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===Toilets===
 
===Toilets===
Finding a good toilet in Helsinki can be tricky. Many department stores and fast-food restaurants have clean toilets, often for the charge of 1 EUR. That is also the cost of public toilet booths found in most city squares (though these might be messy) so be sure to carry some 1 EUR coins. Restaurants' toilets are often reserved for customers, and might be messy depending on the establishment. Some good, clean toilets are found in ''Kamppi Center'', in Kamppi Long Distance Bus Terminal (''Matkahuolto''). Urinating in town is illegal, but urinals are often free even if you have to pay for a WC. The libraries, museums, and government buildings often have free, clean toilets.
+
Finding a good toilet in Helsinki can be tricky. Many department stores and fast-food restaurants have clean toilets, often for the charge of 1 EUR. That is also the cost of public toilet booths found in most city squares (though these might be messy) so be sure to carry some 1 EUR coins. Restaurants' toilets are often reserved for customers, and might be messy depending on the establishment. Some good, clean toilets are found in ''Kamppi Center'' [http://www.kamppi.fi/en/services], in Kamppi Long Distance Bus Terminal (''Matkahuolto''). Urinating in town is illegal, but urinals are often free even if you have to pay for a WC. The libraries, museums, and government buildings often have free, clean toilets.
  
 
Most major hotels have clean lobby toilets. Some of them might be reserved for house guests and require an access code, but travellers can often get access to them on request.
 
Most major hotels have clean lobby toilets. Some of them might be reserved for house guests and require an access code, but travellers can often get access to them on request.

Revision as of 07:56, 1 January 2013

Helsinki's symbol, the Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko)

Helsinki (Finnish) or Helsingfors (Swedish) [1] is the capital of Finland. Founded in 1550, the "Daughter of the Baltic" has been the Finnish capital since 1812, when it was rebuilt by the tsars of Russia along the lines of a miniature St. Petersburg, a role it has played in many a Cold War movie. Today, Helsinki pulls off the trick of being something of an international metropolis while still retaining a small-town feel. The best time to visit is in summer, when Finns peel off their overcoats and flock to outdoor bars and cafes to enjoy the sunshine.

Helsinki's current population is about 601 035, but the Greater Helsinki region including the neighboring suburban cities of Espoo and Vantaa has a population of over 1.3 million.

Contents

Understand

History

Helsinki was founded in A.D. 1550 by King Gustav Vasa of Sweden as a trading post to compete with Tallinn to the south in Estonia, which was Danish at that time. The growth of the city was slow until the establishment of Sveaborg (nowadays Suomenlinna) Maritime Fortress in the front of Helsinki in the middle of 18th century. In 1809, Finland was annexed by Russia during a war of that period and the capital of Finland moved from Turku to Helsinki in 1812. The Czar felt the Grand Duchy of Finland needed a capital of grand proportions. The architects Johan Albrecht Ehrenström, a native Finn, and Carl Ludwig Engel, from Germany, were given the task of rebuilding the city in the Empire style. This can be seen today around the Lutheran Cathedral, which was completed in 1852. The same style, and even architects, is also a part of Saint Petersburg's history. Though thoroughly a Nordic capital, Helsinki today reflects the influences gained from the Western and Eastern cultures.

Orientation

Helsinki metropolitan area

The county of Helsinki forms the core of Finland's largest urban area, known in Finnish as the "capital area" (pääkaupunkiseutu). Helsinki is bordered by the Gulf of Finland to the south, while the posh suburban city of Espoo, with the embedded tiny enclave city of Kauniainen, is to the west. The more industrialized city of Vantaa is to the north and east. Beyond these three the suburbs rapidly give way to small towns, farms and forests, most notably Nuuksio National Park at the intersection of Espoo, Vihti and Kirkkonummi.

Within Helsinki itself, the city center is on the southern peninsula at the end of the city's main thoroughfare Mannerheimintie (or just Mansku). Both the central railway station and the main bus terminal are in the city center. Shopping streets Aleksanterinkatu (or Aleksi for short) and Esplanadi (or Espa) connect to Senate Square (Senaatintori), the historical center of the city. See the Helsinki Guide Map [2] for an interactive searchable map of the city.

Tourist information

City of Helsinki Tourist Information Office, Corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Unioninkatu (just off Market Square), +358-9-31013300, [3]. M-F 9AM-8PM, Sa-Su 9AM-6PM; closes 6/4PM Oct-Apr. A fount of information with helpful, multilingual staff. They also sell tickets to museums and sightseeing tours.

Overview map of Helsinki

Festivals

Helsinki's celebrations are among the most exciting in the country.

  • Vappu (Walpurgis Night), Apr 30-May 1. Originally a north European pagan carnival, Vappu is an excuse for students to wear brightly colored overalls and for everybody to drink vast amounts of alcohol. At 6PM on Apr 30, the statue of Havis Amanda at the Market Square is crowned with a student's cap and the revelry begins in the streets. Things can get a little ugly outside as the night wears on, so it's wiser to head indoors to the bars, clubs and restaurants, all of which have massive Vappu parties. The following morning, the party heads to the Kaivopuisto park for a champagne picnic, regardless of the weather. If the weather is good, up to 70,000 people will show up. Left-wing parties hold rallies and speeches, but the event is increasingly non-political.
  • Helsinki-päivä (Helsinki Day), Jun 12. This is the birthday of the city. It traditionally starts with the mayor's morning coffee and is celebrated throughout the day with a variety of concerts, performances, exhibitions and guided tours around the city.
  • Juhannus (Midsummer Festival), Friday between Jun 19 and Jun 25. Although a large bonfire is lit in Seurasaari, the celebration is low key as the tradition is to celebrate "the nightless night" at summer cottages in the countryside. Although some celebrate Juhannus in Helsinki as well, the streets are often eerily empty and the doors of the shops closed.
  • Taiteiden Yö (Night of the Arts), near the end of Aug. The peak of the multi-week Helsinki Festival [4], called "little vappu" by many as the streets are full of revelers. The official event is marked by performing arts through the night. The Night of the Arts was originally organized by local bookstores in the 1990s. It's now organized by the city. During the last few years, the event has slightly returned to its origin as an arts and culture event.
  • Joulu (Christmas). In the weeks before Christmas, Aleksanterinkatu is festively lit up (starting on the last Sunday of November) and the Esplanadi hosts an open-air Christmas market. But Christmas itself is a family event, so on the 24th, everything shuts down and stays closed until December 26th.

Climate

Helsinki is among the world's northernmost capitals and the lengthy winter, from October all the way up to April, is dark and freezing. Winter temperatures average -5°C, but the wind chill makes it feel even colder and the mercury can plunge below -20°C on a particularly cold day. Snow falls only intermittently and often melts into gray slush.

The summer is often pleasant, but brutally short, lasting from early June until mid-August. Temperatures are usually around 20°C and sometimes climb above 25°C. Parks burst into green and sunbathers dot the city's beaches. Due to the northern latitude, the daylight hours are unusually long in summer, with sunsets very late in the evening, and virtually no darkness at night from early June until mid-July.

Talk

The city is officially bilingual, with an 86% Finnish-speaking majority and a visible 6% Swedish-speaking minority. However, most of the Finnish-speaking majority only know the very basics of Swedish, which they learned in school. English is somewhat more widely spoken than Swedish, since English is a "stronger" language for most Finnish-speaking people. If you don't speak Finnish, you are actually better off just speaking English. Although locals will appreciate an effort to say a few words in Finnish, they know very well how difficult Finnish is and will readily switch to English.

Another fact is that the Swedish spoken in Finland has a different pronunciation than the Swedish spoken in Sweden (kind of like British English and American English) and even if Finns understand the Swedish spoken by other Finns they might get confused when a Sweden native approaches them in his/her mother tongue.

Street names and many signs in Helsinki are in both Finnish and Swedish.

Get in

Map of Central Helsinki

By plane

All international and domestic flights land at the compact, modern and airy Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport [5] (IATA: HEL, ICAO: EFHK), which is located in Vantaa, 20 kilometers to the north of the central Helsinki. Note that in recent years the airport has become crowded, so expect delays when going through security, particularly during the Scandinavian summer holiday period. There are two adjacent terminals, connected by a short walkway:

  • T1: SAS, Blue1 and other Star Alliance airlines (except Turkish Airlines in T2).
  • T2: Finnair, OneWorld partners, KLM, Norwegian and most other airlines.

Regular taxis to the center cost €30-40. Shared Airport Taxi [6] (tel. 0600 555 555 for bookings) mini-vans start from €29 for two (mind that infants count as an adult.) A train line to the airport is under construction, but until it's completed in 2014 or so, public transport options are:

  • Regional bus 615 (€4.50, every 15 min), about 40 min to the Central Railway Station in the heart of Helsinki. The price includes onward transfers to tram, bus, metro, etc.
  • Finnair City Bus (€6.20, every 20 min), about 35 min to Central Railway Station via Scandic Continental Hotel. Credit cards accepted, slightly faster and uses luxury coaches, but no further connections included in the ticket price.
  • Regional buses 519/520 to Itäkeskus (€4,50, every 30 min), for convenient connections to the metro and eastern suburbs of Helsinki.
  • Vantaa bus 61 to Tikkurila (€2.70), connections to the center and eastern parts of Vantaa and access to the closest railway station for intercity and regional train connections. All north and east-bound trains stop here (Tikkurila Station).
  • Vantaa bus 51 to Hämeenkylä (€2.70, every 30 min), connections to western Vantaa: suburbs of Myyrmäki, Martinlaakso and Hämeenkylä.
  • Regional U-line bus 540 to Espoo (€4,50), for connections to the areas of Leppävaara, Nihtisilta, and Espoonkeskus in Espoo.
  • Regional buses 514/535 to Espoo (€4,50), for connections to the areas of Leppävaara, Westend, Tapiola and Espoonkeskus in Espoo.

If you need a place to sleep between flights, there are several reasonable hotels in or very near the airport:

  • Hotel GLO Helsinki Airport, Helsinki-Vantaa Airport Terminal 2, +358 103 444 600 (, fax: + 358 103 444 601), [7]. The only hotel located in the airport building itself, on the service floor of Terminal 2 and with direct indoor access from Terminal 1.Day Rooms are also made available for use, depending on the booking situation, between 9:00 - 19:00.
  • Best Western Airport Hotel Pilotti, Veromäentie 1, +358 9 3294800 (, fax: +358 9 329 481 00), [8]. Best Western Airport Hotel Pilotti is located in Vantaa, within 5-minute drive from Helsinki-Vantaa airport and within walking distance to Jumbo shopping centre and new Flamingo Spa. There is a regular bus service between Helsinki-Vantaa airport and the hotel.
  • Airport Hotel Bonus Inn, Elannontie 9 (Pakkala exit from Ring III Highway), +358-9-825511 (, fax: +358-9-82551818), [9]. Friendly family-owned hotel with basic but very clean and comfortable rooms. Restaurant, sauna (evening only), free shuttle service to airport (5-7 min). €120.
  • Cumulus Airport Hotel, Robert Huberin tie 4, +358-9-41577100, [10]. Mid-range Finnish chain hotel, 10 min away by free shuttle bus. Renovated in 2007. €120.
  • Hilton Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, +358-9-73220, [11]. Full-service hotel right next to the airport, opened in late 2007. Soundproof windows, bar, restaurant, sauna. €150.
  • Scandic Gateway-Helsinki Airport, +358-9-8183600, [12]. This rather unique transit hotel is located under the runway, so all rooms are small and windowless, but it's located airside (Schengen area) and directly accessible from the international terminal. Free wifi. Fairly expensive for what you get, but you're paying for the convenience. €150.

For general aviation (small planes) the Helsinki-Malmi Airport (IATA: HEM, ICAO: EFHF) is available, with fuel and customs facilities available at the airport.

Finally, from some points in Europe, it may be cheaper overall to fly with Ryanair to Tampere, Turku or Lappeenranta (2 hours away by train) or even to Tallinn, Estonia, a short ferry ride away.

By helicopter

Copterline [13] runs a fairly expensive Tallinn-Helsinki service, taking around 18 minutes. This is the world's fastest capital-to-capital city transfer.

