14 Fun Activities in Helsinki, Finland
As a person who loves traveling, I want to see Helsinki very much – it doesn’t let me down! There are many things that can be done in this city, from exploring historical sites to inspecting amazing parks and urban life. There are many things to do in this city, from exploring historical sites to seeing amazing parks and urban life.
If you want to explore Finland outside Lapland, Helsinki is definitely worth a visit.
Helsinki combines the charm of the ancient world and the modern atmosphere, and is a city that will fascinate you from beginning to end.
I can easily stay here for a few weeks, but I still haven’t seen everything. However, if you are like me, time is limited, here are 14 things worth doing in Helsinki.
1. Explore many blocks in the city
Helsinki is a city with many blocks, and each block has its unique charm. The best way to feel the city is through the eyes of local people. In Helsinki, there are many walking groups composed of local people. They will show you their favorite scenic spots.
Helsinki. Private tour with local guides ($45)
Helsinki. Small group walking tour with city planner guide ($48)
Helsinki. Construction hiking tour, accompanied by experts ($55)
Half-day city tour of Helsinki ($60)
If you want to explore independently, I suggest you go to the design area, Kallio and Kamppi. These are central areas. There are many places to choose from in shopping, catering and nightlife. They are good places to learn about the city.
If you want to know more about Finnish design, I suggest going to the Design Museum (this $6 urban self-help tour is covered) and the Finnish Architecture Museum.
2. Visit Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square
Helsinki Cathedral, located in the Senate Square, with its towering white wall and magnificent green dome, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Helsinki.
You will also see some other examples of neoclassical architecture in the square: the government palace, the main building of Helsinki University and the Finnish National Library.
For those who are interested in understanding the history and culture of Finland, the Senate Square is very worth visiting. In particular, Helsinki Cathedral is a beautiful example of neoclassical architecture, and its interior is decorated with amazing works of art.
The ticket for the visit is 5 euros. It is open to tourists on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11.45 p.m. and from 12.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The cathedral is open from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or just want to enjoy the most iconic scenery of Helsinki, you must add Senate Square to your itinerary!
3. Enjoy the walk in Binhai Park
After visiting the Senate Square, take a stroll in one of the most popular parks in Helsinki – Binhai Park.
This park is a good place to relax or watch. It is also the site of several important monuments, including the statue of John Ludwig Luneberg, one of the Finnish national poets (he also wrote the Finnish national anthem!).
Marina Park is a perfect place for you to have a rest in the walk and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Helsinki.
On weekends, you will hear musicians playing in the park. In summer, you can enjoy refreshing drinks or ice cream at one of the food stalls, or have a cup of coffee at Robert’s Coffee Jugend.
4. Watch the Presidential Palace
The presidential palace is within walking distance from Senate Square and Binhai Park.
This neoclassical palace was designed by architect Karl Ludwig Engel and completed in 1845. Today, the palace is the official residence of the President of Finland.
The presidential palace is not open to the public, but from the outside, you can see guards in traditional Finnish uniforms standing at the door, and you can take photos in front of this impressive building.
5. Take the ferry to Fort Finland (UNESCO World Cultural Heritage).
Have you ever wanted to enter Narnia through the magic wardrobe in the story of C.S. Lewis? For me, taking a ferry to Fort Finland has a similar effect. You are completely taken into another world. The fortress was awarded the UNESCO World Heritage status in 1991 and has been preserved as a model of European 18th century fortress architecture.
It is easy to see why Fort Finland is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Finland.
The fortress is located on a group of islands on the coast of Helsinki. It provides a charming view of the city and surrounding waters. Visitors can explore the walls and towers of the fortress, visit museums and exhibitions, and even take a ferry to a nearby island.
The best way to visit the island is to visit the fortress under the guidance of a guide. One hour’s tour costs 11 euros for adults and 4 euros for children. The Finnish Fort Museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.
When visiting Helsinki, this is a must-see place.
