Helsinki is an interesting travel destination all year round. In this blog post, we present Helsinki’s most interesting sights and places worth visiting. Because Helsinki’s public transport works so smoothly, you can easily visit several destinations in one day.
It is a good idea to start the presentation of Helsinki’s attractions in the form of the Olympic Stadium.
The doors of the Olympic Stadium opened again in the fall of 2020 after the completion of an extensive renovation, and the stadium was immediately able to witness, for example, Huhkaji’s convincing move towards the first EC final tournament place in our country’s history.
The Olympic Stadium itself was completed in 1938 by the architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti, who were responsible for its design. As its name suggests, the Olympic Stadium served as the stage for the Summer Olympics in 1952.
Today, the Olympic Stadium functions as a stage for major domestic and international sporting events, and outdoor concerts are also organized at the stadium. The Olympic Stadium also serves as one of the home stadiums of our national football teams.
In the architecture of the Olympic Stadium, the attention is stolen by the 72-meter-high tower, which is also an excellent place to admire the cityscape of Helsinki. Access to the tower is via an elevator. The famous Sports Museum also operates in connection with the stadium.
Korkeasaari Zoo, founded in 1889, is one of the oldest zoos in the world and it still holds a strong position as one of the favorites, especially in the summer in Helsinki.
The fauna of Korkeasaari consists of tundra, subtropical rainforests, and familiar animals. In total, there are more than 150 animal species today, and there are more than a thousand different plant species in the zoo.
In addition to the day-to-day operations of the zoo, the protection of endangered animals is also important in Korkeasaari. A separate rhino symbol guides visitors to the animals that fall under the zoos’ joint conservation programs.
In Korkeasaari, in addition to the actual zoo, there are many other adjacent places, which include, e.g., a souvenir shop, various restaurants and cafes, and the opportunity to enjoy your own snacks at various stops and barbecue places.
If we talk about attractions for the whole family and places worth visiting in Helsinki, it is practically impossible to avoid mentioning Linnanmäki. And it’s not worth it because the amusement park has things to see and do for everyone from babies to toddlers.
Since 1950, families have been able to spend quality time together at the Linnanmäki amusement park. Equipment in the area can be found for many tastes, and there is something for those who enjoy both a smoother ride and a rougher ride. Although new equipment is brought to Linnanmäki practically every year, the classics have also managed to maintain their position very well. For example, the wooden roller coaster that has been open since 1951 is still the most popular device in the entire amusement park.
The exceptional period that has been ongoing since 2020 has also posed its own challenges to Linnanmäki, but the amusement park has invested specifically in the safety of the visit from the beginning. For example, in a large area, maintaining safety distances is quite easy.
From the summer of 2022, it is also easy to foresee a return to the old normal for Linnanmäki, when the area’s services will be open even more actively and more people will be able to enter again than before.
If you are interested in architecture and culture, Helsinki Central Library Oodi should not be overlooked when touring the sights of Helsinki. On top of that, the impressive, large and streamlined building is located right in the center of Helsinki on Kansalaistor, which makes it very easily accessible by all means of public transport.
Oodi could be described as a meeting place that combines many kinds of experiences. It is easy to come to the central library to get information, skills, and different stories, and in addition to that, you can also just come to admire the building, enjoy the atmosphere, or why not also study or work?
Amos Rex could be a good continuation of the central library. Amos Rex is an art museum that opened in 2018, whose exhibition program consists of new, often technically experimental contemporary art; 20th century modernism; and exhibitions focusing on ancient cultures. Simply put, Amos Rex’s goal is to present interesting and ambitious art in a refreshing and jovial way.
In addition to exhibitions that change at certain intervals, there are also permanent exhibitions on display, the most famous of which is Sigurd Frosterus’ post-impressionist art collection.
Amos Rex’s facilities consist of new underground exhibition spaces, the old Glass Palace, and a cinema called Bio Rex. The roof of the Lasipalatsi square also serves as a separate, rolling event square.
Formerly known as the Nicholas Church and the Great Church, the Helsinki Cathedral is almost a must-visit place for those interested in cultural attractions during their trip to Helsinki. It is the main church of the Helsinki Cathedral Parish and the Helsinki Diocese, which was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel.
The church, which is one of Helsinki’s most famous attractions, is centrally located on the edge of Senate Square in Kruunuhaa. The color of the cathedral looks like pure white, but in reality the church is painted with a total of three shades of light gray. The church’s apostle statues are also the most well-known of Helsinki’s attractions.
More than half a million people visit Helsinki Cathedral every year, and about half of them are foreign tourists during normal times.
Another of Helsinki’s well-known churches is Temppeliaukio Church, whose specialty is that it is excavated from the rock. Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen were responsible for the planning of the church. Temppeliaukio church is located right in the center of Helsinki, at the end of Fredrikinkatu.
