Helsinki’s gusty harbours and hip streets are adventure-ready year round

This city changes with the seasons. Nestled near the arctic, daylight hours dwindle in the winter and shine forever in the summer. No matter what time of year you visit, there’s something fresh to discover – from Finnish design to classy cathedrals to esteemed Nordic art.

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Things to Do in Helsinki

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma


Oh, controversy! The people of Finland weren’t keen to welcome American architect Steven Holl as the designer of their soon-to-be esteemed museum. But Holl and his band of merry designers plodded on. The result is a sleek, cool container that houses contemporary art. Inside you’ll find innovative exhibitions from today’s maddest minds - plus the city’s hippest bookshop.

Accommodations near Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
  • Mannerheimplatsen 2, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Tuesday 10:00–17:00, Wednesday–Friday 10:00–20:30, Saturday 10:00–18:00, Sunday 10:00–17:00
Temppeliaukio Church


Catch a concert! Wow at rare design! Either is easy in Temppeliaukio Church. Architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen were given a unique charge to carve this church out of granite bedrock. It’s the perfect place to end a walk (which is good, since it’s a hike to the site). Acoustics like these are hard to come by. When the music plays, you’ll wonder where the angels are.

Accommodations near Temppeliaukio Church
Ateneum Art Museum


A whorl of iconic Finnish art. Two of the country’s most precious pieces come with a history lesson. Eetu Isto's “The Attack” depicts the nation’s 19th century struggle against Russian aggression. Edelfelt’s “Drottning Blanka” portrays the country’s historical ties to Sweden. The museum’s varied and eclectic workshops keep locals coming in year-round.

Accommodations near Ateneum Art Museum
  • Kaivokatu 2, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Tuesday 10:00–18:00, Wednesday–Thursday 10:00–20:00, Friday 10:00–18:00, Saturday–Sunday 10:00–17:00
Helsinki Cathedral


Stop by on a wing and a prayer. “Stately” is an understatement when describing the snow-coloured cathedral. This green-domed symbol of the city was designed by German master-architect Carl Ludvig Engel in Empire-style. Camera-toting tourists and pious locals ascend the cathedral’s steps in Senate Square daily. It’s smack in the centre, and quite a sight at night.

Accommodations near Helsinki Cathedral
Esplanade Park


Welcome to Helsinki’s prettiest pedestrian park. Smack in the centre, swathes of grass and blushing foliage add dimension to the city. Energy levels can reach a fever pitch thanks to the occasional live shows and the steady stream of tourists unloading from nearby cruise ships. Indulge in a munkki (doughnut); it’s all part of the experience.

Accommodations near Esplanade Park
Sibelius Monument


Abstract art. Some like it. Some don’t get it. Such is the case for the Sibelius Monument. This homage to the genius composer was built from hollow steel pipes. Some say it looks like a wave, others say chimes. Make your own interpretation. Get up close and listen as the pipes whistle in the wind. The bust of Sibelius, off to the side, presides over the infamous sculpture.

Accommodations near Sibelius Monument
  • Sibeliuksen puisto, Mechelininkatu, 00260 Helsinki
Kauppatori Market Square


The kaw of seagulls and the smell of fried food. You’re in Kauppatori, a marketplace where fishermen unload the morning’s spoils. Like the taste of arctic animals? Then you’re in luck for lunch. Let your nose lead you toward Baltic herring, reindeer, or moose. If you’re headed to an island for the day, grab ginger biscuits and lingnonberry jam for the journey.

Accommodations near Kauppatori Market Square
Linnanmäki Amusement Park


Hold on to your hats, kids. A steady chorus of screams will be the soundtrack of an afternoon at Linnanmäki. From thrill-rides to arcades to an antique wooden rollercoaster, there’s plenty of fun to be had. Spin, drop, plunge or go topsy-turvy. Prepare to stand in line, and to gorge on fair food. Proceeds go to help support child welfare work, so feel good about going a little loopy.

Accommodations near Linnanmäki Amusement Park
  • Tivolikuja 1, 00510 Helsinki
  • Open Monday-Sunday 11:00-21:00. Changes seasonally. Check website for details.
Uspenski Cathedral


Cathedral or castle? One might wonder upon first glimpse. The maroon bricked building is capped with sea-foam domes. Each dome represents Christ or one of his disciples. Inside, the wow-factor ratchets up a zillion notches, with a sky of chandeliers and walls lit up in icons. A Helsinki cityscape without the Uspenski Cathedral is impossible to imagine.

