A s you might have followed my journey from Copenhagen to Gothenburg to Stockholm, you know that my next adventure is going to Helsinki, the capital go Finland. I was very excited about this city, because it has been a complete new culture to me.
And I had the chance to meet my friend Veera again, who lives in Helsinki. We got to know each other in San Francisco for the first time and finally met again in Helsinki for a little sight-seeing tour. Here I summed up the best places that are worth seeing when you plan a trip to Helsinki.
The Market Square is Helsinki’s most international and famous market. From traditional food and treats to handicrafts and souvenirs you can find anything you want. And even heated café tents are located there to have a hot chocolate or coffee during the cold days.
Overall there are five domineering and important buildings that surround the Senate Square: the Government Palace, the Helsinki Cathedral, the National Library of Finland, the University of Helsinki and the Sederholm House. The latter – located at the southeast part of the square – is even the oldest stone building in the city. And if you are there at 5.49pm, you will hear the “Sound of the Senate Square” which is a modern version of the European glockenspiel.
The Uspenski Cathedral is one of the largest orthodox churches in Western Europe from where you can enjoy a wonderful view over the harbor. The cathedral was built between 1862 and 1868 and is majestic both inside and out.
Kamppi Chapel of Silence
If you’re looking for a calm place, visit the Kamppi Chapel of Silence. Its method of construction is the perfect example for contemporary architecture and is at the same time the perfect spot to hide away from the busy city. Also, it welcomes everyone irrespective of their religion, philosophies and background and is completely free.
Never away from a park: one third of Helsinki is green and enhances the city with beautiful monuments. One of those parks is called Sibelius, which was named after the world-famous composer Jean Sibelius. There you can also find the Sibelius Monument. It consists of series of more than 600 hollow steel pipes in a wave-like pattern. The purpose of artist Eila Hiltunen was to capture the essence of the music of Sibelius.
Kaivopuisto is one of Helsinki’s green places with an observatory and great views over the harbour and out to sea. Due to the fact that Finland is so flat, a small hill like in the Kaivopuisto Park is already enough to watch over the whole city and enjoy a 360° panorama view of Helsinki.
Another lovely patch of green is the Esplanade Park. It’s right in the heart of Helsinki where locals come together to hang out. Especially during summer, the park is worth visiting, because there are free concerts played from the historic Espa stage. From jazz music to fashion shows to art – the Esplanade Park is full of vibrations.
If you are a design lover, the Design District is a must! You find there fashion stores, jewelry shops, art galleries, showrooms, hotels, restaurants, and more which will bring you a lot of joy. The district started as a local initiative that began in 2005 wherein they decided to cluster together all the creative businesses in the neighborhood.
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is the perfect idea to have a little excursion within Helsinki. You will get there by ferry in a short ride (tickets are sold right at the harbor) to experience the historic building. It’s one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world and full of history. Also, it’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage since 1991, because it portrays a unique European military architecture. You have to pay for the ferry, but the entrance to the fortress is free.
You can’t leave Finland without going to a sauna. The perfect place for this is the unique design sauna Löyly which is truly an urban oasis at the beautiful waterfront of Helsinki. Löyly offers private and public saunas which include a traditional Finnish smoke sauna and two wood-heated saunas. During summer, the modern building opens its three level terrace and restaurant with a fantastic sea-view.
Although Helsinki is a dynamic and esthetic city, it still has the charm of an old town and makes you feel home. I can highly recommend staying a couple of days in Finland’s beautiful capital to experience the feeling yourself. Because I left a part of my heart in Helsinki and maybe you do, too.