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Day Trips from Helsinki

By Viator, July 2013

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Helsinki’s effortlessly chic demeanor and laid-back vibe offer the perfect introduction to Scandinavian shores, but the Finnish capital also makes a good base camp for exploring the south coast. Whether you’re passing through on the way to see Santa in Lapland or have ample time to spare, make sure you add some of these day trips from Helsinki to your itinerary.

Suomenlinna Island
For those who don’t want to stray too far from the city center, the nearby Suomenlinna Island is an easy side-trip, just a 15-minute ferry ride from the mainland. Suomenlinna’s principal attraction is its UNESCO World Heritage listed fortress, built by the Swedes in 1748, and the grounds of the castle are crammed with picnicking locals during the summer. Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten to bring your lunch though – the island is home to a number of cafes and restaurants, including a brewery, and in the summer months return ferries run as late as 2am.

Turku
Founded in 1229, Turku was once Finland’s capital, but despite handing over its title in 1812, the city remains a lively cultural hub and is linked to Helsinki by regular trains and buses. Stroll around the Old Town where you can visit attractions like exquisite Turku cathedral and the restored Turku Castle, dating back to the 13th century; get a taste of life in1950s Finland at the Kuralan Kylämäki – a recreated farming village just outside of the city center; or take a ferry out to the Åland Islands, a popular summer vacation spot.

Tallinn, Estonia
Taking the overnight ferry to Stockholm, Sweden, is a popular excursion from Helsinki, but with only one day to spare, the Estonian Capital of Tallinn is a closer destination. High speed ferries will land you in the historic city, where you can explore the UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town, hit the shops on Viru and climb the famous Toompea Hill. Make sure you spend an hour or two relaxing on the city beaches, before making your way back to Finnish shores.

Porvoo
The 14th century fishing port of Porvoo has been put forward for the UNESCO World Heritage list, so pay a visit while it’s still unknown. Characterized by its colorful wooden buildings and delightful waterside cafés, Porvoo is a world away from the big city and its cobblestone streets are crammed with shopping boutiques and crafts stalls. To see the town at its most atmospheric, time your visit for the holiday season, when a vibrant Christmas market takes over the center.

Espoo
As the second largest city in Finland, Espoo has plenty of arts and cultural sights to explore, but it’s also the gateway to the Nuuksio National park, the country’s newest, dating back to just 1994. The ideal place to break from urban life, the park offers 30kms of walking and biking trails, along with a number of swimming spots, camping areas and climbing hills. Join local families fishing or berry-picking on summer afternoons, or enjoy snowshoeing or cross-country skiing during the winter months.

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