Helsinki’s green parks and waterways, fresh sea winds, its busy market square, its exciting cultural events and many open-air cafés make the city a delightful place to visit. Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is the country’s center of cultural, financial and economic activity. The heart of the city is compact, filled with treasures from the past and present, and best explored on foot. The city retains a small town feel as there are no high-rise buildings and the market square is still surrounded by 19th century architecture.
A city of the sea, Helsinki was built along a series of peninsulas and islands jutting into the Baltic coast along the Gulf of Finland. Streets and avenues curve around bays, ferries travel among offshore islands, and bridges reach in all directions. Helsinki is linked by ferry to Suomenlinna Island in the Gulf of Finland, which is a perfect spot for picnicking and family outings. Baltic ferries run from Sweden, Estonia and Germany to Helsinki, Turku, Vaasa and Pietarsaari. The ferries are impressive seagoing craft that have been compared to hotels and shopping plazas.
Most visitors arrive in the summer, but Nordic skiing is popular all winter, and there are cross-country trails of varying difficulty. Downhill skiers go to Lapland, or to resorts in the many forested districts of Finland.
Boating can be enjoyed on both sea and lake, but the prime sailing region is just a short distance from the city in the Turku archipelago. Canoeing in the Helsinki area is best on Åland archipelago. Just beyond the city, the largest unspoiled wilderness in Europe attracts thousands of trekkers every year.
Helsinki has over thirty art galleries and museums. Numerous parks and waterside walkways are woven into a perfectly blended range of architectural styles, the result of a neoclassical building surge in the early 1800s and the efforts of modernist Finnish designers in the mid 20th century. Helsinki has been described as the last city in Europe to be built as art.
In the year 2000, Helsinki celebrated its 450th anniversary. This beautiful city has aged gracefully, preserving the beauty of the past while staying very modern and very efficient. Public transportation, including buses, trams, and metro are clean, fast, inexpensive and reliable. The railway station is an excellent example of the merging of beauty and utility in Helsinki. The station contains not only the rail center, but also a metro stop and an underground shopping complex. It is striking in its appearance, with pink granite trimmed in green with a black roof. Designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1905, it links two of Helsinki’s architectural styles: national romanticism and functionalism.
Finnish food has elements of both Swedish and Russian cuisine, with many variations and local specialties. The potato is a staple, and is served with tasty fish or meat sauces. Some traditional Finnish meals include game such as snow grouse, reindeer, raw pickled or glowfired salmon. Restaurants and hotels offer a wide variety of delicious entrees containing the best seasonal Finnish ingredients. Also available are offerings prepared in the classic European style.
July is the month most frequently chosen for a visit to Finland. The weather is agreeable with blue skies and just an occasional shower. The summer rain is warm and over quickly. The nights are filled with light in Finland in the summer. Often you can read without a light even in the middle of the night – a perfect situation for those who have remarked that “there are never enough hours in the day.”
Shoppers delight year round in the vast array of products of high quality that are available in Helsinki. The Esplanadi and Market Square are filled with cafes and open air stalls selling food, local apparel and crafts. A favorite place for residents and visitors alike is Stockmann Department Store, which is large, modern, and tastefully filled with every possible commodity from clothing and accessories to groceries and other delicacies.
Finland’s well-known names in ceramics (Arabia); textiles (Finlayson, Marimekko); and glass (Iittala, Nuutajärvi) are found in specialty shops and bargains abound in manufacturers’ factory outlet stores located in and around the city. The stores are museums in themselves! Another celebrated product of Finland is the popular Nokia (pronounced No kia) cell phone and related electronic items.
Major cultural events occur throughout the year. Spring and summer festivals feature fine music and excellent theater. Music, dance, drama, films, and high quality exhibitions are common threads running through the festival programs. The aim of the annual Helsinki Festival is to culminate the summer activities with an internationally acclaimed cultural event. The Festival includes a Night of the Arts festival, with major symphonic works, the finest baroque orchestras, and a Food Piazza on the Senate Square. There are special events for children throughout the festival.
For an exciting city vacation or a relaxing retreat in beautiful natural surroundings, Helsinki is the destination of choice. Time will fly by in a most enjoyable way when you visit Helsinki. The captivating city, its surrounding sea and archipelago provide the setting for an exciting and inspiring vacation that is sure to please the whole family
Helsinki, Finland, Facts
Population: City: 560,000; Total population in the Helsinki Region: 1,187,195
Language: Finnish & Swedish: Finnish, the principal language, is of Finno-Ugric origin: related to Estonian with distant links to Hungarian.
The form of Swedish spoken in Finland is Finlandssvenska (Finland’s Swedish.) In most of Finland signs and street names are in Finnish and Swedish. English is also widely spoken.
Religion: Lutheran & Orthodox
Government: Democratic republic led by a president and prime minister
Major industries: Metals and engineering equipment, telecommunications, paper products
Major trading partners: EU, USA, Russia
Time: GMT/UTC plus two hours. When it is noon in New York City; it is 7pm in Helsinki.
When to Go
The tourist summer season runs from mid-June to mid-August, marked by long hours of sunlight and cool nights.
You can expect pleasantly warm (not hot) days in Helsinki from mid-May through August. Summer nights are brief and never really dark, whereas in midwinter daylight lasts only a few hours. Precipitation in winter is mostly in the form of snow.
