I loved Helsinki, easily one of my favourite trips. The people were very friendly and has great weather where its sunny enough for sunglasses but cold enough for a woolly hat!
We spent a few days there at the beginning of May, so arrived just as the Vappu celebrations were taking place. So was was a great atmosphere across the city and pretty busy. I imagine in the cold weather and off peak seasons its much quieter.
Anyway, if you go to Helsinki get a tram ticket from one of the kiosks, there is one in the train station. You can get three day ones and then you can easily get around everywhere. Here are my top ten destinations for Helsinki:
1. Suomenlinna– unfortunately we got a boat over the morning after quite a heavy night, hence big sunglasses and looking rather pale. But really glad we went. Suomenlinna, a World Heritage Site, is a sea fortress with permeant residents and a naval base. There a six museums on the island as well as a couple of cafes and restaurants. If there weather is nice, would be perfect for a picnic. It’s easily a whole day trip. When we went there it was a Halo around the sun.
2. Helsinki Cathedral – an absolute must go as easily one of the most recognised sites in Finland. An evangelic lutheran cathedral that was completed in the 19th century. Has beautiful domed interior and ornate organ and altar pieces. The steps seem to be a local hang out area and there were a few kids filming skateboard tricks which was a bit random.
3. Uspenski Cathedral – there was actually a service going on in there when we had finally climbed up the stairs which very clearly had no kind of Health and safety policy in place! Which was a shame as we didn’t get to see much.
4. Esplanade Park – Good place to chill out in your shopping trip. Park right in the middle of town, which you just follow down to the harbour.
5. Sibelius Monument – a monument to the composer, Jean Sibelius, located in the Sibelius Park. It was actually pretty busy when we went there but managed to get a snap of it on its own. Is a lovely walk through the park to get there as well.
6. Helsinki Olympic Stadium – this is quite far from where we were staying, so did a little tram tour to get there. It’s still used for large sporting events and there were a few people training there. The reason to go is to get to the top of the tower for the views of the whole city, which are amazing.
7. Temppeliaukio Church – known as the rock church as it built into solid rock, but there is also a heavy metal priest who takes services here! Sadly we missed that! It was actually a bit hard to find as obviously is built in the ground, but we didn’t realise how much was hidden, and we were pretty close to giving up, but very glad we didn’t!
8. Heavy Corner – we ended up going here every night which is ridiculous. A heavy metal bar with good music, gigs and heavy metal karaoke. As Lonely Planet says, it is taken quite seriously and some of them were pretty good! but the people are very friendly and you’ll have a good night. A lot of people wanted to practise their english with us and had a lot of stories to tell about bands from the area.
9. Train Station – hard to miss as right in the centre of town but even if you aren’t getting a train, go and take a closer look at the architecture, the figures that guard the entrance and the striking clock tower.
10. Hesburger – i’m not even joking, its basically the Finnish version of Macdonalds but they do a gluten free hamburger! Need I say more? We did actually shamefully have a macdonalds one evening after a big night and it was about £8! So definitely go local with your junk food.