna official website is handy so take a look before you go.

redeem soumenlinna museum ticket with helsinki card

In the middle of the grounds is the Soumenlinna Museum (8 EUR) which is where I used my card to gain access to the museum that had a well-produced film about its history.  This is also the meeting point for the walking guided tour (11 EUR).  This was a more interactive way to see portions of the island where our English-speaking guide talked us through what life was like on the island centuries ago.

Unfortunately the Military Museum and Submarine Vesikko were closed since it wasn’t quite summer season yet.

helsinki ferris wheel

Back at Market Square which was filled pop up stalls, I wandered aimlessly and grabbed a ton of great photos of harbour including the ferris wheel.

alass sea pool helsinki

The one thing I remarked was just how so many Finns were out in the sun, grabbing a coffee or sipping on wine on, picnicking, sunbathing, or swimming in the Allas Sea Pool.  You’d think it was 30 degrees C out there but it was only 16 degrees C.  They sure take advantage of warmer weather like it’s nobody business.

steps of helsinki cathedral

As the sun continued to stay hovered above the sky with the already long days of May, I walked over to Senate Square to sit on the steps of Helsinki Cathedral, to watch all the people come and go in the square.

blinit in helsinki russian crepes

To try something a little different,  I took the tram up to BLINIt , a restaurant specializing in Russian crepes called Blini which was remarkably good.

3 day helsinki itinerary cathedral alleyway

  HEADS UP: I couldn’t believe how long the days were in May.  Sunrise was easily before 5AM and the sun lingered to around 10:30PM which is great because it gives you a lot of time to explore the city.

sibelius monument

One of the bigger valued items that is included in the Go Helsinki Card is the Canal Route Cruise by Helsinki Sightseeing so I planned around making it to the 10:30AM departure time.

canal route cruise in helsinki

In an hour and a half, this boat cruise takes you on a loop that passes through more islands that make up the archipelago.  Going beyond Soumenlinna, it was incredible to see how you could literally go from the city to islands of wilderness and islands made up of cottage properties and sail boats.  The other highlight was seeing the icebreakers stationed in Helsinki.  Turns out, the Finns have made this a niche of sorts and build many of the world’s icebreakers.

The only problem was that it was insanely windy and cold up at the top.  I toughed it out for the whole cruise but I was definitely not prepared for the teeth cutting wind.

second level of helsinki hop on hop off bus

With this being my last full day on my own, I still had so many other spots I wanted to hit up so after returning from the cruise, I jumped on the Hop On Hop Off bus (30 EUR) at the stop near Market Square.

Like everything else, everyone knew what to do with the Go Helsinki Card.  When I boarded the bus, the driver pulled out his mini barcode scanner, scanned my card, and that was it!

peeing bad bad boy sculpture in helsinki

With Hop On Hop Off, I was able to visit the beautiful neighbourhood of Eira , the Rock Church , the Bad Bad Boy statue/fountain, and Sibelius Monument .  This was actually the first time I’ve ever done one of these busses but I have to say, it was super convenient to see all of these things in the span of 4 hours.  It gets you to all the things you want to see without having to figure out all the different trams you have to connect to make it work.

temppeliaukio rock church interior wide angle

The most impressive out of all of these sights was definitely the Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Church) (3 EUR).  I’m normally not that easily impressed by churches but this one dug out of solid rock and its copper dome, exposed rocks, and concrete beams is truly an architectural marvel.

I closed my day at the Design Museum (12 EUR).  Despite only having one hour before closing time, there museum wasn’t overwhelmingly large so I had plenty of time to see all the various exhibits.  For me, the Design Museum reinforced Helsinki and Finland as a leader in modern design where I learned that almost all the iconic contemporary minimalist furniture that I can conjure up all originated here.  Oh and I also had no idea that those orange scissors by Fiskars that I grew up with at school were also created in Finland.

friends and burgrs in helsinki

For dinner, I tried the “In-N-Out of Finland”, Friends & Brgrs ( check out their menu ).  My honest opinion is that the burgers were very good but they still have a bit of work to do with their fries which were a bit over-fried.

  HEADS UP: My only gripe with Hop On Hop Off is that it was sometimes hard to find the pick up spots especially if you weren’t dropped off there in the first place.  So for instance if you get dropped off at Stop 5 and decide that it’ll be a good idea to walk to Stop 6 to see something along the way, it might be hard to figure out where to exactly go.  I probably should’ve had the map with me but even having data was no use because they don’t show up on Google Maps.

HEADS UP:  If you’re borderline near the end of bus operation for the day, it is hard to tell when the last bus will hit each stop.  I ran into a situation where I had finished at Bad Bad Boy and waited at the stop for 15 minutes before making the realization that the last bus may have gone by.  There was no way to confirm this and so I decided to make it on foot to the Design Museum.

chapel of silence in helsinki

I originally had the crazy plan to do the Panorama Sightseeing Bus Tour to really maximize the value of the card but I had second thoughts because 1) I wanted to sleep in and 2) I didn’t think I’d see anything new on this sightseeing bus tour.

Instead, for they final day of my 3 day Helsinki itinerary, I took the tram to see the other contemporary religious building called the Chapel of Silence .  It’s an odd-shaped chapel that is entirely made of wood and curved like an egg that stands at the edge of an urban square.  Amidst the urban clamour, anyone can enter in to concentrate on the natural elements of its cocoon and be at peace in the silence that echoes off the fir walls.

A perfect way to end the 72 hours would’ve been with a ride back up to the airport but since PING Festival was next, I used the Go Helsinki Card to move my luggage over to the Clarion Hotel .  No regrets though because the 7.50 EUR single ride from the airport in the city more than made up for the extra cost of the Region upgrade which was an extra 6 EUR.

TIP: When planning your trip, know that all museums are closed on Monday.  As a result, plan to spend Mondays doing non-museum attractions.

helsinki card and booklet package

I’ll be honest, I was a little apprehensive at first about the Go Helsinki Card because I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to use.  I was half expecting to explain how the card works to vendors or have to deal with really annoying redemption processes but after using it myself, I have to say that they’ve set up quite the perfect little operation.

What made the card great:

  • Easy pick up at the airport
  • Truly tap and go
  • Transit system recognizes the card and doesn’t require a separate card
  • All attractions have their own barcode scanner for seamless entry
  • Eliminates the hassle of having to buy tickets at each attraction and in many cases you can bypass all lines
  • Can easily see the whole city with the card if you plan it strategically

How much money did I save?

So how much money did I end up saving?  The Go Helsinki Card with Region Upgrade cost 74 EUR but I easily got 130.40 EUR in value from the card.

Yes that’s right, that means I saved 56.40 EUR thanks to the card!

Explaining the Region Upgrade

I was a little confused at first as to whether I needed this or not so let’s explain what this upgrade is for.

  • All the activities and attractions in the city are located in the “Helsinki Region”.
  • The airport is located in the “Vantaa Region”.
  • The standard Go Helsinki Card only works in the “Helsinki Region” so if you want to include the train into the city you basically need the Region upgrade.
  • This is worth it because the upgrade is only 6 EUR and the train ride into the city is 7.50 EUR
  • The Region upgrade also gives you access to Espoo and Kauniainen regions although the truth is that you’ll unlikely head over there.

Now don’t be confused with this map like I was.  If you look at the dotted lines, you’d think it’s just a cute heart but it’s actually the lines for the train into the city.  It’s merely saying that train starts at the airport in Vantaa and ends up in Helsinki.

helsinki card region upgrade map

Where Did I Stay?

During my 3 day Helsinki itinerary, I had the opportunity to stay at two contrasting properties.  While I was in the city leveraging the Go Helsinki Card, I opted for a budget accommodation and for the conference, I was put up at the Clarion Helsinki.

inside a single room at forenom hostel helsinki merihaka

FORENOM HOSTEL HELSINKI MERIHAKA

It may be labelled a hostel but it’s far from your typical hostel.  It’s closer to an apartment hotel but since it’s a shared bathroom, you probably couldn’t call it that either.  True to Scandinavian standards, the private room I had for one was incredibly clean and so too were the bathrooms.  The unique thing here is that it’s totally for the anti-social person.  It’s not like a hostel because there are no social activities and there is no front desk.  You get a code to access the building and your room so it is all self-serve which I loved.  A brilliant idea!