Jan. 1 New Year’s Day
January 6 Epiphany
March or April Good Friday, Easter, and Easter Monday
April 30 Great Prayer Day
May 1 May Day
June (first Mon.) Pentecost/Whitsunday
June 12 Helsinki Day
June (2 days at the start of
the summer solstice Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Day
November 1 All Saints’ Day
December 6 Independence Day
December 25-26 Christmas and St. Stephen’s Day
Weights & measures: Metric
Useful Conversions of weights and measures
1 hectare 2.471 acres
1 inch 2.54 cm
1 ft. 30.48 cm
1 oz. 28.57 grams
1 lb. 0.454 kg
1 cm 0.39 inches
1 meter 3.28 feet / 1.09 yards
1 km 0.62 miles
1 liter 0.26 US gallons
1 inch 2.54 cm
1 foot 0.39 meters
1 yard 0.91 meters
1 mile 1.60 km
1 gallon 3.78 liters
Banks & Stores
Banks are open weekdays 9 or 9:15 to 4 or 5. Many offices and embassies close at 3pm June to August. Stores are open weekdays 9 to 6 and Saturday 9 to 1 or 2 and are closed on Sunday, but several of the larger stores stay open until 8 or 9 weekdays. Main stores in the town center are open Sunday, June to August, all through December, and on five other Sundays throughout the year from noon to 7. Some stores in malls stay open until 8 pm on weekdays and until 4 on Saturday. In the Asematunneli (train station tunnel), stores are open weekdays 10 to 10 and weekends noon to 10.
The electrical current in Helsinki is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC); wall outlets take Continental-type plugs, with two round prongs.
To use your U.S.-purchased electric-powered equipment bring a converter and adapter. If your appliances are dual-voltage you’ll need only an adapter.
Embassies :United States Embassy (Itäinen Puistotie 14A, 00140 Helsinki, 09/171-931).
Public Restrooms: Clean and modern. Naiset=ladies; Michet = men.
The nationwide emergency number is 112.
Police. 112 or 10022.
Ambulance. 112. Specify whether the situation seems life-threatening so medical attendants can prepare for immediate treatment in the ambulance.
Ympyrätalo Dental Clinic (Siltasaarenkatu 18A, 09/709-6611) offers emergency dental care.
Hospital Emergency Rooms
Hospital. Töölön Sairaala (Töölönk. 40, 09/471-7358) is central, about 2 km (1 mi) from city center, with a 24-hour emergency room and first-aid service.
Yliopiston Apteekki (Mannerheim. 96, 09/4178-0300) is open daily 24 hours.
Post offices are open weekdays 9-5 (till 7 or 8 in some cities); stamps, express mail, registered mail, and insured mail service are available. There is no Saturday delivery.
The unit of currency is the Euro. Finland is part of the European Union.
There are exchange bureaus in all bank branches; some post offices, which also function as banks (Postipankki); major hotels; the Forex booths at the train station and in Esplanadi; and at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Some large harbor terminals also have exchange bureaus, and international ferries have exchange desks.
Prepaid Cash Cards
prepaid electronic cash cards are available that process cash transactions, made at designated public pay phones, vending machines, and McDonald’s. Disposable prepaid cards can be purchased at kiosks.
Citizens of non-EU countries are eligible for tax-free returns upon leaving EU territory. Purchases must be made in shops displaying the Tax-Free sign. The minimum total sum of purchased goods must be 40 euros. Upon leaving EU territory, travelers can claim VAT that varies according to product but does not exceed 16 percent.
Tipping is not the norm in Finland, but it is not unheard of.
Passports & Visas
Entering Finland All U.S. citizens, even infants, need only a valid passport to enter Finland for stays of up to three months.
The best time to apply for a passport or to renew is during the fall and winter. Before any trip, check your passport’s expiration date, and, if necessary, renew it as soon as possible.
Telephones The country code for Finland is 358. Telephone numbers in Finland vary in size from four to eight digits. Business phone numbers may also have special prefix codes (020 or 010), which are country-wide but are charged at only local rates.
Directory & Operator Information
For directory assistance dial 118.
You can call overseas at the post and telegraph office. In Helsinki, at Mannerheimintie 11B, the “Lennätin” section is open weekdays 9-9, Saturdays 10-4. The Finland Direct pamphlet tells you how to reach an operator in your own country for collect or credit-card calls. Use any booth that has a green light, and pay the cashier when you finish. You can also ask for a clerk to arrange a collect call; when it is ready, the clerk will direct you to a booth.
The front of the phone book has overseas calling directions and rates. You must begin all direct overseas calls with 990, or 999, or 994, or 00, plus country code (1 for the United States/Canada, 44 for Great Britain). Finnish operators can be reached by dialing 020-208 for overseas information or for placing collect calls.
Long-Distance Calls: When dialing out of the immediate area, first dial 0; drop the 0 when calling Finland from abroad.
Arriving & Departing
All international flights arrive at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL) (358-9-82771 or 358-9-61511), 12 mi north of city center. Helsinki is served by most major European airlines, as well as several East European carriers.
Flying time from New York to Helsinki is about eight hours, nine hours for the return trip.
