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Things to do in Helsinki

Things to do in  Helsinki

Welcome to Helsinki

Harborside Helsinki, the capital of Scandinavia’s less-touristy Finland, rewards travelers who make the trek with a flourishing arts scene, innovative restaurants, and plentiful islands and inlets along the Baltic. Strolling through downtown reveals an untouched art nouveau building on virtually every corner, as well as landmarks such as the Alvar Aalto–designed Finlandia Hall and the Temppeliaukion Kirkko, a church hewn into solid stone. Mannerheim Street is the city’s major artery, lined with cafes, galleries, and boutiques where visitors can find Scandinavian-design wares. Helsinki is also home base for day trips bound for the medieval town of Porvoo, Suomenlinna Fortress, or outdoor adventures in the Finnish wilderness.

Top 10 attractions in Helsinki

#1

Helsinki Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko)

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The skyline of Helsinki is dominated by Tuomiokirkko, or the Helsinki Lutheran Cathedral. The green domes, white building and zinc rooftop statues of the twelve apostles of the magnificent Lutheran church stand tall and proud looking over the city to the sea. Built between 1830 and 1852, it replaced a smaller 18th century church, and was originally called St. Nicholas' Church in homage to the Tsar of Russia, Grand Duke Nicholas I. After Finnish independence from Russia 1917, the church was renamed and in 1959 it became a cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran denomination. Designed by a German architect Carl Ludwig Engel who laid out the whole of Senate Square, the exterior is Neo-Classical with columns and statues and in comparison, inside seems rather plain. The design was later altered by Ernst Lohrmann who added the zinc apostles and a few extra small domes. There is room for 1,300 worshipers and an altarpiece flanked by angels. The suitably atmospheric crypt is now a cafe.More
#2

Sibelius Monument

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Nestled among the trees of Sibelius Park, the contemporary Sibelius Monument commemorates the life of acclaimed Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. 600 hollow, silver-steel pipes hover above the ground and evoke a range of creative interpretations. Initially, the abstract sculpture caused controversy with its modern design, so a bronze Sibelius bust was installed nearby to appease critics.More
#3

Parliament House of Finland (Eduskuntatalo)

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Finland’s Parliament House, also called Eduskuntatalo, is not only the home of the session hall that hosts the 200-seat parliament, but is also somewhat of a massive work of art within the capital of Helsinki. It’s a monumental, square building constructed in a classical style – the result of an architecture competition held in 1923 that was won by the architecture firm of Borg-Sirén-Åberg. Standing on Arcadia Hill, the exterior is dominated by strong but simple geometry, a lot of granite and tall Corinthian columns. The whole design looks more functional and industrial rather than elegant and ornate, but reflects a style that was popular in the 1920s. Noteworthy is that the building was constructed using mostly Finnish materials, such as the reddish Kalvola Granite used on the façade and furniture made of oak, curly birch and walnut.More
#4

Suomenlinna Fortress

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Spread over six islands in the Helsinki archipelago, Suomenlinna Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular destination for picnicking and leisure activities. The fortress is an important historic site with multiple on-site museums, as well as a living community with roughly 900 permanent residents.More
#5

Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Kirkko)

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Hewn into solid rock in the middle of a residential square, Helsinki’s Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Kirkko) features a circular ceiling covered entirely with copper stripping. Natural light streams in through 180 window panes, while an ice age crevice in the natural rock serves as the altar.More
#6

Helsinki Senate Square (Senaatintori)

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Senate Square (Senaatintori) symbolizes the cultural heart of Helsinki. Among the many landmarks surrounding the square are the Government Palace, National Library, Lutheran Cathedral, City Museum, and Helsinki’s oldest building, which make Senate Square an essential stop on any first-time visitor’s itinerary.More
#7

Helsinki Central Station

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For thousands of commuters, Helsinki’s Central Railway Station is the main traffic hub from which buses, the metro and numerous local and long distance trains arrive and depart. In fact, with roughly 200,000 daily visitors, it is Finland’s most visited structure. The building also happens to be one of the landmarks of the city and looks back on over 100 years of history. Designed in 1909 by Eliel Saarinen and opened in 1919, the Railway Station’s most distinctive features are the big clock tower and the two towering figures of two heavily muscled, half-naked men holding big globes of light. Another notable feature is the red Finnish granite that was used to clad the façades of the Central Railway Station. The granite originated in Hanko, the southernmost region of Finland and is believed to be over 400 million years old.More
#8

Helsinki Zoo (Korkeasaari)

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Big cats, wolverines, and monkeys…welcome to Helsinki Zoo (Korkeasaari). Opened in 1889, the zoo on Korkeasaari Island is the biggest in Finland, and one of the oldest in the world. With over 150 species of animals, it’s a popular year-round destination, with its notable tropical house, home to more than 1,000 different kinds of plants from all around the world. Set on a 52-acre island that served as a military base in the Crimean War, the hilly zoo houses monkeys, bears, camels, reptiles and more. Famous for its pioneering work with big cats and snow leopards, the animals are divided geographically into Amazonia, Africasia and Borealia areas. The animals of the Arctic tundra look especially at home here in Finland, so make sure to look out for the resident elks and bison, wild forest reindeer, wolverines and arctic owls.More
#9

National Museum of Finland (Suomen Kansallismuseo)