Booking.com

clarion helsinki hotel aerial photo at sunset

CLARION HELSINKI HOTEL

The epitome of a posh hotel.  Somehow, Clarion managed to convince the city to build its tallest building and as a result, this hotel has the best views of the entire city.  Up on the top floor the bar and beautiful pool offer amazing panoramas that I recommend going to for sunrise or sunset.  I was highly impressed by the rooms as well which are decked out in expensive modern furniture like the iconic Eames Lounge Chair.  It’s clean, modern, spacious, and very comfortable.

TripAdvisor

As you plan your trip to Finland, make sure you order your Go Helsinki Card ahead of time so it’s ready for you when you land.

Get The Card

I have marked all of the important pins of places covered by this 3 day Helsinki itinerary.  If you have data when you’re travelling there, you can use this with the Google Map app. Simply maximize this map and create a copy to your account.

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About William Tang

William Tang is the Chief of Awesome behind the award-winning Going Awesome Places which is focused on outdoor adventure, and experiential travel. His true passion lies in telling stories, inspiring photography and videos, and writing detailed itineraries and travel guides. He is a member of Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), and Travel Massive. He has also been featured in publications such as Reader's Digest, Entrepreneur, Men's Journal, and Haute Living. Make sure to learn more about William Tang to find out his story and how Going Awesome Places started.

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Home » Europe » Finland » Helsinki

WEEKEND in Helsinki – 48 Hour Guide (2024)

Not everyone thinks of spending a weekend in Helsinki, but those who do find a city that’s as quirky as it is sophisticated! Helsinki may be small by international standards but it still packs a punch with visitors.

Beside towering neoclassical cathedrals, you’ll find fresh fish markets and little buildings so unusual you’d never imagine they were churches! There aren’t too many big, important monuments but you’ll find that these quaint attractions are the brightest stars amongst Helsinki’s tourist attractions!

As you meander through the Design District or jog through the lush Central Park, it’s easy to forget that this self-assured little city was once a pawn in the Russian and Swedish Empires! It’s undergone a remarkable transformation into the inclusive capital city of an independent nation that doesn’t fail to charm.

After a weekend in Helsinki with our itinerary, we’re pretty sure that you’ll be charmed, too!

plan trip helsinki

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Insider Tips for an AMAZING Weekend in Helsinki

Helsinki nightlife guide, helsinki food guide, sporting events in helsinki, weekend cultural entertainment in helsinki- music/concerts/theatre, helsinki weekend travel faqs.

You may only have 36 hours in Helsinki, but with our tips on accommodation and transport, you’ll be able to make the most of your time!

Sunset at Helsinki

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Know Where to Stay in Helsinki

Before you can head on out and discover all the best attractions in the city, you need to know exactly where to stay in Helsinki ! With just over 600 000 inhabitants, Helsinki may not be large by international standards. However, it is still important to pick a central location in Helsinki so that you can make the most of your limited time. 

For a weekend in Helsinki, we recommend that you stay in Helsinki City Center. Most of the top Helsinki landmarks are in this area, such as the Helsinki Cathedral. It’s also close to other awesome Helsinki points of interest! Additionally, since the city center is so compact, you’ll be able to walk to most attractions!.

plan trip helsinki

With a Helsinki City Pass , you can experience the best of Helsinki at the CHEAPEST prices. Discounts, attractions, tickets, and even public transport are all standards in any good city pass – be sure invest now and save them $$$ when you arrive!

Our Favorite Hostel – The Yard Hostel

The Yard Hostel, Helsinki

  • Pick this top-rated hostel for an all-round quality experience!
  • Stay in the perfect central location!
  • Make friends in the large lounge or in the neighboring bars!

You know you’re in good hands when your hostel has been voted best hostel in Helsinki TWICE in a row! The Yard Hostel delivers comfort and ambiance. The dorm beds are separated by curtains and the Wifi is free! It’s these kinds of gestures that will make you feel right at home!

Our Favorite Airbnb – Right in the heart of town

Right in the heart of town

You can’t really get more central than this cool, clean little studio. The sheer abundance of things to do right on your doorstep: from museums to beaches, parks, cafe’s and bars, make this one of the best Airbnbs in Helsinki and the ideal spot if it’s your first time in the city. If times a factor, you really couldn’t ask for something more convenient than this.

Our Favorite Budget Hotel – Kongressikoti Hotel

Kongressikoti Hotel, Helsinki

  • Be at the train station, Helsinki Cathedral or Kaisaniemi Park in less than 15 minutes by foot!
  • Look forward to cozy rooms that have city views!
  • Expect a friendly welcome from the helpful staff!

Kongressikoti Hotel extends a warm welcome that will set you up for the perfect weekend in Helsinki! It’s situated in the center of town in a historic building that’s been updated with modern furnishings. It’s real value for money, with an amazing reputation for friendliness and cleanliness!

Our Favorite Splurge Hotel – Hotel St. George Helsinki

Hotel St. George Helsinki

  • This location is as perfect as it gets in Helsinki!
  • Modern features and comfortable furnishings come together in luxurious Scandinavian style!
  • Everything you could need is either in the hotel or right on the doorstep!

Sparklingly clean, with designer amenities and views for days…what’s not to love about this luxury hotel? Downstairs, there’s a superb bar and a bakery that will keep you well-nourished for an epic 36 hours in Helsinki!

Know How to Get Around in Helsinki

If you stay in the city center, getting around Helsinki will be a breeze! Most of the main Helsinki attractions are located within the small city center so you’ll mainly rely on walking to get around Helsinki.

Walking is not only cost-effective but it’s also a pleasant experience, as there are so many green spaces in Helsinki! The tourist office (which you’ll find at the railway station, for instance) offers maps with recommended walking routes.

It’s likely, though, that you will need to use public transport once or twice. Helsinki has an efficient network of trams, buses, trains, metro and ferries. You can purchase single-journey tickets but it is more affordable to buy a ticket for 1 to 7 days. A Helsinki Card gives you free access to public transport for 24, 48 or 72 hours, as well as a ticket for the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus and discounts at major attractions!

You can easily order a taxi in Helsinki. There are taxi stands at various locations in the city and you can pay with cash or a credit card. Taksi-Helsinki and Kovanen Taxi are reputable companies.

Insider Tip: Use the HSL Journey Planner to get around on public transport as efficiently as a local!

Helsinki Nightlife Guide

If you’re a party animal backpacking through Scandinavia for the clubs and liberal attitudes, then you’ll love Helsinki! Locals love nights out, and most clubs only open at 10pm and close at 4am! Bear in mind that you have to be 20 and older to get into most clubs in Helsinki.

Kamppi and Punavuori

  • This buzzing area is the heart of the nightlife scene in Helsinki!
  • Uudenmaankatu Street and Eerikinkatu Street have large concentrations of clubs and bars.
  • The central location makes it a convenient nightlife district for those on a weekend in Helsinki!

As night falls, locals and tourists looking for a fun night out gather in Kamppi and Punavuori. Try and experience a restobar, which starts the evening as a restaurant and then transforms into a bar/club! These are favorites with locals! Try Cafe Bar 9 on Uudenmaankatu and the Soviet-styled Kafe Mockba on Eerikinkatu.

Kallio District

  • This up-and-coming district offers plenty of epic nightlife options!
  • The bars and clubs in this area are smaller and more hipster than other nightlife districts.
  • Drink on a budget in this affordable nightlife area!

Kallio offers visitors a nightlife scene that is more alternative but just as fun! The area has a seedy reputation but is becoming more gentrified every year. There are craft beers galore at Panema and Solmu Pub, while Kuudes Linja is ahead of most clubs with experimental beats.

Annankatu Street

  • For the heart of the LGBTIQ+ nightlife scene, head to Annankatu Street!
  • This inclusive district welcomes everyone for an epic night!
  • Try Bar Loose for a rock ‘n roll vibe that offers cocktails and beers galore!

Helsinki’s one of the most inclusive and tolerant cities  backpackers traveling  Europe will find, and it has a nightlife scene to match! You’ll find the most iconic gay bars on and around Annankatu Street. DTM (Don’t Tell Your Mother) is one of the most popular in all of Scandinavia, with three bars, karaoke and the top DJs in Helsinki!

Helsinki Food

Helsinki’s food scene blossoms with food markets, five Michelin-starred restaurants and some delicious local recipes!