Transfers Between the Airport and Town
A local Bus 615 runs three to four times an hour between the airport and the main railway station. The fare is FM 15, and the trip takes about 40 minutes. Finnair buses carry travelers to and from the railway station (Finnair’s City Terminal) two to four times an hour, with a stop at the Inter-Continental Helsinki. Stops requested along the route from the airport to the city are also made. Travel time from the Inter-Continental to the airport is about 30 minutes, 35 minutes from the main railway station; the fare is FM 25.
If you are driving, follow the signs to Tuusulan Route (Tuusulanväylä) and Keskusta (downtown Helsinki).
There is a taxi stop at the arrivals building. A cab ride into central Helsinki will cost between FM 100 and FM 140. Driving time is 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the time of day. Check to see if your hotel has a shuttle service, although this is not common here.
Airport Taxi (09/2200-2500) costs FM 60, FM 90 for two passengers, and operates shuttles between the city and the airport. You must reserve a day before your flight, by 7 PM for morning departures.
Ships arriving from Rostock, Germany, and Stockholm dock at Katajanokkanlaituri (east side of South Harbor).
The main long-distance bus station is Linja-autoasema (off Mannerheimintie, between Salomonkatu and Simonkatu).
Many local buses arrive and depart from Rautatientori (Railway Station Square). For information on long-distance transport, call 9600-4000.
Ring Roads One and Three are the two major highways that encircle the city. Mannerheimintie and Hämeentie are the major trunk roads out of Helsinki. Mannerheimintie feeds into Highway E79, which travels west and takes you to the Ring Roads. Hämeentie leads you to Highway E4 as well as Roads 4 and 7.
Helsinki’s main rail gateway is the Rautatieasema (train station; city center, off Kaivokatu, 09/707-5700 information).
Well-marked cycle paths run into the heart of Helsinki, making cycling safe and fast. Bikes can be rented at some youth hostels. The Finnish Youth Hostel Association (YHA; Yrjönkatu 38B, 00100 Helsinki, 09/694-0377, FAX: 09/693-1349,
Tours By Boat
All boat tours depart from Kauppatori Market Square. The easiest way to choose one is to go to the square in the morning and read the information boards describing the tours.
A ferry to the Suomenlinna fortress island runs about twice an hour, depending on the time of day, and costs FM 10. Ten-trip tickets issued for city public tranport can be used on the ferry, too.
From June to August, private water buses run from Kauppatori to Suomenlinna. Call 06/633-800 for information and schedules.
Travel within the City
The Helsinki City Transport tourist ticket entitles you to unlimited travel on all buses, trams, subways, and local trains in Helsinki. It is valid for one, three, or five days and costs FM 25, FM 50, or FM 75. For timetable and ticket information related to Helsinki’s comprehensive, punctual, and generally efficient public transport system, call the 24-hour line, 0100-111.
By Bus, Streetcar, Local Train, or Subway
Tickets may be purchased at subway stations, R-kiosks, and shops displaying the Helsinki city transport logo (two curving black arrows on a yellow background). Standard single tickets valid on all transport, and permitting transfers within the whole network for within an hour of the time stamped on the ticket, cost FM 10 and can be bought on trams and buses. Single tickets bought beforehand, at the City Transport office in the railway station tunnel or at one of the many R-kiosk shops, for example, cost FM 8. A 10-trip ticket sold at R-kiosks costs FM 75. Most of Helsinki’s major points of interest, from Kauppatori to the Opera House, are along the 3T tram line; the Helsinki City Tourist Office distributes a free pamphlet called “Helsinki Sightseeing: 3T.”
Helsinki’s subway (Metro) line runs from Ruoholahti, just west of the city center, to Mellunmäki and Vuosaari, in the eastern suburbs. It operates Monday-Saturday 5:25am-11:18 pm, and Sunday 6:30am – 11:20 pm.
There are numerous taxi stands; central stands are at Rautatientori at the station, the main bus station, Linja-autoasema, and in the Esplanade
Helsinki’s suburbs and most of the rest of southern, western, and central Finland are well served by trains. Travel on trains within the Helsinki city limits costs the same as all public transport.
Ring Roads One and Three are the two major highways that circle the city. Mannerheimintie and Hämeentie are the major trunk roads out of Helsinki. Mannerheimintie feeds into Highway E79, which travels west and takes you to the Ring Roads. Hämeentie leads you to Highway E4 as well as Roads 4 and 7. From either route, you will find directions for Road 137 to the airport. For specific route information, contact The Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (Autoliitto ry, Hämeentie 105 A, PL 35, 00550 Helsinki, 09/774-761)
. It is cheaper to rent directly from the United States before coming to Finland. Some Finnish service stations also offer car rentals at reduced rates.
Late autumn and spring are the most hazardous times to drive. Roads are often icy in autumn (kelivaroitus is the slippery road warning), and the spring thaw can make for kelirikko (heaves).
Rules of the Road
Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. You must always use low-beam headlights outside built-up areas. Seat belts are compulsory for everyone. You must yield to cars coming from the right at most intersections where roads are of equal size. There are strict drinking-and-driving laws
I. Neighborhoods Within Helsinki
1. Keskusta (City Center) contains Senate Square and other public buildings.
2. Katajanokka across the bridge from Senate Square
Site of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral
3. Krunnunhaka (The Old City) Helsinki’s oldest district. Contains antique furniture, book and clothing shops and art galleries.
