Feel far away and off the grid by traveling to Helsinki, a pocket-sized European city located on the northern coast of the Baltic Sea in Finland. Clean air, magical sky and sounds of silence come together in Helsinki, a city known for design and technology. Relax and unwind in a Nordic world beyond your imagination.
Home of Saunas
Arriving in Helsinki after a long flight from North America, the perfect start to your travels in Finland is to relax in a hot sauna. Unwind the Nordic way with a traditional sauna - a Finnish word meaning “relaxation."
With three million saunas across Finland, many are open to public year round and it’s an absolute must do on your vacation to Helsinki. The best public saunas are in the districts of Kotiharju, Merihaka, Hermanni or the new Löyly complex on the southern end of the Helsinki peninsula.
Travel Tip: There are a few housekeeping rules to remember when using the saunas. Etiquette is that men and women relax separately.
After a refreshing trip to the sauna, it's time to see the city of Helsinki! Walking downtown through Helsinki, you’ll be awestruck by an unmistakable sense of being far away in a distant land that is so different to life back home in the USA or Canada.
Religious or not, Helsinki Cathedral is a must visit while in the Finnish capital. Learn about the historical significance of Russia which ruled modern-day Norway. Offering stunning views over Helsinki's skyline as well as the Gulf of Finland, the Cathedral is a landmark icon because of its unique architecture and prominent location. Built in the mid-19th century, St. Nicholas Cathedral paid tribute to Russian Tsar Nicholas who was the Grand Duke of Finland. Following the Finnish independence in 1917, it became known as Helsinki Cathedral.
Travel Tip: At night, the cathedral's tall green dome shines like a beacon.
History in Helsinki
Travelers to Norway should spend at least a couple hours in the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki. At the museum, you will discover what makes Finland the country it is today. If you arrive early, be sure to beat the crowds at the Treasure Troves, a section which showcases the collections of coins, medals, orders and decorations as well as weapons, silver and jewelry. There is also a section in the museum showcasing the Finnish culture and society as it developed during the Middle Ages.
Enjoy a Waterfront Walk
As Helsinki is convenient to travel around on foot or by car, a popular walking route for travelers to Helsinki is the 4-mile walk along the seaside of Helsinki. The walk begins at the eastern side of the Helsinki Peninsula at Hietaniemi Beach which, according to locals, in summer has the best sandy bay in Helsinki.
Remember to have spare change in your pocket as the waterfront walk is packed with ice cream vendors, plus leafy views of some of the area's greatest icons including the Finnish Prime Minister’s residences.
Suomenlinna Fortress in Helsinki
Travel back to a time when Vikings ruled Scandinavia by visiting Suomenlinna Fortress, a colossal maritime fortress. Construction started in 1748 and is spread across seven beautiful islands. Designed by the Swedes to protect the eastern territories, locals still claim it’s one of the most picturesque landmarks in the country. When visiting the islands, you can enjoy several choices of museums to learn about the maritime history of Sweden and Russia.
Take a ferry from the Market Square in Helsinki to Suomenlinna, operating throughout the year. With only a resident population of 1,000 people, you’ll feel the relaxing separation from the city and further be entranced by this wonderful country.
Finnish Crayfish Tradition
Each year from the end of July to the end of August, Helsinki residents dress to impress and wine and dine at many of the city’s seafood restaurants.
During what is known as crayfish season, shellfish are paired with Aquavit (a distilled spirit) and guests are treated to Finnish entertainment, traditions, folk music and singing. In many restaurants, you will find waiters teaching diners the correct way to eat crayfish and when to take a shot of your Aquavit!
What’s a party without a little song and dance? The Finns love to enjoy themselves and throughout the night, songs will be played to really get you in the party spirit!
Linnanmäki Amusement Park
What’s a holiday without a little adrenalin packed fun? Helsinki is home to the Linnanmäki Amusement Park which has been operating since 1950.
Annually, more than a million visitors visit one of the biggest blood pumping rides Finland has to offer – the White Knuckle roller coasters. The White knuckle roller coasters set and break their own records regularly, so it’s safe to say you are in for one heck of a ride! Some of the speed records date back to when the park opened in 1950. But if rollercoasters are not for you, there are plenty of other activities, shows and attractions to enjoy.
Travel tip: Like all amusement parks, many of the rides at Linnanmäki have age restrictions and vary in cost.