The capital city of Finland, Helsinki, celebrates a unique rhythm of life. The Lovely seaside city is vibrant and buzzing, yet it is not chaotic. Located on the Northern coast of the Baltic Sea, Helsinki is surrounded by more than 300 lakes, lush green forests and captivating coastline. Known as the Design Capital, the city will mesmerize you with its stunning Gothic architectural treasures, design district, cool café culture, culinary delights and the eccentric music scene. The easy-going city of Helsinki comes alive in the music concerts and rock shows. The Finns are known for their great taste in music, which makes Helsinki as one of the hot spots during the weekends. Apart from that, Finland is known to have the highest number of coffee drinkers in the world. So don’t be surprised if you come across cool, cozy cafes in abundance in the country. From café hopping, visiting design district, relishing local food, experiencing the Finnish Sauna by the seaside to shaking legs in the concerts at night, Helsinki can literally take you on a joyride of its kind.
Also Read: Why You Should Visit Finland At Least Once In Your Lifetime
If you have a layover in Helsinki for a few hours, the best way to spend your time is to opt for the “StopOver Finland”, introduced by the Finland Tourism for en-route travelers, who can explore this Nordic country from 5 hours to 5 days. Even if you have only 24 hours to spend in the city, there are plenty of things to experience in Helsinki.
Have a cup of coffee with a local
The best way to start your day in Helsinki is to visit the cozy cafes in town, sipping the best coffee and indulging in conversations with the locals. Nothing can beat the feeling of living like a local in another country. Being reputed for the highest coffee drinkers in the world, you will be amazed to find the finest cafes in town. Nobody counts the mugs as Finns drink at least 3 to 4 cups of coffee in a day. Blame it on the freezing cold in winter, the best place to spend quality time are those cafes in the alleys. Since I traveled in winter, I found the café culture the most exciting in Helsinki.
Also Read: Charms of Saimaa: What to do on Finland’s Largest Lake in Winter
Take a Ride on Helsinki Trams
Once you are done with your coffee and breakfast, it’s time to explore the city. The best way to go for sightseeing is to take a tram ride within the city. It is the most convenient and budget-friendly way to experience Helsinki. The Helsinki Trams are mostly used by the citizens for their daily commute. There are metro, buses, and railways available. If you wish to be part of the Finnish culture and like to see the top tourist places, you should take Tram number 2 for sightseeing. You can also take tram number 4 for a fantastic ride with gorgeous views all around. With a single ticket, you can use trams, buses, the metro and even the ferry to Suomenlinna. You can buy tickets from R-kiosks and other HSL sales points or on the bus and train; you can buy from the driver as well.
The Lutheran Cathedral
The Lutheran Cathedral dominates the skyline of Helsinki, overlooking the senate square and the harbor. One of the iconic architecture, the cathedral by Carl Engel has become the symbol of the city. An architectural spectacle, the white towering cathedral is the landmark of Helsinki. It looks magical in winter when falling snow wraps it under its curtain. The lit up senate square in the evening gives it a stunning look. Known as the heart of the city, the cathedral was earlier known as St. Nicholas Church. This is one of the most visited tourist spots in Helsinki.
Sail to the Suomenlinna Fortress
A visit to Suomenlinna fortress is a must in Helsinki. Easily accessible by ferry from the market square, visiting this sea fortress gives you a unique experience. Suomenlinna fortress was built during the Swedish era as a maritime fortress. Originally known as Sveaborg or Viapori in the Finnish language, the construction of this fortress begun in 1748 when Sweden began fortification work on the Susiluodot islands off Helsinki. With a poignant history, the Suomenlinna fortress plays a significant role in shaping the country as it had served in the defense of three eras, first Sweden, then Russia and finally Finland. This military architecture is open throughout the year for the visitors.
Also Read: Day Trip To Porvoo: The Colourful Town Of Finland
Visit Temppeliaukio Church
If you love visiting churches and appreciate the unique architectures, Helsinki can be a perfect place for that. Most of the churches in Helsinki are free to visit and it has a number of spectacular churches with unique architectural designs. One of them is the famous Temppeliaukio Church, which is also known as The Rock Church. Built into the rock, covered with a huge dome, the church is known for its exceptional design and is most popular among tourists. Also, due to its excellent acoustics, the church is a popular venue for concerts.
Visit Market Square
If you would like to visit the most vibrant part of the city, you should head towards the market square of Helsinki. From numerous cafes, traditional Finnish food, fresh vegetables, delectable seafood, souvenir shops, handicraft arts, you will find possibly everything there. Located in the South Harbor, the market square is one buzzing place with locals and tourists. It is said that if you want to know a place better, visit their markets since the market gives you a sense of the lifestyle of the people and their culture vividly. Sitting in a café, sampling some of the best food with excellent views of the coastline and seeing the world passing by, is the best way to experience the city. So, don’t miss visiting the market square of Helsinki during your trip.
