Forget Reykjavik, Helsinki is the dreamy Nordic city you need to visit this year. From the culinary scene to the steaming saunas, to the boutique shopping (yes, shopping), Helsinki is booming with activities.
Nestled against the sea, Finland’s capital city offers everything you need for a holiday of adrenaline-filled adventures, luxurious pampering, or a combination of the two. And with Finnair’s stopover program, which lets you stop in Helsinki for up to five days on your way to or from select European and Asian destinations for no additional fee, it’s easier than ever to visit.
Here are the 21 things to eat, see, and do that should be on your Helsinki itinerary.
21 Things to Do in Helsinki
- Sniff, swirl and sip natural wines at Baskeri & Basso.
- Explore Helsinki’s Central Park. The mystical forest park stretches across the city from north to south. Pro Tip: If you visit during the colder months, the park transforms into a winter wonderland which is best explored on cross-country skis. Rent a pair at the Paloheinä Recreational Center.
- Melt your worries away at Lonna, a traditional Finnish sauna.
- Tuck in at night surrounded by modern luxury at Hotel Lilla Roberts.
- Love Marimekko? Learn all about Finnish design culture at the Design Museum.
- Or make a day out of museum hopping with visits to the Helsinki Art Museum and the Helsinki City Museum.
- Smell the hops and have a Finnish craft beer at Bryggeri. Whatever brew you order will go well with one of their pretzels.
- Take an icy plunge in a fresh pool at Allas Sea Pool and then warm up with a steamy soak at the floating seap spa.
- Take a 15-minute ferry ride to the islands of Suomenlinna, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Fortress of Suomenlinna.
- Indulge in vegetarian comfort food at Yes Yes Yes!.
- Slurp the salmon soup at Kauppatori in Market Square. The famous market with a variety of food and craft stalls is also a good place to buy friends and family (or yourself) souvenirs.
- Briefly get out of the city with a day trip to charming Porvoo. Roughly 30 miles from Helsinki, the historic city is known for brilliant red houses, cozy cafes and funky shops.
- Listen to Finland’s emerging artists at Semifinal.
- Take a trip back in time at the Tram Museum.
- Dance the night away at Los Cojones (the place is small but dancing on the table is allowed if not encouraged).
- Spend an afternoon or a day wandering around Helsinki’s Kallio neighborhood. From its market square of Hakaniemi to its vintage shops it’ll be hard to tear yourself away from this part of the city.
- Stop by the Central Railway Station and marvel at 1919 National Romantic style building.
- Surround yourself in Art Nouveau architecture with a walk through the neighborhoods of Katajanokka, Kruunuhaka or Eira.
- Put the pedal to medal cycling around the city by renting a city bike for the day or week.
- Dine at the farm (hydroponic that is). Ultima grows a majority of its ingredients inside its restaurant thanks to an on-site hydroponic farm.
- Escape the bustle of the city with a walk around the bay in Töölönlahti park.