How to get to Helsinki
Your cruise ship will likely dock at the South Terminal, which is easy walking distance to the center of Helsinki. Trams 1A, 3B and 3T can take you further inland and both 3B and 3T make full loops around the center if you would like to get an overview of the city before exploring on foot. Larger ships make dock at the West Terminal, which is further out from the center. From there, limited ferries run to and from Kauppatori (Market Square) or you can take a taxi into the city center.
One Day in Helsinki
Start your day by checking out Kauppatori, also known as Market Square. There you can find fresh flowers, fruit, fish and a variety of Finnish souvenirs. Market Square is also the departure point for harbor cruises and ferries to nearby islands. A must-see is Suomenlinna Island - a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to one of the world’s largest maritime fortresses, dating back to 1748. You can easily spend a couple hours exploring the island on foot and visiting its several small museums, including the Artillery Museum and the Doll and Toy Museum.
After a few hours on Suomenlinna, walk up the Esplanade from Market Square and perhaps take a break at one of the many outdoor cafes before making your way over to Senate Square and the Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko).
From there, head further inland to visit the National Museum of Finland for an overview of the country’s history or explore Finnish art at the Museum of Contemporary Art (also known as Kiasma) or the Ateneum Art Museum, featuring paintings and sculptures dating back to the 18th century. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Olympic Stadium, home to the 1952 Olympic Games, which also houses the Sports Museum of Finland. Climb the Stadium Tower for sweeping views of the city.
Other museums of interest include the Helsinki City Museum, the Design Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Mannerheim Museum, dedicated to telling the life story of former Finnish president and military hero Gustav Mannerheim. Just west of the city center you will also find the Seurasaari Open Air Museum where you can see traditional houses from around Finland and enjoy demonstrations of folk dancing and traditional Finnish crafts.
If you are traveling with children, you may enjoy spending your day at the Helsinki Zoo on Korkeasaari Island, the Linnanmaki amusement park or the Sea Life aquarium.