Take a tour of Helsinki’s Design District
When you are in the design capital, a visit to the famous design district is mandatory. The hub for the design studios, showrooms, boutiques, museums, and galleries, featuring some of the most innovative designs in terms of products, clothing, home décor, etc., the design district is the perfect place for creative souls. I don’t wonder anymore why the most accomplished and renowned designers are from Finland.
Also Read: Finnish Lapland, Northern Lights & Beyond: A Complete Guide
Experience Finnish Sauna by the sea
It’s equal to sin if you come back without experiencing Finnish Sauna in Finland. When in Helsinki, don’t miss the sauna by the sea at LÖYLY, which is one of the most popular public saunas. Finland has more than 3 million saunas with over 5 million people in the country. The sauna is a cultural identity for the people of Finland. Not just that, sauna is also part of their lifestyle. They consider it as a meditation. The Finns visit sauna not just for cleaning themselves, rather it is considered the most relaxing way to unwind your mind, body, and soul. It is said that nothing can be more Finnish than experiencing the Finnish Sauna in Finland.
Relish traditional Finnish dinner
After a thrilling city exploration, a traditional Finnish dinner is mandatory. The food scene in Helsinki is quite exciting. There are a variety of dining options in the city. Finnish cuisines are simple, yet fresh and flavorful. The cuisines change based on the season. If you are traveling to Finland in winter, don’t miss their delectable Mushroom Soup, Pea Soup, Mash Potatoes, Fresh Green Salad, Reindeer Meat, Warm Smoked Salmon, Runeberg Tarts, Laskiaispulla, etc.
Winter is here & it is the perfect time to visit the Nordic country, Finland.
Where are you heading this Christmas ?
Are you ready to meet the Santa in Finnish Lapland ?
How to reach Finland
You can fly to Finland with Finnair, which has direct flights to Helsinki from Delhi thrice a week. It takes 7 and half hours to reach Helsinki. There are other airlines like Air France, Air India, Aeroflot Russian, and Lufthansa.
- All the used Non-Watermarked photos have been provided by Visit Finland and have been used with permission.
- The Watermarked photographs are owned by the writer and are copyright protected. Reproduction of any of the contents, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the writer, is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.
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You have provided an insightful information. You have really done a thorough research on this topic. I have learned a lot from this post. Thanks for sharing with Us.
I love your photos on Helsinki, it’s somewhere I still would like to visit. The Sauna by the Sea is definitely for me, I’m a spa junkie! It’s great to know you can do a free stopover here too is very useful!
The market square sounds like a good idea to spend time… For one it’s so colorful. And second you rally get the pulse of the place here. Sauna by the sea would be my pick too. Cheers
Nice information about Finland. Am really excited after reading post. Can’t wait to give a go to Finland. Will make a visit sure as your post tempts me to go there.
Helsinki seems like a great place to explore and an excellent city tripping destination, Parnashree. When would it be the best time of the year to explore it?
Amazing pictures. I have not visited in Finland but after reading this blog, I am really excited for visiting this city of Finland. Thank You!
Wow, the sauna by the sea sounds blissful, That would be the first things I would do when I visit Helsinki. The Suomenlinna Fortress looks very picturesque and so does the Temppeliaukio Church, both are very unique. And stopover in Finland is a great way to promote tourism, amazing idea.
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Looks that you had a great time in this city. Thanks for sharing your valuable experience with us. I would like to Explore it.
I had no idea you could do a stopover for free in Helsinki!!! I thought that was only Iceland. Good to know – I totally want to visit. Your photos are GORGEOUS and I love your recommendations. I’m going to pin this for when I get to do a stopover!! Thanks for sharing
That’s a very handy guide. Ever since I have seen your posts of Finland, I have longed to go there. I would love to take the tram ride. This is the dream snow holiday one can wish for.
I love that you could squeeze so much into your 24-hour itinerary in Helsinki. The fortress is on my bucket list because it’s a UNESCO site. But I would also love to try the local cafes – they seem so cozy and a great way to unwind or just experience what it’s like to be a local. The market square is another must-do!
Looks like a layover at Helsinki is a must. There’s so much to do in the city in a span of 24 hours. A find of mine schools in Finland and she boasts of Finland’s coffee, so I’m not surpirsied it made the top list of what to do. I love visiting local markets when I travel, so the market square is a must. Having the tarditional Finland dinner sounds good too. I think other countries should also emulate ‘StopOverFinland’ too.
I am a big coffee lover and I can see that Helsinki has a lot to offer me. 😛 Exploring city in a tram seems a very nice option. Suomenlinna fortress seems to be the best place to me. Seems you had a great time. I would love to visit all of these places whenever I get to visit Helsinki.
I definitely want to visit Helsinki! But definitely for longer than 24 hours haha. This is a great guide of the best things to do though. The sauna sounds amazing, as does the market!
I was in Helsinki last year, this post refreshed all the good memories 🙂
I guess you need a bit more than 24 hours to really enjoy Helsinki. I like the idea of drinking coffee, visiting old buildings, and live music at weekends. I’m from Scotland, so the cold doesn’t bother me that much.
Lovely photos. I would love to visit Finaland someday, and winter seems to be a great time to experience Scandinavia.
that was very good information about this beautiful country………