By train

Central Railway Station

All long-distance trains throughout Finland and the Russian cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg terminate in the heart of the city at the Rautatieasema (Central Railway Station). This station also provides easy interchange to the metro and tram lines. All the trains also stop at Pasila station, which is the last station before Central Railway Station. From Pasila you can change to tram and bus lines.

By car

Expressways connect Helsinki to Turku to the west, Tampere and Lahti to the north, and to Porvoo and towards Saint Petersburg in the east.

By bus

Long-distance national and international buses terminate at the new underground Central Bus Station (Linja-autoasema) in the Kamppi Center [14] (Kampin Keskus). The station is adjacent to Mannerheimintie, directly connected to the Kamppi metro station and within a short walking distance from the Central Railway Station.

Low-cost bus operator Onnibus [15] operates two lines to Tampere and Turku with prices starting from 3 EUR (if booked in advance). Buses to Tampere leave from the small curbside stop in front of the Kiasma art museum and the ones to Turku depart from the Kamppi long-distance bus terminal.

For travel from St. Petersburg (Russia), Russian minibuses depart from the Oktyabrskaya Hotel (opp Moskovsky train station) around 10PM and arrive behind Tennispalatsi at Eteläinen Rautatiekatu 8, one block away from Kamppi, early in the morning. Departures back start around 10AM in the morning. Other minibuses are parked along Fredrikinkatu, with the departure time and price often posted on them. The trip costs around 15 euros, making this by far the cheapest option, but the buses are cramped and uncomfortable and some of them stop at numerous supermarkets on the way so that Russian passengers can go for tax-free shopping. Do not expect drivers to speak anything but Russian. The border crossing time might be substantially longer than with regular buses.

By boat

Helsinki cathedral, presidential palace and other waterfront buildings from a ferry leaving for Stockholm

Helsinki is well connected with ferry services to Tallinn (Estonia) and Stockholm (Sweden), and there are limited services to Travemünde & Rostock, Germany as well as Gdynia, Poland. Scheduled service to St. Petersburg (Russia) operates again since April 2010, and there are occasional winter/summer cruises.

Ferries arrive at three harbours with five terminals:

  • West Harbour (Länsisatama) [16] - Hietasaarenkuja 8 - Tallink ships M/S Star, M/S Baltic Princess and M/S Superstar to Tallinn, Eckerö Line ship M/S Nordlandia and St. Peter Line ships Pricess Maria and Princess Anastasia use the West Terminal also. The terminal has luggage lockers, café, a trolley rental, kiosk, a restaurant, public transport ticket machine, bank, an ATM and the Eckerö Line and Tallink Silja Oy service points. Starting from August 2012, tram line 9 goes from the harbour to Central Railway Station and Kallio.
  • South Harbour (Eteläsatama) - Olympia Terminal [17] - Olympiaranta 1 - West shore of the bay. Tallink Silja cruise ferries M/S Silja Serenade and M/S Silja Symphony dock at Olympia Terminal. The terminal has a money exchange, an ATM, luggage lockers, a trolley rental, a restaurant, kiosk, and the Silja Line service point. Served by trams 1A and 3T.
  • South Harbour (Eteläsatama) - Makasiini Terminal [18] - Eteläranta 7 - West shore of the bay. Linda Line fast catamarans M/S Merilin and M/S Karolin arrive to Makasiini Terminal during open water season. The terminal has a kiosk, currency exchange, luggage lockers and Linda Line and Silja Line service points. Served by trams 1A and 3T, or just walk to Market Square.
  • South Harbour (Eteläsatama) - Katajanokka Terminal [19] - Katajanokanlaituri 8 - Right shore of the bay. Viking Line ships (M/S Gabriella, M/S Mariella, M/S Viking XPRS) arrive at Katajanokka Terminal. The terminal has a restaurant, kiosk, an ATM, a currency exchange, luggage lockers, and the Viking Line service point. The terminus of tram 4T is in front of the terminal. Trams only depart from the terminal at 10-12AM, 3-5 and 8-9PM.
  • Vuosaari Harbour (Vuosaaren satama) - Hansa Terminal [20] - Provianttikatu 5 - Mainly a cargo port, but used also by Finnlines [21] services to Rostock, Gdynia and Travemünde and Tallink Silja to Rostock. Take metro to Vuosaari and continue by bus 90B/90BK.

See the Port of Helsinki [22] for the latest details.

Get around

Helsinki tram map

All public transportation within Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen is coordinated by HSL [23]. The following basic ticket types are available:

  • Tram ticket (raitiovaunulippu) (€2,00 from ticket machines, travel card button "0" €1.38, not available from the driver) — valid for one hour on trams only
  • Single ticket (kertalippu) (€2,20 by mobile phone or in ticket machines, €2.70 from the driver, travel card button "1" €1.84) — valid on all HKL services within city limits for one hour.
  • Regional ticket (seutulippu) (€4.50, travel card button "2" €3.47) — valid for 80 mins within and between Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen
  • Full region ticket (€7.00, travel card button "3" €5.60) — the above plus Kerava, Sipoo and Kirkkonummi

The Single ticket allows you to travel by almost any local public transportation method (buses, trains, trams, metro, Suomenlinna ferry) within the boundaries of Helsinki. The Regional ticket covers almost any public transportation method within the boundaries of Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen. However, if you purchase a Tram ticket, you are allowed to travel only by tram. All tickets allow unlimited transfers within their validity periods and regions. Children under 7 travel free, while tickets for children under 16 are half price.

Fares can be paid by cash when boarding (except on trams), by sending a text message to 16355 (valid on trams, metro and some buses; requires a Finnish SIM card) or by Travel Card (matkakortti), a reloadable smartcard sold at the R-kiosks and HSL offices, very similar to London's Oyster card. The Travel Card costs €9 (nonrefundable) and gives a 25% discount on fares. Using it is slightly cumbersome, as you must hold your card against the reader and simultaneously press the numbered button corresponding to the desired ticket type. Hold the card without pressing anything to see the remaining value or to register a transfer. One unadvertised but handy feature of the card is that it can be used by multiple people at once — just hold and press the button repeatedly, and the reader will beep and show "2x", "3x", etc. (For any subsequent transfers, holding it against the reader once is sufficient.)

Alternatively, you can opt for the Helsinki Card (1 day €36 (children 15) to 3 days €56 (children 21)) [24] or HSL Day Ticket (matkailijalippu) (1 day €7.00), both of which offer unlimited travel within the city. Day Tickets are sold at HSL offices, R-Kiosks located in the city center, ticket vending machines or by the driver. The Helsinki Card also offers free admission to a number of museums and attractions.

The very useful HSL Journey Planner [25] will get you from a street address, place or sight to another by suggesting possible public transport connections, covering the entire metropolitan Helsinki region. Try eg. "Airport" or "Railway station" for place names. It is also available in several third party mobile apps for most smart phones, which can use GPS to find your current location.

Getting around at night can be a bit tricky (or expensive), as most trains and trams stop before midnight and the buses before 2AM. A limited night bus network, all leaving from either Elielinaukio or Rautatientori next to the railway station, runs on weekends and public holidays after 2AM, charging approximately twice the price of a daytime ticket.

There are no ticket checks when getting on the metro, trains, trams or the Suomenlinna ferry, but ticket inspectors in blue uniforms do random checks on board. If you choose to ride without a ticket, watch out for the inspectors, as getting caught without a ticket results in an €80 fine.

By Baana

Baana - Helsinki's new "Low Line" (as opposed to NYC's High Line) opened on June 12, 2012, providing pedestrians and cyclists with a 1.3 km long connector between the Western Harbour area to Kamppi and Töölö Bay. At the Harbour end, you can also see all international cruise lines stopping to Helsinki and visit free sightseeing terrace with MiG-21BIS fighter jet on display - located at Verkkokauppa.com's electronics store. On the Kamppi end, there's bicycle hire centre and cultural activities and sights.

By tram

Beers on wheels
The SpåraKOFF Bar Tram [26] is a bright red tram converted into a pub on wheels. The tram runs during the summer only from Wednesday to Saturday, once an hour from 2PM to 9PM, along a route roughly paralleling the northern half of the 3T line, with stops at the Railway Square, Linnanmäki amusement park, Opera House, Aleksanterinkatu and the Market Square. The tour lasts about 40 minutes. The price €7 does not include any drinks.


For tourists the most convenient and scenic means of travel is the extensive tram network, especially lines 3B and 3T that together do a figure-eight circuit around the city. (Both run the length of the loop, the tram just changes signs halfway through.) Trams and HKL offices usually stock an informative leaflet listing attractions along the way.

From Wednesday to Friday, try to spot the silver-coloured Culture Tram [27] featuring live performances, art exhibitions and video installations on the route of tram 7B.

By bus

While the trams operate in the city center, buses cover the rest of the city. The main stations for northbound and eastbound buses are on the two squares adjacent to the Central Railway Station: Eliel Square (Elielinaukio) and Railway Square (Rautatientori). Westbound buses operate from the underground bus station in the Kamppi Center which is adjacent to the Kamppi metro station.

Buses are always entered through the front door and exited through the middle and back doors. When getting on the bus with a ticket you have bought earlier, you need to show it to the driver. If you don't have a ticket, you can buy one from the driver in cash (but don't try to use a bill larger than €20, the drivers may sometimes refuse your money if they need to give back too much change). If you are using a travel card, follow the instructions given above.

By metro

Helsinki metro map

A metro line runs from the center to the eastern neighbourhood. Apart from the Itäkeskus shopping centre, Rastila camping site and Aurinkolahti Beach few places along the line are of interest to tourists. After Itäkeskus, the line splits in two, with one line going to Mellunmäki and the other to Vuosaari. Travelling between Ruoholahti and Mellunmäki or Vuosaari takes 21-22 minutes. The metro line is currently being extended westwards into the city of Espoo and the first extension of seven new stations is expected to be opened in 2015. Helsinki's Metro holds the minor distinction of being the northernmost subway system in the world with Mellunmäki being the northernmost station.

By train

VR's suburban trains operate north from the Central Railway Station, branching out in three directions. HSL city tickets are valid within city limits, regional tickets on suburban trains to Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.

All carriages on local trains have the electronic readers which allow you to buy a ticket with a travel card. If you want to buy a ticket in cash, you must go to a ticket sales carriage (lipunmyyntivaunu) and buy a ticket from the train conductor. The ticket sales carriage is indicated with a sign by the door. There is also a large sign on the station platform showing where the ticket sales carriage should stop.

By ferry

The HKL ferry to Suomenlinna from the Market Square (Kauppatori) is a cheap and popular summer getaway. Another HKL operated ferry, mostly used only by the island's residents, leaves from the eastern end of Katajanokka. In addition, private operators provide ferries to Suomenlinna and various other islands during the summer; however, schedules can be sparse. HSL's Day Ticket and mobile-phone ticket are both valid also on the Suomenlinna ferry.

By taxi

[[Image:Taxi_stand.jpg|thumb|244px|Taxi stand on the west side of the Central Railway station] Cab fares are regulated by the government, and the taxi fares are reviewed yearly. Getting into any taxi gives you a starting charge of €5.70 on weekdays, or €8.80 after 8PM and all day Sunday. The meter ticks at €1.48/km. The rate increases if there are more than two passengers. There are also surcharges for large bags and leaving from Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport (€2). Generally baggage that is considered large enough to warrant an extra charge is baggage that won't fit in the trunk easily, without, for example, folding down the back seat. This charge is also applied if you are travelling with a large pet - though service dogs travel free.

During weekend nights and some popular events or holidays, it can be a bit difficult to find a taxi. Walk to the nearest taxi stand or try to book by phone from Taxi Helsinki 0100 0700 [28] or Lähitaksi [29] 0100 7300. If it's a very busy night, To pre-order a taxi for a given time, call 0100 0600. A pre-order can be placed for a taxi maximum two weeks prior to the time the taxi is needed, and a minimum of a half an hour before. A pre-order fee of €6.80 will be added to the taxi fare.

Drivers are not required to pick up a person hailing them on the street. If their light is on, and they pass a person hailing them, it is usually because there is a taxi stand very near by with available taxis waiting for customers. If you are not near a taxi stand, you'll very likely be able to hail a passing taxi with the light on. If the queues at night seem frustratingly long and you are willing to walk a bit, try heading towards Hakaniementori or Lauttasaari Bridge, where you can often hail a returning taxi (don't bother if the light is not on).


