Helsinki is a bustling Northern European city – overflowing with attractions and things to see and do. Below I cover my personal top 5 recommendations of what you should see on your Finnish adventure.
1 Swim in Allas Sea Pool
For under 15 euros you can submerge yourself in the waters of a sub-zero outdoor sea pool as you watch ferries leave the harbour. Seriously. This is not for the faint hearted – temperatures are so low that your entry to the sea pool is supervised by a lifeguard. Alternatively, you can opt for the heated pool followed by a Finnish sauna experience.
2 Grab a snack at Café Regatta
Becoming increasingly popular on social media, Regatta is a quaint traditional Finnish café overlooking the sea. Adorably tiny inside, additional seating is offered outside where it’s possible to cook your own sausages over fire pits which is a whole experience in itself. Over winter the sea can also freeze over completely, allowing you to walk on the ice!
3 Marvel at architecture
Although every ‘to see’ list for Helsinki suggests it, this is for good reason – the architecture in the city is incredibly impressive. My top recommendations are Helsinki Cathedral and Uspenski Cathedral – with the latter’s Russian influence making for a striking exterior. Even to just snap a few pictures, you must make sure to plan in a visit to some of Helsinki’s top Cathedrals.
Head down to the Market Square to grab traditional Finnish soup and browse for handmade souvenirs, whilst Helsinki may be expensive to eat out and shop in high street shops, the market offers a cheaper and more authentic experience. We even spoke to a craftsman who swore parts of his jewellery came from dragons… Close by you can also catch a ferry to Suomenlinna – an UNESCO site island museum that was used as a sea fortress.
5 Get out of Helsinki
Perhaps one of the greatest things about Helsinki is how easy it is to access other amazing places: from the port you can catch a short ferry ride across to Tallinn (Estonia) for a day trip or even visit a herd of reindeers in Nuuksio National Park. Viking line offer return trips from Helsinki to Tallinn for reasonable prices and you can easily book online. At Nuuksio Reindeer Park, the private bookings can be steep but on public holidays drop dramatically. Adults can enter for 25 euros which includes a coffee and stickbun grilling over an open fire in a tepee, much more preferable!