The unique architecture is the main reason why the church in Temppeliaukio has become one of Helsinki’s main tourist attractions. The dome of the church is supported on the rock walls by reinforced concrete beams and it is covered with copper cables, which creates a very impressive outer shell for the church.
The inner walls, on the other hand, are jagged rock and quarry stone walls. In the morning, the light spreads from the row of windows around the edge of the roof to the altar wall, where a rock crack from the Ice Age serves as an altar table. Another thing worth mentioning about Temppeliaukio church is that it is a very popular concert venue due to its good acoustics.
For lovers of traditional culture, you can unreservedly recommend stopping by Helsinki’s Old Market Hall, which has been serving its customers since 1889.
Many permanent entrepreneurs still work in the shopping hall every day, whose selections include, for example, various cheeses, fish and meat products, vegetables, fruits, spices, coffee and pastries. There are also many smaller restaurants in the hall, where you can find mouth-watering food for many different tastes and preferences. Nowadays, there are also many different handicraft products available.
During my city holidays, I have always liked to visit older shopping malls, where you always come across a unique atmosphere, local specialties and, why not, a wide variety of people.
When talking about the most famous attractions in Helsinki and, in fact, the whole of Finland, Suomenlinna is quite difficult, if not impossible, to cross or pass by.
Officially known as the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, the attraction is both a wonderful and, above all, a traditional place to visit, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What is also significant about Suomenlinna is that it is its own district in Helsinki. About 800 inhabitants also live in the area.
Suomenlinna has settled into its current shape through many historical stages, and it has functioned over the centuries as part of the defense of Sweden, Russia, and, as its name suggests, Finland as well. There are a total of six kilometers of walls designed for defense, there are a total of about a hundred cannons, and the area also has interesting tunnels and pleasant park areas for the public.
In addition to the castle itself, the area has a lot of side activities, such as museums, guided tours of the areas, restaurants, and many kinds of events for many different tastes. More detailed information about Suomenlinna’s opening hours and various guided tours can be found on Suomenlinna’s own website.
The city of Suomenlinna is located on its own island off Helsinki, and the easiest way to get there is via the year-round HSL ferry, which operates between Kauppator and Suomenlinna. The trip to Suomenlinna takes only about 15 minutes. In the summer season from May to September, a separate water bus also runs this distance.
Markets are an integral part, especially when it comes to summer vacations, and when visiting Helsinki, you should at least visit the Market Square and the Senate Square.
Kauppatori is the most famous of Helsinki’s markets and also the most international. It is located in Eteläsatama at the end of Esplanadi park. In the Kauppatori area, there are many different stalls where, in addition to traditional market food, for example, various crafts and souvenirs are sold. During harvest time, you can also find a lot of domestic berries, vegetables, and mushrooms at the market.
There are also a variety of places to eat in the area. In winter, Kauppatori also has separate heated tents, where it is nice to stop for a hot coffee or tea when it is bitterly cold and windy.
Many traditional events are also organized in the market square, one of the most famous of which is the herring market held in the first week of October, which has been held in the same place since the 18th century. Stadin Silakkamarkkinat is one of the oldest public events in our country. At Christmas time (November 27–December 22), the Tuomaa Christmas Market is organized in the area.
In addition to being an attraction, the market square also serves as a kind of departure port, because from the square you can take a ferry to the already mentioned Suomenlinna all year round. In the summer, you can visit Korkeasaari, Helsinki’s archipelago tours, or take a sea trip in Porvoo, for example, from Kauppatori.
Another market that is definitely worth mentioning is, like Kauppatori, the very well-known Senate Square, whose surroundings could be called, for example, a unique neoclassical complex. Senate Square is dominated by four buildings designed by C. L. Engel (1778–1840): the Cathedral, the State Council Castle, the University’s main building, and the National Library. In the center of the square is a statue of Alexander II (1894).
The already mentioned Helsinki Cathedral is possibly even the most photographed and well-known building in all of Finland. Sederholm House, the city’s oldest stone building, is located in the southeast corner of Senatintor. The building currently houses the City Museum.
Senatintori is located near the lively Kauppatori and the cozy Esplanadi park. Senatintor’s specialty is Senate Square Sound. The bell concert, which has become a tradition since 2005, is heard every day at 17:49. The computer music piece is a modern version of the European carillon, or evening music. The sound work was created as a result of the collaboration of the Helsinki Cathedral organist, composer Harri Viitanen, and Doctor of Technology Jyrki Alakuijala.
Among the many parks in Helsinki, the legendary Esplanadi deserves special mention in this context, as it is probably the most famous park in Finland and, at the same time, the green heart of the center of Helsinki. For example, Esplanadi Park is a popular place for walking, especially in summer, and people usually come there to spend time in a relaxed atmosphere, for example, listening to music, watching shows or enjoying a picnic.