6. Taste local food in many restaurants and cafes in Helsinki
Helsinki is a city with rich food culture, and one of the best ways to experience it is to taste local food.
Restaurants and cafes throughout the city offer a variety of traditional Finnish cuisine, as well as international cuisine with Finnish characteristics.
One of the most popular Finnish dishes is karjalanpiirakka, a small pie filled with rice or potatoes. These pies are usually eaten with egg butter or sour cream. It tastes great!
If you want some dessert, you can try Finnish cinnamon bread! These breads are made with a lot of cinnamon. These steamed stuffed buns are made from a large amount of cinnamon and are usually eaten with coffee or tea.
Kanniston Leipomo is a bakery with a long history, founded in 1914, located in the heart of Helsinki, and starts your day with a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll.
There are many choices for lunch or dinner, including rich stews, fresh seafood, and even reindeer! You can go to Kannas or Kapper’s restaurant. Go to Kannas or Kappeli, where there are many traditional Finnish cuisine.
If you are interested in trying some Finnish dishes, there are many delicious traditional dishes to choose from.
Finnish salmon soup is probably the most popular dish. This rich soup is made of smoked salmon, potatoes, carrots and dill. This is the perfect meal to make you feel warm on a cold day.
7. Buy souvenirs in Hakanemi and Kopatori markets
Helsinki is a good place to buy souvenirs. The two best places are Hakanemi Market and Copatori Market. Both markets have a variety of Finnish goods, including handicrafts, jewelry, food and so on.
Kopatori Market is located on the seashore, so it is the best place to choose souvenirs while enjoying the beauty of the sea.
Hakaniemi market is relatively remote, but its product selection is very unique, which is worth exploring. This market is more local people than tourists, so if you want to see what the life of local people is like, this market is worth visiting.
Hakanemi Market has about 70 stores, which are divided into two floors. On the first floor, you will find that it is mainly food. On the second floor, you can find many characteristic shops, such as second-hand bookstore, textile and handicraft shop, etc.
In addition to the shops, there are several cafes offering a variety of delicacies, from traditional Finnish lunch to more international dishes. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. The souvenirs you should pay attention to include Finnish wood products, sweaters, socks and gloves, and of course, items with the theme of reindeer!
8. Listen to a concert or performance in a theatre or concert hall in Helsinki
If you are an art lover, you must take time to see a performance or concert during your stay in Helsinki. The city has many theatres and concert halls, including the Finnish National Opera House, the Helsinki Music Center and the Finnish Music Hall.
During your visit, there will definitely be performances, so you must check the schedule in advance to get tickets.
9. Walk in the forest and park on the outskirts of the city
If you want to stay away from the noise of the city, Helsinki is a perfect place. Starting from the city center, you only need to walk a short distance to reach one of the numerous forests and parks in the suburbs.
One of our favorite places is Lapiniemi, where you can walk in the quiet woods and along the quiet coast. You will definitely find a peaceful moment here, away from the busyness of daily life.
If you feel very adventurous, you can rent a canoe or paddle to do interesting water sports. If you want to have more fun in nature, you can see these half-day tours from Helsinki.
Nuksio National Park: a half-day tour from Helsinki ($56)
Half-day tour of West Pokopi National Park: Troll Road ($60).
10. Relax in the numerous saunas in Helsinki
If you want to find a way to relax and rejuvenate in Helsinki, one of the best things is to go to one of the city’s many saunas.
There are various saunas in different settings, from the traditional wood-burning sauna to the more modern electric sauna. Regardless of your preferences, staying in the sauna for a period of time is a good way to relax after a day of sightseeing or exploration.
Finish sauna is used to relax and detoxify. Many people think it is good for health, such as reducing stress, improving blood circulation, and helping to relieve muscle pain.
There are two main types of sauna: dry sauna and wet sauna. Dry sauna is the most common type. They use dry heat, usually from a wood-burning stove. On the other hand, the wet sauna uses steam to create the desired effect.
