Helsinki is also called the “Daughter of the Baltic” and it is the capital and the largest city of Finland. It is located in the south part of the country in the “Uusimaa” region. The Helsinki Capital Region includes four municipalities: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen and it is considered the only metropolis of Finland. With a population of over 1.4 million, Helsinki is the fourth largest metropolitan area of all the Nordic countries. It is also the most political, educational, financial and cultural as well as one of northern Europe’s major cities.
Helsinki was founded by the Swedish king Gustav Vasa in 1550 to compete with Tallinn (Estonia) for the Baltic Sea trade. The city grew slowly but by 1749 when the construction of Suomenlinna Fortress began it brought wealthy habitants and merchants to the city.
Despite all the attempts to protect it, the Russians finally conquered Finland in 1809, after more than one century later (1917) Finland became independent. With a new shine, after the war the Summer Olympics of 1952 were hosted in the city, this help to improve the country’s image of a new and friendly place to visit.
Nowadays this exciting Nordic capital has gained important recognition from all over the world. In the 2000 Helsinki was nominated as one of the nine European Cities of culture. Helsinki was ranked by the Liveable Cities Index in 2011 as the best place in the world to live. It is also a World Design Capital in 2012 and awarded in 2014 as City of Design (UNESCO) and the list goes on and on.
Helsinki has experienced a very fast growth since the 1980’s, becoming surely a multifaceted city full of quality museums, stadiums, restaurants, shops, music events, festivals, art expositions, architecture and cultural events.
Even if it’s a urbanized area, Helsinki keeps its strong bond with nature as well. One of the beautiful peculiarities about this exciting capital is the variety of experiences and possibilities according to the seasons of the year. From a beautiful and colorful downtown sea view in the summer in June to a white snowy Christmas open market walk in December. The autumn season also offers a nice variety of seasonal delicacies and a gorgeous landscape from the Nordic and maple trees with their brown-red-golden colored leaves.
Helsinki airport has a train connection to Helsinki center. If you prefer rubber wheels then there is also plenty of airport buses to use. Helsinki is also really good connected to its nearest countries whit ferries. There are plenty of ferry lines, for example to Stockholm, Tallinn and Saint Petersburg. Three main harbors are Länsisatama, Katajanokka and Olympia terminal. Check more info from our transportation section.
Where to eat
- Chef and sommelier (Huvilakatu 28, 00150 Helsinki)
This famous restaurant is located in the Ullanlinna district, probably one of the best places to eat in the Capital. Their menu is always special and prepared with organic, local and fairtrade ingredients that fit perfectly their excellent wine variety. With an elegant and neat environment, Chef and sommelier is an excellent choice for a great fine dining experience in Finland.
More info and reservations: Chef & Sommelier
- GRÖN (Albertinkatu 36, 00180 Helsinki)
The restaurant id located in a quiet street in the downtown of Helsinki City, Grön serves tasty and inspiring food that focuses on high-quality local ingredients. This place has an intimate, relaxing and kind environment with a small selection of à la carte dishes as well as a four course House Menu. The dishes are mainly based on seasonal, organic, wild and Scandinavian ingredients. Run by the chefs Toni Kostian and Lauri Kähkönen. Don’t forget to check their amazing and interesting wine selection along their excellent sommelier.
More info and reservations: Grön Restaurant
- Lappi Ravintola (Annankatu 22, 00100 Helsinki)
With a very unique interior decoration, Lappi is the best choice for trying delicacies from Lapland. With a very friendly staff and good food, this place is a must in your list if you are visiting Helsinki. We recommend the Grilled reindeer fillet served with cranberry sauce, potato cake, smoked parsnip pureé and honey turnip and as dessert the Lappis farm cheese with cloud berry jam and cinnamon cream.
More info and reservations: Lappi Restaurant
Where to stay
- Hotel Klaus K
Beautiful design hotel in the center of Helsinki. Probably one of the best hotels in the city. Restaurant has also organic options and hotels location is perfect 100 m from Esplanadi.
More info and reservation: Hotel Klaus K
- Omena Hotels in Helsinki
Omena hotels chain has two centrally located hotels in Helsinki center. These are Omena hotel Lönnrotinkatu and Omena hotel Yrjönkatu. Both Hotels are fully automated. After reservation system will send you code and whit that code you can enter the hotel and your room. You don’t need to do any checking.
More info and reservations: https://www.omenahotels.com/en/
- GLO Hotel Kluuvi
This hotel is one of the most popular hotels in Helsinki. Location is really central and only few hundreds meters from the central railway station. Check their special offer from their page!
More info and reservations: GLO Hotels
What to do
Until 1918 called Viapori or Sveaborg , Suomenlinna (Castle of Finland) is an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands part of the capital of Finland. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular with tourists and locals, who enjoy its beautiful views.
In 1748 the Swedish crown began the construction of the fortress as protection against Russia. Augustin Ehrensvärd was in charge of the massive project. In the Finnish War in 1808 the fortress surrendered to Russia, finally the occupation of Finland by Russian forces took place in 1809.
Luckily Finland became independent in 1917, leaving this beautiful site open for exploring its gorgeous historical walls and a valuable memory of Finnish story. Suomenlinna nowadays offers several options to spend the day such as lovely cafes, handcraft boutiques, museums, restaurants and a hostel if you want to spend the night in this magical place. To get there, you must take a ferry in Helsinki Center, next to the open summer market place. The tickets are from 5-10 euros.
- Vanha Kauppahalli
The Old Market hall open its doors since 1888, the first indoor market built in Finland. This beautiful building was designed by Gustaf Nyström who was inspired by other European city main markets. Surviving the tumultuous chapters of Finnish history, the Old Market Hall is still standing and it’s a great place to discover Finnish handcrafts and the flavors of this special Nordic nation. In its interior you will find more than 20 shops and great food spots. Try the fine selection of Finnish breads and pastries from local bakeries.
Address: Eteläranta, 00130 Helsinki
The Finnish museum of contemporary art, a lively cultural center and meeting place is located in Helsinki downtown near Kamppi mall. Kiasma offers changing exhibitions and collections, along with research and presentation of the works. The primary focus in the museum collection is Finnish contemporary art. The collection is also supplemented by new work. The collection is presented to the public in annually changing thematic exhibitions. The museum also has a very nice souvenier shop and a cafeteria.
Address: Mannerheiminaukio 2, 00100, Helsinki.