An itinerary of Helsinki's main attractions. No matter how you look at it, when travelling in Northern Europe, you can't avoid meeting Helsinki. Tourists often make a connection in Helsinki. Instead of waiting for your next flight at Vantaa Airport, you can take a walk through the city centre.
The city of Helsinki has been the capital of Finland for a long time, and not in the early days of its existence. As they say, capitals are not born, they become!
Here one can admire the gulf of Finland and its stylish architecture. Finns know how to harmoniously combine natural and artificial materials, simple and sophisticated form. Consequently, there are many unusual buildings, monuments and churches. In 2012, Helsinki was even awarded the status of World Design Capital.
We have put together a 4 km walking route around Helsinki
During the walk you can get around the centre at a comfortable pace and see the main attractions of the Finnish capital:
To get from the airport to the start of the route, take bus number 1 and go to street Lutherinkatu. The fare is €5.5. If you're travelling from somewhere else, it's easy to find the route on the local transport website.
1. Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church is interesting to see regardless of one's religious beliefs. It is carved right into the rock. It's a very unusual sight. The church reminded us of a scene from "Game of Thrones". Entrance costs €3. If you are lucky you can listen to the organ.
2. Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art is a popular tourist destination. Not only are the exhibits on display, but also the building itself with its flowing lines and lots of light. Admission to Kiasma costs between €11 and €15 depending on the ticket category. Kids under 18 are admitted free.
3. Mannerheim Avenue
Mannerheim Prospect is Helsinki's main street. On the map this is the stretch from Kiasma to the turn to Esplanade Park.
There are plenty of shops, cafes and the popular Finnish department stores Sokos and Stockmann.
Usually winter collections start selling out in November and summer collections in July.
The Finnish word for sale is 'ale': look out for these names.
Stationery shops on the avenue and nearby streets sell unusual notepads, such as those with covers made from recycled tyres or drawings by Finnish artists from the thirties. On average, a notebook costs €3-15.
4. Esplanade Park
Esplanade Park is a cosy lime-tree garden. In summer, it's nice to just sit on a bench and watch passersby.
There's also the Kappeli restaurant, with beautiful windows instead of walls. It's one of the city's landmarks: the restaurant was opened in 1867. Inside, you can see that it has been very carefully restored to preserve the spirit of antiquity. The food at Kappeli is delicious, but the prices are Scandinavian: meat with a side dish and a glass of wine cost an average of €50.
5. Senate Square: the calling card of Helsinki
Senate Square and the cathedral are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. In winter, there are Christmas markets and merry-go-rounds. In summer, tourists sit on the cathedral's steps and enjoy a view of the city.
In the early nineteenth century, when Finland became part of Russia, the capital was moved from Turku to Helsinki. Much work was done to give the city a grand appearance. Be sure to visit Helsinki's landmark Senate Square to see the Senate building after which the square is named.
There's also the Cathedral, as well as the University, named for Emperor Alexander of Russia, and a monument to Alexander II.
6. Kaisa and Oodi Libraries
Kaisa and Oodi libraries can be visited as architectural museums or simply for reading books. Kaisa-talo (Kaisa-talo) is the main building of the university library. The building is built so that when you enter you can see all the floors and the transparent roof at once. Each floor of the building is narrower than the previous one, so it resembles a spaceship.
Operating hours of the University of Helsinki Library
Entrance to the library is free, and no passport is required. You can borrow and read a lot of books in English in the library. There are comfortable armchairs around the halls, some opposite the wide windows overlooking the city. You can read in them, have a cup of coffee and not have to suffer the disgruntled stare of a librarian.
Helsinki's central library, Oodi, opened at the end of 2018. It is a large, three-storey building with an unusual shape. Entrance is free, and there are books in Russian, Arabic and even Somali. You can also get coffee, go to the cinema and work at the computer at the Oodi.
7. New Opera House and Helsinki Music House
There are also many late 20th century buildings in the city - the New Opera House and the House of Music, for example. When you think of music, every native Finn thinks of Jan Sibelius, Finland's most famous composer, whose pedestal is placed near the House of Music.
The House of Music in Helsinki is a large cultural centre in the city centre. You can listen to classical music and jazz there. If you like concerts, you should go there. The House of Music has several halls that can accommodate different numbers of people. We like the large concert hall: in addition to the excellent acoustics, the hall itself looks very classy.
Tickets cost between €25 and €35.
For senior citizens: €22
For students: €10
Occasionally there are free concerts. The timetable can be found on the official website of the House of Music.
8. The Swedish Theatre building
If you follow the famous Esplanade through the bustling Market Square, on the Baltic Sea, you'll come straight to the Swedish Theatre building. The theatre building is located right in the centre of the capital.
9. Helsinki's Cathedral of the Assumption
Next, visit the largest Orthodox Cathedral in Northern Europe, the Assumption Cathedral.
10. Helsinki Railway Station
Are you familiar with the architectural style known as 'jugend style'? In Finland they call it the Art Nouveau style. Take a closer look at this style with a visit to Helsinki Railway Station.
The largest city in the country, but that doesn't make it any less cosy or charming. Be sure to explore our routes in Finland's capital city.
View the walking route in Helsinki on Google Map:
4 km walking route around Helsinki:
We also recommend visiting Levi Resort
We also recommend visiting one of Finland's most popular resorts, Levi. The resort is a 4-hour flight from Helsinki by plane. Here you can spend unforgettable winter holidays with the whole family, visit Santa, ride reindeer and snowmobiles, see the Northern Lights and much more: find out more.