Yellow Line [30] is a good, cost-effective option for getting from the airport to the city center. Minivans carry up to seven or eight passengers and drop passengers off at their individual destinations. The shuttles can be found at their bright yellow desks in arrivals lounges 1 and 2. Prices start from €27 for one or two passengers and varies based on the number of people in the van.

By bike

Alas, Helsinki's free Citybike system was suspended in 2010, although there are plans to bring it back. If you bring your own bike or rent one, you'll find an extensive network of bike routes within the city. Bikers are required by law to drive on the street next to cars unless a bike lane or integrated pedestrian/cyclists sidewalk runs next to it, and the police ticket cyclists breaking this rule. Bike lanes are clearly marked by street markings and blue traffic signs. Biking is also allowed on pedestrian streets.

Downtown bike lanes are typically on the sidewalks (instead of next to car lanes on the street) so be aware of pedestrians. Don't be afraid to ring your bell! Review your bike map carefully, as some bike routes will stop and require you to walk your bike or drive next to cars. [31]. There is also a journey planner for cycling [32]. Once you get out of the city centre, cycling is less complicated.

Public libraries often have free stocks of biking maps in Helsinki Metropolitan Area, so when they are not visible on tables it would be better to ask the map from the library staff.

If an ordinary bike isn't enough for you, you can also rent a cyclerickshaw (riksa) large enough for three from Riksavuokraus [33] (tel. +358-50-5582525) in Eiranranta near Kaivopuisto. Prices start at €9/30 min, driver not included but available on request.

By car

Car rental is not a particularly good way of getting around Helsinki, since parking is limited and expensive. Most street-side parking in the city center is in "Zone 1" and costs €3/hour during working hours, although Saturdays (mostly) and Sundays (always) are free. There are also several large underground parking garages at Kamppi and Forum.

By organized tour

If you're looking for an organised tour in or around Helsinki, there's only one game left in town:

  • Helsinki Expert, Pohjoisesplanadi 19, +358-(0)9-2288 1222, [34]. Guided bus tours 1-5 times daily in 11 languages. Free with the Helsinki Card, otherwise €26/15 adult/child. The company also arranges private tours from €155/2 hours.

See

Surrounded by sea and a vast archipelago, Helsinki is at its best in the summer when the dialogue between the city and nature is at its fullest. Classical Helsinki's sights can be divided into an eclectic set of churches and a wide variety of museums. For a coastal amble past some of Helsinki's minor and major sights, see the itinerary A seaside stroll in Helsinki.

Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna fortress, seen from a passing ferry

If you see only one place in Helsinki in the summer, make it Suomenlinna [35]. The "Gibraltar of the North" was once the greatest sea fortress in the Baltic, built by the Swedish in the mid-1700s at great expense to protect their eastern flank. But when the Russians invaded in February 1808, the bulk of the unprepared and bankrupt Swedish army hastily withdrew, allowing the Russians to conquer Helsinki without a fight and besiege the fortress. With no reinforcements in sight, commander Carl Olof Cronstedt surrendered unconditionally two months later, and Finland was ceded to the Russians. Cronstedt's actions probably saved countless civilian lives, but King Gustav IV needed a scapegoat and sentenced him to death for treason; fortunately, the losing king was himself soon overthrown, and Cronstadt lived out his years gardening.

Today's Suomenlinna is still living in its own time with only old buildings, few cars, fewer than a thousand inhabitants and lots of old fortifications, catacombs and cast iron cannons. But it's not just a museum: the sprawling complex houses restaurants, cafes, theaters and museums, and is a very popular place for a picnic on a fine summer day, watching the vast passenger ferries drift by on their way to Estonia and St Petersburg. It was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1991 as a unique monument to European military architecture.

Entry to the island itself is free, but you need to pay for the ferry ride. The HSL ferry from Market Square is the cheapest and most convenient way of getting there at €4 for a 12-hour tourist return. The ferry is a part of the Helsinki local traffic, so if you have an HSL Day Ticket it includes ferry travel. The ferry runs approximately every half hour. On summer weekends the island is a popular picnic destination and you may have to wait for a long time as hundreds of people crowd the ferry terminal. In this case it may be worth it to use the more expensive private ferry company at the other end of the Market Square.

Guided tours of the island in English are available daily at 11AM and 2PM in Jun-Aug and on Sat/Sun only at 1:30PM the rest of the year, €7/person, and history buffs will want to drop into the Suomenlinna Museum [36] at the Visitor Centre (€6,50).

Other islands

Old stable in Seurasaari

A beautiful archipelago (saaristo) surrounds the Helsinki city center. In addition to the major islands listed below, there are scheduled services to many smaller islands, and you can also tour them by sightseeing cruise. Most of the cruises depart from the Western corner of the Market Square and last from one to several hours. Note most ferries and cruises operate only in the summer high season.

  • Seurasaari Open Air Museum, [37]. A pleasant little island to the north of the center, filled with walking trails and authentic old Finnish houses collected from all over the country. An excellent half-day trip, especially in the summer, when many buildings have guides practising crafts in traditional dress. There's a very pleasant if somewhat pricy summer cafe/restaurant atop a small hill at the center of the island. Entry to the park free, entry into the museum buildings costs €6 (€5 concession), buy tickets at entrance. Take bus 24 from Erottaja at the northern end of Esplanadi to the terminus (20-30 minutes), then walk across the bridge. Beware of mercenary squirrels that will raid your bags if you carry any food.
  • Pihlajasaari, [38]. Few tourists find their way here, but this is a very popular summer spot for Helsinkians, with sandy beaches (including a mixed nude beach) and a restaurant dishing out cold beer and ciders. Ferries run from Merisatama pier at the southern end of Kaivopuisto Park (tram 3B) hourly from 9:30AM to 8:30PM, 10-15 min, €5.50 return.
  • Korkeasaari, [39]. A large island in central Helsinki best known for Helsinki Zoo, with approximately 200 different animal species. Connected to the mainland by bridge (bus 11 from Central Railway Station), in summer you can also open for a 15-min ferry ride from Hakaniemi and Market Square. Entry to the zoo €10/5 adult/child.

Parks

  • Esplanadi Park. Located between Market Square (Kauppatori) and the two Esplanadi boulevards, this small but stately park has a commanding position at the heart of the city. In the summer time it is full of people sitting on the lawn, meeting their friends and quite often also having a drink or two. In the summer there are often free concerts given by local artists on the stage close to Kauppatori, facing restaurant Kappeli. If you're walking around with an ice cream or sandwich, do watch out for the aggressive birds.
  • Kaivopuisto. A beautiful park by the sea in the southernmost part of the city. In summer you might want to sit down for a cup of coffee in one of the seaside cafes and enjoy the view of sailboats and the people on the promenade. Housing surrounding this area is the most expensive in Helsinki.
A view over Töölönlahti
  • Töölönlahti. Located northwest from the central railway station, this is a bay surrounded by a nice park that is dotted with attractions such as the Finlandia Concert Hall and the National Opera. Töölönlahti is partly in a natural state which is quite rare in major cities. Walking and jogging around the bay is a popular outdoor activity.
  • Sinebrychoffin puisto. Also known as "Koffin puisto", located in Punavuori district next to the Sinebrychoff art museum. Popular with young people, in the summer it is full of people having picnics or just drinking pussikalja (literally: "beer in a bag", means buying beer from a supermarket and drinking it outdoors), while in the winter kids ride sleds down the snowy slope.
  • Central Park (Keskuspuisto). This is a huge park starting just north of the Olympic Stadium and extending northwards for 10 km. It encompasses an area of over 1,000 hectares. The park is mostly in a natural state, with plenty of walkways, bikeways, riding paths and sports facilities including Pirkkola Sports Park (ice hockey, swimming, running) and Paloheinä (skiing, golf). A popular jogging area.
  • Alppipuisto [40]. Located on the west side of the Linnanmäki amusement park, this beautiful park is a hidden gem during the summer due to the many free concerts and other events that are held there throughout the summer months.

Churches

The Church in the Rock
Uspenski Cathedral
  • Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko). Aleksanterinkatu, [41]. The unofficial symbol of the city, this striking white cathedral dominates the central Senate Square. Based on designs by Carl Ludvig Engel and completed in 1852, the cathedral has recently been refurbished and looks better than ever, with the 12 apostles on the roof once again looking down at the world below. Open 9AM-6PM daily. Free.
  • The Church in the Rock (Temppeliaukion kirkko, literally "Temple Square Church"). Lutherinkatu 3 (tram 3B), +358 9-494698. An atmospheric if minimalistic church, this church was literally dug out of solid rock. From above, it resembles a crashed UFO. The roof is made of 22 km of copper strips. Completed in 1969, this has become one of Helsinki's most popular attractions. Concerts are often held here thanks to the excellent acoustics. 10AM-5PM daily. Free. English services on Sundays at 2PM, open to the public.
  • Uspenski Cathedral (Uspenskin katedraali). Kanavakatu 1, +358 9-634267, [42]. A classical onion-domed Russian church prominently located near the Market Square, Uspenski Cathedral serves Finland's small Orthodox minority and is the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe. The name comes from the Russian uspenie, from the Dormition (death) of the Virgin Mary. The five domes are topped with 22-carat gold, and some of the icons within are held to be miraculous. Open Tu-F 9:30AM-4PM, Sat 9:30AM-2PM, Su 12PM-3PM. May-Sep Mon,Wed, Sat 9:30AM-4PM, Tue 9:30AM-6PM, Sun 12PM-3PM. Free.
  • St. John's Church (Johanneksenkirkko). Korkeavuorenkatu 12, +358 9-7092370. The largest church in Helsinki and a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture. M-F 12-15PM. Free.
  • Church of Kallio (Kallion kirkko). On top of the hill at the end of Siltasaarenkatu. The church is built of grey granite (1912) and its massive looks dominate the view from Hakaniemi. It was designed by Finnish architect Lars Sonck. The church has both baroque and French romantic organs and concerts are organized frequently. Tu-F 12AM-6PM, Sa-Su 10AM-6PM. Free.
  • Old Church of Helsinki (Helsingin vanha kirkko), Lönnrotinkatu 6, and Old Church Park (Vanha kirkkopuisto). The oldest existing church in central Helsinki, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, built between 1824 and 1826. Originally planned as a temporary building before Lutheran Cathedral would be completed in 1852, but remained in use due to the rapid population growth from the early 19th century onwards. The park is sometimes colloquially called Ruttopuisto (Plague Park) as over a thousand victims of the 1710 plague are buried next to the park. The park itself was a cemetery from the 1780s until shortly after the church's construction. Its use as a graveyard was discontinued in 1829, although some victims of the Finnish Civil War and fallen Finnish volunteers of the Estonian War of Independence were buried there in 1918 and 1919, respectively. Some 40 gravestones and memorials, as well as the Johan Sederholm's tomb remain of the cemetery.

Places of Worship

  • United Community Church (UCC). Annankatu 7, [43]. International, bible-based and nondenominational church that welcomes both Finns and foreigners to attend. Services in Helsinki and Espoo on Sundays. Free.

Museums and galleries

Alexander II and the Lutheran Cathedral
Senate Square on a snowy December morning

Many of Helsinki's museums are as interesting from the outside as from the inside. Architecture buffs will get a kick out of Helsinki's Neo-Classical center, centered around Senate Square (Senaatintori), where a statue of the liberal Russian czar Alexander II stands guard. Aleksanterinkatu and the Railway Station square also have some beautiful neo-classical buildings — look out for the Romantic Kalevala-esque themes — but unfortunately these areas also have many concrete monstrosities mixed in.

