Visit the Finnish capital in winter—as snow falls and the sea freezes over—and you’ll find a whole host of winter-specific outdoor activities on offer, both in the city proper and in the scenic surrounding countryside. From ice fishing to steamy saunas, here are a few of the best winter adventures in Helsinki.
When the waters of the Helsinki Archipelago freeze and a cloak of snow covers the ground, there are few better ways to explore than by snowmobile. After a safety briefing, set off by snowmobile following trails through snow-dappled forests and over the frozen sea.
Day Trips to Tallinn
One of Europe’s most beautiful cities, the Estonian capital of Tallinn is just a 2-hour ferry ride across the Baltic Sea from Helsinki, with boats running between the two cities year-round. Browse Christmas markets in the UNESCO-listed old town, catch carol services in Eastern Orthodox churches, and wander the picturesque medieval streets, which look like something out of a fairy tale with a dusting of fresh snow.
In Finland, ice fishing is a traditional winter hobby, with anglers taking to the country’s frozen lakes and bays to fish for perch and other species. Drill a hole in the frozen lake and wait for a fish to bite while you soak up the peaceful atmosphere of the still winter wonderland.
Saunas are a national obsession in Finland, and Helsinki has public saunas aplenty. After a long day spent out in the cold, one of the best places to relax is in a steaming traditional smoke sauna. The quiet, meditative atmosphere and the soothing scent of birch (the Fins often beat their bodies with birch branches in the sauna to help with circulation) invites participants to unwind.