Helsinki

Helsinki Waterfront

Located on the south coast of Finland, Helsinki is the capital of Finland but maintains a feel of a small city with a population of only 630,000 with buildings seldom exceeding 3-4 floors. The laid-back and often distant Finish people give an air of quiet and peace to this town of parks and water.

Harbourfront

The harbourfront is where you can catch ferries to various islands, visit the market (see below) and other tourist options such as the Flying Cinema - a virtual tour of the city - the Skywheel Helsinki Ferris wheel and Allas Sea Pool spa.

Weather

This is very close to the land of the midnight sun so expect long, dark and cold winter days with summer days long but never really exceptionally hot.

Attractions

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (Nykytaiteen museo Kiasma)

As might be expected of any capital city there is a good amount to see in Helsinki though often distances will be fairly large with the city quite spread out. The museums and art galleries are mostly quite contemporary giving quite a young and vibrant feel to the city. For those interested in shopping there are options here also such as Keskuskatu street and the venerable “Sokos Department Store” (est 1952).

Helsinki Cathedral

Cathedral from Square

The cathedral is found at the top of some (steep) steps on the north side of “Senator Square” in the middle of the city only a short walk from the harbour. The square itself is home to a few street food vendors and “The Twelve Apostles” (Kaksitoista apostolia), a statue in the middle. The cathedral is surrounded by the old, if fairly simple, architecture of “Old Town” with Helsinki City Museum (Helsingin kaupunginmuseo) only a block away.

Close up of Cathedral

The church is open to visitors via the western door. There is no entrance fee.

Helsinki Winter Gardens (Helsingin talvipuutarha)

Located in the north of the city, adjacent to the Olympic stadium and Linnanmaki amusement park.

Botanic Gardens

The gardens are free to the public and well worth a visit.

Market Square

Market Square

“Market Square” is located on the harbour just south of “Senator Square” and features a number of tourist-y stalls selling souvenirs, fruit/vegetables and local foods as well as several small restaurants on the southern harbour side. This is a modest market with reasonable though not cheap prices but worth a wander.

Temppeliaukion Church (The Stone Church)

Understated Exterior

Though a good distance from the center of the city at the top of a hill one of the highlights of Helsinki has to be the Stone Church (or, more formally, the Temppeliaukion Church). The understated view from the street suggests an art gallery or other modern building but this belies the raw, natural beauty of the church interior itself. The natural rock into which the church is built is calming and compelling with the dramatic copper ceiling adding to the modern, contemporary feel. On the long, dark, days of winter this interior is highlighted with copious spotlights.

Interior

The church is known for hosting recitals and concerts, featuring their wonderful pipe organ. There is modern, comfortable seating both on the ground level and small balcony.

There is a small fee for visitors. See the official site at https://www.temppeliaukionkirkko.fi/en/

Getting Around

Helsinki Central Railway Station (Rautatieasema Jarnvags Station)

Helsinki has a number of transport options. For tourists, there is a Hop-On Hop-Off (operated by cityTour) bus service with recorded commentary featuring highlights of the city whose route goes as far north as the Olympic stadium. The public transport system features trams (evidently Tram 2/3 is regarded as a “sightseeing” route), buses, a small metro (one line!), trains, pay-as-you-go bicycles and scooters, as well as ferries to the surrounding islands. See the official transport site at https://www.hsl.fi/en.

Pedestrian Walkway near the Museum of Contemporary Art

Walking is a reasonable option in the middle of the city with easy to follow signage and pedestrian walkways. A map is highly recommended though…

Pictures from my Visit in Summer 2019

 

Further Information

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