  • Ateneum Art Museum, Kaivokatu 2, +358 9 1733 61 (+358 9 1733 6228 for tickets), [44]. Open Tu-F 9AM-6PM, W-Th 9AM-8PM, Sa-Su 11AM-5PM. Closed Mon.. Ateneum can be considered the most nationally significant art museum, and it has the largest collection of paintings and sculptures in Finland. Particularly notable is the collection of works by major Finnish artists. Works include renowned interpretations of the national epic Kalevala. Adults €6, under 18 free, special prices may apply during major exhibitions. First Wednesday of the month 5PM-8PM free admission..
  • Design Museum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, +358 9 622 0540, [45]. Open Tu 11AM-8PM, W-Su 11AM-6PM. Closed Mondays.. Exhibitions of modern commercial and industrial design and modern art. The permanent exhibit in the basement showcases the history of consumer-goods design over the course of the 20th century, with a particular focus on the contributions of Finnish designers. €7 for adults, €3 for students, and free for children.
  • Helsinki City Museum, Sofiankatu 4, +358 9 3103 6630, [46]. The museum actually covers a whole series of old buildings around Helsinki, but the centerpiece is the (short) street of Sofiankatu itself, carefully restored as a replica of the 1930s. Free.
  • Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Mannerheiminaukio 2, +358 9 1733 6501, [47]. Tu 10AM-5PM, W-Su 10AM-8:30PM. Closed Mondays.. The sometimes unusual collections mostly include works by contemporary Finnish artists and artists from nearby countries. There are also periodical exhibitions. The building itself is arguably a work of art. €7 for adults, €5 for undergraduate students, senior citizens, visual artists, and groups with at least 7 people. Free admission for visitors under 18. First Wed of the month is free from 5PM-8PM.
  • National Museum of Finland (Kansallismuseo), Mannerheimintie 34, [48]. Tu-W 11AM-8PM, Th-Su 11AM-6PM, Closed Mon. A beautiful classical building houses this old museum, which has recently been renovated. The exhibit includes displays of artifacts and items relating to Finland's history. €6/4 adult/child. Free admission for visitors under 18. Tuesday has free admission from 5:30PM-8PM..
  • Museum of Cultures (Kulttuurien museo), Tennispalatsi 2nd floor, Eteläinen Rautatiekatu 8, [49]. Tu-Th 11AM-8PM, F-Su 11AM-6PM, Closed Mon.. One of Helsinki's quirkier museums, concentrates on changing exhibitions of cultures outside Finland. €5/4 adult/child. Tu 5PM-8PM and F 11AM-6PM free admission..
  • Museum of Finnish Architecture, Kasarmikatu 24, +358 9 8567 5100, [50]. Open Tue-Sun 11AM-6PM, Wed 11AM-8PM. Closed Mondays.. Changing exhibitions on Finnish and international architecture. Permanent exhibition on 20th century Finnish architecture. Bookshop and Library.
  • Gallery Forum Box, Ruoholahdenranta 3 a, [51]. Tue-Fri 11AM-5PM, Sat-Sun 12PM-5PM. A Contemporary Art Gallery, changing exhibitions and cultural events.
  • Heureka Science Centre, Tikkurila (near Tikkurila train station), [52]. M-W, Th 10AM-8PM, F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su 10AM-6PM.. If you have children, this is a great place for a day trip. Hands-on science tests and exhibitions plus Verne super-cinema. There's also a Heureka Shop, where you can buy interesting science-related memorabilia. Adult: €19; Children (6-15): €12.50.
  • Mannerheim Museum, Kalliolinnantie 14 (Trams 3T and 3B), [53]. Fri, Sat, Su 11AM-4PM. Finnish Marshall Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim lived in this villa 1924—51. The museum contains his personal home and his vast array of items acquired during his life and on his long travels. €8.
  • Military Museum, Maurinkatu 1 (Trams 7A and 7B), [54]. Tu-Th 11AM–5PM, F–Su 11AM–4PM. Closed Mondays.. Founded in 1929, the central museum of the Finnish Defence Forces. €4.
  • Military Museum Manege, Suomenlinna, Iso Mustasaari (Take an inexpensive ferry from Kauppatori), [55]. Open summertime (12.5-31.8, closed 19-21.6) daily 11AM–6PM. Exhibits vehicles and armament used by Finnish forces during Winter War and WW2. €5.
  • Submarine Vesikko, Suomenlinna, Susisaari (Take an inexpensive ferry from Kauppatori), [56]. Open summertime (12.5-31.8, closed 19-21.6) daily 11AM–6PM. Vesikko was one of five submarines to serve the Finnish Navy during the wars in 1939-44. It´s also the only surviving German Type II (Vesikko was the prototype) submarine in the world. €5.

Olympic sights

Olympic Stadium's modernistic tower
View from the tower

Helsinki is an Olympic city, the host of the 1952 Olympic Games.

  • Olympic Stadium, [57]. Originally built for the Olympics and renovated for the 2005 World Athletic Championships. Next to the stadium are soccer fields. There is Museum of Sport in the stadium building. Another stadium called Sonera stadium is not far from the Olympic site. The most popular building in the complex, though, is the Uimastadion, Helsinki's largest outdoor pool (open May-Sep), whose three pools and water slides draw around 5,000 visitors a day in the summer. After the war, the pool was used to store herring and potatoes! Open M-F 9AM-8PM, Sa-Su 9AM-6PM.

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  • Olympic Tower. The stadium features 72m high tower (14 storeys) that offers a great view over the city. €5 (adults) / €2 (children) as at November 2011.

Other

The Sibelius Monument
  • Sibelius Monument, Sibelius Park, [58]. The world-famous composer Jean Sibelius' monument was designed by sculptress Eila Hiltunen and unveiled in 1967. It is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Helsinki as nearly every guided tourist tour is brought to Sibelius Park to marvel at this unique work of art resembling organ pipes, welded together from 600 pipes and weighing over 24 metric tons.
  • Parliament House (Eduskunta), Mannerheimintie 30, [59]. The House of the 200-seat Parliament of Finland was designed by J.S. Sirén in the classic style of the 1920s and officially inaugurated in 1931. The interior is classical with a touch of functionalism and art deco. Tours in English at 11AM and 12PM on Sat, 12PM and 1PM on Sun. During the months of Jul and Aug English tours are at 1PM on weekdays (and not available on weekends). Free. Under extensive renovation 2007–2017
  • Finlandia Hall, Mannerheimintie 13, [60]. Designed by Finland's best known architect Alvar Aalto and located across the street from the National Museum, the marble Finlandia Hall is a popular congress and concert venue in Helsinki. The building itself is worth a visit particularly for architecture buffs, with guided tours available (€6/4, check website for schedule). Be sure to view the building also from across the Töölönlahti bay in the evening when it is floodlit. M-F 9AM-4PM. Free.
  • Korjaamo Cultural Factory, Töölönkatu 51 +358 504 072 467 [61] Situated in the old tram depot, Korjaamo is made up of galleries, a café, bar, club space, a theatre, shop, and even the Tram Museum is still here. Since the Vaunuhalli was opened in the summer of 2008, Korjaamo is now the biggest cultural centre in the country. While the work is diverse, you could say that the kind of art on offer at Korjaamo is independent, different, and worth keeping an eye on.

Do

Amusement parks

  • Linnanmäki [62]. The oldest amusement park in Finland, famous for its wooden roller coaster. Entrance to the park is free of charge, all-day passes €35 (adults) and €22 (children). Open only during the summer, however the adjacent Sea Life [63] aquarium at Tivolikuja 1 is open throughout the year. Tram 3T, 8, bus 23.
  • Serena Water Amusement Park [64], Tornimäentie 10, Espoo (Bus 339 from Helsinki Bus Station), tel. +358 9 8870550. "info.serena@puuhagroup.com" Open 11PM-8PM daily. This is the largest water park in the Nordic countries with some 2,000 sq.m. of heated pools indoors. The buildings have seen their best days, but kids love the water slides. An extra 1,000 m² of outdoor area is open in the summer. Serena is at its best in winter when you can kick back in a jacuzzi and watch people ski on the other side of the glass windows. All-day pass €32 except some Fridays €25 (4-8PM only), family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) €75.
  • Flamingo Entertainment Center [65], Tasetie 8, Vantaa. (Buses 650 and 615T from Helsinki Railway Station or bus 61 from Tikkurila Station) A big entertainment complex located near the airport in Vantaa, next to a large shopping mall Jumbo, just north of Helsinki. Biggest attractions are Flamingo Spa & Wellness [66] with pretty cool and fast slides in the water park section and a large selection of relaxation pools, jacuzzis and different saunas in the other section, and Hohtogolf West Coast [67] which is a glow in the dark 15-hole miniature golf course with over-the-top mechanized special effects and a special "horror" section. Cheesy but fun, especially after a few drinks from the bar. Other attractions in Flamingo include a small casino, a 3D movie theater, many pubs and restaurants, a variety of specialist shops, a large hotel and one of the biggest nightclubs in Finland.
  • Hoplop activity hall for kids [68], Savikiekontie 4, Helsinki. 8 meters tall adventure maze, slides etc. Cafe.

Cinema

The situation with movie theaters in Helsinki has deteriorated in recent years when one by one small theaters have closed their doors.

In downtown Helsinki, there are two large multiplexes: Tennispalatsi located in Salomonkatu 15, Kamppi and Kinopalatsi in Kaisaniemenkatu 2, Kaisaniemi, both maintained by Finnkino, the largest movie theater chain in Finland. In addition, Finnkino operates a historic cinema with two screens, Maxim in Kluuvikatu 1, Kluuvi. See Finnkino's ticket pricing on their website.

Theaters concentrating on classic and art house films are few and far between in Helsinki today. The movie theater Orion, Eerikinkatu 15, run by the Finnish National Audiovisual Archive, screens a wide variety of films, including classics. Tickets 5,50€ for non-members and 4,50€ with a membership card. Kino Engel, Sofiankatu 4 near Senaatintori, focuses on European and world cinema. Tickets 9€. In Summer, also Kesäkino (Summer Cinema) is held in the courtyard of Café Engel, Aleksanterinkatu 26. Tickets (12€) can be bought from the Kino Engel counter and for the same night also from the Kesäkino door 45 minutes before the screening.

There are also some (small) independent movie theaters in neighboring Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen showing mainly the bigger blockbusters: Bio Grand in Tikkurila, Vantaa, Bio Jaseka in Myyrmäki, Vantaa, Bio Grani in Kauniainen and Kino Tapiola in Tapiola, Espoo. Many of them have a matinée series of cheaper, more art house screenings supported by the local culture board. In addition, Finnkino operates three screens in Omena cinema in the Iso Omena shopping center in Matinkylä, Espoo as well as six screens in Flamingo multiplex in the entertainment center Flamingo in Vantaa. In Leppävaara, Espoo there are also six screens in the Bio Rex multiplex at the Sello shopping center.

Luckily, several film festivals enrich the cinema culture in Helsinki region. The biggest is the Helsinki International Film Festival - Love and Anarchy held annually in September. Espoo has its own international film festival Espoo Ciné held every August in Tapiola and Leppävaara. In January, Helsinki Documentary Film Festival Docpoint takes over. Some of the smaller film festivals include (to name few) Lens Politica showing political films and art, Helsinki Short Film Festival for short films, Artichoke Film Festival concentrating on films of and by women, and Night Visions focusing on horror, fantasy, science fiction, action and cult cinema. Cinemania website collects at least some of the festivals together and also sells passes of 5 or 10 screenings that may be used in several festivals. However, check the site for the most up-to-date information as the ticket policy varies from festival to festival.

Concerts

Helsinki has an active cultural life and tickets are generally inexpensive. Important performing groups include:

  • National Opera (Kansallisooppera), Helsinginkatu 58, tel. +358-9-403021, [69]. Lavishly subsidized, but it's still easy to get good seats. Tickets €14-84. Students can buy discount tickets for performances on the same day for 10 euros if there are still seats left, but these tickets have to be bought in person. An international student card is valid. Pensioners get 5 euros off, and children get their tickets at half regular price. Also runs the National Ballet (Kansallisbaletti).
  • Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (Kaupunginorkesteri), [70]. Performances have recently moved to the Music House, a brand new visually questionable but acustically excellent concert hall. Tickets €20. On selected Wednesdays you can go see dress rehearsals for as little as 3 euros per person. The rehearsals start 9.30 AM. Check availability on the site before showing up at the Music House!
  • UMO Jazz Orchestra, [71]. An important part of Finnish jazz life, known for performing new Finnish music alongside interesting shows, such as with new circus. Various venues.

