The Finnish capital Helsinki is diverse and exciting. The city is more than you initially see. Located in northern Europe, with Russia as a neighbour on the other side, Finland has an interesting mix of culture and influences. Over the years they formed architecture, traditions and art which you only notice while walking through the streets.

With the help of my friend, who’s living in Finland, I discovered the city. She led me through Helsinki, introduced me to her favourite places and taught me more about the nordic lifestyle.

A Weekend in Helsinki

Helsinki is one of the greenest cities in the world, more than one-third of it is covered in green. You could basically walk from island to island, from park to park without being disturbed by the hectic of the city.

Finns are very accepting and even if they seem shy and reserved at the beginning, they are very open-minded and almost never judge a book by its cover.

Information

Language: Finnish
Currency: Euro
Timezone: Eastern European Time
Stay: At an Airbnb
Bring home: Moomin figures or a collectors mug, too cute!
Get around: You easily reach everything by foot and if you get tired, take the tram. Tickets are affordable.

Eat Breakfast at Fazer Café

Fazer is a Finnish chocolate company with conventional flavours as well as more daring ones like liquorice.
They’re so popular that you find several cafés in the country. Pretty chic design meets Finnish hunger. It’s hard to choose just one piece of cake, biscuit or pastry. Take more and don’t regret…
You find soups and sandwiches as well.
Don’t forget to shop some of their chocolates. My favourites are Geisha and Salty Cookie.

Visit the White Cathedral

You already see the bright white cathedral from afar. It distinguishes the landscape of Helsinki and is simply impressive, although the interior is simplistic and portraits the great reformists Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon.
The neoclassical cathedral, designed by a German architect, was finished in 1852 and was originally named St. Nicholas Church. The name was quickly changed in 1917 after the independence of Finland.

Surrounded by the senate square, it’s the centre for happenings or events.

Climb the Rock Church

You can actually climb a church in Helsinki. The roof of Temppeliaukio is a place where you can sit and have a pick-nick with your friends.
The church was designed by the brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. It’s built into the rock and is not only used for a sunday mass but also for concerts.

Lunch at Naughty BRGR

Praised as best burger in town or as my friend would say, “That’s so good, they know what they do” it’s only fair to mention Naughty BRGR. Almost all of your burger dreams will come true.
Veggies won’t starve either!

Address: Lönnrotinkatu 13, 00120 Helsinki

Experience Silence at Kamppi

Kamppi, the church of silence, is in the city centre. Therefore it’s intended to create a place to unwind from everyday life or from hectic moments. Kamppi “welcomes everyone irrespective of religion, philosophy of life or background”,
Finished in 2012, the chapel is completely made out of wood.

Learn more about Helsinki at the City Museum

The city museum is near the cathedral and gives a brief insight of Helsinki history and presence. The concept is creative and unique, visitors will learn but won’t be overwhelmed.

A Weekend in Helsinki

Bookshopping at Akateeminen Kirjakauppa

The shop is beautifully designed. You find a wide range of books in Finnish, Swedish and English. The booksellers are eager to help and they know a lot. I visited the store with a vague idea and they know immediately what I wanted.
I popped into the shop during an interview with a Scottish author. As I learned, readings and interviews are regularly held.

Address: Pohjoisesplanadi 39, 00101 Helsinki

A more cosy, English bookshop would be Arkadia.
Address: Nervanderinkatu 11, 00100 Helsinki

Watch Sunset at Sokos Hotel Torni

Torni offers a view on the whole city. From the 14th floor you see the otherwise flat city, the harbour, coming and leaving boats and the relaxing life of the Finns.
Order a Lonkero at the bar and enjoy the sunset.

A Weekend in HelsinkiA Weekend in Helsinki

End the Night at Apollo

Actually I’m not the biggest fan of the music that is played in Apollo, but the venue is amazing. Small lounges, the stage and the chic interior as well as the ornaments make a party night pretty special at this old theatre.

Stay at an Authentic Finnish Home

Click on the picture to find some Airbnb Helsinki inspirations.

A Weekend in Helsinki

Beginn the Day with a Breakfast at Hakaniemi Market Hall

Located at the harbour, the market hall offers fresh food, coffee, tea and other (handmade) goods. Pastries, like cute edible figures, and sandwiches are especially good.

Tip: Take something to go to eat later at the shore of Suomenlinna.

Visit Suomenlinna

Helsinki has more than 300 islands and one of them is Suomenlinna. Suomenlinna is an UNESCO world heritage, by ferry you reach the island within a few minutes.
There’s a lot to see and do on the island. Visit a museum or the fortress. Make a pick-nick or enjoy the sound of the waves.

