Helsinki

The city center, characterized by its large multistory malls, is densely packed and easily explored on foot, the main tourist sites grouped in several clusters; nearby islands are easily accessible by ferry. Just west of Katajanokka, Senaatintori and its Tuomiokirkko (Luthern Cathedral) mark the beginning of the city center, which extends westward along Aleksanterinkatu. The wide street Mannerheimintie is comparable to New York's Broadway, moving diagonally past the major attractions of the city center before terminating beside the Esplanade. Southern Helsinki is a tangle of smaller streets, some of them curving and some of which run for just a few blocks before changing their names; carry a good map while exploring this area.

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  • 1. Designmuseo

    Keskusta | Museum/Gallery

    The best of Finnish design can be seen here in displays of furnishings, jewelry, ceramics, and more. ...

    The best of Finnish design can be seen here in displays of furnishings, jewelry, ceramics, and more.

    Korkeavuorenk. 23, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00130, Finland
    09-622–0540

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €8, Sept.–May, Tues. 11–8, Wed.–Sun. 11–6; June–Aug., daily 11–6
  • 2. Suomen Kansallisooppera

    Keskusta | Arts/Performance Venue

    Grand gilded operas, classical ballets, and booming concerts all take place in Helsinki's splendid opera house, a striking example of modern...

    Grand gilded operas, classical ballets, and booming concerts all take place in Helsinki's splendid opera house, a striking example of modern Scandinavian architecture. All events at the opera house draw crowds, so buy your tickets early.

    Helsinginkatu 58, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00251, Finland
    09-4030–2210-house tours

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Box office Tues.–Fri. 10–5; house tours, in English, in summer Tues. and Thurs. at 3, or by appointment
  • 3. Suomenlinna

    Castle/Palace

    A former island fortress, Suomenlinna is a perennially popular collection of museums, parks, and gardens, and has been designated a UNESCO World...

    A former island fortress, Suomenlinna is a perennially popular collection of museums, parks, and gardens, and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1748 the Finnish army helped build the impregnable fortress, long referred to as the Gibraltar of the North; since then it has expanded into a series of interlinked islands. Although Suomenlinna has never been taken by assault, its occupants surrendered once to the Russians in 1808 and came under fire from British ships in 1855 during the Crimean War. Today Suomenlinna makes a lovely excursion from Helsinki, particularly in early summer when the island is engulfed in a mauve-and-purple mist of lilacs, introduced from Versailles by the Finnish architect Ehrensvärd.Suomenlinna is easily reached by public ferry (€2.50 one-way, €3.60 round-trip) or private boat (€3.50 one-way, €5.50 round-trip), both of which leave from Helsinki's Kauppatori. The ferry ride from South Harbor to Suomenlinna takes about 15 minutes. Plan to spend an afternoon on the islands; you'll need about four hours to explore the fortress and museums. Note that days open and hours of sites are limited off-season.Although its fortification occupied six islands, its main attractions are now concentrated on three: Iso Mustasaari, Susisaari, and Kustaanmiekka. There are no street names on the island, so get a map for about €2 from the Helsinki City Tourist Office before you go, or buy one at the visitor center on the island.From June through August, guided English-language tours leave daily at 11 am and 2 pm from the Suomenlinna Visitor Centre; call to arrange tours at other times. The center, which is in the same building as the Suomenlinna Museum, is on the shore of Tykistölahti Bay, about 400 yards south of the main ferry terminal

    Visitor center, Suomenlinna C 74, Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
    29-53–38410

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Fortress free; Suomenlinna Museum €6.5; Ehrensvärd Museum €3; Military Museum\'s Manege €5; Submarine Vesikko €5; Toy Museum €6; Customs Museum free, Oct.–Apr., daily 10:30–4:30; May–Sept., daily 10–6
  • 4. Suomenlinna Museo

    Suomenlinna | Museum/Gallery

    The Suomenlinna Museo is housed in the same building as the visitor center. exhibits cover the building of the fortress and the fleet and early...

    The Suomenlinna Museo is housed in the same building as the visitor center. exhibits cover the building of the fortress and the fleet and early life on islands; the ticket price includes the Suomenlinna Experience multimedia show.

    Suomenlinna museum, Suomenlinna C 74, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00190, Finland
    09-684-1850

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6.50, May-Sept., daily 10–6; Oct.–Apr., daily 10:30–4:30
  • 5. Tuomiokirkko

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The steep steps and green domes of the church dominate Senaatintori. Completed in 1852, it is the work of famous architect Carl Ludvig Engel...

    The steep steps and green domes of the church dominate Senaatintori. Completed in 1852, it is the work of famous architect Carl Ludvig Engel, who also designed parts of Tallinn and St. Petersburg. Wander through the tasteful blue-gray interior, with its white moldings and the statues of German reformers Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon, as well as the famous Finnish bishop Mikael Agricola. Concerts are frequently held inside the church. The crypt at the rear is the site of frequent historic and architectural exhibitions and bazaars.