Accommodations near Uspenski Cathedral
  • Kanavakatu 1, 00160 Helsinki
  • Open Tuesday–Friday 9:30 am–20:00, Saturday–Sunday 12:00–15:00
Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress


Check one off your UNESCO World Heritage must-see list after a trip to Suomenlinna. If the stonewalls of this old maritime fortress could talk, they wouldn’t tell many happy tales. Russian, Swedish, and Finnish military have all occupied this island at different times. Tiptoe through underground tunnels for an extra-creepy exploration.

Accommodations near Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress

Accommodations and Hotels in Helsinki

Glo Hotel Kluuvi

8.6 Excellent

Score from 1690 ratings.


Average price per night
  • Kluuvikatu 4, Keskinen Suurpiiri, Helsinki
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Helsinki

8.8 Excellent

Score from 2526 ratings.


Average price per night
  • Mikonkatu 23, Keskinen Suurpiiri, Helsinki
Hotel Klaus K

8.6 Excellent

Score from 1671 ratings.


Average price per night
  • Bulevardi 2-4, Keskinen Suurpiiri, Helsinki
Glo Hotel Art

8.2 Very good

Score from 2225 ratings.


Average price per night
  • Lönnrotinkatu 29, Keskinen Suurpiiri, Helsinki
Scandic Simonkenttä

8.3 Very good

Score from 2163 ratings.


Average price per night
  • Simonkatu 9, Keskinen Suurpiiri, Helsinki
Hotel Seurahuone Helsinki

8.1 Very good

Score from 1249 ratings.


Average price per night
  • Kaivokatu 12, Keskinen Suurpiiri, Helsinki
Radisson Blu Seaside Hotel, Helsinki

8 Very good

Score from 4751 ratings.


Average price per night
  • Ruoholahdenranta 3, Keskinen Suurpiiri, Helsinki
Hotel Kämp, The Luxury Collection

8.9 Excellent

Score from 610 ratings.


Average price per night
  • Pohjoisesplanadi 29, Keskinen Suurpiiri, Helsinki
Hotel Helka

8.3 Very good

Score from 2536 ratings.


Average price per night
  • Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 23, Keskinen Suurpiiri, Helsinki
Discover Helsinki

Popular Neighborhoods in Helsinki


36 properties

There are 1001 things to do in Central Kamppi – and here’re four. Sample pints of craft beer at Teerenpeli microbrewery in Narinkka Square. Shop till your knees shake in a trillion different stores. Alternately, pull up a picnic blanket at Old Church Park. When evening falls, expand your mind at the artsy Tennispalatsi’s 3D cinema hall.


13 properties

No country in the world consumes more coffee than Finland. Twin your cup of Joe with a korvapuusti (cinnamon bun) and prepare to shop writ large. Unwrap chocolates at Karl Fazer’s then detour to Stockmann’s for a look into the region’s faddish fashions. Finish your day at elegant Esplanade boulevard, energetic during summer.


10 properties

Opulence is the new normal in Etu-Töölö. Turn up your nose and tune in to the grandeur. The Art Nouveau National Museum, neoclassical Parliament House and Alvar Aalto’s esteemed Finlandia Hall can all be found here. The acoustics from the Rock Church’s stone-sculptured walls are spellbinding; it’s the site for many a concert.


8 properties

A liveable and lovable borough. Taka-Töölö is set to a backdrop of parkland, and it’s only a stone’s skip from the centre. Wander for hours in Sibelius Park. Töölö Bay is a paradise for sun-seekers and bird-watchers, so you better bring your binoculars. Come winter, Keskuspuisto Park is flecked with cross-country skiers and snow bunnies seeking fresh air.


5 properties

Sleepy, stylish and seaside. Unfurrow your design curiosity at the Design Museum, then pay respects to legendary Alvar Aalto at the neighbouring Architecture Museum. For an afternoon of interior inspiration, peruse Marimekko’s flagship shop just down the road. Then end your day with a nap under the neo-Gothic spires of St. John’s church.


5 properties

Stop and smell the beard oil. Every hipster magazine on the planet has a spotlight on Kallio. Start-ups, bike mechanics, and DIY musicians rule these roads. This former working class ‘hood is now awash in vintage shops, tattoo parlours, and artisan coffee. On Saturdays, the trendy and indie settle in at Sandro’s for the vegan/veggie brunch.


