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Blick auf die Uspenski Kathedrale, Bild: canadastock / shutterstock

Helsinki – the daughter of the Baltic Sea

On the north coast of the Gulf of Finland, on a rugged granite peninsula, lies Helsinki – an architectural gem and the spiritual centre of Finland. The lively city by the sea conveys a refreshing and at the same time relaxed rhythm with its enchanting islands, magnificent parks and cultural institutions. Old wooden house districts harmonize with modern architecture, lively urbanity leaves enough space for idyllic, quieter quarters, the sea can be felt everywhere and, last but not least, the greenery of the numerous parks beckons – Helsinki’s charm undoubtedly lies in its wealth of contrasts.

A stroll through the city that inspires

Spacious streets and boulevards give the city an airy character.
The bright facades have earned Helsinki the nickname “white city of the north”.
In a light, Mediterranean-spiced atmosphere, visitors enjoy a charming city tour, which is best started at the magnificent Senate Square. “The “living room of Helsinki” houses the statue of the Russian Tsar Alexander II, the Lutheran cathedral, the university and the Empire-style government palace. In the magnificent university library there is a treasure trove of bound knowledge. Helsinki’s heart is the Market Square.

Located on the north side of the South Harbour, it exudes an extraordinary charm even on cold winter days. Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. there is a colourful market hustle and bustle here. Ferries coming from Sweden dock on both sides of the harbour. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the view of the presidential palace and the town hall. At the beginning of the esplanade, which stretches from the market square to the Swedish Theatre, is the traditional wooden pavilion Kappeli. Well-known Finnish shops for jewellery, fashion and design enrich this promenade. There is even a heated walkway. Not far away is the impressive train station with a 48-metre-high clock tower, designed by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. Northwest of the post office rises the Reichstag, a massive building in neoclassical style.

Architectural masterpieces in a grandiose museum landscape

Helsinki, National Museum
The National Museum in Helsinki, Image: Angyalosi Beata / shutterstock

Helsinki has over 80 different museums, not all of which can be visited in a single visit. Among the most popular and impressive museums are undoubtedly the City Museum, the National Museum, the Ateneum with art from different eras and the open-air museum on the beautiful island of Seurasaari. On the island with old buildings and a wooden church of Karuna, the people of Helsinki celebrate their midsummer festival. A visit to the Korkeasaari zoo with aquarium and South America House is also popular. The zoo is easily accessible by boat from the North and South Harbours.

In the southeast of the city, the Museum Island Suomenlinna beckons. The fortress island has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of the most popular sights in Finland. Built in 1748 by A. Ehrensvärd, the fortress was considered impregnable. It resembles an entire district with 200 buildings and 1000 inhabitants. In 1809, however, it was conquered by the Russians without a fight. The island is home to the Customs Museum, the Vesikko submarine, a war museum, the Toy Museum and the Suomenlinna Museum.

Tip: If you want to enjoy a fantastic view of the city, visit the Olympic Stadium. There is a 72-metre-high observation tower here, just a few minutes’ walk from the train station. In addition, you can take beautiful boat trips through the archipelago off Helsinki. A popular destination is the charming summer town of Porvoo.

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Helsinki’s foodie oasis

Helsinki, Suomenlinna
Suomenlinna Fortress has a lot to offer, Image: Tomas Pecold / shutterstock

Traditional eateries, countless restaurants, charming cafés as well as trendy pubs and bars – Helsinki’s gourmet scene is diverse and innovative. Inspired by many culinary cultures, the Russian twist is particularly interesting. While the Swede eats lobster on New Year’s Eve, the Finn enjoys delicious bilnis – thick Russian pancakes. The Fazer confectionery in Kluuviaktu is a popular attraction. The café impresses with a listed interior.

On Senate Square, visitors prefer Café Engel and on the northern esplanade Café Strindberg. The “Helsinki Menu” or the “Helsinki Street Food Festival” are famous. The city’s cultural districts are transformed into gourmet temples and entice with the most diverse flavors of the world. Meanwhile, about 20 restaurants participate in the “Helsinki Menu” and offer seasonal Finnish dishes. The Luomo restaurant and the Chez Dominique are among the gourmet restaurants. The trendy pubs of the trendy district of Punavuori provide an entertaining nightlife.

Tip: If you are looking for delicious Finnish regional products, you will find them in the market hall. Helsinki’s oldest market hall, dating back to 1888, offers many culinary specialties. From reindeer salami to smoked fish to cloudberry jam, you can find pretty much everything.