Festivals

  • Flow Festival, [72]. Annual 3-day urban and electronic music festival, held in mid-August at Suvilahti. Noted for its high-end arrangements marrying music to design and gourmet food, Flow has expanded to include installations, arts and workshops in the past few years.
  • Helsinki International Film Festival, [73]. Also known as Rakkautta & Anarkiaa (Love & Anarchy) and held annually in September, HIFF features a wide selection of films from all over the world. Asian films have been a special focus in the history of the festival that is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012.
  • Tuska Open Air, [74]. An annual, 3-day heavy metal festival, featuring acts from all over the world, held in July.

Outdoors

  • Hietaniemi Beach, Hietaniemenkatu. It's safe to say that most people don't come to Helsinki for the beaches, but on a hot summer day Hietsu (as it is known among the locals) is a good place to be. Beach volleyball, swimming and various events are popular. Buses 55A and 18 or tram 3T from Kamppi/Rautatientori, or just walk (15-20 min from the centre).
  • Aurinkolahti Beach, Solvikinkatu, Vuosaari. Spacier and calmer than Hietsu, the Aurinkolahti Beach is frequented by everyone from youth to families. It is located in the neighbourhood of Vuosaari. 700m walk or bus 90 (Aurinkolahti) from the Metro station Vuosaari (20min from the centre).
  • Härmälä Farm, Mäntykummuntie 6, Vantaa, tel. +358 9 876 7339, +358 (0)400 880 539. Open by arrangement around the year. A typical Finnish farm located in the village of Sotunki in eastern Vantaa and surrounded by a picturesque landscape. On the farm you can meet animals representing the traditional Finnish stock: cows, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and more. Admission €3, families €10. Bus 742 from Helsinki Railway Station.

At Sea

Helsinki is located at the Finnish Gulf, and several cruise liners arrange trips out to the archipelago ranging from short hops lasting only an hour or two to trips ranging a full day.

  • Söderskär Lighthouse, (Royal Line from Kauppatori market), +358 400 502 771 (), [75]. Boat at 11AM on Tue, Thu, Sat (29.6.-14.8.2010). An old secluded lighthouse island out at the sea, in the middle of a bird reservoir. Day trips are arranged by Royal Line [76], including a lunch, a guided tour of the lighthouse (Finnish/English) and a couple hours time to linger at the island, but it is also possible to stay at the island for the night. Day cruise €52/25, hostel starting at €40/person.
  • Skippered Day Sailing, Laivastokatu 1, Katajanokka, +358-50-592 91 41 (), [77]. leaves daily 10AM. Visit the coastal archipelago on a 35ft sailboat, for two hours or full day trips with an experienced skipper. Island hopping is also possible. from €60.

Saunas

  • Arlan sauna (also known as Sauna Arla) , Kaarlenkatu 15, [78]. Old public sauna in Kallio. Separate saunas for men and women. Washing service and traditional bloodletting (kuppaus) also available. €9 for adults, students €7.
  • Kotiharjun sauna [79], Harjutorinkatu 1. This is the last wood burning public sauna in Helsinki. Separate saunas for men and women. There's a good chance you'll find a top level chess match in the dressing room. Don't miss cooling off outside, especially in winter. On Saturdays you'll find bachelor partiers (Kotiharju is pretty near to Kallio's nightlife). €12 for adults, students & pensioners €8.5, towel €3 extra.
  • Sauna Hermanni, Hämeentie 63, [80]. Open from Monday to Saturday. €8 for adults, students €5.
  • Yrjönkadun Uimahalli [81],Yrjönkatu 21b in Helsinki, across from the Torni Hotel, an art-deco bath house with three types of saunas and a swimming pool. Take a sauna and swim in the nude. There are separate days for women and men. Bathing suits are not banned, but almost everyone goes without one. Men's swimming days are: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday; Women's days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday. 1st Floor €4.80 (or €5.20 with a lockable stall or 'cabin'), 2nd Floor €12. The second floor includes access to a steam sauna and a wood-heated sauna, as well as a café.
  • Kämp Spa, Kluuvikatu 4 B, (Kämp Gallery 8th floor), +358 9 5761 1330 (), [82]. Mon–Fri 9am - 8pm, Sat 9am - 8pm, Sun 9am - 1pm and 4pm - 8pm (gym and sauna area). Kämp Spa is located in the heart of Helsinki. In addition to the spa treatments, the Spa counts with a gym and 3 different saunas.
  • Kuusijärvi, Kuusijärventie 3, Vastaa, [83]. This traditional smoke sauna is located in Vantaa but very easy to reach from Helsinki Railway Station. Situated in Kuusijärvi Outdoor Centre and besides a beautiful lake, it's widely regarded as one of the best traditional saunas in the capital region. Rebuilt in 2011. €10 for adults, students/children €6. Take your swim gear with you, as the smoke sauna is mixed-sex.

Sports

  • Salmisaaren Liikuntakeskus, Energiakatu 3 (next to Helsinki Energia @ Ruoholahti), [84]. New sports mall in Helsinki, includes indoor beach, bowling, ice hockey, wall climbing, gym, restaurant and lots more...
  • Sonera Stadium, Urheilukatu 5 (next to Olympic Stadium), [85]. The home of football (soccer) team HJK [86]. Tickets for matches start from €12. Name changed from Finnair Stadium in August 2010 due to corporate sponsorship change
  • Hartwall Areena, Areenankuja 1 (7 min walk from Pasila station, 10 min walk from Tram 7 stop at Kyllikinportti‎), [87]. The largest indoor arena in Finland, the home of ice hockey team Jokerit [88] and also a popular venue for concerts.
  • Helsingin Jäähalli, Nordenskiöldinkatu 11-13 (1 block from Tram 3B, 4, 7, and 10, stop at Kansaneläkelaitos‎), [89]. The home of ice hockey team HIFK [90]. Tickets for matches start from €10.
  • Natura Viva - Vuosaari Paddling Center, Ramsinniementie 14, +358503768585, [91]. Vuosaari Paddling Center is the leading organizer of kayaking activities in the Helsinki region. The kayak rental is open from the beginning of June until the end of August every day. In May and September on demand. Guided tours, trips and courses are also possible. Rentals start at 14 € per 2 hours.

Learn

Most of Finland's exchange students end up in Helsinki's universities.

  • University of Helsinki. [92]. With over 40,000 students, this is Finland's largest university and its alumni include Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel.
  • Aalto University, [93]. Newly-formed from three leading universities in their respective areas:
    • Helsinki University of Technology. [94]. Considered "Finland's MIT", this university is in Otaniemi, Espoo, just across the municipality border.
    • University of Art and Design Helsinki. [95]. The biggest art university in Scandinavia. Has the highest rate of exchange students of all Finnish universities.
    • Helsinki School of Economics. [96].
  • Hanken, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration. [97].
  • Sibelius Academy. [98]. The only music university in Finland and one of the largest in Europe.

Work

As elsewhere in the country, obtaining work in Helsinki may be difficult. See the main Finland article for details.

Buy

Shopping in Helsinki is generally expensive, but fans of Finnish and Nordic design will find plenty of things of interest. Most large shops and department stores are open weekdays from 9AM-9PM. As in the rest of Finland, most shops close by 6PM on Saturday and Sunday (as of 2010 all shops are allowed to open every Sunday between noon and 6PM). A notable exception is the Asematunneli complex, located underground adjacent to the Central Railway Station, most shops here are open until 10PM almost every day of the year.

Grocery stores K-Supermarket and Lidl in the Kamppi Center (see below) and the S-Market supermarket below Sokos, next to the railway station, are open every day until 10PM. Small grocery stores and the R-Kioski convenience store chain are open till 10PM or 11PM year-round, too. A handful of small Alepa grocery stores are open 24 hours a day except on national holidays, but none of them are in the city centre. In the centre you will find small Delish and Pick A Deli convenience stores in the city center, open 24 hours a day year round but more expensive than regular grocery stores.

Department stores and shopping malls

Helsinki's main shopping drag is Aleksanterinkatu (Aleksi), which runs from Senate Square to Mannerheimintie. On Aleksi you can find plenty of shops and the largest department store in Scandinavia, Stockmann, which is definitely worth a visit. The parallel Esplanadi boulevards have specialist and generally very expensive boutiques. Access to the area is easy, as trams 3, 4/4T and 7A/7B all run down Aleksanterinkatu, and the area is just a stone's throw from the Central Railway Station and Kaisaniemi metro stations. Close by, in the Kamppi area, you can find the shopping centres Kamppi and Forum and the department store Sokos. Large shopping malls can be found in the suburbs and accessed by public transport from the Central Railway Station.

  • Academic Bookstore (Akateeminen Kirjakauppa). Keskuskatu (opposite Stockmann), [99]. The largest bookstore in Northern Europe, with extensive selections in English too. An underground passage connects the bookstore to Stockmann. If for no other reason the bookstore's architechture (Alvar Aalto) and pleasant second floor cafeteria (one of the few with table service in Helsinki) might be enough reason to visit. Tram: 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10.
  • Stockmann. Corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Mannerheimintie, [100]. The flagship of Finland's premier department store chain. When Helsinkians meet "under the clock" (kellon alla), they mean the one rotating under the Aleksanterinkatu entrance to Stockmann. Large selection of souvenirs and Finnish goods, and the Herkku supermarket in the basement offers an amazing range of gourmet food from all over Europe. There are also smaller branches of Stockmann at the malls of Itäkeskus, Jumbo, Tapiola and the airport. Tram: 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10.
  • Itäkeskus. [101]. The largest shopping mall in the Nordic countries with some 240 shops. Comes with an unexpected African and Middle Eastern vibe due to the high number of immigrants residing in the nearby neighbourhoods, who spend free time there with friends and family. Metro: Itäkeskus, about 16 minutes from the center.
  • Kämp Galleria, between Mikonkatu and Kluuvikatu, [102]. Helsinki's fanciest shopping mall, with local brands like Marimekko, Aarikka and Iittala. Tram: 3, 4, 6, 7, 9. Metro: Kaisaniemi.
  • Kamppi Center (Kampin Keskus), [103]. Big shopping mall in the center of Helsinki. Plenty of international brands and restaurants. Long-distance bus terminal in the basement. Metro: Kamppi.
  • Kluuvi. Aleksanterinkatu, [104]. Re-opened after extensive renovations in Autumn 2011, the Kluuvi shopping centre features a range of international and domestic brands. Perhaps the most interesting concept is the Eat & Joy Markethall selling organic and local food in the basement. Grind your own flour and fill your bottles with crude milk but be prepared for steep prices. Tram: 3T, 4, 7. Metro: Kaisaniemi.
  • Kauppakeskus Ruoholahti. [105]. Compared to others it's a B-category shopping mall. Metro: Ruoholahti. Tram: 8.
  • Sokos. A large department store conveniently located right next to the railway station. Tram: 1, 3B/T, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, Metro: Central Railway Station.
  • Verkkokauppa.com. [106]. Northern Europe's and probably also Europe's largest home-electronics store with 20 000 m2 of retail space. The best spot for electronics, computers, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc. in Helsinki. Located 2 km from the Helsinki city center. Store also features Finland's largest and free sightseeing terrace with real MiG-21BIS fighter plane. Free parking. Metro: Ruoholahti. Tram: 9 takes you door-to-door from railway station. Also terminal to Tallinn, Estonia and St. Petersburg, Russia is one the other side of the street looking from Verkkokauppa.com

In the suburbs of Vantaa and Espoo you can also find big shopping malls. Vantaa has Jumbo(including Flamingo) [107] and Myyrmanni [108], while Espoo has Iso Omena [109] and Sello [110]. All of these are easily accessible by public transport or by car (free parking).

Design

There are high-end design stores around Aleksanterinkatu and Etelä-Esplanadi. The Design District Helsinki area around Uudenmaankatu and Iso Roobertinkatu is full of design and antique shops, fashion stores, museums, art galleries, restaurants and showrooms. Here you can find the most interesting names, classics, trend-setters and so much more. Visit Design Forum Finland [111] at Erottajankatu 7 to get a map of shops and galleries.

