Helsinki Travel Guide

Finland has a typically Scandinavian reputation with its long dark days of winter and this is true of its capital Helsinki, nestled among bays and islands on the northern coast of the Baltic Sea. This is not to say it’s a city to be avoided though. The coastal location means that summertime affords many maritime activities as well as prime real estate for sunbathing – or you could take the polar plunge through holes cut in the ice should you arrive in winter and need a dip.

This is a relatively quiet capital, with no buildings reaching above a few storeys aside from the neo-classical dome of Helsinki Cathedral. This is the main landmark of the city and also an orientation point to the urban planning carried out by Carl Ludvig Engel. Aside from the cathedral, he redesigned the Senate square along with its surrounding structures.

The harsh winters seem to give the citizens all the more reason to enjoy the summer and there is an impressive lineup of festivals of all kinds that run through the sunny months. You’ll have to pick and choose because there is everything from art fairs to musical events and cultural festivities to keep you occupied.


Suomenlinna: a sea fortress on one of Helsinki’s islands, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a draw for tourists and locals alike.

Seurasaari: another island off the coast, the vibe here is all about nature, with its forests, parks open spaces and no permanent residents at all.

Helsinki Cathedral: this landmark is to Helsinki what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris or what Big Ben is to London. It’s the first stop on any sightseeing tour of Helsinki.

Kaivopuisto Park: Enjoy free concerts in a beautiful setting from a range of musical styles here every Sunday throughout summer.