5 properties

Walk Katajanokka’s windy maritime streets. The allure of living in a secluded part of the city drew affluent city dwellers to this district. Succumb to the sight of the beautifully bricked Uspenski Cathedral. In winter, gather your sisu (guts) and do as the locals do: go ice swimming! Or take off on a ferry to Estonia or Sweden.


5 properties

This come-up district is filled with savvy shoppers. Dubbed part of the “Design District,” you’ll find the best Finnish, Nordic and Scandinavian names here. From pop-ups to permanent, from the quirky to the cool–this maze of stores sells it. Sinebrychoff Park’s not far and it’s lovely for post-shopping picnics.


2 properties

Seaside Krunikka offers more than salt-kissed air. Dense, urban and a helix of high-end vintage and up-cycled stores, this area is slice of creative consumerism. Iittala, the benchmark of Finnish glassworks, sells the cutest espresso cups on the planet. Unfurl post-shopping with a plate of bear from a Russian inspired cafe.

Local Tips for Helsinki

Tavastia Klubi
by Antti

Music-mad Antti spends his weekends jamming in Helsinki’s vibrant music scene.

Tavastia Klubi is a legendary venue in the heart of Helsinki. Artists such as Dead Kennedys, Public Image Ltd, The Pogues and Nick Cave have performed here. Next door is Restaurant Ilves, a regular hangout for musicians, which serves up authentic Nordic food and a rockin’ atmosphere.

  • Urho Kekkosen katu 6, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Thursday 20:00–01:00, Friday 21:00–02:00, Saturday 20:00–04:00, Sunday 20:00–01:00
Korkeasaari Island and Helsinki Zoo
by Hanna

With two boisterous kids in tow, Hanna likes to get outside and use up some energy in her free time.

A quick boat trip in summer is always a treat, and Korkeasaari Island and Helsinki Zoo are really worth a visit. Our kids enjoy the traditional teddy bear lollipops sold in the kiosks. Bring your own picnic basket and take the ferry from Kauppatori Square or Hakaniemiranta Pier.

  • Mustikkamaanpolku 12, 00570 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Sunday 10:00–16:00
Keskuspuisto Park
by Karoliina

Whatever the weather, Karoliina always tries to take advantage of Helsinki’s proximity to nature.

I love Keskuspuisto, Helsinki’s biggest park. Its 700 hectares stretch from the city centre up to Vantaa, near the airport. It’s great for walking, jogging or cross-country skiing. One of its 4 preservation areas, Haltiala primeval forest, is home to ancient spruce trees.

Kotiharju Sauna
by Linda

Linda is originally from Lapland, but enjoys Helsinki’s blend of tradition and modernity.

Saunas are an essential part of Finnish life! I especially enjoy the smooth, relaxed experience of a wood-heated sauna, and Kotiharju is the last public sauna of this kind. You can rent a towel and buy sauna-whisks, snacks and drinks. Just show up and stay as long as you like!

Seurasaari Open-Air Museum
by Mikko

No man is an island, but Mikko appreciates the calming effect of a day trip around the archipelago.

If you want to escape modern city life, hop on the number 24 bus to experience the green island oasis of Seurasaari. Here you can explore Finland’s past through the various traditional buildings, from cottages and farmsteads to mills and churches. It’s also a nice spot for a picnic.

  • Seurasaari, 00250 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Friday 09:00–15:00, Saturday–Sunday 11:00–17:00. Changes seasonally. Check website for details.
Ice fishing in Töölö Bay
by Minna

Minna makes the most of her leisure time, from weekly saunas with friends to family fishing days.

Don’t let winter spoil your fun! Ice fishing around Töölö Bay is a relaxing activity to enjoy with family or friends. You can buy a one-day licence (EUR 5) at Stockmann department store. Bring some warm pastries and hot chocolate to tide you over while you wait for your catch of the day.

  • Töölönlahden puisto, 00100 Helsinki
Sinebrychoff Park
by Riikka

Riikka revels in exploring the city’s rich restaurant scene and varied nightlife.

During summer, everyone in Helsinki is visibly happier and more relaxed, and the city’s parks become people’s second living rooms. Sinebrychoff Park is my favourite place to meet friends and soak up some sun. It also has an art museum, a café and a hill that’s great for sledging in winter.

  • Bulevardi 40, 00120 Helsinki
Hietaniemi Beach
by Saara

Saara likes how walkable Helsinki is and enjoys the city’s café culture.