Old Hall Market

  • This is the premier food market in the city!
  • It’s open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 6pm.
  • Head to Robert’s Coffee, the oldest stall in the market, which serves breakfast, lunch and yummy baked goods!

Since 1888, the Old Hall Market in the docks has been offering fresh produce and delicious dishes! It’s an indoor market so you’ll be safe from the harbourside chill. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting which is why it’s one Helsinki’s most popular tourist attractions ! Foodies, in particular, will appreciate the opportunity to engage with local vendors and chefs.

  • Helsinki is a seaside city with many nearby lakes so there’s seafood galore!
  • There are around 60 species of fish in the Helsinki area so there’s lots of choice!
  • Contemporary restaurants have come up with numerous creative seafood recipes so it won’t get boring!

The Finns love their fish and Helsinki’s burgeoning culinary scene is the ideal place to experience this aspect of local culture! If you’re looking for a sophisticated menu, there’s caviar tasting at Finlandia Caviar. For something more laidback, head to Cafe Bar 9 for traditional Finnish salmon soup with freshly-baked rye bread! Try sapas, the Finnish version of tapas, at Juuri – this is the perfect way to sample as many local dishes as possible!

Cooking course

  • Foodies will love this behind-the-scenes look at preparing Finnish cuisine!
  • You can choose which menu you would like to cook: French, Finnish vegetables or Spanish!
  • You can also benefit from the guidance of the in-house sommelier for wine pairings.

Kitchen Kokka at Restaurant Nokka is the ideal way for any foodie to immerse themselves in Finnish cooking! The professional staff from the restaurant teach you how to make the food and then you’re free to enjoy the results!

One particularly interesting menu you can choose is Cooking Wild Food, which will introduce you to seasonal wild ingredients and how Finns integrate them in their cooking.

Sporting Events in Helsinki

Are you wondering what to do in Helsinki as a sport lover? Well, with Helsinki, sport lovers have come to the right place! You’ll know that as soon as you inhale what some consider to be the world’s cleanest air or spot the numerous sports halls that dot the city!

Winter sports

  • Many come to Finland just for the winter and sports are a quintessential part of this icy season!
  • From Nordic skating and ice skating to sledding and ice hockey, winter is prime sports season!
  • It’s easy for visitors to experience this aspect of Finnish culture.

Finns love sports and have adapted them to be practiced year-round! Nordic skating is just one such example. In summer, skaters wear roller skates and use poles to propel themselves along the pavements, while in winter, they use ice skates on iced tracks or frozen lakes! This sport is largely unique to Nordic countries like Finland!

Central Park

  • This is the favorite park of local joggers in Helsinki!
  • It’s full of lush flora and fauna, too!
  • Refresh yourself in the park cafe after your exercise.

Measuring 1000 hectares, this expansive park in Helsinki has plenty of routes for runners to choose from! Paloheinä is the most popular, with showers, saunas and cafes. During the winter, the running trails are iced over and become ski tracks. If you’re not up to skiing, head to the seaside Sibelius Park.

Attend an Ice Hockey Match at Hartwell Arena

  • Hartwell Arena is the home of the Finnish national ice hockey team and the top local club, Jokerit!
  • It’s hosted 4 world championships!
  • Jokerit plays around 30 games in the arena every season so there’s likely to be a game during your weekend in Helsinki.

It may not be the national sport, but ice hockey remains the most popular sport in Finland! Attending a match at the Hartwell Arena is a fantastic way to check out the sports scene in Helsinki. You can buy tickets at the arena or online. You can also go on a guided tour of the stadium – which includes visits to the VIP skyboxes and the locker rooms!

plan trip helsinki

Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

Helsinki entertainment

Some of the most enduring Helsinki images from your weekend away are bound to be from a concert or show you attend. The lively culture of Helsinki is sure to take your breath away as soon as the curtain rises!

Helsinki Music Center

  • This complex is home to the Sibelius Academy and two symphony orchestras.
  • The center is housed in a modern architectural masterpiece that has top-notch acoustics.
  • It’s a hive of musical activity so there’s sure to be something on during your weekend in Helsinki!

No music lover can spend 2 days in Helsinki and not pop in at the Helsinki Music Centre! It’s so much more than just a concert venue: there’s a record store, a cafe, a restaurant and a library. That said, it can host as many as 100 concerts a month so do try to attend one!

Record shopping

  • There are no better souvenirs from your weekend in Helsinki than beautiful and rare records!
  • As Helsinki’s cultural scene has blossomed, various awesome record stores have sprung up.
  • From jazz to strings, you’ll find it all in Helsinki!

Vinyl has become a popular medium for listening to music around the world and Helsinki is not far behind on this trend! Digelius, a record store in Helsinki, has many rare jazz records. Black & White Records is another local favorite for its wide variety of genres.

Puppet Theatre Sampo

  • For over 40 years, this company has been producing world-class puppet shows!
  • Puppet shows are a real art that’s not just for children!
  • The company also offers workshops for those who want to learn.

Sampo’s mission is to combine music and poetry in puppet theatres, thereby spreading joy! The company stages over 300 performances every year and attracts tens of thousands of spectators. The shows are accompanied by music and some are non-verbal so foreigners can easily understand!

Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt  except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

10 Other Awesome Things to do in Helsinki This Weekend

If you still need proof of why you should book a weekend in Helsinki, then we’ve got it! From a ruined fortress to an underground church, there are so many amazing places to see in Helsinki !

#1 – Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna

In the mid 18th century, the Swedish Empire (which controlled Finland at the time) decided to construct a fortress against the invading Russians. The result was the gigantic fortress spanning several islands that we now call Suomenlinna!

The fortress didn’t manage to keep the Russians at bay for long, as in 1808 they overran all of Finland. It was later used in World War I, World War II and the Finnish Civil War. With such a tumultuous history, you can see why it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most popular tourist destination in Finland!

#2 – Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral is the Helsinki landmark you need to visit so put it high up on your Helsinki itinerary! It was built between 1830 and 1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. It was originally known as St Nicholas Church but after Finnish independence in 1917, it became Helsinki Cathedral.

Follow the lavishly-decorated Corinthian pillars to the gables with magnificent statues of the 12 Apostles. Be sure to admire the green domes spangled with gilded stars. These are just some of the stunning features incorporated in the neoclassical design of the cathedral!

#3 – The Market Square

In the heart of Helsinki’s Old Town, you’ll find this charming little square beside the harbor. It’s a historic Helsinki point of interest, as it’s been the site of commerce for centuries. The Old Market Hall is nearby but there are also stores on The Market Square. Look out for unusual souvenirs like reindeer hide and wooden mugs!

Around the square, you’ll also spot other interesting sites like the Presidential Palace and the Uspenski Cathedral.

#4 – The Chapel of Silence

With this little chapel in Kamppi, you’ll get a taste of Finland’s unique design style! The structure is so unlike other churches that you may mistake it for a contemporary sculpture. It’s a conical building that’s made of spruce wood. These architectural features enhance the intensity of the silence inside.

Inside, there’s an exhibition area but most people come to admire the design or take a break from the hustle and bustle of Kamppi.

The Yard Hostel

The Yard Hostel

You know you’re in good hands when your hostel has been voted best hostel in the city TWICE in a row!

  • Free Breakfast
  • Located just a five minute walk from Helsinki Central Railway Station

#5 – Helsinki City Museum

Helsinki City Museum

This award-winning institution does a fantastic job of explaining how Helsinki came to be the sophisticated city it is today! Through virtual reality and old photographs, visitors feel like they have stepped back in time!

You can discover different traditional Finnish outfits or visit a 19th century Finnish home. The museum also tracks the city’s cultural evolution, as well as the role of prominent women in Finnish politics and economics.

#6 – Temppeliaukio Church

Temppeliaukio Church

Our Helsinki itinerary bursts with jaw-dropping Scandinavian design, but this Helsinki landmark tends to be a winner! Completed in 1969, this modern Lutheran church was hewn from the bedrock of its location! It’s largely underground, with skylights around its massive dome. As you approach Temppeliaukio, don’t miss admiring the copper dome – some say it looks like an alien mothership!

Insider Tip: For a truly surreal experience, try to attend one of the classical music concerts held here if your weekend in Helsinki falls during the summer!

#7 – Kotiharjun Sauna

Did you know that ‘sauna’ is a Finnish word? Well, after a visit to Helsinki, you’ll understand why! The Finns are fanatics about their saunas and experiencing a Finnish sauna is a must-do on a holiday in Helsinki! So, whether you have a day or 36 hours in Helsinki, you have to have a sauna on your itinerary!