The site of the park was once designed by the chief architect of Helsinki, Carl Ludvig Engel. The architecture can be seen, for example, in the form of the park, which follows straight lines with both tree alleys and plantings. The park is bordered on both sides by rows of linden trees, which form a spectacular slimy space.
The esplanade also contains many places worth visiting and seeing. At the end of the park on the Kauppatori side is located, for example, one of Helsinki’s most legendary restaurants, Ravintola Kappeli, completed in 1867 and designed by architect Hampus Dahlström.
Opposite the chapel is the Espa stage, built in the 1930s, where live music plays from traditional Vapu until the end of August. There are two pools of water on both sides of the stage, and they are decorated with attractive statues designed by Viktor Jansson (1886–1958). The first is called “Aallottaria,” where two mermaids compete with fish. The second statue is called “Hei Vaan” and it shows a little boy playing with a fish.
In the middle of the park is the statue of the national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877), carved by the sculptor Walter Runeberg (1838–1920), which was once Helsinki’s first public monument.
The most famous of the monuments is probably the one in honor of Jean Sibelius, which was created by Eila Hiltunen. The artwork was released on September 7, 1967.
Hiltunen’s work is a memorial made of steel welded in the shape of an organ pipe.There are a total of more than 600 pipes in the work. Next to the Sibelius monument, there is also a separate looking portrait, which is placed in the lap of the rock.
The Sibelius monument is one of the most popular sculptures in Helsinki and one of the most famous tourist attractions in all of Finland.
When talking about popular sculptures, it is easy to move next to the statue of the Three Blacksmiths. Three Blacksmiths is a statue commissioned by the Pro Helsingfors foundation, which it donated to the city of Helsinki.
The creator of the statue, Felix Nylund, was already involved in Snelmann’s monument competition with a blacksmith-themed work when in 1919 Nylund created a drawing in which a sculpture depicting three blacksmiths was placed at the top of a ten-meter-high column. These earlier plans did not materialize, but Nylund used the original plan to his advantage again for the statue of the Three Blacksmiths.
The three blacksmiths presumably symbolize both human work and cooperation. Seppi has used several different people as models. The master blacksmith’s face was modeled by the poet Arvid Mörne; the model of the blacksmith who raised the moukari in the air was Nylund’s own image from his youth; and the features of the third blacksmith came from the stonecutter Aku Nuutinen, who was also Nylund’s important assistant. The bodies of Mason Paavo Koskinen, and police officer Sundström are said to have served as the models for the blacksmiths’ bodies.
There are a total of dozens of islands worth visiting in Helsinki, the most famous of which is probably Seurasaari. Seurasaari is an ideal destination for, for example, outdoor activities, swimming and picnics. Among the area’s fauna, both birds and squirrels are used to people hiking, and the friendly animals warmly welcome visitors to enjoy the atmosphere.
Among Seurasaari’s own attractions, the outdoor museum is definitely worth mentioning, which presents Finnish traditions in the form of living, working, and lifestyles of past centuries. In summer, there are also open museum buildings on the island that represent the building culture and groups typical of different provinces from the end of the 17th century until the 20th century.
Located at the southern tip of Seurasaari, the Kalevalakehto installation (2010) was born, as its name suggests, inspired by the Kalevala and by a group of American-Finnish architecture students. Kalevalakehto is designed for calming down and calming down.
There are also restaurants, cafes, and kiosks on the island. There is also a separate swimming pool in the area, which is also known as a naturist beach.
It’s good to end the list of Helsinki attractions with a swimming theme and the Sea Pool. It is a sea spa that is located next to Kauppatori, which makes it possible to enjoy the Baltic Sea right in the most central places of Helsinki.
The sea pool is open all year round and is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. There are a total of three saunas: two warm freshwater pools and a seawater pool, the water temperature of which naturally adapts to the heat of the seawater.
From VALO Hotel & Work, located in Ruskeasuo, Helsinki, you can easily get to virtually all of Helsinki’s attractions by public transport, your own car or, why not, also by bicycle. Our hotel, located along good transport links, is the perfect base for your vacation in Helsinki.
Regarding VALO, it is also good to remember that Finland’s first hybrid hotel is also an attraction in itself. With us, you can easily combine work with a hotel vacation, and from the upstairs wellness area, you can admire Helsinki’s wonderful cityscape from a bird’s eye view.
Sources: My Helsinki, Helsingin Tuomiokirkko, HAM Helsinki, Stadissa, Kotimaatutuksi (Lasten kanssa Helsingissä)
Main image: Juha Kalaoja, Suomenlinna, Visit Finland Media library