Going around Helsinki

I just recently realized that I have no blog post about Helsinki and what you can visit there at all! I mean I got  Xi’an covered, Stockholm, Tallinn and also several North German cities but nothing about Helsinki, the city I lived for so many years. Thankfully I did not forget yet everything so I will give you a small impression on what you can visit there within a day. All pictures were shot few days before our wedding going around the city with my in-laws and also few days after the wedding taking some friends around.

Helsinki Cathedral

First of all some info about the city. Helsinki is the capital city of Finland with a population of about 625 thousand. That might seem pretty small but you have to think that the entire nation only got a bit over 5 million inhabitants so it ain’t that bad suddenly anymore. Finland has been for many years under the rule of Sweden and later under the rule of the Russian Empire. Only after 1917 Finland got its independency. It was under the Russian rule that Helsinki became the capital city of Finland and in the city center are many neoclassical buildings. In fact it happens often that tv shows or movies are using the city center of Helsinki not in order to have Helsinki itself as the setting but St. Petersburg! But more about that you shall see in some pictures.


One main thing to visit in the city is the Helsinki Cathedral. It has been built from 1830-1852 and was known until the Finnish independency as St. Nicholas Church (Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas the First of Russia).  it is not an incredible big cathedral but it has a very interesting design and interior decorations. Standing in front of the cathedral you have a wonderful view towards the Senate Square and can even see a bit of the  South harbour. Passing by the Senate Square is the street Aleksanterinkatu which is a shopping street where you can find pretty much everything, there is also Stockmann located, a big department store. The street is also very interesting as it is heated during winter time and thus there is no snow. A short distance away is Temppeliaukio Church which is famous for its design. It was built 1969 into solid rock and is known due to this fact also as the Rock Church. Due to its design and the rock walls it has excellent acoustics and is often used for small performances.

Temppeliaukio / Rock Church

From the Helsinki harbour you can take a ferry to Suomenlinna, an old sea fortress which is also a UNESCO World heritage site. The island is inhabited by some 900 people and all around are the old remains of the fortress including huge cannons. It is also a very popular place to go for Finnish people to enjoy the rare summer days to have some BBQ and go swimming in the ocean. At Suomenlinna is also the last surviving Finnish submarine Vesikko. From the Helsinki harbour you can take also another ferry to the Helsinki Zoo Korkeasaari. The ferry used to be the only means of getting there however these days there is also a bridge leading to the zoo (only by walking though!). It is a small but nice zoo with animals from around the world. There is also an Africa and a South America House with small animals running partly freely around there.

Cannon at Suomenlinna

All these places you can pretty much visit within a day. Of course there are also many other places you should visit as well. The best way to get a good look around is to take one of the sightseeing buses or taking Tram Line 2 and 3 as they go pretty much around all major sightseeing spots. As you might have seen I did not include much of the city center here such as the museums, the famous Railway Station, the city hall or the Parliament House. These are all places you can easily visit by walking around the city center as they are just minutes away from each other by walking. To my shame I must admit I do not have any pictures of them and thus didn’t include them now in this short tour.

Have you visited Helsinki already or plan to go there one day?

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32 thoughts on “Going around Helsinki”

  1. I was in Helsinki in 2005! It was a brief visit of a couple of days, on our way back from Rovaniemi. I remember the cathedral, the rock church, the Sibelius monument… and that there was snow everywhere but in that street. I thought it was genius, haha.

  2. Such a cozy tour of Helsinki. I would love to visit someday. Didn’t know there were animals roaming about like that around the house there. Much more free than a zoo…and I see your MIL likes that.

    That is one big canon and wow, you can actually climb it! 😀

    1. Well there are only few little animals roaming the building such as very tiny birds (I always failed to take pictures of them!) and other animals which can’t really escape.
      The cannon in that one picture isn’t even the biggest one, all over the island you can find such fortifications.

  3. What the… how can they get the setting of a Russian city by filming in a Finnish one? That’s too big a misrepresentation! Must be those Hollywood films, they always do this!

    I’m interested with how they heat the streets in winter. The entire streets? Must be some smart engineering going on, otherwise it will cost a bomb.

    1. The inner city of Helsinki such as around the senate square closely resembles older Russian cities as the cit was at first designed with st Petersburg in mind.

      Only that one shopping street is heated during winter and I also wonder about the heating costs. But then again heating is in general for free in Finland! (Wonder how the government can afford it though…)

  4. When I worked in the airline industry I used to have lots of layovers in Helsinki. I liked the city a lot, but I also noticed that it has lots of Russian-ish features. There are also some really nice restaurants and compared to Denmark, Finland is slightly cheaper. I always went to Stockmanns to buy canned reindeer soup. So delicious with Jerusalem artichokes on top:)

  5. I have never lived in Helsinki, but been there many times.. There’s nothing much to do in the city but I did enjoy it so much more than Kokkola. I even tried moving there but I was denied admission by Metropolia UAS (not enough marks haha), but staying in Kokkola ultimately brought me to Poland..

    I feel that Helsinki is more vibrant yet doesn’t feel far from nature, multi-cultural and has a bit of nightlife too.. I prefer Helsinki the best during summer though. I never did any touristy stuff there besides the suomenlinna fort and the white church hehe. I have to leave the rest for future.

    1. Compared to smaller cities in Finland Helsinki is really lively though compared to other capital cities in Europe it is also a dead city :p
      I was only few times in kokkola for competitions or driving through, not the biggest town out there 😀

    1. It is some work to get up there but usually worth it (except onrainy days!). Never realized that it similar to a governmental building but yeah, you are right, especially the front with the pillars!

  6. I have been on Helsinki Airport two times already when I changed planes. One time was the last time we went to HK. Our flight was three hours late and we were the last few people left on the airport. We got a 8€ coupon which was bearly enough for one beer (7,90€).
    But thumbs up for free Wi-Fi and sockets everywhere.

    Unfortunately we have not visited the city itself yet, but it is on our list. Thanks for sharing the photos and travel tips. 😀

    1. Helsinki airport ain’t the cheapest. Last time we paid for a bowl of udon noodles 19 euros! A soft drink for 5 euros, just insane. They have also the wireless charging pads all over the airport these days 🙂

  7. Beautiful photos, especially the Cathedral. I see you took your mother-in-law to see the sights. The Rock Church certainly is unique.

    Seattle is about the same size as Helsinki, but it looks much more crowded, maybe because the surrounding cities are nearly connected to Seattle.

    I’ve heard that Finish is an unusual language. Did Russian or Swedish have any influence on it/

    1. Neither Swedish nor Russian had any influence. Finnish is related to Hungarian and the Huns came originally from mid Siberia and towards Mongolia. All over Siberia you can find related languages to Finnish even close to the areas of mongolia

  8. I’m impress with the rock church. It certainly rocks.

    It has been donkey years since I last visited Finland. I was in a small town. It was expansive then.

  9. Finland is still in my Bucket List to visit. Your country is beautiful. Finland becomes a magnet in my brain for 2 reasons. First, during United Nations program at school where we dressed up in different costumes of different countries and Scandinavian countries would always stand out. I never got to wear it maybe because I’m too Asian :)) , Second, because of Alvar Aalto. I study Architecture and his works .
    I would love to see that Rock church and admire its design.

    1. Aalto certainly has some great designs left in Finland! I think in the city of Jyväslylä also the swimming pool was designed by him! Got some Alvar Aalto stuff here as well/ my mother has it 🙂

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