Helsinki Old Town

Helsinki was originally established at the mouth of the Vantaanjoki river in 1550 by King Gustav Vasa of Sweden, who wanted the town to compete with Tallinn. Due to the shallow water in the bay, the town was moved to its current location further down the peninsula in the 1640s. Today the ,,Old Town” are is a modern center for sciences and the arts, as well as a waterfront residential district that can be easily reached by Tram 6 or 8.

Helsinki Temeplkirche

The area is home to the 130 year old Arabia porcelain factory, museum and gallery, as well as factory outlets. Works of art throughout the area describe history, nature and the unique Finnish design heritage. The inspiration of artists, designers and craftsmen can be seen in the buildings and in the spirited sense of community.

Helsinki is a city by the sea. As you walk along the shore-front the wind ruffles your hair while the waves create a beat for your footsteps. Seagulls circle above and keep a sharp lookout for ice cream cones and other human treats. Cargo ships, cruise vessels and sailing boats float by on the horizon. One of the finest places to admire the sea is Suomenlinna. The majestic and romantic granite rocks on the southern tip are ideal for a peaceful sit-down. If you are fortunate to visit the islands in early summer, you can enjoy not only the historic fortifications but also the blossoming lilac bushes, which give off an intoxicating scent everywhere you walk. Originally introduced  to the islands by soldiers, today the  lilac bushes can be seen especially in Piper Park. At the nearby shipyard, the oldest in Finland, you can ponder the size of the vessels that were once built there.

Helsinki City Center

Hotels in Helsinki 

The locals love the sea, often packing a picnic basket and heading for one of the many islands just off the coast. Sunbathers board ferries for the sandy beaches on Pihlajasari, families head to Mustasaari to see the sheep, and nature lovers venture to the forest paths of Vartiosaari. Those who live by the sea will stroll down to their local beach and cool off their feet in the water. Helsinki has a long shoreline that is best appreciated from the sea. Sightseeing cruises depart from the Market Square – one of the finest routes travels through the archipelago of East Helsinki. Alternatively, kayaks or canoes can be rented in Toolo and Vuosaari, for example.

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Helsinki events

Tango in the park, choir singing in the church, herring in the market, walking tours of hidden courtyards or urban dance in the art museum. Helsinki offers unique happenings all through the year and for all tastes.

Helsinki Summer Foor Festival

Helsinki Summer Foor Festival

The line up of events is particularly impressive towards the end of summer. As the nights gradually get darker in autumn, and the locals return from their countryside retreats, Helsinki truly comes to life. Restaurants and cafes are filled with music and theater. You might come across light installations in markets, performances in streets and environmental art in parks. Each year the Huvila tent is erected to host top names in world music alongside top Finnish pop and rock stars.

One of the newest event venues in Helsinki is Suvilahti, a former power station that hosts the immensely popular Flow  Festival at the beginning of August. The festival attracts the trendiest bands and musicians, as well as the most stylish hipsters in Helsinki.

In addition to big festivals, Helsinki also has lots of small, fun and plain strange happenings to offer.  The Kallio district has its own annual festival where you might find dancing in the street, movies on the lawn behind the library, and lectures on the working class history of the neighborhood. Musica Nova in turn presents contemporary classical music, while the World Village Festival gets your feet moving to exotic beats. Local residents also know how to celebrate their own unique culture, for example at the Annual Herring Market in the Market Square.

Wellness & exercise

The fresh sea breeze, the greens surroundings, the rustling leaves and the sound of your own footsteps. A genuine – and genuinely hot – Finnish sauna. A wellness treatment from head to toe. A dive into the crystal clear water beneath a magnificent blue sky. Which sounds best to you?

Finnish sauna

Helsinki offers lots of opportunities to relax and unwind. Many will enjoy clearing their heads with a leisurely jog along the shoreline or through the forests of Keskuspuisto, our very own central park. Helsinki is also ideal for cycling, and finding a bike to rent or borrow is easy. If you  are feeling adventurous, head to the nearby Nuuksio National Park where you will find lots of market trails and places to camp. Enjoy the great outdoors with a long hike followed by a refreshing dip in the lake.

Others will prefer pampering themselves at a day spa soaking up the relaxing atmosphere and relishing the exotic treatments. A more traditional alternative is the Yrjonkatu Swimming Hall, where you can travel back in time to the 1930s. The breathtakingly beautiful interior is somewhat reminiscent of an oriental hamam, but a hot Finnish sauna after your swim will remind you exactly where you are.

Indeed, it is almost impossible to avoid having a sauna when visiting the Finnish capital. While most hotels and apartments have modern electric saunas, a much more fun and authentic way to experience this Finnish specialty is by visiting one of Helsinki’s public saunas. The newest and most intriguing of these is the Kulttuurisauna ,,culture sauna” on the shoreline in Hakaniemenrata. Opened as part of World design Capital 2012, the culture sauna also offers sauna goers and others an entertaining cultural program, and from the terrace you can enjoy a beautiful view to the sea.


Hotels and other Accommodation – Helsinki offers plenty of choices for accommodation, from inexpensivehostels to luxury hotels. For a full list of accommodation outlets, see: Helsinki Hotels If you do not have a room upon arrival, you can book one at the Hotel Expert desk at Tourist Information or inside the Central Railway Station.

Helsinki Tourist Information – Tourist Information provides free information about the city, sights, events and services, including a wide selection of brochures and maps. A Helsinki Expert’s sales point is also located here. Tourist Information is also available from Helsinki’s Expert’s sales point located inside the Central Railway Station. At Tourist Information you can use the free Internet connection, make copies for a small charge, and purchase various travel products, including Helsinki Region Transport tickets.

Suggested reading:

Shopping in Helsinki

 Hotels Worldwide – Book Online

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