Helsinki is a city full of things to do and see. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things to do in Helsinki that will keep you busy for a few days. If you’re travelling on a tight schedule – not to worry! The city is quite compact and many of the must-see sights can be seen in a day. So whether you’re in the city for a day or a week, this list will give you ideas on what to do.
Helsinki has two main cathedrals overlooking the city centre. The Helsinki Cathedral is perhaps the most iconic landmark of the city and its most photographed sight. It’s worth going into the cathedral to see the contrast between the grand exterior of the building, and the simplistic interior typical to Lutheran churches.
Situated in the Katajanokka district of Helsinki, the Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral is one of the main reminders of Russian impact on Finnish history. Those who walk up the hill to see the cathedral up-close are rewarded with a great view of the city centre!
Experiencing the Finnish sauna is an absolute must during your trip to Finland. There are about 3 million saunas in Finland, a country of 5 million people. You can’t say you’ve experienced the local culture without at least one visit to a sauna. The Allas Sea Pool is a great place for a sauna experience in central Helsinki, and Löyly is another popular public sauna in the city.
At Helsinki Market Square you’ll find a variety of market stalls selling everything from fresh berries and vegetables to local arts and crafts. Finnish pastries and coffee, as well as many fish-based meals like salmon soup and fish platters are sold at the many food stalls of the market. If you want to be like a local, snack on the Finnish summer favourite – fried vendace (muikku).
The outside market is most active during the summer tourist season, but the Old Market Hall is open throughout the year. There are restaurants and coffee shops, as well as a variety of shops selling local food items and souvenirs in the market hall.
Helsinki was recognised as the World Design Capital in 2012 and the city has a lot to offer for design enthusiasts. Head to the Design District Helsinki if you’re interested in Finnish design. It comprises more than 200 boutiques, ateliers, museums, galleries and cafes, spanning several downtown neighbourhoods.
Tip! Tour Guide Fox offers two tours in the design district: The first one takes you to the iconic Finnish design labels and a selection of smaller boutiques within a short walking distance from each other in the city centre. The second tour covers some of the hidden gems of the design district, as well as a couple of art-focused attractions.
Wherever you are in Helsinki, there’s bound to be a park nearby, as one-third of the city consists of parks and other green areas. If you’re spoiled by great weather during your trip to Helsinki, do what the locals love to do during summertime and have a picnic in one of the parks! Go to Esplanade Park, Kaivopuisto Park or Kaisaniemi Park, for example.
Tip! If you’re visiting Helsinki at the beginning of June, check out the Rhododendron Park in the Haaga district. The park is filled with rhododendrons and azaleas, which both have their peak blooming season in early June.
Did you know that Finns are among the biggest coffee consumers in the world? Helsinki is full of coffee shops, so whether you want your caffeine fix from a chain store, an independent joint, a completely vegan café, or a coffee shop that roasts its own coffee beans – you will find it in Helsinki.
Don’t forget to order a cinnamon bun (or a korvapuusti in Finnish) with your coffee. It’s a traditional Finnish pastry, distinct from cinnamon buns in other countries because of the addition of cardamom in the dough.
In addition to the two cathedrals in the city centre, there are a few other interesting churches you should visit. The Kamppi Chapel of Silence is situated in one of the busiest streets of the city, intended as a place where people can have a moment of silence and a break from the hectic city.
The Temppeliaukio Church, known as Rock Church, was excavated directly into solid rock. Due to its unique architecture, the church has become one of the must-see attractions of the city.
Tip! The Temppeliaukio church serves as a venue for many concerts due to its great acoustics – check if there’s a concert during your Helsinki trip for a unique experience!
Helsinki boasts a vast array of different architectural styles throughout the city, the main styles being Neoclassicism and Art Nouveau. Where ever in Helsinki you go, don’t forget to lift up your gaze and admire the details of the buildings.
Eira and Katajanokka are two great neighbourhoods for architecture admiring.
While Helsinki is a city easily explored on foot, the city’s extensive tram network provides travellers with an interesting sightseeing option. Tramlines 2 and 3 cover many of the main sights of Helsinki, so if you’re tired of walking you could even do most of the Tour Guide Fox Top Sights Tour sitting comfortably in a tram! There is also a tram transformed into a restaurant that tours central Helsinki, and a vintage tram that tours the city during the summer season.
There’s a museum in Helsinki for every taste! Natural History Museum, Art Museum, Modern Art Museum, City Museum, National Museum, Design Museum, Tram Museum… You name it!
There’s an exhibit called “Grandma’s House” in the Helsinki City Museum, where you can see everyday items from the 1970s. On weekends, a museum grandpa or grandma is at home in Grandma’s House!
There you go – the top 10 things to do in Helsinki in our opinion! For a convenient and fun way to explore many of these sights, check out our tours and get ready to explore Helsinki with Tour Guide Fox!
In Helsinki only for a day? Check out our one day in Helsinki post.
Looking for things to do in Helsinki with the whole family? Helsinki with kids post was written just for you!
Travelling on a budget? Read what you can do in Helsinki for free!
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