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The impressive National Museum of Finland (or Suomen Kansallismuseo) looks a bit like a Gothic church with its stonework and tower. Built in 1916 and extensively renovated in 2000, the museum's rooms cover different periods of Finnish history. The Treasure Trove has coins, silver, weaponry, medals and jewelery. The Prehistory of Finland is a large, permanent exhibition of prehistory and archaeological finds. A Land and its People shows life in Finland before industrialization. The Realm covers the history of Finland in the 13th - 17th centuries when it was under Swedish rule and an independent duchy of the Russian empire. The permanent exhibition, "Suomi Finland 1900", explores 20th-century Finland and was opened in April 2012. There are also changing displays of church relics, ethnography and cultural exhibitions.More
#10

Helsinki Olympic Stadium

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Located a mile from the city center in the Töölö district, Helsinki Olympic Stadium (Helsingin Olympiastadion) is the biggest arena in Finland, with 40,600 spectator spots. Finland was originally meant to host the 1940 Summer Olympics, but the outbreak of World War II delayed the games until 1952, when the country finally got to host the big event. Today, the stadium is home to the national soccer team and houses big-name concerts and sports events every year. For views of all of Helsinki and its downtown, take the elevator to the top of the 72.21-meter Stadium Tower. Why the idiosyncratic height? Well, that was the gold-medal winning result of Finnish athlete Matti Järvinen’s javelin throw in the 1932 Summer Olympics, of course! Aside from its 14-story viewing tower, the Helsinki Olympic Stadium also has a restaurant, an Olympics museum and, quirkily enough, a youth hostel.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Helsinki

How to Spend 1 Day in Helsinki

How to Spend 2 Days in Helsinki

How to Spend 2 Days in Helsinki

How to Spend 3 Days in Helsinki

How to Spend 3 Days in Helsinki

Recent reviews from experiences in Helsinki

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helsinki 48-hour hop-on hop-off bus tour and canal tour
ferdinandvelasco, Sep 2019
Helsinki 48-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour and Canal Cruise
excellent, i was able to see and have pictures of scenic and historical place with lesser cost, maps made me familiarise Helsinki
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Tour of Helsinki
pg642015, Jul 2019
Helsinki Highlights Sightseeing Guided Tour
We really enjoyed it and felt it was a very worthwhile introduction --- it made it much easier to decide where to go and what to see during our stay there.
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Personal tour!
pammoyer, Jul 2019
Helsinki Small-Group Walking Tour
I highly recommend doing this to see the highlights and sights of Helsinki!!
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Passionate tour guide
galmac, Jun 2019
Private Guided Helsinki City Tour
We saw all the main attractions and also accommodated our needs .
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Bang for Buck
armanhussain786, May 2019
Helsinki Card
The Helsinki card is a fantastic idea and covers all the sights, attractions, and public transport you would want to see.
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Helsinki and Suomenlinna
RDD75, Dec 2018
Helsinki and Suomenlinna Sightseeing Tour
Great opportunity to see something different, only 10 mins by boat from Helsinki.
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This was absolutely a great day outside...
Michael B, Sep 2018
Snowmobile Safari in Helsinki Archipelago with Lunch
Guides are super kind, safety was key and it was a great glimpse into winter living in Finland.
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Amazing tour. Got to see all sights...
derekgruber, Oct 2017
Helsinki and Suomenlinna Sightseeing Tour
Got to see all sights.
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Excellent tour with wonderful...
Teri T, Jun 2017
Helsinki and Medieval Porvoo Join-In Shore Excursion
It was a bus tour through Helsinki with several stops to see important Helsinki statues and busts.
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Great way to see Helsinki from the...
sheena.ellis, Sep 2017
Helsinki Beautiful Canal Route, archipelago cruise
Great way to see Helsinki from the water.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this tour. I...
Joyce H, Aug 2016
Best of Helsinki Join-in Shore Excursion
I had read about Helsinki ahead of time and got to see the places I had read about.
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Enjoyed the ho-on-hop-off bus. Was...
Lelia Ann B, Dec 2016
City Sightseeing Helsinki Hop On Hop Off Tour
Was able to see the highlights of Helsinki.
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Fantastic day spent snowmobiling...
Jonathan D, Feb 2016
Snowmobile Safari in Helsinki Archipelago with Lunch
would definitely do this again and have recommended to a few friends visiting Helsinki this winter!!
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What a lovely and historic city...
Rolando M, Aug 2014
City Sightseeing Helsinki Hop On Hop Off Tour
Worth recommending to people planning to see Helsinki.
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Great way to see Helsinki's many...
robinsnc, Sep 2014
Helsinki Beautiful Canal Route, archipelago cruise
Great way to see Helsinki's many islands and you get to see a brilliant panorama of the shoreline from the sea.
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Very worthwhile. Works really well...
Christopher K, Jun 2014
Helsinki Card
Your paying for the convenience most of all - there aren't enough hours in the day to visit many of the "free" attractions.
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Fabulos Helsinki
Lois C, Nov 2019
Money Saver: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus and Sightseeing Boat Tour
We were unable to go back to visit the sites we selected to revisit because we ran out of time.
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Panoramic Helsinki and Porvoo Shore Excursion
799mik8, Sep 2019
Shore Excursion: Panoramic Helsinki Highlights and Porvoo Old Town
I know it's not a shopping tour but there was not much to see there except a church.
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Very nice tour
itfc782019, Jul 2019
Helsinki Like a Local: Customized Private Tour
She met us promptly at the hotel and asked us about what we were interested in seeing, and then she came up with an excellent program that hit all the highlights of Helsinki and she even accommodated our requests to see some out of the way sights.
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Excellent way to visit Helsinki. So...
abr1520, Jun 2018
Helsinki Segway Tour
Excellent way to visit Helsinki.

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