Meet Helsinki - magnificent, welcoming and very neat

Aerial panorama of Helsinki, Finland © Oleksiy Mark - Fotolia.com

Meet the Moomins, hold a picnic on the lawn of the city boulevard, explore the ancient fortress, listen to the powerful organ music, wonder at the neat and unusually clean streets, as at a picture, wonder around the old quarter – there are plenty of amazing things to do in Helsinki.

And as it happens in any metropolitan city, you will find many entertainments and opportunities in Helsinki that are impossible to cover at a single trip. To make the choice easier we invite you to learn about the most interesting activities.

Top 10 things to do in Helsinki, Finland

Finland is a country of wonderful landscapes, amazing stories and unusual tales and warm hospitality, and Helsinki is the first step to getting acquainted with all this beauty. So, what can you do here?

1. Enjoy the beauty of the Gulf of Finland.

Helsinki is located on the Gulf of Finland and allows tourists to enjoy not only the beautiful sights but also sea views. An indented coastline with picturesque coves, sandy beaches, a refreshing breeze from the sea, numerous parks on the coast – it the best place for romantic walks.

And not far from the seaport there is the Market Square with cute cafes and the market where you can buy fresh strawberries or blackcurrants, as well as try smoked salmon and trout.

2. Go to the fortress Suomenlinna.

Having walked around the Market Square you can go on a boat trip and visit the fortress Suomenlinna which is half an hour's ferry trip from Helsinki. Once powerful military fortress has now turned into a museum with preserved bastions, barracks and even a submarine on the shore. The Fortress is especially picturesque in the summer, and you can admire the views holding a picnic or comfortably sitting in one of the cafes.

In addition, from the Market Square you can go to the zoo by a water bus or take a day cruise to the town of Porvoo by ship J. L. Runeberg, which is over 100 years old.

3. Visit Serena Water Park and Zoo on the island Korkeasaari.

Northern Europe's largest water entertainment complex takes in visitors all year round. Water slides, plenty of entertainment for children, jacuzzi tubs, wave pools, a bar and restaurant in a cave sauna – and all this is just for 19 Euros a day.

Another fun place that is open all year round for the whole family, is the Zoo on the island Korkeasaari. The Zoo joined to the Botanical Garden with more than a thousand species of flowers, shrubs and trees on its territory. At the Zoo there are about 200 species of animals, which home are the countries from around the world: from the northern regions to the Amazon rainforests.

4. Relax in the Linnanmaki Park.

Amusement park Linnanmaki is Helsinki highlight. There is a 50-feet rotating platform Panoraama which offers a great view of the capital. Linnanmaki Amusement Park is a city where in addition to all sorts of attractions there are cafes, restaurants, shops, 4D-cinema, game rooms. An entrance to the Linnanmaki Park is free. Today in the park there are about 40 rides.

If there is not enough entertainment for you in the park, you can visit the nearby marine center Sea Life. In this gigantic aquarium, there are more than fifty saltwater aquariums, from small with coral fish, jellyfish, and seahorses to huge pools with silvery herring.

5. Have lunch at a local restaurant or café.

It is impossible to visit the capital of Finland without trying national cuisine. The choice of dishes will surprise you: Mediterranean and venison specialties, caviar, berry pies and sandwiches, delicate fish (fresh, salted, and smoked). Try Lapland cuisine: venison fillet or chipped meat with mashed potatoes, desserts and sauces made of cloudberries and cranberries.

Pay attention to the Karl Fazer Cafe where the best hot chocolate in Helsinki is served, and a selection of cakes and sweets will impress every sweet tooth. On leaving buy a sweet souvenir. And the best korvapuusti, pastries with cinnamon and cardamon, is served in the cafe Esplanade.

Gourmet restaurants: Chez Dominique withFrench and Scandinavian cuisine, in the heart of Helsinki; G. W. Sundmans with modern Finnish cuisine located in the former home of a sea captain; Carma, a small restaurant for 24 seats, where preference is given to natural products Finnish; Postres, the restaurant specializing in desserts.

6. Go to a nightclub or bar.

The most popular and trendy are the bars and nightclubs located in the Kamppi and Punavuori districts. In the historic center, there are institutions that attract everyone. The pubs and bars in the Töölödistrict are comfortable for the senior tourists. The most relaxed atmosphere awaits you in the former working district Kallio.

The most famous Finnish rock club is Tavastia Klub, which is, moreover, the oldest music club in Helsinki. The concerts are played almost every day; you can eat right in the club. The entrance is about 15 Euros, depending on the importance of performers. Club Storyvil is one of the best jazz clubs in Helsinki where live entertainment are still hold.

Club Uniq is the most unique and new club in Helsinki which is made as an ice bar with tables, bar counters, and walls of ice blocks 20 cm thick. To keep all this beauty, a year-round temperature is maintained above 5 below zero. The visitors are given warm capes, hats and gloves.

7. Arrange shopping in the biggest department store in Scandinavia.

Stockmann is not only a large (seven floors with clothes, shoes, books, cosmetics, household goods), but also a very old shopping center: it was opened in 1926. Finnish products are not cheap, but their quality is worth it. Also, in Helsinki there is a winter sale (for Christmas) December 25, and summer – about the 20's of June. The discounts can range from 30 to 70 % of the original price.

In addition to Stockmann, in the city center there are other major shopping centers, such as Camp, Kamppi, Forum, Kluuvi, and the studio-shops of high design, antique shops, jewelry and fashion boutiques in the Design District.

8. Get acquainted with the cultural side of Helsinki.

In Helsinki, the Finnish cultural center, there are various kinds of exhibitions. As a rule, they are held in Helsinki Fair Centre, the largest exhibition center of the country. Music festivals are held annually in Helsinki, the capital attracts a lot of tourists, fans of different musical styles:

  • Flow Festival, which attracts dozens of well-known musical groups and runs from 15 to 17 August;
  • Tuska, which come in the most unbelievable costumes and masks, festival takes place from June 27 to 29;
  • Helsinki Festival is the most famous of the Finland festivals, which takes place August 15-31, during which opera and jazz concerts and theatrical performances at 30 venues are performed, so you need to buy a separate ticket for every event. The top events are held in a huge tent in the park by the lake.

Another tribute to the cultural heritage of the Finnish capital is the monument to the famous composer Sibelius. The monument is made of hundreds copper pipes what of course makes sense: in the wind the construction produces sounds similar to the organ tune.

9. Explore the historic Helsinki.

To feel the history of Helsinki, you can visit the following objects:

  • The Lutheran Church near the Töölö district; the Church was built in the late 60s of the last century. The church was carved directly into the rock and covered with a glass dome. Due to the excellent acoustics of the church religious and social concerts are often held here;
  • The Assumption Cathedral, built in 1868, which is the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe;
  • The Senate Square, the best preserved neoclassical square in Europe, that has emerged at the site of the church, the town hall and market of XVII century;
  • The National Museum of Finland that was built at the beginning of the last century. In the museum you will learn about the history of Finland, from the Stone Age to the present day.

Next to the Market Square there is a tour buses stop, so you can use their services to explore the city.

10.Get acquainted with the main Finnish legend – the Moomins.

You can buy different moomin-goods: from soft and plastic toys, games to clothing and shoes with their image, not to mention pencils, notebooks, markers, shampoos, mirrors and other small things. The kids will be so happy to have toys, souvenirs, cups and spoons with the Moomins, particularly if they know the characters of Tove Jansson’s books.

When going to Helsinki, you can spend a romantic holiday or choose a fun trip with friends, sightseeing or entertainment tours. The possibilities are endless.