Helen Perrin, Product & City Break Specialist

"Experience Finnish culture at its best at Market Square where you will find an eclectic mix of fresh produce, souvenirs, clothing, art and more. After purchasing some local fayre, head over to the neighbouring Esplanadi Park for an afternoon picnic and a stroll down the decorated promenade full of beautiful flower gardens, inspiring sculptures and tranquil pools."

Helsinki at a glance

Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is ideal for a cosmopolitan city break or as a starting point for exploring the country’s stunning scenery. Negotiating a strong connection with its heritage and landscape, Helsinki is unique and strives to remain so, offering beautiful scenery, elegant architecture and a friendly, laid-back attitude that is both attractive and cool.

Holding a strong connection with the sea, the city is made up of a peninsula as well as a collection of small islands that jut out into the Gulf of Finland. These include the fortress island of Suomenlinna, Seurassaari with its open-air museum, and Korkeasaari where Finland’s largest zoo resides.

Founded in 1550, the city was annexed by Russia in the early 19th century during which time the Czar decided to build a capital of grand proportions, modelling it in the neoclassical empire style of St Petersburg. Today these historical buildings combine with an embracing Art Nouveau style and a careful preservation of Finnish heritage, displayed in the city’s museums, art and a special connection with the sea.

Perfect if you’re looking for:

  • Stunning architecture
  • Art and culture
  • A weekend short break

Getting around

Helsinki has a diverse public transport system made up of bus, tram, train, metro and ferry services.

A travel card acts as a ticket for all services and can be purchased in 1-7 day increments. Single tickets can also be purchased for one trip on any one of the available networks.

Shopping

Quaint boutiques, expansive malls and designer shops with homemade products make the shopping experience in Helsinki both diverse and appealing.

Look for the Design District Helsinki sticker in shop windows to find hand fashioned jewellery, clothing, textiles and home-wares fashioned in distinctively creative Finnish designs.

Dining in Helsinki

Combine a flair for flavours with modern, cosy venues and you have a taste of the Helsinki food culture. With local classics such as reindeer and lingonberry making an appearance on the menu, you’re sure to discover something you’ve never tried before.

There are also a variety of international cuisines readily available. Everything from noodle bars and Italian bistros to Mediterranean meze and Chinese buffets can be found intermingled amongst traditional cuisine restaurants.

Must-try local dishes:

  • Karelian pasties – a thin rye bread filled with rice and often topped with a butter and boiled egg mixture
  • Lohikeitto – a creamy salmon soup consisting of salmon fillets, potatoes, leeks and dill
  • Laskiaispulla – a sweet roll filled with whipped cream and almond paste

Get your tailor-made city break itinerary

Osprey Holidays can create a fabulous short break to Helsinki designed completely around your needs. We can arrange whatever you need, including:

  • All travel and transfers on days of your choice
  • Accommodation from our handpicked range of Helsinki hotels, to suit your budget and requirements

Our award-winning team can provide expert advice and recommendations, from general questions to tiny details. Contact us now for your tailor-made itinerary.

Important information
Population 610,601
Languages Finnish
Currency Euro
Visa Information No visa required for EU citizens
Average temperatures

(monthly highs °C)

Interesting facts

Head out to one of Helsinki's island restaurants for an idyllic lunchtime setting.

Distance from airports
Helsinki-Vantaa 17 km
Railway stations
Helsinki Central

Things to do in Helsinki

  • Temppeliaukio Church: A Helsinki landmark, also known as the ‘Church in the Rock’.
  • Finnish Sauna: In the home of the sauna try Kotiharjun, the last wood burning sauna in the city.
  • Suomenlinna: A group of small islands guarding Helsinki harbour, with an impressive military fortress - an important cultural heritage site.
  • Uspenski Cathedral: Imposing cathedral, built of red bricks at the top of a hill - a must-see!
  • Hakaniemi Market Square: Traditional Finnish market house - a great place to enjoy lunch.
  • Canal Tour: The best way to see the city by boat.

Tours and Excursions

Porvoo Half Day Tour

The idyllic town of Porvoo is known for its wooden houses and maze of cobbled streets dating back to the Middle Ages. Old Porvoo has numerous boutique shops, craft workshops, cafés and a beautiful medieval cathedral which, over the centuries, has burnt down and been rebuilt five times! Your tour departs from Helsinki and is accompanied by a professional guide.

Helsinki and Suomenlinna

This enjoyable tour begins in Helsinki where your guide will share stories of the city as you take in the sights including the Olympic Stadium, Sibelius Monument and Old Market Hall. Next, you will depart by ferry for Suomenlinna, one of the world’s largest sea fortresses and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress sprawls across several small islands and you will learn about its eventful history while visiting King’s Gate, Suomenlinna Church, the Jetty Barracks and Great Courtyard.

Helsinki to Tallinn Round-Trip

Tallinn is just a 2-hour ferry ride from Helsinki across the Gulf of Finland. With stunning medieval architecture, a vibrant atmosphere and first-rate cafes and restaurants, the Estonian capital makes an ideal day trip. There are numerous departures daily and the Tallinn ferry terminal is only a 15-minute walk from downtown, so you can choose to spend a leisurely day or just a few hours.