Public transport in Helsinki

Public transport in Helsinki is well-organized and offers a convenient way to explore the city and its surroundings. Here is some important information about public transport in Helsinki:

  1. Vehicle: There are several modes of transportation available in Helsinki, including buses, trams, ferries, metros, and trains. The network is well developed and connects the city with its suburbs.
  2. HSL cards: Most public transport in Helsinki is operated by Helsingin seudun liikenne (HSL), the transport company of the Helsinki region. You can purchase tickets and tickets for all means of transport at points of sale, vending machines or online. There are day tickets, monthly tickets and single tickets to choose from.
  3. Tramways: Helsinki has a dense tram network that covers the city center and many suburbs. The trams are a popular way to get around the city.
  4. Buses: Buses are an important part of public transport in Helsinki and cover a large area. They are especially useful for reaching neighborhoods that are not served by the metro or trams.
  5. Subway: The Helsinki Metro connects the city centre with the eastern and western suburbs. It’s a quick and efficient way to get around the city.
  6. Ferries: Helsinki is surrounded by water, and ferries are an important transportation option to reach the city’s islands and nearby coastal regions.
  7. Trains: The Finnish State Railways (VR) operates trains that connect Helsinki with other cities in Finland and even with cities in other countries such as St. Petersburg, Russia.
  8. Travel planning: The HSL website and mobile apps provide real-time information about schedules, routes, and ticket prices. You can also buy tickets online and plan trips.
  9. Accessibility: Most transport in Helsinki is barrier-free and accessible to people with limited mobility.
  10. Bike: Helsinki encourages the use of bicycles, and there are many bike rental stations in the city. You can also bring your own bike and use it on public transport.

Public transport in Helsinki is reliable and efficient, making it easy for tourists and residents to explore and commute around the city. It is an eco-friendly option to experience Helsinki and see the sights.

Museums in Helsinki

Helsinki has a wide range of museums that cover various aspects of Finnish culture, history, art, and science. Here are some of the most famous museums in Helsinki:

  1. National Museum of Finland (Kansallismuseo): This museum is dedicated to Finnish history and culture and houses an impressive collection of artifacts, including artworks, historical objects, and archaeological finds.
  2. Ateneum Art Museum: The Ateneum is Finland’s leading art museum and houses an extensive collection of Finnish art from different eras, as well as European masterpieces.
  3. Kiasma Museum of Modern Art: Kiasma is Finland’s leading contemporary art museum, showcasing a wide range of modern artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and installations.
  4. Helsinki Design Museum: This museum is dedicated to Finnish design and industrial design. It presents an impressive collection of objects, furniture and fashion that shows the evolution of Finnish design.
  5. Suomenlinna Museum: Suomenlinna is a historic sea fortress just outside Helsinki. The museum on the island tells the story of the fortress and its importance to Finland.
  6. Finnish Museum of Natural History (Luonnontieteellinen museo): This museum offers insight into Finland’s natural history and houses an impressive collection of animal and plant exhibits.
  7. Amos Rex: A modern art museum built underground that presents innovative temporary exhibitions and installations.
  8. Sinebrychoff Art Museum: Housed in a beautiful historic mansion, this museum showcases European artworks, including works by Rembrandt, Goya, and van Dyck.
  9. Seurasaari Open-Air Museum: On the island of Seurasaari, visitors can experience life in Finland in past centuries. It is an open-air museum with historical buildings and traditional activities.
  10. Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art: This museum is part of the National Gallery of Finland and is dedicated to contemporary art. It presents works by Finnish and international artists.
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This is just a selection of the museums in Helsinki, and there are many more that cover different interests and aspects of Finnish culture. From art and history to nature and science, there is plenty to discover in Helsinki for museum enthusiasts.

Facts about Helsinki

  1. Location: Helsinki is located on the southern coast of Finland on the Gulf of Finland and is the largest city in the country. It is also the northernmost capital of the European Union.
  2. Architecture: Helsinki is known for its impressive architecture. The city offers a mix of classical, neoclassical and modern architecture. The Helsinki Cathedral is an outstanding example of neoclassical architecture.
  3. Green City: Helsinki is a green city with many parks and green spaces. Sibelius Park, Esplanade Park, and Central Park are some of the popular places for residents and visitors to enjoy nature.
  4. Design Capital: Helsinki holds the title of “World Design Capital” and is known for its strong commitment to design and architecture. It is home to many design shops, museums and the annual Helsinki Design Week festival.
  5. Islands: Helsinki is made up of a variety of islands, some of which are open to the public. Suomenlinna Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on a group of islands off the coast of Helsinki and is a popular destination.
  6. Education: Helsinki is home to several prestigious universities, including the University of Helsinki, which is one of the oldest and most prestigious in Europe.
  7. Sauna culture: The sauna is an important part of Finnish culture, and Helsinki offers numerous public saunas that residents like to use.
  8. Music: Helsinki has a vibrant music scene and is home to the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Finnish National Theatre.
  9. Port: The port of Helsinki is one of the busiest in Europe and a major hub for ferry services to Sweden and Estonia.
  10. Winter darkness: Due to its northern location, Helsinki only experiences a few hours of daylight in winter. This creates a special winter vibe, which is used by residents through events such as the Lux Helsinki Festival and Restaurant Day.