Today, most saunas are in private institutions but three public ones remain. Kotiharjun is our favorite sauna where you can relax besides locals and fellow tourists!

Insider Tip: Men and women are separated. Most Finns get in stark naked but if you feel uncomfortable, you may bring a towel along! Lastly, keep your voice down!

#8 – Design District

If there ever were a design heaven, this would be it: look out for over 200 design shops, galleries, buildings and other landmarks! There’s also a dedicated Design Museum which recounts the design history of Finland in the last 150 years. If you’ve fallen for Finnish architecture, then pop by the small Museum of Finnish Architecture.

Follow in the footsteps of the iconic Jackie O with a visit to Marimekko! This textile company produces striking geometric patterns. Bukowskis, an ancient auction house, is also worth a visit. It’s auctioned works by Andy Warhol and Picasso drawings so you never know what might be under the hammer next!

#9 – National Museum of Finland

As the capital of Finland, Helsinki is the ideal place to learn more about this fascinating country and there’s nowhere better to do so than at the National Museum! Starting with the area’s neolithic societies, there’s an exhibition with impressive Iron Age artifacts.

The museum then addresses the Finnish middle ages before moving onto the conflict between Sweden and Russia over the area. But the most popular part of this museum has to be the Treasure Troves: nine rooms full of jewels, coins, armor and medals make quite an impression!

#10 – Seurasaari Island

Seurasaari Island

Another unusual Helsinki attraction that you’ll run into on your Helsinki trip is this open-air museum! It spans an entire island in the north of Helsinki and is home to life-size traditional buildings! A visit here is like going back in time: you can trace 400 years of Finnish life through the different kinds of buildings on display!

You’ll be shown around by a guide in traditional clothes which just adds to the experience. An additional bonus is the refreshing natural location: the buildings are connected by trails that skim by the sea and through the forest.

Helsinki Weekend Travel FAQs

Last-minute doubts about a weekend in Helsinki? No need to worry, we’ve got the answers to soothe your worries, and we promise that they’ll make those 36 hours in Helsinki well worth it!

What should I pack for a weekend in Helsinki?

– Layers  – Whether it’s summer or winter, you can never quite trust Finnish weather! The summers are warm by European standards but there can also be sudden showers. Bring a small umbrella with, just in case. In winter, pack a  good-quality winter jacket  and multiple layers beneath as well as thick scarves, gloves, and beanies! – Sunscreen  – Again, this isn’t specific to season. You should always have a protective layer of sunscreen on during your 2 days in Helsinki! People often get sunburned just from walking around in the city because it’s so far north. Don’t let us say “we told you so”! – Swimsuit  – Come rain or shine, Finns will use their saunas and you want to be part of this epic local tradition! Traditionally, men and women use separate saunas so Finns tend to go in naked. However, there are mixed saunas so your swimwear will come in handy! For more packing inspiration, check our  Epic Backpacking Packing List .

Can I get an apartment in Helsinki for the weekend?

Not only can you get an apartment for the weekend, but you’ll have plenty of choices! It’s not as common as it is in more popular European destinations, like Italy, but the Finnish market is not far behind! Most holiday apartments are in specially designed complexes. Very few will be in residential buildings so don’t hold out hopes of bonding with locals through an apartment rental! You will find some stylish options on Airbnb.com. If you like the flexibility that an apartment rental can give you, but also want the convenience of hotel facilities, then look for a serviced apartment. These units will have kitchenettes so you can cook and are generally more spacious but you still have access to any facilities like saunas and the benefit of reception. You can find these on Booking.com.

Is Helsinki safe for a weekend trip?

In 2017, Finland was announced as the safest country in the world by the World Economic Forum. We can’t think of a better endorsement than that! Nevertheless, there are a few  safety travel tips  that any traveler should always keep in mind. 1. As in any city, pickpocketing does occur so be careful in tourist hotspots and around ATMs. 2. The only major safety risk comes from the winter weather: wrap up warmly! 3. You should always have comprehensive travel insurance since you never know what freak accident may happen. 

Don’t Forget Your Helsinki Travel Insurance

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

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SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on a Great Weekend in Helsinki

Transforming from a frozen wonderland in winter to a relaxed seaside port in summer, Helsinki is a city that has thrived due to its versatility! It’s gone through centuries of conquest but that’s only enriched the city’s landscape and history. In the last 100 years since independence, it has really begun to establish itself as one of the most sophisticated and contemporary destinations in the world!

Helsinki is all about simple pleasures, whether that’s making the best of the icy weather with Nordic skating or transforming local seafood into the stuff of haute cuisine! Be on the lookout for cutting-edge Scandinavian design, refreshing traditional rituals like sauna and thrilling winter sports – these are the things that make a great weekend in Helsinki!

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Christina Grayt

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Wow, the food scene in Helsinki sounds like heaven. I know where I’m booking my vacation once this pandemic is over! Thank you for sharing your insight and knowledge!

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GoWithGuide

A 3-Day Itinerary For First Timers In Helsinki

Sonja B.

by GoWithGuide travel specialist: Sonja B.

Itinerary Ideas

What if you could get the best experiences of your life while travelling to Helsinki, but planning an itinerary seems too difficult and there is just too much to see and experience. Trust me, we have all been there. 

Helsinki offers many different options and experiences for every taste, whether you are staying just for one day or longer. On any given day of the year, you will not be disappointed, but it might be hard to plan where to go and what to see, especially for the first-timer. That is why this article is here to help you! 

In this article, I will show you an example itinerary of how you can experience Helsinki just in 3 days. You will learn about other options to experience Helsinki to the fullest, and when you should collaborate with a Helsinki tour guide . So, let us help you make the most of it! 

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Finland is known for its nature, and Helsinki is not an exception. It is the capital of Finland, originally founded in 1550, located by the coast of the Gulf of Finland. Today it is one of the most popular tourist destinations, and Helsinki offers a vast variety of unique attractions to explore. 

Helsinki offers a mix of different architectures, green urban areas, local and off-beaten trails, interesting designs, and delicious Nordic cuisines. With such a big offering, it might be confusing for first-timers to plan their trip. But will 3 days be enough to experience Helsinki to its fullest? Yes, if you plan your trip right, and here is how!

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Trip

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To ensure that you have the best time of your life, our website  GoWithGuide offers you the best options and ideas for your itinerary, and you can also choose private tours with set itineraries made by professional tour guides to experience the city to the fullest, hassle-free. With the help of a private guide, you do not need to worry about transportation, directions, or language barriers. You get the best suggestions for the best places to visit, the most delicious restaurants and café recommendations, and other ways to make your trip more interesting. Our services can be personalized and customized to your needs and make your trip an unforgettable experience!

The 3-day Itinerary In Helsinki For First-timers

Here is an itinerary for a 3-day Helsinki trip that allows you to experience the many incredible places the city has to offer!

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  First day:

  • Helsinki Central Station (9.00 - 9.15 AM): One of the major landmarks in Helsinki bustling with people. Visit inside and admire the beautiful architecture of the station.
  • Ateneum Finnish National Gallery (9.30 - 11.30 AM): Museum of traditional Finnish art, including some of the most famous paintings, are showcased here.
  • Kaisaniemi Park and Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden (11.45 AM - 1.45 PM): Take a break from the city and stroll around in this beautiful park and its botanic garden that holds an old greenhouse all the way from the 19th century 
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma or Amos Rex (2.00 - 4.00 PM): Both are very interesting museums offering contemporary art exhibitions, so, choose which one has the most interesting offerings for yourself, or visit both!
  • The Parliament of Finland (4.05 - 4.10 PM):   A popular architectural sight in Helsinki.
  • The National Museum (4.15 - 6.00 PM): Discover Finnish history all the way from prehistoric times to present times
  • Finlandia Hall and Finnish National Opera and Ballet (6.15 - 20.00): Walk around the parks and visit these unique architectural sights on the way.