    Unioninkatu 29, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00014, Finland
    9-2340–6120

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Sept.–May, daily 9–6; June–Aug., 9–midnight
  • 6. Ateneumin Taidemuseo

    Museum/Gallery

    The best traditional Finnish art is housed in this splendid neoclassical complex, one of three museums organized under the Finnish National...

    The best traditional Finnish art is housed in this splendid neoclassical complex, one of three museums organized under the Finnish National Gallery umbrella. The gallery holds major European works, but the outstanding attraction is the Finnish art, particularly the works of Akseli Gallen-Kallela, inspired by the national epic Kalevala. The rustic portraits by Albert Edelfelt are enchanting, and many contemporary Finnish artists are well represented. The two other museums that make up the National Gallery are Kiasma and Synebrychoff.

    Kaivok. 2, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00100, Finland
    9-6122–5510-information

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €13, Tues. and Fri. 10–6, Wed. and Thurs. 10–8, weekends 11–5
  • 7. Café Aalto

    Esplanadi

    The Café Aalto, on the Academic Bookstore's mezzanine, is pleasant for lunch or a snack. Choose one of the sandwiches, which usually include...

    The Café Aalto, on the Academic Bookstore's mezzanine, is pleasant for lunch or a snack. Choose one of the sandwiches, which usually include cold-smoked salmon, herring, tuna, mozzarella, and vegetarian options, or a fresh soup or salad, which change daily. It's a good place for a traditional afternoon pulla (Finnish sweet bread) and coffee.

    Academic bookstore, Pohjoisesplanadi 39, 2nd floor, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00101, Finland
    09-121–4446

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Weekdays 9–9; Sat. 9–6; Sun. noon–6.
  • 8. Café Engel

    Senaatintori

    Named for the architect Carl Ludvig Engel, this café on Senaatintori serves traditional lunch fare, and it's also open for breakfast. Portions...

    Named for the architect Carl Ludvig Engel, this café on Senaatintori serves traditional lunch fare, and it's also open for breakfast. Portions are hearty—you can fill up on a huge bowl of the tomato-basil soup or the cold smoked salmon sandwich; for a lighter snack, try a savory karjalanpiiraka (egg or potato pie) or one of the smaller open-faced cold-cut sandwiches. Locals stop in for coffee, wine and desserts, which include seasonal treats such as lingonberry cheesecake, fruit tarts, and an excellent Sacher torte.

    Aleksanterink. 26, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00170, Finland
    09-652–776

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Weekdays 8–9; Sat. 9–9; Sun. 10–9
  • 9. Café Ursula

    Kaivopuisto

    Located by the sea, with views across to Suomenlinna, this café is a favorite with locals. They come for the coffee, ice cream, pastries, and...

    Located by the sea, with views across to Suomenlinna, this café is a favorite with locals. They come for the coffee, ice cream, pastries, and light lunches that include soups and salads made with traditional Finnish ingredients. The lunch menu, which changes daily, includes fresh fish specialties, fish or root-vegetable soups, and a steak dish.

    Ehrenströmintie. 3, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00140, Finland
    09-652–817

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Open daily 9 am–midnight; lunch daily 11–2
  • 10. Cygnaeuksen Galleria

    Kaivopuisto | Museum/Gallery

    This diminutive gallery, in a cottage with a tower overlooking the harbor, is the perfect setting for works by various Finnish painters, sculptors...

    This diminutive gallery, in a cottage with a tower overlooking the harbor, is the perfect setting for works by various Finnish painters, sculptors, and folk artists. This was once the summer home of Fredrik Cygnaeus (1807–1881), a poet and historian who generously left his cottage and all the art inside to the Finnish public.

    Kalliolinnantie 8, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00140, Finland
    09-4050–9628

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6.50, May–Sept., daily 11–5
  • 11. Eduskuntatalo

    Keskusta | Government Building

    The imposing, colonnaded, Eduskuntatalo stands near Mannerheim's statue on Mannerheimintie. The legislature has one of the world's highest proportion...

    The imposing, colonnaded, Eduskuntatalo stands near Mannerheim's statue on Mannerheimintie. The legislature has one of the world's highest proportion of women.

    Mannerheimintie 30, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00102, Finland
    09-4321

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free guided tours early July to early Sept., weekdays at 1pm
  • 12. Ehrensvärd Museo

    Suomenlinna | Museum/Gallery

    This museum is named for Augustin Ehrensvärd, the military architect who directed the fortification of the islands of Suomenlinna from 1748...

    This museum is named for Augustin Ehrensvärd, the military architect who directed the fortification of the islands of Suomenlinna from 1748 until 1772, the year of his death. Exhibits include a model-ship collection and officers' quarters dating from the 18th century. Ehrensvärd's tomb is in the adjacent castle courtyard.

    Suomenlinna B 40, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00190, Finland
    09-684–1850

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3; tour €6.50, May, daily 11-4, Jun.-Aug., daily 11–6; Sept., daily 11–4; guided tour in English 11 am and 2 pm
  • 13. Finlandiatalo

    Keskusta | Arts/Performance Venue

    This white, winged concert hall was one of Alvar Aalto's last creations. It's especially impressive on foggy days or at night. If you can't...

