A Quick Guide to Helsinki

I get lots of emails from people visiting Helsinki, asking what to do while they are here. So here’s a list of ideas to get you started, which I will add to and update. You can also check out my City Guide to Helsinki, which I wrote for Design*Sponge.


Many museums in Helsinki have one day a month where entry is free. Many places also have different opening hours during summer and winter, so always visit the relevant website before you head out.

City walks

Katajanokka – a suburb of beautiful architecture and great coffee

Töölönlahti – frozen in winter and beautiful in summer, this bay has coffee shops dotted around it’s edge. More photos here.

Uunisaari – an island connected by bridge during winter

Lauttasaari – lovely coastal walk and summer cabins

Baana – a converted freight line is now a cycle and walking path

Five things to do on Fredrikinkatu

Five things to do on Korkeavuorenkatu

Places to visit – outdoors

Linnanmäki – amusement park, free entry, open during summer

Korkeasaari – Helsinki’s island zoo, ferry runs only in summer, bus access otherwise

Seurasaari – outdoor museum on an island, bus access

Pihlajasaari – summer island for swimming

Suomenlinna – fortress island and UNESCO World Heritage Site

Places to visit – indoors

Sea Life – great option for a rainy or cold day in Helsinki

Annantalo – arts centre with exhibitions for children with family friendly book cafe

Yrjönkatu Uimahalli – swimming hall with sauna, men & women separate, only open during winter

Natural History Museum – displays of Nordic and other animals over a few floors

Botanical Gardens – beautiful gardens in glasshouses, good option for a rainy day


The Rock Church

Chapel of Silence

Lokal – art gallery & cafe

Kiasma – Museum of Contemporary Art

Alvar Aalto House


Hietalahti Market Square – summer time flea market & antiques

Old Market Hall – Vanhakauppahalli is a great place for lunch

Christmas Markets

Market Square

Day Trips

Tallinn, Estonia

Porvoo, Finland

Tips for Visiting in Winter & Getting Around

How to walk on ice without dying

How to walk under ice without dying

How to dress a child for Finnish winter

Using Helsinki’s Metro

Cultural Events

Saint Lucia – December

Christmas Path – December

Vappu – May

Samba Carnival – June

Baltic Herring Festival – October

All Saint’s Day – November

Cleaning Day – a giant yard sale throughout the city, held various times a year

Restaurant Day – a street food carnival where anyone can open a restaurant for the day, held four times a year

Places to eat & drink

Cafe Regatta – traditional Finnish cafe by the water, for coffee and cinnamon buns

Mockbar – Soviet style bar specialising in vodka and bad service

Moko Market & Kaffa Roastery – cafe and homewares, great for buying gifts and very family friendly.

Freese – owned by Finnish barista champion Kalle Freese, check Facebook for opening times as can be closed if busy elsewhere

Good Life Coffee – great coffee and delicious almond croissants

Skiffer – pizza bar on an island, only open during summer months. City venue during winter

Fafa’s – good falafel and vegetarian takeaway

16 thoughts on “A Quick Guide to Helsinki

  1. A Veikkaus card will also give you some benefits. You used to be able to get in free in many Helsinki museums on Wednesdays, but looks like they’ve changed that.


  2. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing, Mel. I still have ways to go to discover this city in its entirety. The sun doesn’t set till way late nowadays so it gives me extra time to explore. 😀



    • Thanks Jess. It’s a basic list at this stage but I’ll add to it as I do more blog posts. I hope you’re enjoying the longer days! The best thing is you can visit places more than once because they are so different during each season. All the best, Mel

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You already have quite a few islands on your list, but:

    Guide to the Archipelago:

    2015 routes and timetables (in Finnish):

    Click to access vesiliikenne2015.pdf

    The only English version of the above timetable I could find is from 2012:


    Also, here is a good list of parks:

    Top tip for early June:


  4. Hey really love your blog. Was brought up in Helsinki but live in London now. Doing a project for uni on Helsinki and ended up reading all your old blog posts one night 😀 Anyway you have done more things in than I managed to in 19 years. A great one (or at least use to be is Antioka Ata Bar a Turkish Restaurant on Eerikinkatu. Also Taidehalli is a great gallery space. Most of the exhibitions are great but not too long and the space is so nice. 🙂


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