Have you ever wanted to visit Helsinki, Finland? If not, I won’t blame you. Many people might not have even heard of this city at all! Or some people, who travel to Finland for a holiday, want to visit Lapland. However, Lapland’s picturesque scenery is truly a bucket list destination; there is more to it in Finland. I have to admit that I have visited places this summer that I didn’t even know existed around the capital area! So, let me introduce you to the city of Helsinki.
First, I have to say Helsinki doesn’t equal Finland. Meaning that even though you can find many things to do and experience, it is still a city among other European cities. Many beautiful places and cities here describe Finland as a country, Helsinki being one of them. I wanted to make this travel post a bit different since you can find the touristy places more easily. Some of these tips won’t be recommended to you by other travel guides! So go ahead, feel the vibe, and save this post for your coming trip to Helsinki.
1. Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square
This is one of the first places you’d most likely come across when visiting Helsinki. And indeed the building itself is absolutely gorgeous. The church is located in Senate Square, walking distance away from the main hub. The church itself was consecrated in 1852, but the square has been there for longer. You can admire the church from outside or pay a visit inside the church. Many people like to enjoy a warm day having lunch or chat with a friend by the steps. During the summer season, there is also an open-air food court with different restaurants and bars. Definitely worth visiting! More information can be found here:
2. Suomenlinna and Vallisaari
Helsinki is by the sea, so there are several islands to visit. Some of them are easily reachable, and there is a scheduled ferry service going to and from these islands. A must-see place is Suomenlinna, the Fortress of Finland. The best part is that tourists can actually be visiting this at any time of the year, unlike most other islands. Another island nearby Suomenlinna is Vallisaari. Personally, I liked Vallisaari more since it’s not as popular as Suomenlinna. You can combine these two on the same day since the same ferry stops in both places. Check out the timetables here:
Vallisaari was opened for the public in 2016. Before that, it was owned by the Defence Forces of Finland, and around 300 people inhabited the island. Vallisaari played an important role for decades in the war times, before independence. Nowadays, it is open to the public, and I have to say that the years of being a closed place – have done some magic to nature! Go and enjoy the forest views but watch your step – there are some mines still inside the ground at some spots.
3. Lammassaari and Kuusiluoto
Lammassaari is a nature area in Helsinki, and it is known for its trail with duckboards – Lap of Nature. The entire trail is approximately 3,5 km. Keep in mind that there are some private cottages in the surroundings. Though the name Lammassaari is a bit misleading. It translates into “Sheep island” in Finnish, but the sheep don’t actually inhabit the place. In the summer season, instead, they can be found in Kuusiluoto island. Both places have amazing nature views and can also be visited at any time of the year. You can access Kuusiluoto from Lammassaari by following the trail of duckboards.
Kalasatama and the surroundings have been changing a lot in the past few years, and it continues to evolve. This industrial site has changed into a popular and growing living area. It has become somehow a small community in the city. You can find all kinds of events and happenings in the area, from festivals and cultural events to tasty food experiences. Kalasatama is reachable by subway, which is, by the way, one of the easiest ways to move around in Helsinki, among the tram and bikes.
Now, I know Nuuksio is not in Helsinki. Nevertheless, I wanted to share this site because it is absolutely a must-visit place among nature destinations in Finland. Some people might say it’s overrated, but the truth is you can’t get a better sight of Finnish nature closer to Helsinki. Nuuksio is a great place to spend the day walking around in the forest. So put on your hiking boots and pack up some lunch to go! Ultimate nature therapy at its best.
I want to mention Punavuori because it is one of my favorite areas in the city. The name translates into Red Mountain and comes from the red-hued rocks found in the area. Punavuori has such a cool vibe, to be honest. It’s a mixture of old charm and hip atmosphere, lively urban cafes, and unique boutiques. It’s just adorable. Hop on a tram and spend the day in Punavuori; sit for a cup of coffee with a book, and just stroll around. You’ll instantly get caught up in its compelling attractiveness!
What could be a more unique experience than an island escape in Northern Europe? If you are craving a beach day, Pihlajasaari is your spot – these beaches are just perfect for a day under the sun. And the best part is that you can escape the buzz in the city and have a mini-break from all of it! The island is reachable by a boat that leaves from the mainland and takes about 10 minutes. There are a small cafe and cute little dressing huts. This is the place to unwind, relax, and feel the sand under your feet – an island escape at its best.
If you want to know more places to visit in Finland, you can find one of my previous posts here: http://www.herpassportlifestyle.com/blog/2020/06/25/most-beautiful-places-to-explore-in-finland/