4. Tervasaari (Tar Island)
a little island connected to Kruununhaka by a man made isthmus. A beautiful park with University Botanical Gardens as a centerpiece. Ice hockey in winter.
5. Kallio contains the Museum of Worker Housing and is a short walk from Helsinki’s amusement park: Linnanmäki.
6. Töölö Bay located north of the train station and near Kallio. Contains the City Theater; Olympic Stadium, the Finnish National Opera House, Finlandia Hall, and the natural Science Museum. It is also the site of the ultra modern church cut into the cliffs, Temppelinaukion kirkko.
7. Punavuori An upscale area beneath Töölö toward the end of the peninsula. Contains many fashionable galleries and boutiques as well as museums.
8. Eira Helsinki’s most fashionable area is bordered by parkland. Contains Helsinki’s best park: Kaviopuisto. Free concerts are offered there.
9. Outlying Islands : (connected by foot bridges to the mainland)
Suomenlinna (Finland’s Castle)
Seurasaari : site of the Open Air Museum
II. Museums and Other Attractions
Ateneumin Taidemuseo (Ateneum Museum of Finnish Art)
Tues. -Fri. 9-6 (also Wed.-Thurs. 6-8) Sat., Sun. 11-5.
Tram 2,3,4,6; all buses to Rautatientori Square
is the principal gallery and covers Finnish and international art from the 19th century. It is housed in a handsome 19th century building.
Eteläinen Rautatie 4
offers roulette, blackjack, and slot machines
Finlandiatalo (Finlandia Hall). This white, winged concert hall was one of architectAlvar Aalto’s last creations. It is especially impressive on foggy days or at night. Guided tour. Karamzininkatu 4, 09/40241.
Guided tours are offered. InfoShop open June-Aug., weekdays 9-4, weekends noon-4 for inquiries and tickets.
Concerts are usually held in the evening.
Gallen-Kallelantie 27, Tarvaspää
Take Tram 4 from in front of the Sokos department store on Mannerheimintie. From the Munkkiniemi stop transfer to Bus 33, or walk the 1 mile through the woods to the Estate.
May-Aug: Mon.-Thurs. 10-8, Fri.-Sun. 10-5; Sept -May, Tues.-Sat. 10-4, Sun. 10-5.
Six miles northwest of Helsinki on the edge of the sea is the estate of the Finnish Romantic painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela (which the artist designed himself). Gallen-Kallela lived there from its completion in 1913 until his death in 1931. Inside, the open rooms of the painter’s former work spaces make the perfect exhibition hall for his paintings.
Helsingen Kaupunginmuseo ( Helsinki City Museum)
Mon-Fri 9-5; Sat.,Sun. 11-5
Headquartered in the ‘street museum” of Sofiankantu, the City Museum has branches throughout the city, including the nearby Sederhom House. The main museum has an informative exhibit on the history of Helsinki. The “Street Museum” portrays changing styles of street architecture. Start at the harbor end and walk on the cobbled streets past the artifacts. The walk begins in the 800’s and ends in the 1930’s.
Linja-autosema. Hvitträskintie 166, Luoma, Kirkkonummi,
Bus 166 from Helsinki’s main bus station (45 min. ride).
June-Aug., weekdays 10-7, weekends 10-6; Sept.-May, weekdays 11-6, weekends 11-5
On the northwest edge of the Espoo area, 25 miles west of Helsinki, is the studio home of architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren, and Eliel Saarinen. In an idyllic position at the top of a wooded slope, the property dates back to the turn of the century, and has been converted into a museum. The main house is constructed in the national Art Nouveau style, with its rustic detail and paintings by Akseli Gallen-Kallela. Saarinen lived here, and his grave is nearby.
Exhibitions are arranged in summer. There is a delightful sauna beside the lake and the whole area is a ruggedly-beautiful nature park.
Kaivopuisto (Well Park)
South of Puistok. on the water.
This large, shady, path-filled park was once the site of a popular spa that drew people from St. Petersburg, Tallinn, and all of Scandinavia until its popularity faded during the Crimean War. All the spa structures were eventually destroyed except one, the Kaivohuone, which is now a popular restaurant. Across from the entrance of Kaivohuone, take Kaivohuoneenrinne through the park past an Empire-style villa built by Albert Edelfelt, father of the famous Finnish painter who bore the same name. Built in 1839, it is the oldest preserved villa in the park.
Kauppatori (Market Square)
Eteläranta and Pohjoisespl.
Sept.-May, weekdays 6:30-2, Sat. 6:30-3; June-Aug., weekdays 6:30-2 and 3:30-8, Sat. 6:30-3; Sun.9-4.
At this well known Helsinki market, open year-round, wooden stands with orange and gold awnings welcome tourists and locals alike who come to shop, browse, or sit and enjoy coffee and conversation. You can buy a fresh perch, a bouquet of flowers, or a fur pelt or hat. In summer the fruit and vegetable stalls are supplemented by an evening arts and crafts market.
Luonnontieteelinen Museo (Natural History Museum)
Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13
Mon-Fri 9-5 (Wed. also 5-8) and Sat,Sun 11-4
Bus 16,23,21v; tram 4,10
The museum is guarded by a bronze elk, just one of many animals in the museum’s vast collection. The mammal hall is one of the best in Europe, a series of tableaux showing Finnish wildlife in their native habitats.
