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. ...Read More

  • 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...Read More

  • 3. Suomenlinna


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

  • 4. 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...Read More

  • 5. Ateneumin Taidemuseo


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

  • 6. 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...Read More

  • 7. 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...Read More

  • 8. 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...Read More

  • 9. 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...Read More

  • 10. Helsingin Taidehalli

    Keskusta | Museum/Gallery

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

  • 11. Kauppatori


    At this Helsinki institution, open year-round, wooden stands with orange and gold awnings bustle in the mornings when everyone—tourists and...Read More

  • 12. Musiikkitalo

    Arts/Performance Venue

    Since it opened in 2011, the Helsinki Music Center has been praised for its acoustics and daring design. It's home to the Sibelius Academy and...Read More

  • 13. Nykytaiteenmuseo (Kiasma)

    Keskusta/Pääposti | Museum/Gallery

    Praised for the boldness of its curved steel shell but condemned for its encroachment on the territory of the Mannerheim statue, this striking...Read More

  • 14. Obeliski Keisarinnan Kivi

    Keskusta/Kauppatori | Memorial/Monument/Tomb

    This obelisk with a double-headed golden eagle, used by Imperial Russia, was erected in 1835, toppled during the Russian Revolution in 1917...Read More

  • 15. Rautatieasema

    Transportation Site (Airport, Bus, Ferry, Train)

    This outdoor square and the adjoining train station are the city's bustling commuter hub. The station's huge granite figures are by Emil Wikström...Read More

  • 16. Senaatintori


    The harmony of the three buildings flanking Senaatintori exemplifies one of the purest styles of European architecture, as envisioned and designed...Read More

  • 17. Suomen Kansallismuseo


    Architect Eliel Saarinen and his partners combined the language of Finnish medieval church architecture with elements of art nouveau to create...Read More

  • 18. Temppeliaukio Kirkko

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Topped with a copper dome, the church looks like a half-buried spaceship from the outside. It's really a modern Lutheran church carved into...Read More

  • 19. Uspenski Katedraali

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Perched atop a small rocky cliff over the North Harbor in Katajanokka is the main cathedral of the Orthodox Church in Finland. Its brilliant...Read More

  • 20. Vanha Kauppahalli

    Kauppatori | Market/Bazaar

    Piles of colorful fish roe, marinated Greek olives, and much more—the old brick market hall on the waterfront is a treasury of delicacies. The...Read More

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