  • Aero, Yrjönkatu 8, [112]. New and vintage design furniture, lighting, textiles, jewelery, glass. Finnish designers represented include Eero Aarnio, Alvar Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva and Ilmari Tapiovaara. Not for the budget traveller.
  • Arabia Factory Shop. Hämeentie 135 (Tram 6 & 8 terminus), [113]. Factory outlet for Arabia ceramics and Iittala glassware, best known for selling slightly defective goods at modestly discounted prices. Open M-F 10AM-8PM, Sa-Su 10AM-4PM.
  • Helsinki 10, Eerikinkatu 3, tel. +358-10-5489801, [114]. This bright-white "lifestyle department store" sells both international and Finnish (designer) labels such as Raf Simons, Wood Wood, Acne and April77 as well as second-hand clothes, accessories, records, magazines etc. Open M-F 11AM-8PM, Sa 11AM-6PM.
  • Iittala Shop, Pohjoisesplanadi 25, [115]. An airy concept store for the Iittala brand of Finnish glassware, pans, kitchen utensils and more. Personal service by the friendly staff. Open M-F 10AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-4PM.
  • Ivana Helsinki, Uudenmaankatu 15, tel. +358 9 6224422, [116]. Internationally recognized designer clothes, handmade in Finland.
  • Marimekko. Pohjoisesplanadi 33, tel. +358 9 686 0240, [117]. Innovative and unique Finnish interior design, bags, and fabrics. This is the flagship store, but items can also be found at the Kämp Gallery, Kamppi Centre, Hakaniemi Market Hall, or their factory shop (Kirvesmiehenkatu 7, tel. +358 9 758 7244).
  • Myymälä2, Uudenmaankatu 23, [118]. Gallery and shop for young designers, artists and musicians. And while you are there, check out Lux shop on the opposite side of the street.
  • Paloni, Eerikinkatu 7, tel. +358-50-5894131, [119]. Paloni is a creative design concept store. It sells items that are designed and made by over 70 independent designers. Paloni's product range covers women's clothing, accessories, jewellery, home decor, gift items and children's clothing. Open M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 11AM-4PM.

Markets

Old Market Hall

Most outdoor markets in Helsinki are open only in summer, but the market halls are open all year round. They are great places to taste Finnish delicacies.

  • Hakaniemi Market Hall (Hakaniemen kauppahalli) and Hakaniemi Open-Air Market (Hakaniemen tori). A busy market frequented by locals, this is where you can find specialities at affordable prices. The first floor of the market hall is largely food. Head to the second floor for handicrafts and souvenirs. The open-air market offers fresh vegetables and seasonal products. Walking up Hämeentie from Hakaniemi market, you'll find most of Helsinki's African, Middle Eastern, Indian and Asian grocery stores. Metro: Hakaniemi. Tram: 1, 1A, 3B, 6, 7, 9.
  • Hietalahti Antique and Art Hall [120], Hietalahdentori (tram 6), tel. +358 9 670145. Here you can find many antique shops in one place, just few kilometers west from the city centre. Open M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-3PM.
  • Hietalahti Open Air Flea market. Next to Hietalahti Antique and Art Hall, this is the most popular flea market in Helsinki. Open year round, but busiest from May to August.
  • Market Square (Kauppatori). At the end of Esplanadi facing the sea, this open-air market sells fresh fish and produce from all over Finland. Open year round. It's busiest in summer, although the Christmas Market in December is also worth a look. One section of the market is devoted to souvenirs, but best buys here are the fresh berries and other produce. In summer, try the sweet green peas (herne). Just pop open the pod and eat as is.
  • Old Market Hall (Vanha kauppahalli), [121]. Right next to Market Square, this old brick building houses Finland's best collection of gourmet food boutiques. Try to find the stall which sells beaver sausage!
  • Valtteri Flea Market, [122]. An indoor flea market popular among locals. Located in an old industrial building in Vallila district. Trams 1, 1A, 3B, 9 and bus 70T. Open Wed, Sat and Su 9AM-3PM.

Records

Helsinki has a selection of great "underground" record stores with a greatly varying selection of both Finnish and international music. Most of them also sell vinyl (12"/10"/7"). Generally speaking, prices aren't cheap, but the selection may be worth it. Some of the more collectible stuff may even be cheaper than elsewhere.

If you have only a limited amount of time, check out the record stores around Viiskulma', a brisk walk from the city center:

  • A.H. Records, Fredrikinkatu 12, [123]. Used rock/Finnish/funk.
  • Digelius, Laivurinrinne 2, [124]. Jazz/classical.
  • Eronen, Laivurinrinne 2, [125]. Dub/jazz/salsa.
  • Lifesaver, Pursimiehenkatu 3. Electronic/soul/disco/funk/hip-hop/jazz. New owners and a new location since Deceber 2009.
  • Levylaivuri, Laivurinkatu 41.
  • Popparienkeli, Fredrikinkatu 12, [126]. Rock/pop.

Elsewhere around the city center:

  • Levykauppa Äx, Arkadiankatu 14, [127] Possibly the most well-known record shop in Finland which does have plans to start a political party.
  • Darkside Records, Albertinkatu 12.
  • Fennica Records, Albertinkatu 36, [128].
  • Green Grass, Fredrikinkatu 60. Rock/pop.
  • Keltainen Jäänsärkijä, Urho Kekkosenkatu 4-6 A, [129]. Helsinki's largest indie store, covers virtually except classical and electronic.
  • Stupido, Iso Roobertinkatu 23, [130]. Rock/indie/misc.

A bit further:

  • The Funkiest, Mechelininkatu 12-14, [131]. Hip-hop/funk and jazz reissues.
  • Compact Records (Dark Side of the), Lönnrotinkatu 23.
  • Music Hunter, Unioninkatu 45, [132]. Rock.
  • Streetbeat, Kirvesmiehenkatu 4 (Metro: Herttoniemi), [133]. One of Finland's dance/electronic music pioneers, but they've closed their city center store and moved into the suburbs.

In Kallio, easily accessed via Hakaniemi metro station:

  • Black & White, Toinen Linja 1, [134]. Rock.
  • Hippie Shake records, Hämeentie 1, [135]. Rare 60/70s rock and hard rock.
  • Goofin Records, Hämeentie 46, [136]. Rockabilly.

Something different

A couple of stores with curious business ideas not widely available elsewhere.

  • Left Shoe Company, Southern Esplanade (also inside Stockmann), [137], step on a high tech gadget that measures your foot and then choose what sort of shoe you would like to wear. Get the tailored shoe sent home by post. Only mens shoes. Prices start at around 200 euros and depend on the used materials.
  • NOMO jeans, in Kampin Keskus mall, fourth floor, [138]. Similar to LSC but for jeans, and for both genders. NOMO makes tailored jeans with the help of a body scanner for a reasonable price (starting around a hundred euros) - the idea is, why buy designer jeans when you can get tailored ones at the same price.
  • Varusteleka, [139], Ruosilantie 2 , a bit outside the center but reachable by public transport, this shop deals in army surplus stuff and has probably the friendliest and knowledgeable staff you'll find in Finland. Varusteleka sells anything from thirties Nazi leather trench coats to very good value-for-money modern gore-tex hiking coats that some army somewhere had too many of.

Eat

This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under €10
Mid-range €10-30
Splurge Over €30


Helsinki has by far the best cosmopolitan restaurants in Finland, and is a good place to escape the usual diet of meat and potatoes... if you can foot the bill, that is. As usual in Finland the best time to eat out is lunch, when most restaurants offer lunch sets for around €6-10. Lunch sets are typically served from 10:30AM to 2PM, but the times vary between venues. In the evening, only budget places are less than €10, while splurges cost well over €30 per head.

A surprisingly large number of restaurants close down for a month or more in summer (July-August), so call ahead to avoid disappointment.

Budget

Budget choices are largely limited to fast food, although there are a couple of workaday Finnish eateries in the mix. In addition to McDonald's and its Finnish imitators Hesburger/Carrols, Helsinki is also full of pizza and kebab places, where a meal typically costs around €7-8 (sometimes as low as €4-5, especially in Kallio). A more healthy option is Unicafe [140], a chain of restaurants owned by the Helsinki University student union, which has around 10 outlets in central Helsinki and offers full meals from €5.70, including vegetarian options. During the lunch time, usually from 11am to 3pm, most restaurants serves food for reasonable prices. Lunch restaurants and lists in Helsinki can be found at lounaat.info.

  • Bar No 9, Uudenmaankatu 9, [141]. Popular bar that also serves a variety of dishes with a twist of cross-kitchen style, priced from €4.90-15.90, most main courses under €10. Tends to be packed at lunch and dinner time.
  • Chilli, Keskuskatu 6 (and other outlets around time). Cheap kebab, shawarma, and falafel. Large portions, though be warned that this isn't your traditional Middle Eastern fare. Pitas come with something akin to spaghetti sauce inside. Filling choice, especially on a budget.
  • Event Arena Bank, Unioninkatu 20, [142]. Free flow lunch restaurant that offers a spacious and luminous environment to spend the lunch hour. The daily Lunch Club menu consists of four different choices all for 9,20€. There is choice of Scandinavian style home-cooking, Mediterranean or Asian delicacies, salad bar and soup of the day or vegetarian meal.
  • Golden Rax, Forum second floor, Mannerheimintie 20 / Mikonkatu 8, [143]. Cheap and greasy, all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Includes soggy pasta, wilted salad, and drinks. €9.50 per person, €1.50 extra if you want ice-cream. There is also a salad-only menu which costs €6.50.
  • Happiness Thai Buffet, Kaisaniemi Metro station. Open M-F 11AM-8PM, Sa Su noon-7PM. Decent Thai food with vegetarian options in an all-you-can-eat buffet, single dishes also available. Do yourself a favor though, and pass on the coffee. Buffet €7.90, single servings €7.
  • Kahvila Suomi, Pursimiehenkatu 12, tel. +358 9 657422. Huge portions of tasty no-nonsense Finnish food like meatballs and mashed potatoes, which explains the dock workers that crowd here at lunchtime. The Japanese tourists, on the other hand, come because the cult hit movie Kamome Shokudo was filmed here! Most mains under €10, priced sandwiches available. Open M-F till 9 pm.
  • La Famiglia, Keskuskatu 3, tel. +358 9 85685680, [144]. 11AM-midnight daily. Unpretentious Italian food even for under €10, although the most of the items on the menu should be listed under the Mid-price section. The weekday lunch buffet of soup, salad and two kinds of pasta (€7-10) is still a particularly good value.
  • Pasta La Vista, Mikonkatu 8 (Ateneum), [145]. Pick a pasta, a filling and a sauce, for €7.70-8.70. Menu changes often, vegetarian options also available.
  • Pelmenit, Kustaankatu 7 (Close to Sörnäinen metro station), +358 41 783 9069, [146]. M-Th 11:00-17:00, F-Su: 10:00-22:00. Serves pelmeny (Russian dumplings), blini (Russian crepes), soups and salads. The menu depends on the mood of the Russian owner. Around €10 for a dish..
  • Sodexo, Multiple places, +358 41 783 9069, [147]. M-F 8:00-15:00, Lunch: 10:30-13:30. Around €9.6 for lunch..
  • Sky Express, Annankatu 31. A pizza spot very close to the city center. It's a relatively small place, but the service is very fast and the place is open late at night. Opens around 11AM, and closes at 11PM (10PM on Sundays). Try the Päivän jättipizza ("Daily giant pizza"), which is a large, thin pizza with a varying selection of fillings plus a 0.4 liter soft drink for €6, which is almost unbeatably cheap.
  • Unicafe Ylioppilasaukio, Mannerheimintie 3 B, [148]. Open M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 11AM-5PM. The biggest and most centrally located student restaurant and cafeteria is only a two-minute walk away from the main railway station. The lunch price is only €4-6 including drink, bread and the salad buffet, and €2.4 if you happen to own a Finnish student card.
  • VPK, Albertinkatu 29, [149]. M-F 11AM-3PM. Run by the Volunteer Fire Brigade, this restaurant serves a daily changing buffet of hearty Finnish fare in a cafeteria straight from the 1950s, complete with grim portraits of moustached Hosemasters staring down at you. Pea soup and pancakes on Thursday are particularly popular. €9.50 per head.
  • Wrong Noodle Bar, Yliopistonkatu 5, [150]. M–F 10AM–9PM. Sa noon–9PM, S 1PM–7PM. Asian-European fast food concept. €7-10 per head.
  • Singapore Hot Wok, Kamppi Shopping Centre, E floor, Urho Kekkosen katu 5 B, [151]. Select from a few tasty plates of Wok. €9.50 per head.