Hietaniemi Beach is quite near to the city centre, so many locals like to come here to sunbathe and relax during the summer. Although popular, it’s never overcrowded; there’s plenty of room to play beach volleyball! You can also enjoy live music or pop into Café Ann Mare for refreshments.

  • Hiekkarannantie 11, 00100 Helsinki

Buy a tram day pass (8 euros) and take no. 2 and 3 trams around the city. Sightseeing guides available at tourist info office. Day trips to Suomenlinna and Tallinn also great (buy your own tickets rather than an organised tour) but go early to avoid the crowds.

Kauppatori Marketsquare is mostly for tourists, overpriced souvenir items & food. You can get some of the same items from stores cheaper within mile or two

Art district designs are fantastic

I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and helpful people were. Most everyone seems to speak good English and is willing to help, give directions/recommendations or just have a friendly chat!

Ateneum, Kiasma, war museum, Amos Anderson museum

Italian food at Sasso or La Famiglia, Mexican food at Eatos, Omenapuu, Ravintola Juuri

A city like no other else!


Helsinki Transportation

Air – Helsinki Airport

Finland’s busiest travel hub, Helsinki Airport is 17 km north of the city. The easiest way into town is by bus, taking 35–40 minutes. Finnair City Bus costs EUR 6.30 and runs every 20 minutes from 05:45–01:10. Public bus 615 (620 after midnight) costs EUR 3–5 and runs every half hour until 04:00. In all cases, you can pay in cash on board. Alternatively, hop in a taxi outside the terminal: it’ll cost EUR 45–50 and should take 30 minutes to reach the city centre.


Of the 315 islands in the Helsinki peninsula, the 6 most visited are home to Suomenlinna Fortress. Ferries depart regularly from the Kauppatori or Katajanokka terminals: use a HRT travel card or buy a 12-hour ticket (EUR 5). International ferries arrive at Kanava and Katajanokka (tram 4 and 4T), Olympia and Makasiini (South Harbour, tram 1A, 2 and 3) or Länsisatama (West Harbour, tram 9 and 6T). From Vuosaari Harbour, take bus 78 or 90A to connect to the metro.


The 17-station metro line runs from Ruoholahti in the West Harbour to the north-eastern suburbs of Hakaniemi, Sörnäinen and beyond. It operates until 23:30 (01:30 on weekends), and its white-on-red ‘M’ signs are easy to spot. A single ticket costs EUR 2.50 from self-service machines, or you can pick up a good-value travel card from Central Station or R-Kioski shops. Prices range from EUR 8 for 1 day to EUR 32 for 7 days, and they’re valid on all public transport.


One of the world’s oldest electric tram networks, Helsinki’s distinctive green cars are still favoured by locals – 200,000 passengers use the 13 lines to criss-cross the city and suburbs each day. Tram 2 traverses the city, serving the main sights, while Tram 4 passes architectural gems including Helsinki Cathedral and the National Opera. Tickets are available from machines at the tram stops: a 1-hour single ticket costs EUR 2.20, while a 2-hour ticket is EUR 4.


Helsinki Bus Station is the hub for regional services and the western suburb of Espoo. ExpressBus runs a 30-minute direct line to Helsinki Airport which costs EUR 8.80 one way. Connections to the main ferry terminals are also available. Everything is indoors (underneath Kamppi Shopping Centre), so you can keep warm in winter. There are also underground walkways to Kamppi Metro Station and Helsinki Central Station, where trains and buses depart northwards to Vantaa.


Taxis in Helsinki are modern and reliable, but rather expensive. Official cabs are centrally registered with Taksi Helsinki and have a yellow roof sign. Taxi stands can be found at shopping centres, transport hubs and public squares. A 30-minute ride from Helsinki Airport to the city centre costs EUR 45–50. If travelling at rush hour (07:00–09:00, 16:00–18:00) it’s smart to book ahead (EUR 7 surcharge). The yellow Airport Taxi minivans offer good value for groups.


No tolls, wide streets and clear signage makes driving here fairly easy, though rush hour (07:00–09:00, 16:00–18:00) is best avoided. A unique network of interconnected car parks are found beneath the city: you can drive between shopping centres such as Kamppi or Stockmann without seeing daylight (EUR 5 per hour). Free on-street parking is scarce but possible on Sundays or late night/early mornings – just beware of ‘Lappu-Liisa’ (parking attendants) on the prowl!