Nykytaiteenmuseo -Kiasma (Museum of Contemporary Art)
Bus 16, 13, 21v; tram 4,10
09/1733-6500 or 1733-6501.
Tues. 9-5, Wed.-Sun. 10-10.
Praised for the boldness of its curved steel shell, the bold postmodern design is the creation of American architect, Stephen Holl. This striking museum opened in 1998 and displays a wealth of Finnish and foreign art from the 1960s to the present.
Sederholmin Talo (Sederholm House)
Daily 11-5 (June-Aug.) Wed-Sun. 11-5, rest of the year.
Tram 3B, 3T,1,2,4,7
This is said to be the oldest house in Helsinki. Its one time owner, Johan Sederholm, was an 18th century Finnish businessman who rose from poverty to great wealth and distinction.
Senaatintori (Senate Square)
Tram 3B, 3T, 1,2,4,7
Site of many summer festivals and events
The harmony of the three buildings flanking Senaatintori exemplifies neoclassical architecture. The architecture is in the Russian Imperial style which was encouraged by Tsar Alexander I in his bid to make Helsinki a stylistically eastern capital after it was annexed by Russia from Sweden in 1809. The asquare and its major buildings were designed by German architect Carl Ludvig Engel.
On the square’s west side is one of the main buildings of Helsingin Yliopisto (Helsinki University); on the east side is the pale yellow Valtionneuvosto (Council of State), completed in 1822. At the lower end of the square, stores and restaurants now occupy former merchants’ homes.
Seurasaaren Ulkomuseo.( Seurasaari Open Air Museum)
a 40 minute walk from the opera house or take Bus 24 from city center.
There are guided tours in English at 11:30 and 3:30.
09/4050-9660 in summer; 09/4050-9327 in winter.
Mid-May-late May and early Sept.-mid-Sept., weekdays 9-3, weekends 11-5; June-Aug., Thurs.-Tues. 11-5, Wed. 11-7; mid-Sept.-mid-Nov., weekends 11-5.
Located on an island about 2 miles northwest of the city center, the Seurasaari Outdoor Museum was founded in 1909 to preserve rural Finnish architecture. Its vintage farmhouses and barns were brought to Seurasaari from all over Finland; many are rough-hewn log buildings dating from the 17th century. All exhibits are marked by signposts along the trails. There are nearly 100 marvelous buildings to explore including a manor house, traditional farmhouses and a church, some dating from the 17th century. . Seurasaari Island is connected to land by a pedestrian bridge, and is easily reached from central Helsinki.
Sibeliusken Puisto. The Sibelius-Monumentti (Sibelius Monument)
West of Mechelinin.
The monument, by itself, is worth the walk to this lakeside park. What could be a better tribute to Finland’s great composer than this soaring silver sculpture of organ pipes?
Suomen Kansallismuseo (National Museum of Finland)
Tues.-Wed. 11-8; Thurs.-Sun. 11-6.
Eliel Saarinen and his partners blend characteristics of Finnish medieval churches and castles with elements of Art Nouveau in this example of the National Romantic style, which recently reopened after renovations. The museum’s archaeological, cultural, and ethnological collections explore Finnish life from prehistoric times to the present.
University of Helsinki Botanical Gardens
Kaisaniemi, Unioninkatu 44
The Botanical Gardens are open Tue-Sun 11 – 17. The outdoor gardens are open 7 – 8 daily May-Sept.; 7 – 6 during the rest of the year.
Admission charged for entry to greenhouses. There is no charge for admission to the outdoor garden areas.
The Botanical Gardens belonging to the University of Helsinki are in Kaisaniemi, a short walk from the Railway Station towards Hakaniemi. They consist of a large outdoor area surrounding the greenhouses, which have just reopened after a major renovation.
Kumpula Gardens (University of Helsinki)
City Conservatory (Helsinki City Winter Gardens)
Open: Mon-Sat 12 – 15 and Sun 12 – 16.
Meiramitie 1, Vantaa
Open in winter Mon-Fri 8 –7, Sat-Sun 9 –5; in summer Mon-Fri 8 –6 and Sat-Sun 9 -3
Suomenlinna (Finland’s Castle).
From June 1 to August 31, guided English-language tours leave from the ticket booth at Artillery Bay daily at 10:30, 1, and 2
Ferries leave at half hourly intervals from the Market Pier
(Ehrensvärd-society, tel. 09/6841850).
09/6841880 (tourist information).
The historic fortress is built on four interconnecting islands. There are several museums on Suomenlinna, including a main exhibition center, the Military Museum, the Coast Artillery Museum, and a doll and toy museum. There are also several art galleries, craft studios and restaurants. Exquisite gardens and acres of parkland make this a
perennially popular excursion from Helsinki.
Museums On Suomenlinna
tel. (+358-9) 668 880
tel. (+358-9) 668 154
Once the residence of the fortress commandant, the museum is named in honor of Augustin Ehrensvärd, under whose direction most of the fortifications were built.
Suomenlinna Doll and Toy Museum,
tel. (+358-9) 668 417.
A private museum in an old Russian villa.
tel. (+358-9) 181 46238
250-ton coastal submarine used during the second world war.
Coastal Artillery Museum
+358-9 1814 5295
300 years of coastal defense equipment
tel. (+358-9) 1814 5296
Heavy war material used by various services mainly in 1939-1945.