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Second day:

  • Senate Square and Helsinki Cathedral (9.00 - 10.00 AM): A must-see sightseeing spot in Helsinki, a very beautiful cathedral.
  • Market Square Kauppatori (10.15 - 11.30 AM): Try different local and traditional foods sold in the stalls or buy souvenirs for your family and friends.
  • Suomenlinna Sea Fortress (12.00 - 2.00 PM): Visit one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world.
  • Esplanadi (2.30 - 4.00 PM): Stroll around the park and shopping districts and remember to see the Havis Amanda statue on the way.
  • Design District (4.15 - 6.00 PM): Visit the Design District where you can find different antique vendors, museums, restaurants, and shops selling Finnish designs and local crafts.

For the rest of the evening walk around the neighbourhoods and you will find delicious restaurants where you can end your long day!

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  • Seurasaari Open-Air Museum (9:00 AM - 11.00 AM): An open-air museum built to conserve rural Finnish architecture, a great place to explore with family.
  • Sibelius Park and Sibelius Monument (11.30 AM - 12.30 PM): A beautiful sculpture built as a tribute to Finland’s most famous composer, Jean Sibelius.
  • The Rock Church (12.45 - 1.30 PM):  See Finnish architecture and design in this unique church built from rocks.
  • Natural History Museum (1.45 - 4.00 PM): Explore the history and nature of Finland and other interesting exhibitions in this museum.
  • Kluuvi District (4.15 - 6.15 PM): Stroll around these popular shopping streets with beautiful architecture and visit Stockmann Department Store, which is the largest one in the Nordics.
  • Kamppi District (6.30 - 8.00 PM): The area consists of Kamppi Department Store and Kamppi Chapel of Silence, in the middle of the busiest areas of Helsinki where you can go relax after a long day.

Why should you hire a private tour guide?

At  GoWithGuide  we can offer you to experience the real authentic Helsinki! With our local private tour guides and their best  tours and other experiences in Helsinki , you can access all the top spots in the city. With the private tour guides, you will be able to get unique information about the sights, explore off-the-beaten path, and immerse yourself with the local culture. 

If you are unsure what to do or what to see, our guides are happy to provide suggestions based on your interests, and they are ready to take you to the sites you decide you want to visit. Since the guides are locals, they are more passionate, and can offer you the best of the best in their country, and give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Our guides can also help you with cultural differences and language barriers.

Get a private tour to save time and enjoy your vacation to the fullest!

Also, a private tour guide means that you do not have to share them with anyone else!  You can enjoy interacting one-on-one with your tour guide as they provide you with detailed and interesting information about each location you visit. You will also be able to ask questions when needed compared to other tour choices. With a private tour guide, you will be able to go at your own pace with no hurrying or strict schedules, making sure that you get the most out of your visit. Booking a private tour guide allows you to enjoy your time at the destination without stress or hurry.

Do yourself a favor and  book a private tour so you can focus on the sights. Whichever is your style, visiting popular attractions or escaping the hustle and visit more off-beaten paths of locals, we can arrange it - all you have to do is ask!

I hope this article got you interested in hiring a private tour guide for your next visit to Helsinki. Below you can find more recommendations of the tours offered by our local guides.

Popular Helsinki Tour Guides

Helsinki Tour Guide - Laila P.

Welcome to visit the world´s happiest nation, Finland! Seven years in a row has Finland been ranked to be the happiest nation in the world. Besides being a safe, clean country with honest people, we have a fascinating history of being part of Sweden and Russia for centuries. My passion is history and our beautiful nature, and I cannot wait to introduce you to our beautiful seaside capital Helsinki. I have a long history in tourism, I put my heart to serve you a wonderful tour in Helsinki. I have been a licensed Helsinki guide since 2006, a former Finnair flight attendant, and I work as a tour leader in Spain, Portugal, and Finnish Lapland. I am a kind and very patriotic person, you will feel comfortable with me. It is about having an informative and fun day together! Welcome to Finland!                                                                                                                                  

Southern Finland Tour Guide - Timo R.

Hi, my name is Timo, your local private guide in Helsinki. I am an easy-going and open-minded person. I like to interact with people from across the world and to know about their culture, language, travel interests. I am passionate about nature. In my free time I enjoy outdoor activities of all kinds. In the summer amongst other things, I love to hike, mountain bike and go kayaking. In the winter, I love to snowshoe and watch the northern lights. My professionality is also based on a long career in information technology, serving in an international company as a technical specialist. This has given me the opportunity to travel around Europe, the USA and Asia. As well as being an experienced Nature and Wilderness Guide, I am also a Golden Badge Guide (the ultimate qualification in guiding in Finland). I am also a Licenced City of Helsinki and a Licenced Suomenlinna Unesco World Heritage Guide, the City of Hyvinkää and Tuusula Guide, so wherever we go you'll be in good hands. My aim is to provide you with enthusiastic informative private tours which ensure that your Helsinki and Finland experience will be the best. My bespoke tours include walking tours or biking tours, tours by a private car, a van or a minibus. Within Helsinki we can cover the major sites or explore less well-known districts in the countryside like Nuuksio or Sipoonkorpi Wilderness areas, the picturesque small town of Porvoo, nearby towns like Tuusula and Hyvinkää are a few of the many wonderful places that can be easily reached in a day trip. My tours are very flexible in content and timing and I can adapt easily to your preferences and suggestions. For me, the best reward for guiding guests is the fun I have sharing the beauty of the place. Let me be your local guide and I will share with you not only my knowledge and expertise but my enthusiasm as well.                                                                                                                                  

Southern Finland Tour Guide - Arja N.

Hi I am a professional Helsinki Tourist Guide qualified to guide throughout the whole of Helsinki including Suomenlinna Fortress Unesco World Heritage site. In a previous life I was a tour guide in Greece, Spain and Italy, so I am more than experienced with both large and small groups. I am especially interested in Scandinavian history, art, architecture, design, Jean Sibelius, cycling, hiking, meeting people and. . . . sauna! My tours can be tailored to suit my customers' needs and interests, e.g. day trips to medieval city of Porvoo, surrounding countryside or the National Park of Nuuksio and heritage sauna tours can also be arranged on request. I am positive and friendly. I enjoy meeting new people and do everything I can to help guests to make the most of their visit in Helsinki. I have been told by guests on my tours that I have a great sense of humor and really know my stuff. I also provide accessible tours for elderly with a wheelchair accessible vans.                                                                                                                                  

Plan your trip to helsinki.

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.

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10 tips for planning your 2026 solar eclipse trip

Are you ready for the next total solar eclipse? As soon as the April 2024, eclipse across North America was over, eclipse chasers turned their attention to planning for the next one, which will be on Aug. 12, 2026 .

It will be the first total solar eclipse visible from Europe since 2015 and the first in mainland Europe since 1999. However, only five countries will experience totality — when the moon's shadow completely blocks the sun's face — on Aug. 12, 2026. That day, the sun will rise totally eclipsed from a remote part of Siberia in Russia before the moon's umbra moves across eastern Greenland, western Iceland and northern Spain, clipping a tiny part of northeastern Portugal.

Related: 16 best places to see the 2026 total solar eclipse

The weather across the path of totality is helped by the time of the year, as August is the best month for clear skies across the region, although finding clear skies will still be a challenge. However, perhaps the most confusing aspect of this eclipse will be its height, at least for observers in Spain. You'll need to calculate sight lines in advance, which wasn't necessary for North America's total solar eclipse.

The prize, however, is the same: a totally eclipsed sun , for a maximum of 2 minutes, 18 seconds. Here are 10 top tips for planning your total solar eclipse experience in 2026.

1. Forget duration

Never judge a total solar eclipse by its maximum duration of totality. Although totality for the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse lasted over four minutes for some viewers, most total solar eclipses last two minutes or less. Moreover, the duration of totality is trivial. What's spectacular is that totality happens at all — and how dramatic it is. Instead, think about where you'll watch it from in the path of totality because the location does make a difference.

2. Fixate on the sky position.

At no point on Earth will the eclipsed sun appear higher than 26 degrees above the horizon during the August 2026 eclipse. It won't be much of a problem in Greenland and Iceland, but in Spain, the sun will be eclipsed just 70 minutes before sunset on Spain's Galician coast, where the sun will be just 11 degrees above the northwest horizon.

It will be visible lower in the sky and closer to sunset as the path of totality shifts eastward. The eclipsed sun will be barely 3 degrees above the northwest horizon from the west coast of any of the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Minorca and Ibiza). That could cause the sun to be lost in the haze and clouds of the horizon. Or, it could produce a rare, dramatic "golden corona." As with all eclipses, you must weigh risk versus reward.