Food in Helsinki

Top Restaurants in Helsinki

Mid-Range Fare
  • Museokatu 10, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Friday 11:00–04:00, Saturday 14:00–04:00
Cheap Eats
Jaskan Grilli
  • Dagmarinkatu 2, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Sunday 19:30–04:30
Upscale Dining
Middle Eastern
  • Ainonkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Tuesday–Friday 11:30–13:30 and 17:00–00:00
Mid-Range Fare
  • Museokatu 17, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Tuesday 11:00–23:00, Wednesday–Friday 11:00–01:00, Saturday 12:00–01:00, Sunday 12:00–23:00
Mid-Range Fare
Bar Bites
Teerenpeli Kamppi
  • Olavinkatu 2, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Thursday 12:00–02:00, Friday–Saturday 12:00–03:00, Sunday 15:00–00:00
Mid-Range Fare
  • Pohjoinen Hesperiankatu 15, 00260 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Thursday 16:00–21:30, Friday 16:00–22:30, Saturday 13:00–22:30
Upscale Dining
  • Eteläinen Hesperiankatu 22, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Thursday 11:00–00:00, Friday 11:00–01:00, Saturday 13:00–01:00, Sunday 13:00–23:00
Cheap Eats
Café Tin Tin Tango
  • Töölöntorinkatu 7, 00260 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Friday 07:00–00:00, Saturday 09:00–00:00, Sunday 10:00–00:00
Upscale Dining
Ravintola Ateljé Finne
  • Arkadiankatu 14, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Tuesday–Saturday 17:00–00:00
Mid-Range Fare
Café Piritta
  • Eläintarhantie 12 00530 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Saturday 09:00–21:00, Sunday 09:00–20:00
Mid-Range Fare
Middle Eastern
  • Pohjoinen Rautatienkatu 21, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Thursday 11:00–22:00, Friday 11:00–05:00, Saturday 12:00–05:00
Upscale Dining
Tokyo 55
  • Runeberginkatu 55B, 00260 Helsinki
  • Open Monday 11:00–14:00 and 16:00–23, Tuesday–Friday 11:00–14:00 and 16:00–00:00, Saturday 13:00–00:00
Mid-Range Fare
Mamma Rosa
  • Runeberginkatu 55, 00260 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Tuesday 11:00–22:30, Wednesday–Thursday 11:00–23:00, Friday 11:00–23:30, Saturday 13:00–23:30, Sunday 13:00–18:00
Mid-Range Fare
  • Museokatu 29, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Thursday 11:00–21:00, Friday 11:00–21:00, Saturday 16:00–22:00, Sunday 12:00–17:00
Upscale Dining
  • Mannerheimintie 56, 00260 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Saturday 16:00–00:00
Mid-Range Fare
  • Mannerheimintie 3-5, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday 12:00–00:00, Tuesday 12:00–03:00, Wednesday–Saturday 12:00–04:00, Sunday 12:00–00:00
Mid-Range Fare
Bar Teos
  • Runeberginkatu 61, 00260 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Sunday 15:00–01:00
Mid-Range Fare
Café Sininen Huvila
  • Linnunlauluntie 11, 00530 Helsinki
  • Open Monday-Sunday 10:00–22:00. Changes seasonally. Check webite for details.
Upscale Dining
  • Helsinginkatu 56, 00260 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Friday 11:30–00:00, Saturday 16:00–00:00, Sunday 12:00–17:30
Mid-Range Fare
  • Säästöpankinranta 6, 00530 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Tuesday 10:30–00:00, Wednesday–Thursday 10:30–01:00, Saturday 11:00–03:00, Sunday 12:00–20:00
Mid-Range Fare
  • Kalevankatu 3, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Friday 11:30–01:00,Saturday 16:00–01:00
Cheap Eats
New Bamboo Center
  • Annankatu 29, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Friday 11:00–22:00, Saturday–Sunday 12:00–22:00
Cheap Eats
Belge Bar & Bistro
  • Kluuvikatu 5, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Tuesday 11:00–00:00, Wednesday–Thursday 11:00–02:00, Friday–Saturday 11:00–03:00, Sunday 12:00–00:00
Cheap Eats
  • Aleksanterinkatu 9, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Saturday 11:00–18:00
Cheap Eats
Café Esplanad
  • Pohjoisesplanadi 37, 00100 Helsinki
  • Open Monday–Friday 08:00–21:00, Saturday 09:00–21:00, Sunday 10:00–21:00
Find accommodations in Helsinki

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