There is usually a bench in the sauna. You can sit or lie down. You can pour water on the hot stone to generate steam. When using sauna, it is important to drink a lot of water before and after sauna to avoid dehydration, and limit the time in the sauna to 15-20 minutes.
The sauna room is usually shared with others. Some people come here for social activities with friends or family. They may be unisex and may require you to wear a swimsuit, but if they are separated by sex, you can usually wear only one towel.
If you want to get the authentic Finnish experience, the Kotihaljun sauna is a good choice. This sauna with a long history has been in operation since 1928. It is the only public wood-burning sauna room in the city.
Whether you want to relax or just experience the unique Finnish tradition, staying in the sauna for a period of time is a good thing on your Helsinki to-do list.
11. Take a one-day tour to nearby scenic spots such as Polvo, Tampere, and even Tallinn, Estonia.
If you have some extra time in Helsinki, you can take a one-day tour to many nearby scenic spots.
Porvo is a charming coastal city, only a short drive from Helsinki. If you don’t like driving, you can also take part in tourism. This tour group needs you to take a bus from Helsinki. The bus runs regularly and can take you to Polvo in about an hour. Here, you can walk on the cobbled streets, explore the quaint shops and cafes, and even take a cruise boat down the river.
Tampere is another good one-day tour option. This bustling city is famous for its many museums, including the Museums of Muming and the view from Pyyniki Park.
If you want to delete another country from your list, Tallinn (as shown above) in Estonia can only be reached by a two-hour short ferry. This historic city is full of beautiful buildings, charming cafes, and more.
These trips will give you a whole day, but if you want to explore places outside Helsinki during your stay, this is a good idea.
12. Spend a night on the waterfront promenade of Kevopuista Park
In Helsinki, one of the best things is to simply take a walk and enjoy everything the city provides. There is no better place than the promenade along the waterfront of Kevopuista Park.
This park is only a short walking distance from the city center, and you can see the charming sea view. It is a perfect place for walking, picnicking or simply relaxing and enjoying the scenery.
If you come in summer, you must stay at sunset. Watching the sun sink below the horizon is an unforgettable experience.
13. Experience Finnish culture through ice fishing or reindeer sleigh
If you are looking for an unforgettable adventure, you can consider participating in many outdoor activities in Finland.
Ice fishing is a popular pastime in Finland. Curious tourists can try it. I don’t recommend going alone because it may be quite dangerous. But if you are interested, the local guide can help you arrange your fishing trip. I like to check the experience of some local experts on Airbnb.
Reindeer sleigh is another good way to experience Finnish culture. This activity is only held in winter, but it is a good way to enjoy the beautiful winter scenery of the country.
There are many other activities to try, such as downhill skiing or cross-country skiing. Finns are very active people, so there are many choices!
14. Immerse yourself in relaxing time at one of the many spa or health centers in Helsinki
Helsinki has many different hot springs and health centers, so if you are looking for a way to relax, you will have many choices.
In recent years, Finland has experienced a renaissance of spa therapy in a sense.
At present, there are dozens of spa centers, hot spring resorts and health centers across the country. In Helsinki, my favorites are Kemp Hot Spring and Helsinki St. George Hotel.
These modern Finnish institutions are basically hotels with special equipment and facilities for spa treatment.
Many hotels also offer health courses and sports courses, from yoga to badminton. But don’t worry about bringing your own towel, yoga mat or racket. Most places will provide these things.
You can find from traditional sauna to more unique experience, such as salt bath, etc.
Helsinki is a city full of surprises. Although it seems small at first glance. But whether you travel alone or with your partner or friends, there are many things to see and do in this Finnish capital.
From exploring its many blocks and visiting landmark landmarks, to enjoying nature and immersing in some relaxing atmosphere. Helsinki has something for everyone. Therefore, whether you come for a few days or weeks, you will find that there are many activities that keep you busy.
Have you ever been to Helsinki? What do you like to do most in this city? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Have a nice trip!