A Weekend Guide to Helsinki

Drink Tea at The Ounce

I’ve been introduced to The Ounce by a friend. He was literally raving about the small shop, with the lovely staff and their great tea assortment.

The shop has the whole package: cute interior, lovely tableware, delicious pastries and a lot of tea.

Address: Fredrikinkatu 55, 00100 Helsinki

Feed Squirrels at Seurasaari Island

Seurasaari is a car free place to get in contact with nature; it has an open-air museum where you can learn more about traditional Finnish life.

You can take a walk all year around, if you bring nuts you can feed squirrels. They eat out of your hands and that is just the cutest thing ever.

Grab a beer at Molly Malone’s

To end the day grab a beer at the Irish Pub Molly Malone’s. They have a vast selection of beer, where almost everyone finds their favourite.
Usually you find an avid band playing some live music.

If you’re in the mood for more beer and rock music check out Bäkkäri.

A Weekend Guide to Helsinki

Relax in a Sauna

Sauna is a must if you’re in Finland, seriously. Finns celebrate their calm down time, some of them to chat, some of them to relax. Some take a beer, some go alone, some take a dip into the snow afterwards. However you do it, just do it. Take part in this amazing piece of Finnish culture.

Why I need to come back

Helsinki is the city of events, constantly evolving and reinventing I’d love to see more of their festivals and happenings. But also take a closer look at Finnish art and visit the Photography Museum, Helsinki Art Museum HAM, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma or Ateneum Art Museum.

I love sports and everything around it, so next time I hope to get the chance to see an ice hockey game.

And I want to create my own iced-lolly at Magnum. Just take a look at the pictures, gorgeous.

A Weekend Guide to Helsinki

What do you like about Helsinki? Leave a comment and tell me your favourite place to go.

Read more about Finland

EXPLORE FINLAND UNDER THE WINTER SKY IN 20 PICTURES
TIPS ON HOW TO PLAN YOUR PERFECT TRIP TO FINNISH LAPLAND
HOW TO SURVIVE AN ICE-COLD FINNISH WINTER
10 FUN AND WINTERY ACTIVITIES IN LAPLAND
SNOWMOBILE TRIP THROUGH THE WINTERY LANDSCAPE OF FINNISH LAPLAND
EXPLORE FINNISH LAPLAND IN 20 SNOWY PICTURES

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A Weekend Guide to Helsinki

  • Amanda

    I would love to visit Helsinki. The white Cathedral looks so beautiful. Since I travel with kids, Kamppi might not be a good choice for us. Haha.

  • Priya

    Would love to visit Finland and Helsinki, love the stunning sunsets pictures. Will add Sauna to the list when we get there.

  • Dorothee Baur

    Would love to visit Helsinki, so much to do there! Frazer Cafe looks really nice too, seems like the perfect place to take a break from all the walking around 🙂

  • I’ve always wanted to visit Finland but the fact that it is a bit too expensive has always stopped me. Everything looks sogreat – from the cafes and restaurants to the white church! I love visiting markets so I would definitely head to it if I make it to Helsinki an time soon.

  • Glad you enjoyed Helsinki, Its one of those cities i could take or leave having spent a few days there twice. One thing i will say and your first picture backs this up is that Helsinki has the bluest sky i have ever seen

  • Kenny T.K. Chow

    Helsinki is company, stylish and modern. The Helsinki Cathedral is striking. The Rock Church is special. Suomenlinna is nice and the museums are enchanting. I love the city and I have done all things you have mentioned. It was great and thanks for sharing with us! I have shared some ideas about the museums in Helsinki too! https://knycxjourneying.com/2016/01/16/helsinki-museum-collage-14/ @ knycxjourneying.com

  • Alex

    Great list of things to do in Helsinki! I’ve never visited before but I’ll definitely have to visit soon. Love your pictures, especially the ones with the sunset – it’s amazing <3.

  • Helsinki has been on my list for a while, but seeing your photos has added to that! The white cathedral is truly stunning, not sure I’ve seen anything quite like that before! Seurasaari Island sounds great, they have something similar in Stockholm but not sure I’ve ever had the chance to feed squirrels before. How cool!

  • Brianna

    Helsinki looks gorgeous and sounds like a great place to spend a weekend! How do they manage to keep that white cathedral so gleamingly white?? I would definitely have difficulty picking just one delicious thing from that cafe! Sweets always drain my budget when I travel 😛

  • Iga Agata Motylska

    I didn’t realise that Helsinki, like Stockholm, is made up of so many islands — thanks for teaching me something new. Suomenlinna looks great, especially as I love UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Great pics too!

  • Sasha

    Wow, there seems to a LOT to see and do in Helsinki. I have always wanted to visit but this has really solidified that and made me want to look for flights asap. Those sunset photos were gorgeous, winter sunsets are so special!