As the Finnish capital city, Helsinki is quite upbeat and different, with a peculiar geographical location. Surrounded by a bay, Helsinki not only consists of a mainland, it also has islands and inlets as parts of its territory. Fine architecture is one of the many reasons Helsinki makes a fascinating travel spot. The city’s Art Nouveau buildings are simply pleasing to the eyes, and it is well complemented by lovely cafes, museums and a selection of restaurants that have maintained their historic furniture and classic cuisine.
In a way, the capital is not really representative of Finland, as it has its own quirky and cool personality, which changes with the climate. The city has memorable summers and seemingly desolate winters. Locals tend to stay indoors at the height of winter, when there is only 6 hours of daylight. But when the spring blooms and summer kicks in, so does the crowd, who prefer to stay outdoors, basking in the sunlight that usually lasts up to 18 hours a day.
Helsinki is known for celebrating urban design and harnessing creativity. To learn about the prominent figures behind the Finnish artistic movement, head out to the National Gallery. And if one museum is not enough, make your way to the Mannerheim Museum. Entrance fee to Mannerheim also includes a guided tour around this fascinating museum.
Topping the list of architectural masterpieces in the city is the glorious Uspenski Cathedral. This Orthodox Church forever signifies Imperial Russia’s influence over Finland. Sitting on top of the hill, the cathedral does not only impress visitors with its grand design but also offers magnificent views of Helsinki.
After walking around the city center, make it a point to stop by Market Square, which functions both as a public plaza and a market place. All around this popular square, you can see food stalls, shops and cafes. Just nearby this vibrant spot is another impressive structure- the Grand Helsinki Cathedral. A tour of the entire city, with the exploration of its maritime history is not complete without visiting the star fortress on Suomenlinna Island. This historical sea base has been hailed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
It is not only man-made attractions that reign in Helsinki. The green heart of the city is a 10 km long Central Park, a relaxation and recreational haven to Helsinki’s urban dwellers. Here, you can find gardens, hiking trails, forests, saunas and sport facilities. Other natural wonders near the city are the beautiful Sibelius Park and Nuuksio National Park, which feature lakes, forests, walking trails and other enjoyable outdoor sports.
The Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is the main airport that serves Helsinki. The airport, which facilitates about 200 international flights daily, is located 19 kilometers from the city center. Aside from hiring a taxi, you can also hop on a bus from the airport to take you the city’s Central Railway Station. Alternatively, you can connect to Helsinki via train from other major Finnish towns as well as St. Petersburg and Moscow. If you are coming from Germany, Estonia, and Sweden, daily ferry services to the Finnish capital are also available.