3. Pay attention to sight lines on the Spanish coast

The sun will be eclipsed from Spain's east coast at just 4 degrees above the northwest horizon. It's possible to find locations on the coast with a clear view of the eclipse, but do not take anything for granted. In many coastal locations, the trick will be to get inland and onto higher ground. Either way, triple-check the sight lines of all locations.

4. Consider some landscape photography.

The 2026 eclipse will offer a short time to image the eclipsed sun balanced with the opportunity to see and capture the sun's corona low over landmarks, mountains and buildings. Expect images of an eclipsed sun above icebergs in Greenland; over the Sun Voyager sculpture in Reykjavik, Iceland; and through the arches of the Roman aqueduct bridge in Segovia, Spain. Many photography workshops will travel to Spain to catch the eclipsed sun close to the horizon. You can also check out our guides on how to photograph a solar eclipse and how to photograph a total solar eclipse with a smartphone .

5. Think about cloud cover

As solar eclipse meteorologist Jay Anderson notes on his website Eclipsophile.com , Valladolid and Zaragoza, Spain, and the Mediterranean coast have the highest chances of clear skies. That said, there are good reasons to be optimistic about clear skies in Iceland and Greenland, too, with the latter's Scoresby Sund often experiencing sunny weather in August. If the 2024 total solar eclipse taught eclipse chasers anything, it was to expect the unexpected.

6. Stay mobile

Trying to find accommodations in rural areas of Spain ahead of time might be tricky. Plus, there's no need to wake up inside the path of totality for this one because it occurs just before sunset. You'll have all day to travel somewhere that's forecast to have clear skies.

7. Don't obsess about the centerline

You don't need to aim for the centerline for this eclipse. Yes, it will maximize the duration of totality. However, not only is the maximum duration reasonably short, but there are diminishing returns the closer you get to the centerline. That's because the moon 's shadow is oval-shaped, so the totality duration tapers off gradually on both sides of the centerline. For example, Burgos, which is close to the centerline, will get 1 minute, 44 seconds, while Valladolid, which is halfway between the centerline and the southern limit, will get 1 minute, 29 seconds.

8. Prepare for a "Pac-Man" sunset.

The E80 motorway linking Valladolid to Burgos straddles the centerline in the most probable place for clear skies of the entire path of totality. It also represents the dividing line for a partially eclipsed sunset. From all locations west of here, the sun will no longer be eclipsed as it sets. To the east, it will sink below the horizon while still partially eclipsed. Locations farther east — such as Calamocha, Teruel and Zaragoza — will be good locations to watch an eclipsed sunset.

9. Plan for "shooting stars" and the Milky Way.

It's a coincidence that Aug. 12 is also the peak of the Perseid meteor shower in 2026. So, in theory, traveling to Spain could get you a total solar eclipse followed by a night sky full of "shooting stars" in completely moonless skies (because a solar eclipse, by definition, occurs during a new moon ). It's also the peak time for a view of the Milky Way streaming down in the southern sky. The Perseid peak will also occur in Greenland and Iceland, but there is no darkness in that region. In Reykjavik, Iceland, the sun sets at about 9:50 p.m. on Aug. 12 and rises around 5 a.m., but it never gets completely dark.

10. Head north for possible auroras

There's a lot of talk about whether it might be possible to see the aurora borealis — the northern lights — during the eclipse as seen from Iceland and Greenland. However, it's highly unlikely — the aurora is fleeting and unpredictable in terms of timing and intensity, and during totality, the sky does not get darker than a bright twilight. There will be a chance during the nights around the eclipse, but true darkness never arrives in August; from midnight, there are about three hours of nautical twilight when it's dark enough to sometimes see auroras.

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More From Forbes

Try these 5 chatgpt prompts to plan your next trip.

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With the right prompts, ChatGPT can help you with your vacation planning.

Daniel Levine, a keynote speaker specializing in tourism trends , is among the many travelers who have been experimenting with ChatGPT for travel planning.

In his experience, he says, generative AI tools tend to do best when it comes to information that’s fairly static, like sightseeing: He recently asked an AI chatbot to plan a seven-day itinerary for a drive down the coast of Chile, and it produced a good starting point for an itinerary. On another trip, AI also revealed a little-known Terminal Transfer Bus that saved him time at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

When it comes to planning a vacation, nothing beats a custom recommendation from a fellow traveler who's already explored the area or a travel agent with deep knowledge of the locale. There’s a human touch that comes with making solid recommendations. But for those plotting out itineraries, ChatGPT can be a great starting point for trip planning—that is, if you know how to feed it the correct prompts and you’re patient enough to fact check the intel.

Fourteen percent of American travelers have reported recently using ChatGPT to plan a trip, though about a third plan to enlist the generative AI in the future, according to Longwoods International .

How Accurate Are ChatGPT’s Travel Suggestions?

ChatGPT is still in its early stages, so it's best to fact check some of its suggestions when you ... [+] use it for travel planning.

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Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024.

But ChatGPT’s travel suggestions often send people to places that don’t exist, fall short of logistical planning, or suggest restaurants and attractions outside of operating hours, according to a study from SEO Travel. For the analysis, the travel site asked ChatGPT to plan 100, two-day weekend itineraries in top destinations.

Anecdotally, those who have queried ChatGPT have experienced some of those hiccups first-hand.

Alice Ford, an adventure filmmaker, travel host and stunt woman who runs the site Alice’s Adventures on Earth , experienced ChatGPT as an experiment for a YouTube video last summer. She was looking for adventurous activities in Los Angeles.

“What I found was that it did give me a few ideas I hadn’t already thought of but then when it comes to finding the real tour operators or adventure guides that was more difficult,” she says. “One of the things it suggested was a seasonal activity that would have been a 5-hour, one-way drive.”

Levine says AI chatbots have been misleading when replying to queries like “list hotels in Tokyo with 2-bedroom suites,” even offering up properties that are closed. “For trip planning it's best to think of ChatGPT as a tool rather than a travel agent, says Levine. “You have to spend time with it to massage its answers.”

5 ChatGPT Prompts To Help Plan Your Vacation

Here’s 5 customizable ChatGPT prompts to help you plan your next trip, with some parameters to help yield the most helpful results:

ChatGPT can create a table of hike suggestions and include considerations such as the distance, ... [+] duration, and elevation change.

1. Recommend a [X-point] walking tour of [X city or neighborhood] within an [x-mile radius]

You can tweak this prompt so that it builds out an itinerary around a spot you're planning to visit first.

2. Make a list of [X] expressions to help navigate [x country]

Use this as a cheat sheet to learn basic expressions in a foreign language.

3. Provide a list of the best [x type of cuisine] in [x city]

Be sure to fact check ChatGPT to verify all of the restaurants are still in business. You can also give it parameters such as “within walking distance of [x destination]

4. What are the top cultural institutions to visit in [x city]

For more niche responses, you can ask about historic cultural institutions, art institutions, etc.

5. Make a table of day hikes in [X destination} and include mileage, elevation change, and time needed.

ChatGPT can also produce tables and you can input information points you want included such as difficulty of the hike, average time it takes to complete it and more. This prompt works great for national parks.

Brittany Anas

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My First Trip to Norway, With A.I. as a Guide

Can artificial intelligence devise a bucket-list vacation that checks all the boxes: culture, nature, hotels and transportation? Our reporter put three virtual assistants to the test.

A train rolls past a small, quaint red wooden building with a quiet road in front of it. In the distance are trees and snow-capped mountains.

By Ceylan Yeğinsu

The assignment was clear: Test how well artificial intelligence could plan a trip to Norway, a place I’d never been. So I did none of my usual obsessive online research and instead asked three A.I. planners to create a four-day itinerary. None of them, alas, mentioned the saunas or the salmon.

Two assistants were, however, eager to learn more about me in order to tailor their initially generic recommendations, which they had spewed out within seconds. Vacay , a personalized travel planning tool, presented me with a list of questions, while Mindtrip , a new A.I. travel assistant, invited me to take a quiz. (ChatGPT, the third assistant, asked nothing.)

Vacay’s and Mindtrip’s questions were similar: Are you traveling solo? What’s your budget? Do you prefer hotels or Airbnbs? Would you rather explore the great outdoors or pursue a cultural experience?