Mid-range

Finnish

  • Cafe Balzac, Iso Roobertinkatu 3-5 [www.cafebalzac.fi/], A nice place to pop in if you are walking through the so called "design district" area. Well hidden on an inner yard this french-style cafe/pub/restaurant one man show is a really nice find.
  • Kuu, Töölönkatu 27, [152]. Restaurant Kuu has been offering Finnish specialities in the bohemian Töölö-district since 1966. Completely renovated a couple of years ago, the refreshed restaurant is more popular then ever before. A really good and decently priced wine-list, from the dishes the smoked salmon soup (9,50e/14,40e) is a real classic.
  • Cella, Fleminginkatu 15, [153]. Established 1969, this is one of the oldest restaurants in the Kallio disctrict, serving classic Finnish food with lots of grease and salt. For a "real" restaurant (not fast food) in Helsinki it's reasonably priced, around € 10-20 for main dishes. The chef himself often serves the food, complete with a sexist joke or an insult, and may even force feed you the leftovers if you don't finish your meal! Also serves as a pub with a decent selection of beers, ciders and single malts.
  • FishMarket, Pohjoisesplanadi 17,[154] +358 9 1345 6220. Finnish seafood restaurant and only seafood bar in Helsinki. Situated in the city center at the corner of the Kauppatori market place. Open Mon-Thu 18.00–23.00, Fri-Sat 17.00–23.30.
  • Juuri, Korkeavuorenkatu 27, +358 9 635 732, [155]. Tiny restaurant known for its special Finnish entrées called sapakset (a play on tapas), with roots in Finnish food tradition. Try the cabbage roll with crayfish or the egg cheese with marjoram. All sapakset €4.3, main dishes €24. Lunch sets €7.5-10. Open M-F 11AM-2PM (lunch) & 4PM–10PM (à la carte), Sa noon-10PM, Su 4PM-10PM.
  • Kuu Kuu, Museokatu 17, [156]. A cosy modern bar/restaurant. Populated by local actors and artists, this newly renovated place offers easygoing, simple Finnish food. Serves food until midnight on weekdays (that is very late in Finland) and is also a nice place for drinks. Still relatively free from tourists so don't expect hearing anything else but finnish and swedish here (staff is still multilingual). Mo - Fr 11-01, Sa 12-01, Su 12-22.
  • Kappeli, Eteläesplanadi 1, [157]. Traditional Finnish dishes - reindeer, fish, etc. Some of the prices are on the high end of mid-range, but you should get polite service and well-prepared food with a lovely presentation. Cozy, relaxed, relatively quiet atmosphere (although the restaurant is apparently well-known and therefore might be more crowded during late evenings & tourist season). The roasted lamb with garlic potatoes is a good choice, as is their take on Finnish-style blueberry pie. They also offer a cheaper self-service cafe on the left side of the restaurant, along with a bar (opened in 1867) in the middle of the building. Main lunch dishes €14-18, main dinner dishes about €15-36.
  • Konstan Möljä, Hietalahdenkatu 14, +358 9 694 7504, [158]. Traditional Finnish food. Lunch buffet €7.90, main dishes €15+, dinner buffet €18. Very nice if you want to try all kinds of Finnish meals!
  • Kosmos, Kalevankatu 3, +358 9 647 255, [159]. A Helsinki institution dating to 1924, proudly serving "Helsinkian" food — a melange of Russian, French and Swedish influences. Try one of the three classics: Vorschmack with duchess potatoes, the Sylvester Sandwich au gratin and Baltic herrings with mashed potatoes. Mains €15-25. Trams: 3B/T, 4, 6, 10
  • Kynsilaukka (Garlic), Fredrikinkatu 22, +358 9 651939, [160]. Good Finnish-influenced food from people truly dedicated to garlic. From the wonderfully intense garlic butter served with the bread to the sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle overtones in most of the dishes, this place is a delight for the garlic lover. Portion sizes are large, so if you're saving room for dessert (and you should), either skip the starters or else order the smaller size of both starter and main dish. The cinnamon pie dessert is particularly recommended. Main dishes €12-28. Trams: 3B/T. Open M-F 11AM-11PM, Sa Su 1PM-11PM.
  • Manala, Dagmarinkatu 2, +358 9 5807 7707, [161]. The name may mean "Hell" and their motto "For devilish hunger and hellish thirst", but it's actually an understated white-linen-cloth restaurant serving traditional Finnish food and wood-fired pizzas. Open 11AM-4AM (Sa Su 2PM-4AM), lunch menus M-F 11AM-2PM. Main dishes €10-18. Trams: 3B/T, 4, 7A/B, 10.
  • Messenius, Messeniuksenkatu 7, tel. +358 9 2414950, [162]. This fine neighbourhood place outside the city centre is famed for the "catch of the day", often caught by the fishing enthusiast owners themselves. Also fairly good steaks for the carnivores amongst us.
  • Perho, Mechelininkatu 7, +358 9 508 786 49, [163]. Run by a cooking school, the cooks and waiters are all enthusiastic students, so the quality of food and service are good. Serves traditional Finnish and Russian food, set menus €20 to €30 including wine. Open M-Sa 11AM-11PM, Sun noon-5PM.
  • Ravintola N:o 11 (Restaurant Nr. 11), Pihlajatie 34, +358 9 477 2863, [164]. This classic neighbourhood eatery in the Meilahti district, long known as Kuusihokki, recently reverted to its original 1946 name by its new owners who also improved the kitchen. The menu consists of basic but superbly executed classics such as salmon soup. The fantastic original 40s interior is also worth seeing.
  • Sea Horse, Kapteeninkatu 11, +358 9 628 169, [165]. Established in 1933 as a basic eatery, this joint has slowly become a local legend affectionately known as Sikala ("Pigsty"), and both the decor and the menu are still preserved from the 1950s. A long-time Wallpaper Magazine favourite. Try the famous herring dishes or the onion steak. Meals between €10-30.
  • Weeruska, Porvoonkatu 18, +358 (0)20 7424 270, [166]. Serves simple, but tasty, home-made style food. The clientele at lunch is primarily blue-collar workers and the portions are sized accordingly. Meals between €8-17.
  • Zetor, Kaivopiha, Mannerheimintie 3-5, +358 9 666 966, [167]. Tourist restaurant with lots of character and great quality Finnish food. Plenty of old tractors and Finnish memorabilia. Main meals between €10-20.

International

Central Helsinki is dominated by restaurants dedicated to international cuisine, and these are particularly useful for vegetarian visitors, Finnish food being largely meat-based. A particular touch is provided by a bunch of "Nepalese" restaurants, which actually serve generic north Indian food, but almost any of which you are guaranteed to leave happy and full. Localized Chinese and Italian cuisines are also well represented.

  • Suola, Annankatu 6, +358 9 2709 0970 (), [168]. Mon-Tue 11:00-00:00, Wed-Thu 11:00 - 02:00 (04) Fri 11:00 - 04:00 Sat 14:00-04:00 Sun 16:00-22:00. The newest addition to Helsinki's restaurant scene. Located in the busy Punavuori district this nicely decorated place classifies itself as a modern bistro. Vibrant in the evenings as well, great choice for cocktails. Kitchen open until 22:00 daily. Lunch 8-15€, mains from 16€.
  • China Tiger, Korkeavuorenkatu 47, +358 9 949 5098 (), [169]. Mon-Fri 11:00-23:00, Sat-Sun 12:00-23:00. One of the best Chinese restaurants in Helsinki. Excellent food, a nice atmosphere and really good service. Extra points for the interior design. Lunch €9.2, mains from €12.8.
  • Brasserie Kämp, Pohjoisesplanadi 29, +358 9 5840 9530 (), [170]. M-W 11:30AM–midnight, Th-F 11:30AM–1PM, Sa noon–1PM, Su noon–midnight.
  • Restaurant Carlito's Helsinki, Kluuvikatu 4, +358 9 1345 6749 (), [171]. M-Th 11:30AM–10PM, Fr 11:30AM–10:30PM, Sa 1PM–10:30PM.. Carlito's is located in the corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Kluuvikatu in the centre of Helsinki. Its specialities are gourmet pizzas, large salads and pastas made of high quality ingredients. .
  • Belge, Kluuvikatu 5 (Kauppakeskus Kluuvi), +358 9 6229620, [172]. A reasonable selection of Belgian beers, a nice range of bistro fare, and a good location for people watching. The dining room upstairs is non-smoking. Main dishes €12–17.
  • Benjam's Bistro, Dagmarinkatu 5, tel: +358 9 492 322. You want home made Italian cooking in Helsinki? Here it is. Benjam's is run by an Italian family. Atmosphere is cozy, but some of the food comes directly from the supermarket, tortellini and many desserts, for example. Main dishes €10–15.
  • Pikku-Nepal, Annankatu 29, +358 9 6931778. A very good "Nepalese" restaurant. Main dishes €13–25. Good vegetarian options.
  • Everest, Luotsikatu 12 A, +358 9 6942563. A well-known "Nepalese" (north Indian) restaurant. Main dishes €10-20.
  • Gastone, Korkeavuorenkatu 45, +358 9 666116. [173]. Nice restaurant with an Italian flavor. Reservations suggested, particularly on the weekend.
  • Mai Thai, Annankatu 31-33, +358 9 685 6850, [174]. One of the best Thai restaurants in Helsinki - simply incredible! Make sure to reserve a table in advance, and heed the chilli ratings when ordering.
  • Mandarin Court, Lönnrotinkatu 2, +358 9 278 2700. Finland's first attempt at an authentic Chinese restaurant, seems to get watered down more and more every year but still has a nice selection of dim sum. Main dishes €11–15.
  • Meze Point, Mikonkatu 8, +358 9 6222 625. Mediterranean meze plates, several vegetarian dishes. Excellent vegetarian moussaka. Main dishes €15-20.
  • Mt. Everest, Lapinlahdenkatu 17, +358 9 6831 5450, [175]. Good Nepalese food. Main dishes €10-20.
  • New Bamboo Center, Annankatu 29, +358 9 6943117. Well-known and popular downtown Malaysian-Chinese restaurant. Cheap lunch/dinner. Vegan-friendly with several vegan dishes. If you like elbow room you might want to pass on this restaurant, since the seating is somewhere between "intimate" and "cramped". The food is very good, though.
  • Parilla Steak House Jätkäsaari, Tyynenmerenkatu 9, +358 44 480 9521. [176] Great steak restaurant located next to Helsinki West Harbour and Verkkokauppa.com electronics store. Eat while watching ferries arriving to the harbour. 70 seats. Ala carte and lunch buffet.
  • Sawat Dee, Alppikatu 5, +358 9 773 2745. Serves very tasty Thai food in a milieu resembling backwoods gas station bar. Main dishes €10-12, lunch set €7.5.
  • Empire Plaza, Urho Kekkosen katu 1, Kamppi Shopping Centre. [177] Tasty Chinese food. Main dishes €7-20, lunch buffet €8.5.
  • Colorado Bar & Grill, Simonkatu 9. [178] Tasty Tex-Mex food. Main dishes €10-25.
  • Cantina West, Kasarmikatu 23. [179] Tasty Tex-Mex food. Famous for it's Pork Baby Ribs(€18). Main dishes €10-25.
  • Tamarin, Iso Roobertinkatu 18, Fredrikinkatu 49, Eteläesplanadi 4. [180] Tasty Thai food. Main dishes around €14, lunch buffet €8.5.
  • Asia I, Hietalahdenranta 6, +358 9 23167070 (), [181]. M-Th 11:00–22:00, F 11:00-23:00, Sa 16:00-23:00, Su 11:00-21:00. Good Chinese food. The only Chinese Hotpot buffet in Helsinki. Mains €12-23, Hotpot buffet €27 (4 people or more, €20 each), Brunch €16.