    This white, winged concert hall was one of Alvar Aalto's last creations. It's especially impressive on foggy days or at night. If you can't make it to a concert here, try to take a guided tour.

    Mannerheimintie 13e, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00100, Finland
    09-402–41

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €11.50 for guided tours on Wed. 2pm, Symphony concerts usually held Wed. and Thurs. nights
  • 14. Gulf of Finland Archipelago

    Merisatama | Neighborhood/Street

    In winter Finns walk across the frozen sea with dogs and even baby buggies to the nearby islands. On the land side, the facades of the Eira...

    In winter Finns walk across the frozen sea with dogs and even baby buggies to the nearby islands. On the land side, the facades of the Eira and Kaivopuisto districts' grandest buildings form a parade of architectural splendor. One tradition that remains, even in this upscale neighborhood, is rug-washing in the sea—an incredibly arduous task. You may be surprised to see people leave their rugs to dry in the sea air without fear of theft.

    South of Merisatamaranta., Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
  • 15. Havis Amanda

    Keskusta/Kauppatori | Fountain

    This fountain's brass centerpiece, a young woman perched on rocks surrounded by dolphins, was commissioned by the city fathers to embody Helsinki...

    This fountain's brass centerpiece, a young woman perched on rocks surrounded by dolphins, was commissioned by the city fathers to embody Helsinki. Sculptor Ville Vallgren completed her in 1908 using a Parisian girl as his model. Partying university students annually crown the Havis Amanda with their white caps on the eve of Vappu, the May 1 holiday.

    Eteläespl. and Eteläranta, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00130, Finland
  • 16. Helsingin Taidehalli

    Keskusta | Museum/Gallery

    Here you'll see the best of contemporary Finnish art, including painting, sculpture, architecture, and industrial art and design. ...

    Here you'll see the best of contemporary Finnish art, including painting, sculpture, architecture, and industrial art and design.

    Nervanderink. 3, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00100, Finland
    09-454–2060-Office

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €8, can vary for special exhibitions, Tues., Thurs., and Fri. 11–6; Wed. 11–8; weekends 11–6
  • 17. Hietalahden Tori

    Hietalahti | Market/Bazaar

    The brick market hall is crammed with vendors selling fish, flowers, produce, and meat. You can also find antiques, collectibles, and art. A...

    The brick market hall is crammed with vendors selling fish, flowers, produce, and meat. You can also find antiques, collectibles, and art. A simultaneous outdoor flea market has tables piled with the detritus of countless Helsinki attics and cellars. Shoppers can stop amid the action for coffee, doughnuts, and meat pies. This market is especially popular with Helsinki's Russian community.

    Bulevardi and Hietalahdenk., Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00180, Finland
    09-310–23555

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Regular market weekdays 6:30–6, Sat. 6:30–4; flea market weekdays 8–7, Sat. 8–4; Sun. 10-4; market hall weekdays 10–5, weekends 10–3.
  • 18. Jugendsali

    Kauppatori | Visitor Center

    In a former bank building from 1906, the Helsinki City Tourist & Convention Bureau's Tourist Information has free information about the...

    In a former bank building from 1906, the Helsinki City Tourist & Convention Bureau's Tourist Information has free information about the city and its sights, events and services.

    Pohjoisespl. 19, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00130, Finland
    09-3101–3300

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: May 15–Sept. 14, weekdays 9–8, weekends 9–6; Sept. 15–May 14, weekdays 9–6, weekends 10–4.
  • 19. Kaivopuisto

    Kaivopuisto | City Park

    This large, shady, path-filled park was once the site of a popular spa that drew people from St. Petersburg, Tallinn, and all of Scandinavia...

    This large, shady, path-filled park was once the site of a popular spa that drew people from St. Petersburg, Tallinn, and all of Scandinavia until its popularity faded during the Crimean War. All the spa structures were eventually destroyed (the main spa building was destroyed during World War II) except one, the Kaivohuone, now a popular bar-restaurant. Across from the entrance of Kaivohuone, take Kaivohuoneenrinne through the park past a grand Empire-style villa built by Albert Edelfelt, father of the famous Finnish painter who bore the same name. Built in 1839, it is the oldest preserved villa in the park.

    South of Puistok. on water., Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00140, Finland
    09-169–2278
  • 20. Katajanokan Casino

    Katajanokka

    On the north flank of Katajanokka, near the end of Katajanokan Pohjoisranta, you'll see the Katajanokan Casino. Completed in 1913, it was built...

    On the north flank of Katajanokka, near the end of Katajanokan Pohjoisranta, you'll see the Katajanokan Casino. Completed in 1913, it was built as a warehouse, then became a naval officers' casino, and today is a seaside restaurant. Set on its own headland, the casino has a summer terrace from which you can gaze across the North Harbor to the Kruunuhaka district while sipping a cold beer.

    Laivastok. 1, Helsinki, Uusimaa, 00160, Finland
    09-6128–6300

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Weekdays 11–11

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