Eventually, my chat sessions yielded what seemed like well-rounded itineraries, starting with one day in Oslo and moving on to the fjord region. Eventually, I locked down a trip that would combine the assistants’ information and go beyond a predictable list of sites.

This time around, my virtual planners were far more sophisticated than the simple ChatGPT interface I used last year on a trip to Milan. Though it offered more detailed suggestions for Norway, I ended up ditching ChatGPT in the travel-planning stage after it repeatedly crashed.

Vacay’s premium service, which starts at $9.99 per month, included in-depth suggestions and booking links, while Mindtrip, which is currently free, provided photos, Google reviews and maps. During the trip itself, each delivered instantaneous information by text and always asked if more specific details were needed. Sadly, only ChatGPT offered a phone app, whose information I found to be outdated (the $20-per-month premium version is more current).

I’m not alone when it comes to turning to A.I. for help: Around 70 percent of Americans are either using or planning to use A.I. for travel planning, according to a recent survey conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the personal finance app Moneylion, while 71 percent said using A.I. would most likely be easier than planning trips on one’s own.

I decided to find out for myself in Norway.

A whirlwind day in Oslo

After I landed at Oslo Airport, all three assistants directed me to the Flytoget Airport Express Train , which got me to town in 20 minutes. I was delighted to find my hotel adjacent to the central railway station.

Choosing accommodations had not been easy. I was looking for a midrange boutique hotel, and the A.I. assistants generated many options with little overlap. I went with Hotel Amerikalinjen , Vacay’s recommendation, which it described as “a vibrant and unique boutique hotel in the heart of Oslo.” Its location was the main draw, but overall the hotel exceeded my expectations, blending comfort and style with the 20th-century charm of its building, which once housed the headquarters of the Norwegian America Line shipping company.

For the one-day Oslo itinerary, the assistants were in agreement, packing in the city’s top sights, including the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Royal Palace , the Nobel Peace Center, Akershus Fortress and the Munch Museum. I shared my location and asked each assistant to restructure the itineraries to start from my hotel. But when I gave in to my own research instincts and pulled up Google Maps, I saw that the order they suggested didn’t make sense, so I plotted my own path.

By the time I got to Frogner Park at midday, I had already covered half of the sights, and after walking past more than 200 sculptures by the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, I was happy to sit down and admire his granite monolith of entwined humans.

For lunch, the assistants recommended high-end restaurants in the bustling waterfront neighborhood of Aker Brygge . But I wanted a quick bite in a more relaxed atmosphere, so I ditched A.I. and walked to the end of the promenade, where I stumbled upon the Salmon , a cozy establishment where I started with salmon sashimi that melted in my mouth and finished with a perfectly grilled fillet. How had my assistants not mentioned this place?

Next on my list was the Nobel Peace Center, the Opera House and the Munch Museum. The assistants had not recommended prebooking tickets, but fortunately, I had done so, learning, in the process, that the Peace Center was closed, a crucial bit of information that A.I. did not relay.

It was chilly for mid-June, and as I walked along the harbor promenade toward the Munch Museum, I spotted small floating saunas, which my assistants had not included. I went back to the ChatGPT phone app for recommendations. Even though I was eager to try a floating sauna, where people warmed themselves and then plunged straight into the frigid waters of the Oslofjord, I took ChatGPT’s suggestion and booked the Salt sauna, which is where I headed after spending a few hours at the Munch Museum, with its extensive works by the Norwegian artist and its sweeping views of Oslo’s harbor.

At the Salt cultural complex , a large pyramidal structure on the water, I was relieved that swimsuits were a requirement. In Scandinavia, saunas are usually taken naked , and earlier, I had asked ChatGPT for the etiquette at Salt, but it failed to give me a definitive answer. After sweating it out with around 30 strangers in Salt’s main sauna, I dipped into a cold-water barrel tub and then tried the smaller sauna options, which were hotter and quieter. It was the perfect ending to a long day.

Waterfalls, lush valleys, raging waters

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Each of my assistants had different ideas on how to reach the fjord region. ChatGPT suggested taking a seven-hour train ride and then immediately embarking on a two-hour fjord cruise, which sounded exhausting. Mindtrip suggested taking a short flight to Bergen, known as the “gateway to the fjords,” and setting out on a cruise the next day, which was perhaps more efficient, but would also mean missing one of the most scenic train rides in the world. Vacay also recommended a train ride.

After conversing with the assistants, I decided on a shorter train journey (six hours) that would deliver me to Naeroyfjord , a UNESCO World Heritage site with lush valleys and thundering waterfalls. But to figure out the logistics for transport and accommodation, I needed live train timetables, which I found on my own, and information on hotel availability that none of the assistants had.

At this point, I was desperate for human guidance to navigate the region’s expensive and limited accommodations. This is where the pictures and reviews on Mindtrip were useful, helping me to understand that I would be paying premium prices for the spectacular setting of a mediocre hotel.

The train ride from Oslo to Myrdal was breathtaking: rolling hills, mountain villages, fjords, waterfalls. But nothing prepared me for the majestic one-hour Flam railway ride that followed. Vacay had described it as an “engineering marvel” with a breathtakingly steep descent as it passes picturesque villages, dramatic mountains, raging rivers and pounding waterfalls, complete with a dance performance featuring a mythological spirit known as a huldra.

The next morning I boarded a Naeroyfjord cruise, recommended by Vacay, on an electric, 400-person vessel. I was surprised by the serenity of the fjord. Later I learned from a tour guide that I had been lucky to visit when there were no large cruise ships. It was hard to imagine an ocean liner maneuvering through the narrow, windy fjord, but when I asked ChatGPT, it told me 150 to 220 cruise ships squeezed through the fjord each year, a detail that I felt the travel assistants should warn travelers about.

The cruise ended in the village of Gudvangen, where rain made me cancel a hike to a waterfall and instead try my hand at ax-throwing in the Viking Village Njardarheim. The assistants had told me that there were buses that left town every four hours, a time frame that had worked with my original hiking plan, but now I was stuck. Thankfully, I took note of the A.I. disclaimers to check all information and found an alternative shuttle bus.

On my way to Bergen, I decided to stop in the town of Voss, famous for extreme sports like skydiving and spectacular nature. All the A.I.-suggested hotels were booked, but a Google search led me to the lakeside Elva hotel , which had delicious farm-to-table food. I suspect it didn’t make the A.I. shortlist because it was new.

I ended my trip in Bergen, which, despite being Norway’s second-largest city, maintains a small-town charm with its colorful wooden houses and cobblestone streets. With only half a day to explore, I followed Mindtrip’s short itinerary, starting with a hearty lunch of fish and chips at the bustling waterfront fish market and ending with a funicular ride up Mount Floyen for panoramic views of the city and fjords. The A.I. dinner suggestion at the Colonialen was perfect: cozy vibe, live jazz and locally sourced dishes.

The bottom line

None of the A.I. programs were perfect, but they did complement one another, allowing me to streamline my travel decisions.

Overall, Mindtrip — with its polished, dynamic interface that allowed me to cross-check details with maps, links and reviews — was my favorite. While it gave some good recommendations, Mindtrip needed more prompting than Vacay, which offered a wider variety of suggestions in more detail. Unfortunately, Vacay doesn’t save chat history, which I discovered halfway into my planning after closing the website’s tab on my browser.

The biggest drawback was the absence of phone apps for Mindtrip and Vacay, which led me to rely on ChatGPT’s basic A.I. assistant when I needed on-the-spot guidance. Mindtrip, I’ve since learned, is planning to debut an app in September.

Still, there were times when I desperately craved the human touch. Before setting out on a trip, I always contact friends and colleagues for recommendations. This time, as part of the A.I. experiment, I refrained from reaching out to a Norwegian friend until after my trip, only to find out that we had both been in Oslo at the same time.

That’s one element of travel that I doubt A.I. will ever master: serendipity.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Ceylan Yeginsu is a travel reporter for The Times who frequently writes about the cruise industry and Europe, where she is based. More about Ceylan Yeğinsu

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This Historic European Capital Was Just Named the Best City in the World for Expat Families to Live

Take the leap and move abroad.

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An estimated 9 million Americans live abroad , finding new places to call home all over the world. If you're thinking of becoming one of them, Italki, a language-learning app, has a few locations for you to consider. 

The company released its list of the best cities for expat families, specifically considering which cities around the world offer best-in-class safety and education, along with things to do, cost of living, and maternity leave policies. After looking at all this information, the team named Edinburgh , the capital of Scotland , the top city in the world for expat families. 