Temppeliaukio Kirkko (Temple Square Church).
Lutherinkatu 3, 09/494-698.
Weekdays 10-8, Sat. 10-6, Sun. 12-1:45 and 3:15-5:45.
Topped with a copper dome, this modern Lutheran church is carved into the rock outcrops below and around it. The sun shines in from above, illuminating the stunning interior with its birch pews, modern pipe organ, and cavernous walls. Ecumenical and Lutheran services in various languages are held throughout the week.
Tuomiokirkko (Lutheran Cathedral of Finland)
Senate Square, Unioninkatu 29.
June-Aug., Mon.-Sat. 9–-6, Sun. 12-–6; Sept.-May, Mon.-Sat. 10–-6, Sun. 12-–6.
The steep steps and green domes of the church dominate Senaatintori. Completed in 1852, it is the work of famous architect Carl Ludvig Engel. Wander through the tasteful blue-gray interior, with its white moldings and the statues of German reformers Martin Luther and Philipp Melancthon, and the famous Finnish bishop Mikael Agricola. Concerts are frequently held inside the church. The crypt at the rear is the site of frequent historic and architectural exhibitions, and houses a little cafe in the summer.
Uspenskin Katedraali (Uspensky Cathedral).
May-Sept., Mon. and Wed.-Fri. 9:30-4, Tues. 9:30-6, Sat. 10-4, Sun. noon-3; Oct.-Apr., Tues. and Thurs. 9-2, Wed. noon-6, Fri. noon-4, Sun. noon-3.
Perched on a small rocky cliff over the North Harbor in Katajanokka is the main cathedral of the Orthodox church in Finland. Its brilliant gold onion domes are its identifying features, but its imposing redbrick edifice, decorated by 19th-century Russian artists, is no less distinctive. The cathedral was built and dedicated in 1868 in the Byzantine-Slavonic style and remains the largest Orthodox church in Scandinavia.
Yrjönkatu Public Swimming Pool
Yrjönkatu 21 B; tel. 60 981
You can also visit the Finnish Sauna Society on Lauttasaari (tel. 678 677), where it is possible to try a traditional “smoke sauna”.
Kotiharju in Kallio
Harjutorinkatu 1; tel. 753 1535
a public sauna (pronounced sa –ow-nuh)
For thousands of years, sauna has been an essential part of Finnish culture and tradition. Sauna is a place to get washed, relax, meditate, have meetings, make important decisions Until the mid-1900’s, it was also a place to give birthit is estimated that in Finland, with five million people, there are one million saunas. Most Finns go to a sauna at least once a week.
A Finnish sauna is an insulated, heated (80-100 degrees Celsius) room where people (men and women separately, except within the family) gather naked to enjoy the warmth. There are usually wooden benches and a stove (heated with wood or electricity) in one corner of the room. Water is thrown on the hot stones of the stove for steam: löyly fills the room, makes the heat more intense, and stimulates perspiration. One can also lightly stroke oneself with a wet birch switch called vihta or vasta. If it gets too hot, one can cool down outside and then go back to löyly again. This might go on for hours while chatting or discussing business.
Areas Around Helsinki
During the months of the midnight sun, coastal regions, including the Turku archipelago and Åland Islands, are a sailing and fishing paradise.
Finland’s first capital, is the country’s oldest city. Fire has destroyed it several times over the centuries, but its biggest blow was the transfer of the capital to Helsinki in 1812. Today, Turku is a substantial city with fine attractions
Luostarinmäki is the only surviving 18th-century area of medieval Turku
Here, in summer, artisans work inside the old wooden houses.
Turku Cathedral is the national shrine of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland. It dates from the 13th century, and the museum here is open daily.
Turku Castle, founded in 1280, is the most notable historic building in Finland. It houses an interesting museum, with many rooms decorated to evoke a specific decade or century. Situated on the southern coast of Finland, Turku is the most likely gateway to the country if you are coming from Sweden.
The Åland province, with its own flag and culture, comprises more than 6400 autonomous islands. Several dialects of Swedish are spoken, and few Ålanders speak Finnish. This beautiful island is perfect for bicycle tours, camping and cabin holidays, and for experiencing the islanders’ distinctive culture, expressed in folk dancing, Maypole decorating and small-town charm.
Regular ferries connect Åland to both Sweden and the Finnish mainland. Free transport is provided by inter-island ferries. Sund is accessible by bus and bicycle from the dock.
Sund, at the eastern end of the main island, with its impressive Kastelholm Castle is the most interesting town on Åland . Of strategic importance during the 16th and 17th centuries, the castle’s exact age is not known, but it was mentioned in writings as early as 1388.
Jan Karlsgården Museum This open-air museum is one of the best places in Finland to witness Midsummer festivities.
Bomarsund Fortress, now in ruins, is a memorial to the time when Åland, together with the rest of Finland, was under Russian rule. The main fortress, finished in 1842, was large enough to house 2500 people
Attractions of Interest to Children
The Theatre Museum
Kaapelitehdas (Cable factory), Tallberginkatu 1 G.
Exhibitions open: Tue–Sun 12–19, Mon closed.
Exhibitions devoted to Finnish theatre and magic. Children can also borrow the costumes and wear them in their own stage productions.
Midsummer’s Day (Juhannus) is the most important annual event for Finns. People leave cities and towns for summer cottages to celebrate the longest day of the year. Bonfires are lit and lakeside merrymakers swim and row boats.
Other annual Helsinki Events:
Musica Nova Helsinki. Musica Nova Helsinki is an international annual event dedicated to new art music concerts
Musica Nova Helsinki,
Lasipalatsi, 00100 HELSINKI,
tel. +358 (0)9 6126 5100, telefax +358 (0)9 6126 5161
Annual Church Music festival. Churches of Helsinki are filled with music. Festival features especially brass instruments.
The Parish Union of Helsinki, information, 3 linja 22, 00530 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 70921, telefax +358 (0)9 709 2233
Helsinki, Cable Factory
Helsinki Beer Festival. The biggest Beer Festival in Finland is presented each year. The Festival featured a record 400 different beer, 50 ciders, and a selection of whiskies. On Thursday and Friday afternoons admission is to trade visitors only. On Thursday and Friday nights (from 5 p.m.) and all day Saturday (from 12 noon) the Festival is open to the general public. Helsinki Beer Festival Office, Telephone +358-9-6962 8021
Fax + 358-9-6962 8080
Helsinki Day. anniversary of the founding of Helsinki, with activities around the city for people of all ages. Helsinki City Information Office, Aleksanterinkatu 20, 00100 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 1691, telefax +358 (0)9 655 354
Jun 14-Jun 16
Helsinki, Senate Square
Regional Fair (Itä-Uusimaa). The traditional fair in the heart of the city, bringing a mixture of dialects, regional cuisine and practical demonstrations of various trades and crafts.
Helsinki City Information Office, Aleksanterinkatu 20, 00100 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 1691, telefax +358 (0)9 655 354
Helsinki, Olympic Stadium
AsicsGrand Prix. The summer’s biggest sports event will feature top athletes from around the world.
Suomen Urheiluliitto ry, Radiokatu 20, 00240 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 348 121, telefax +358 (09) 3481 2367
National Midsummer Eve celebration. Bonfires, folk music, folk dances, traditional Finnish games
Seurasaari Foundation, Tamminiementie 1, 00250 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 485 424, telefax +358 (0)9 485 424
August 24-September 9 (approx)
Helsinki Festival, Lasipalatsi, Mannerheimintie 22-24, 00100 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 6126 5100, fax +358 (0)9 6126 5161
Music, dance, drama, films, high-standard exhibitions. The basic idea of the annual Helsinki Festival is to culminate the summer with an international arts event. The Festival includes Night of the Arts -festival and Food Piazza on the Senate Square
The Helsinki Festival is the most diverse event in the Finnish cultural calendar, with major symphonic works and the finest baroque orchestras. World class musicians perform in the Huvila Festival Tent each year.
Other Festival events include visiting dance and theatre companies, and well known names in visual art and cinema. There is a special program for children. The annual Night of the Arts is celebrated late in August with many events throughout the city.
Helsinki, Fair Centre
Helsinki International Fashion Fair. The Fashion fair presents coming trends, it is the number one event in the Fashion industry in Finland
Helsinki Fair Centre, Messuaukio 1, 00520 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 15091, telefax +358 (0)9 142 358
Helsinki, Fair Center
Habitare, Homeowner Fair. Habitare Furniture and Interior Decoration Fair is the biggest furniture fair in Finland. In the previous fair 501 exhibitors displayed products from 25 different countries.
Helsinki Fair Centre, Messuaukio 1, 00520 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 15091, telefax +358 (0)9 142 358
Helsinki, Market Square
Baltic Herring Market. Fishermen have been gathering round Helsinki Market Square at the beginning of October to sell their wares ever since the 18th century. Once again October will bring the oldest of the city’s traditional events. The market will be packed with salted, pickled and marinated fish and special events.
Port of Helsinki, Olympiaranta 3, 00140 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 173 331, telefax +358 (0)9 1733 3232
Helsinki, Hartwall Areena
Helsinki International Horse Show. Each year, Helsinki International Horse Show arrives at Hartwall Areena for three days. The biggest annual indoor event in Finland, the
Horse Show has been held in Helsinki since 1985 and has established itself in the forefront of top events. Event attracts top names from abroad.
Scanhorse, Runeberginkatu 5 B, 00100 HELSINKI, puh. +358
Forces of Light festival. A city event using light and darkness as its ingredients. Forces of Light is a project of the townspeople, one which has been built by means of a broad network. The event will inspire people to enhance their habitat by means of light and create an image of Helsinki as a creative city of light. Forces of Light, Fredrikinkatu 61 A 60, 00100 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 686 6810, telefax +358 (0)9 6866 8111
Classic Jazz. Helsinki Classic Jazz Festival swings in November. The best international and finnish classic jazz bands.
Classic Jazz ry, Metsätähdentie 13, 01350 Vantaa, tel.+358 (0)9 602 116, +358 (0)40 505 4884, telefax +358 (0)9 602 656
end of Nov
Ethnic Sounds. Since 1994 Ethnic Sounds is involved in the Nordic ”World in the North” –festival collaboration. Ethnic Sounds features artists from around the world.