The team wrote in its findings about the city: "It boasts 32.8 things to do per 10,000 people, translating to an impressive 1,833 activities overall to keep everyone entertained. From exploring historic castles to strolling through charming gardens, Edinburgh promises endless opportunities for family bonding." 

Additionally, Italki wrote that Edinburgh also offers "more paid maternity leave than any other location, at a generous 39 weeks. Plus, with a high quality of life index score (187.7), you can be sure your family will be thriving in this vibrant city." 

Joining Edinburgh as a top destination for expat families to consider is Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which came in second.

"The city ranks highly when it comes to safety in particular, with a safety index score of 71.6. Not only will you feel secure, but Amsterdam also offers an even better quality of life score than Edinburgh (198.4)," the findings stated. "Education is another big win for Amsterdam, ranking third in the world. This makes it a particularly attractive location for families with school-aged children, setting them up to receive a world-class education." 

Rounding out the top 10 spots are Seville, Spain, in third; Helsinki, Finland; Copenhagen; Munich; Madrid; Vienna; Manchester, United Kingdom; and Oslo. 

Beyond offering a list of top spots, Italki also offered a few suggestions for how to make the transition abroad feel a little more seamless, including involving kids in the planning process, connecting with other expats before you move over social media, learning the history of your new home, and, of course, learning the language.

See more of their advice and more on the rankings at italki.com . 

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Planning a road trip? Stop at one of these 18 uniquely Arizona roadside attractions

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While the nearest rest stop or fast-food chain restaurant may be the most convenient place for tired travelers searching for a reprieve from the open road, it would be remiss of road trippers to ignore the unusual roadside attractions scattered along the Arizona highways.

If life-sized cartoon characters near the Grand Canyon or exotic animals on the way to Tucson sound like better pit stops than the local gas station, you're in luck when driving in Arizona.

Here are some of the most notable Arizona roadside attractions you can check out the next time you cross the Grand Canyon state.

Bedrock City at Raptor Ranch

As if Fred Flintstone's prehistoric town had always been set in Arizona, visiting Bedrock City at Raptor Ranch will make baby boomers (and anyone else who watched reruns of the popular '60s cartoon) nostalgic for their childhood. Colorful statues of familiar characters and the iconic brontosaurus slide have been essential roadside attractions off State Route 64 in Valle.

Details: 332 S. State Route 64, Valle. 928-635-3072. www.raptor-ranch.com .

Four Corners Monument Navajo Tribal Park

Less of a roadside attraction and more of a cool fun fact you can share, the Four Corners Monument Navajo Tribal Park recognizes the only place in the U.S. where the borders of four states meet. After visiting, you can finally join many Southwestern residents in saying you have been in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona all at the same time.

Details: 597 NM-597, Teec Nos Pos. 928-206-2540.  www.navajonationparks.org.

Meteor Crater

Over 50,000 years ago, an iron-nickel meteorite approximately 150 feet wide collided with what is now northern Arizona. According to the site's website, the impact hit the Earth with a force 150 times greater than an atomic bomb. The crater this meteor left is now the best-preserved meteorite site on Earth and a historic landmark to visit if you are driving near Flagstaff.

Details: Interstate 40, Exit 233, Winslow. 928-289-5898. www.meteorcrater.com .

Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch

If you are heading south near Picacho Peak, it is hard to miss the billboards advertising Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. Seemingly the only place you can find stingrays, donkeys, deer, parrots and dozens of ostriches in the middle of nowhere, this roadside attraction is a great spot for adults and children to make memories.

Details: 17599 E Peak Lane, Picacho. 520-466-3658.  www.roostercogburn.com .

Take the scenic route: This stunning Arizona roadway was ranked most scenic drive in the US. See why

Standin' on the Corner Park

You don't have to be an Eagles groupie to be familiar with the nod to this Arizona town in one of their most popular songs, "Take it Easy." "Standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona ..." is a line memorialized by Winslow residents at Standin' on the Corner Park. A bronze statue of a young musician is a salute to the troubadours who put Winslow on the classic rock map.

Details: Corner of Kinsley Avenue and Second Street in Winslow. 928-289-2434.  www.visitwinslow.com .

Without spoiling the enigma that can be uncovered in Benson, The Thing is a worthy roadside attraction to consider as you head down the I-10. The various billboards that line the highway are hard to miss as you get closer to the "Mystery of the Desert." Located next to a Dairy Queen and a Shell gas station, you can take care of your hunger, gas tank and curiosity at the same time.

Details: 2631 N. Johnson Road, Benson. 520-586-2581. www.bowlinsthething.com .

Arizona's 'world's largest' roadside wonders

According to a map created by  blog.batchgeo.com , more than 195 roadside attractions in the U.S. consider themselves the “world’s largest” something. These are Arizona's "world's largest" wonders and where they are located.

  • World's Largest Cow Skull, Amado.
  • World's Largest Petrified Tree, Holbrook.
  • World's Largest Map of Old Route 66, Meteor City.
  • World's Largest Kokopelli, Camp Verde.
  • World's Largest Kachina, Carefree.

Find out more: Arizona is home to 5 of the 'World's Largest' things — do you know what they are?

Giganticus Headicus

Art is completely subjective. To Kingman residents, Giganticus Headicus is one of the most iconic art pieces off Route 66. Created by local artist Gregg Arnold, the tiki-style head is 14 feet tall and bright green. If taking a picture isn't enough, you can further memorialize your time with the head with a miniature from the local gift shop.

Details: 9855 AZ-66, Kingman. www.antaersvisitorcenter.com .

Wigwam Village Motel

Need a place to stay overnight? Have you considered a wigwam? This quaint village off Mother Road may be just the eccentric place to spend a night while traveling through the state. Constructed in the 1950s, a night in a wigwam will make you forget why you would want to sleep anywhere else.

Details: 811 W. Hopi Drive, Holbrook. 928-524-3048. sleepinawigwam.com .

Lumberjack muffler man

A familiar face to Northern Arizona University students, the 25-foot-tall muffler man resembles the school's mascot, Louie the Lumberjack. Before being moved outside of the Skydome, the lumberjack was located outside the Lumberjack Cafe and appeared in the background of the 1969 movie "Easy Rider."

Details: 1701 S. San Francisco St., Flagstaff.

Rainbow Rock Shop Dinosaurs

If you're in search of more prehistoric creatures to gape at, stop at the Rainbow Rock Shop as you drive along Route 66. Fans of geodes and other pretty rocks will be able to admire the variety of concrete dinosaurs while searching for their next gem.

Details: 101 Navajo Blvd., Holbrook.

Located near the Mexico border, Dateland is a necessary stop on Interstate 8. A major producer of the Medjool dates, the dry heat provides the perfect climate for cultivating the fruit. Dates are fiber-rich, sweet as candy and contain more potassium than a banana. Try Dateland's world-famous date shake when you visit.

Details: 1737 Ave. 64 E., Dateland. 928-454-2772. www.dateland.com .

London Bridge

You don't need to travel across the world to experience a little European history. As a result of a strange series of events, the London Bridge , which once crossed the River Thames, was broken down and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City by Robert P. McCulloch. This British import attracts tens of thousands of travelers every year.

Details: 1340 McCulloch Blvd. N., Lake Havasu City. 928-453-3444. www.golakehavasu.com .

Take a break from speeding down the highway by cruising through the ponderosa pine forest. An attraction you don't need to get out of your car to enjoy, Bearizona has over three miles of road surrounded by picturesque nature and North American animals. If your legs need a break from sitting in a cramped car, the park also has a 20-acre walk-through area.

Details: 1500 E Route 66, Williams. 928-635-2289. www.bearizona.com .

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    Designed to capture the essence of his music, the Sibelius Monument is an abstract structure of 600 steel tubes. Similar to a pipe organ, the tubes create musical notes using the wind. It's really quite impressive and a worthy stop on your Helsinki itinerary. Entrance: Free/Allow: 30 mins-1 hr.

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    Get a Helsinki Card - There's a lot to see in the city and paying 10-15 EUR per attraction adds up. This tourism card grants you free admission to the main sights (as well as access to the hop-on/hop-off bus) for 50 EUR (for a 24-hour pass). You can also get a 48-hour pass for 63 EUR or a 72-hour pass for 74 EUR.

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