Maailman musiikin keskus, Meritullinkatu 33 C, 00170 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 6962 790, telefax +358 (0)9 6962 7910
end of Nov-beginning of Dec
Dance Arena. A biennial festival of contemporary Finnish dance and the Finnish Platform of Rencontres Internationales Chorégraphiques de Seine-Saint-Denis. The festival highlights the peak performances of Finnish contemporary dance and takes place in the different venues for presenting dance.
Finnish Dance Information Centre, Bulevardi 23 – 27, 00180 Helsinki, tel. + 358 (0)9 612 1075, telefax + 358 (0)9 612 1824,
Independence Day. Honor guard at the war memorial and students’ torchlight procession at the Senate Square.
Women’s Christmas Fair. Crafts and Christmas specialities.
Naisten Joulumessut, Bulevardi 11 A, 00120 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 642 277
Lucia -parade. On Lucia Day, 13th December, the beautiful Lucia maiden descends the steps of the Lutheran Cathedral and leads a parade through the city.
Folkhälsan, Topeliuksenkatu 20, 00250 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 43491, telefax +358 (0)9 434 9352
Christmas Market “Tuomaan markkinat”, Crafts, baked goods and other Christmas specialities
Kiinteistövirasto, Halli- ja ulkomyyntiyksikkö, Pohjoisesplanadi 5, 00170 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 169 3367, telefax +358 (0)9 169 3784
National New Year’s Eve festivities. Speeches and music
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Finnish Museum of Natural History
Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13. Open: Mon-Fri 9-17. Sat-Sun 11-16.
Finnish and foreign mammals, birds and fishes in natural environments. The Zoological Museum, part of the Finnish Museum of Natural History, has by far the largest animal collection, containing about 8 million items. Every year the collections increase by tens of thousands of specimens. Special children’s events and exhibits
Dance Theatre Hurjaruuth
Kaapelitehdas (Cable factory)
Tallberginkatu 1 A.
A dynamic dance theatre company – founded in 1981. Hurjaruuth has its own studio at Cable factory.
Vihreä Omena (Green Apple) Puppet Theatre
Eläintarhan huvila 7,
09-701 2483, 09-712 818, Fax 09-712 818.
Finland’s oldest professional puppet theatre. telephone for times and performances.
tel. 169 5969
Special admission rates for children, families, seniors.
May-Sept. daily 10-8;Oct.-Feb. daily 10-4;March, April: daily 10-6..
Korkeasaari is an island, which you can reach by water bus from Hakaniemi and the Market Square in May-September or across the bridge at any time of the year.
Take bus 16 to Kulosaari and walk just over a mile. During the summer season, there is a special “zoo bus”, which runs from Kulosaari right to the gate of Korkeasaari.
The zoo on the island of Korkeasaari is mainly inhabited by northern species of animals, but it also has the “mini rain forest” Amazonia and Feline House, with creatures from warmer climates than Finland
Korkeasaari, when it opened in 1884, was the first park in Helsinki where anyone, regardless of rank or wealth, was welcome. With the sea all around, it also offered more freedom and open spaces than the parks in the city.
Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Open Tue 9.00 – 17.00Wed – Sun 10 – 22Mon closed
Admission: charged; children under 18 free.
As an architectural creation, Kiasma is exciting. Its creator Steven Holl envisioned it as a structure of intersecting arcs, which would dovetail with the urban structure of the city as well as with the natural environment of the park landscape surrounding Töölönlahti Bay.
The Arctic light was one of Holl’s main sources of inspiration. The light enters the Kiasma building from different sides and at a variety of angles. As the planet rotates and the hours pass, there is constant variation in the influx of light and the effect it creates.
Children have their own center in Kiasma.. There is also a workshop, where courses are arranged. In Kiasma’s philosophy, works of art can be interpreted in more than one correct way, and exploration is encouraged.
Heureka, Finnish Science Centre
Tiedepuisto 1, Tikkurila town centre, Vantaa
There is a good commuter train service between Helsinki and Tikkurila station, which is close to Heureka.
Small children are well provided for. There are special rides for them and a separate area called Satulaakso (“Fairy Tale Valley”) with a children’s theater.
Heureka Science Centre
The exhibitions at the Heureka Science Centre are designed for the “hands-on” visitor participation.. The whole idea is to touch things, move them and find out how they work. The basic exhibition presents science from a somewhat different than usual angle. Heureka is entertaining and informative for the whole family. There are frequent changing exhibitions on many subjects. The Verne Theatre presents movies on science-related themes.
Linnanmäki Amusement Park,
Open from the beginning of May to the end of August.
The cliffs of Linnanmäki have been a popular playground for many generations of Helsinki children. Now the amusement park has a museum dedicated to toys and games. It is open all year round.
The Linnanmäki amusement park is a favorite with children and adults alike. The fun begins at the end of April and continues in full swing until the beginning of September. When Linnanmäki opens its gates, everyone in Helsinki knows that summer has arrived!
Water slides, gaming arcade, roller coaster, the Octopus, the Space Shot, the Enterprise, the Rainbow and the Flying Carpet are a few of the favorites.
Linnanmäki has its own theatre, the Peacock, which produces a new revue every summer. Finnish celebrities, current phenomena and, of course, politicians become the subjects of merciless satire
Hundreds of Finnish and international artistes perform on the outdoor stage at Linnanmäki each season: pop singers, acrobats, dancers, magicians and jugglers