Vegetarian

  • Silvoplee, Toinen linja 3, +358 9 726 0900, [182]. Vegetarian restaurant specializing in living and raw foods but also serves warm dishes. Buffet, pay per weight. Closed on Sun.
  • Vegemesta, Vaasankatu 6, +358 44 9385 212, and Pieni Roobertinkatu 2-4 [183]. This take out burger place has the best vegetarian burgers you could imagine. Ask for your burger with dark bread. Cash only. You can get to Vaasankatu by taking metro to Sörnäinen. Another branch is located closer to the centre, near the corner of Pieni Roobertinkatu and Kasarmikatu, a couple of minutes walk south from the Esplanadi park.
  • Zucchini, Fabianinkatu 4. Cozy vegetarian lunch restaurant with a daily changing soup and main dish (around €9). Open M-F 11AM-4PM (lunch served the whole time).

Splurge

Two classes of fine dining stand out in Helsinki: fresh seafood and Russian. During the dark days of the Soviet Union, it was sometimes said that the best Russian restaurants in the world were across the border in Helsinki. For something authentically Finnish and uniquely Helsinki, try Vorschmack, an unusual but surprisingly tasty mix of minced lamb and herring, served with chopped pickles and sour cream (smetana).

Finnish

  • Boathouse, Liuskasaari island, +358 9 622 7 1070 (), [184]. Open in summer (1st of May until 30th September 2010). Located in Liuskasaari island, Boathouse offers seasonal kitchen and a wide selection of wines.
  • Carelia, Mannerheimintie 56, tel. +358 9 27090976 – Finnish-French with a strong fish and seafood emphasis. Oysters and other seafood in winter, local fish in the summer season. Located in the premises of an old pharmacy with some of the pharmacy interior still intact. One of the best (if not the best) wine cellars in town: there are 37 different champagnes alone on the wine list.
  • Chez Dominique. Rikhardinkatu 4, tel. +358 9 612 7393, [185]. Finland's only Michelin two-star restaurant, run by famed Finnish chef Hans Välimäki. Set dinner courses of innovative French food with fresh Finnish ingredients and modern twists start at €79 per head, not including drinks. Those wishing to sample the full range of delights in this restaurant should expect to pay €250 or more. Reservations essential. Trams 3B and 10.
  • Demo. Uudenmaankatu 9-11, tel. +358 9 2289 0480, [186]. An unusual high-class restaurant geared towards the young and trendy, Demo's decor is minimalistic, but the food is of excellent caliber. There are no menus, only set courses pre-chosen based on what is fresh and available for the evening. Easily deserving of its Michelin star. Reservations essential.
  • FishMarket, Pohjoisesplanadi 17, +358 9 1345 6220 (), [187]. Lunch: Open on request. Dinner: M–F 6PM–11:30PM, Sa 5PM–11:30PM, Sun closed.. High quality seafood restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere. FishMarket is located in the corner of the Kauppatori market place, easy to reach by Trams 1 and 1A.
  • Havis, Eteläranta 16, tel. +358 9 68695660, [188]. The successor of the legendary Havis Amanda, "Daughter of the Baltic", and still the best upscale seafood restaurant in town. Trams 1 and 1A.
  • Karljohan, Yrjönkatu 21, tel. +358 9 6121121. Very nice restaurant opposite the Hotel Torni with Swedish and Finnish traditional cooking and keeping high standards. On Thursdays, try the traditional lunch of pea soup and pancake.
  • Olo, Kasarmikatu 44, tel. +358 9 665 565, [189] Combines North European ingredients into a modern Scandinavian cuisine while using seasons best ingredients available.
  • Postres, Eteläesplanadi 8, +358-9-663300, [190]. Tu-F 11:30AM-2PM, 6PM-midnight, Sa 6PM-midnight. Airy restaurant with one Michelin star and great views of Esplanadi park, serving elaborate modern cuisine, but with plenty of Finnish ingredients like local fish, dill, liquorice, cloudberries, etc. Despite the name, there's nothing Spanish about the place, and the desserts are perhaps the weakest point of the menu. Reservations essential for dinner, but for their great value three-course lunches you may be able to sneak in without one. Lunch from €29, dinner from €53.
  • Rivoli, Albertinkatu 38, tel. +358 9 643455. Traditional fine dining restaurant quite close to the SAS Royal and Scandic Simonkentta hotels. Specialities include oysters, shellfish and mussels in season (this was the first place in Finland to import them) and zander in an onion and cream sauce (traditional style).
  • Saaga, Bulevardi 34 B, tel. +358 9 74255544, [191]. Traditional Lapp food in kitschy Lapp surroundings — reindeer horn chandeliers and the lot — but unlike some of the competition, they don't compromise on food quality. The octolingual menu runs the gamut from smoked elk to bear meatballs. Don't miss the buttermilk pancakes (äkäset) for dessert. €50 for a full meal.
  • Särkänlinna, Särkänsaari island, +358 9 1345 6756 (). Särkänlinna offers a Nordic cuisine. Located Särkansaari island, it provides a magnificent premise for any kind of function from dinners for two to elegant weddings or private parties. Särkänlinna is especially famous for its traditional crayfish parties.
  • Salve, Hietalahdenranta 11, [192]. Started in 1897 as a small kiosk selling food and tobacco mostly to seamen, moved to its current location in 1927. Features Finnish food in original sailors' tavern environment that remained the same for over 80 years. Main dishes €15-35, try fish dishes.
  • Savoy, Eteläesplanadi 14, tel. +358 9 684 4020, [193]. A luxurious restaurant with a magnificent view of downtown Helsinki's rooftops. Savoy is decorated just as Alvar Aalto designed it in the 30's, and they still serve some of the dishes that Field Marshal Mannerheim used to order, such as the famous Vorschmack (a comparatively cheap €18). Other mains from €40, while the opulent "Menu Savoy" will set you back €102.

Russian

  • Bellevue, Rahapajankatu 3, tel. +358 9 179560, [194]. The oldest Russian restaurant in Helsinki was founded by emigrants from the Rodina in the turbulent year of 1917. Fitting location in the shadow of the Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral and a professional kitchen dishing out Russian traditional favorites with a French twist.
  • Kasakka, Meritullinkatu 13, tel. +358 9 135 6288, [195]. Less well-known thanks to its location slightly out of the way and on top of a steep hill to boot, this restaurant must be doing something right to have stayed in business since 1969. Mains €20-30, set menus €38-55.
  • Saslik, Neitsytpolku 12, +358 9 74255500, [196]. Traditional Russian delicacies. Russian music and decor of old samovars, stained-glass windows and paintings. Try traditional blinis or Saslik's bear specialities. Meals €20-35, bear dishes €66-76.
  • Wellamo, Vyökatu 9, tel. +358 9 663139. Not strictly Russian, but a longtime favorite of both bohemians and the Orthodox community from nearby Uspensky Cathedral. Apart from the wonderful Russian dishes, lighter Mediterranean fare is also available.

International

  • Farang, Ainonkatu 3, +358 9 4544 212 (), [197]. Tu-Sa 5PM-midnight. Farang serves fresh, unique dishes from South-East Asia in a modern decor. Try one of the Tasting Menus if you can't decide what to have. Chosen the best restaurant in Finland by restaurant professionals in 2011. Mains €20–25, tasting menus €55–64.
  • Farouge, Yrjönkatu 6, +358 9 6123455. Probably the only real Lebanese restaurant in Finland. Friendly service and excellent food. The hand made baklava might be the best this side of the Mediterranean. Main dishes €14–38. Lunch M–Sa 11AM–3PM Closed Sun.
  • Kabuki, Lapinlahdenkatu 12, +358 9 694 9446, [198]. Helsinki's best-known Japanese restaurant and a favorite of Finnish celebrities, which explains the signed ice hockey jerseys and Star Wars memorabilia scattered throughout. Alas, while the food is decent, it's not quite the real thing. Reservations recommended for dinner. Closed Sat.
  • La Petite Maison, Huvilakatu 28, +358 (0)10 270 1704, [199]. Classic French cuisine on one of the most idyllic streets in Helsinki. Only 22 seats. Bib Gourmand recognition in the 2006 Michelin guide. Menus (three to six courses) €61–89.
  • Mecca, Korkeavuorenkatu 34, +358 9 13456 200 (). Tu–S 6PM–midnight. Mecca offers creative kitchen and a unique selection of wines.
  • Palace Gourmet, Eteläranta 10, 10th Floor, +358 9 1345 6715 (), [200]. M–F 11.30AM–2.30PM and 6PM–midnight. Fine dining restaurant that also offers private rooms for meetings and events up to 500 guests.
  • Sasso, Pohjoisesplanadi 17, +358 9 1345 6240 (), [201]. M–F noon–2.30PM (lunch) / 5.30PM–midnight (a la carte), Sa 5PM–midnight. Classic Italian fine dining restaurant with one of the largest Italian wine cellars in Helsinki. Menus (three to six courses) €50–80.
  • Tokyo55, Runeberginkatu 55, +358 10 841 1111, [202]. Tu–F 4PM–midnight, Sa 2PM–midnight. The speciality here is sushi, served up by Japanese chefs, but there are also Finnish-styled options like maki rolls with smoked salmon and dill. Good selection of sake and Japanese beers. €30.
  • Yume, Kluuvikatu 2, +358 9 576 11713 (), [203]. M–F 11.30AM–2.30PM (lunch) / M–Th 5PM–11PM & F 5PM–midnight (a la carte). Japanese restaurant. Modern Japanese cuisine and an extensive sake and tea list.

Drink

Chilling out at the Arctic Icebar, located at restaurant La Bodega

Helsinki has plenty of hip places for a drink. The main nightlife districts, all in the city center within crawling distance of each other, are around Iso-Roobertinkatu, the Central Railway Station and Kamppi. Helsinki's busy gay nightlife is centered mostly around Iso-Roobertinkatu and Eerikinkatu and surrounding streets.

Going out is not cheap, and complaining about the prices is a popular Finnish pastime, but compared to (say) London or New York City the prices aren't that bad. If you are on a budget and intent on getting plastered, follow the Finns and drink up a good "base" at home or hotel before going out on town. Alternatively, you can start the night outside the city centre area and head to the district of Kallio where bar prices are significantly lower. Popular places include Heinähattu, Roskapankki, Iltakoulu, Bar Molotow and Lepakkomies but there are lots more to choose from, just walk along Helsinginkatu or Vaasankatu. You can reach Kallio from the center by walking, by tram (lines 1, 3B, 6 or 7B) or by metro (get off at Hakaniemi and walk uphill, or Sörnäinen, and head west). All bars in Kallio have to close at the latest at 2AM, whereas in city centre there are many that are open until 4AM, this reinforces Kallio as a 'party starting district'. The Kallio area is generally a bit rougher than the rest of the city and is as close as Helsinki gets to a red light district. However, it is a lot more tame than most 'such parts of town' in Europe. You will be fine there at any hour as long as you look out not to get in between a fight of two drunkards about who the remaining vodka belongs to.

Note that, while entry to bars and clubs is often (but not always) free, in club-type places and proper restaurants you must use and pay for the coat check (narikka), usually around €2, if you're wearing anything more than a T-shirt. In some places you must pay even if you don't leave anything at the cloakroom. The bouncer will be very strict with this as the much of the narikka-money goes into his pocket. If a ticket price is advertised, it usually does not cover the coat check.

The drinking age is 18, and this is rather strictly enforced, so bring along ID. Underaged drinking is still a huge problem, and many bars and clubs apply house limits of 20-24 years, but these are enforced less strictly and a patron of younger age will some times be let in if one fits the clientele, especially women.

Information on clubs and live performances can be found in free, Finnish-language tabloids such as City [204], which can be picked up at many bars, cafes and shops.

Cafes

Finland is the largest coffee consuming nation per capita and coffee breaks are written into law. However, in Finland most coffee is filter-brewed from a light, more caffeinated, roast that is quite different to what the rest of the world drinks. Finns often enjoy a bun (pulla) or cinnamon bun (korvapuusti) with their coffee.

In Finland commonly espressos and lattes are called "special coffees" and a large number of establishments that make such coffees have popped up all over town ever since the nineties when they arrived. One which will give any Italian cafeteria a go for their money is La Torrefazione next to Stockmann. In the more common cafeterias the normal light brew coffee is sold by self service at the counter even at some more expensive cafeterias (there is only a handful of cafeterias serving to the table in Helsinki - this shows how commonplace coffee drinking is considered).

  • Ateljee Baari, Hotel Torni (14th floor), Kalevankatu 5. Despite the name it's more like a cafe, located on top of Hotel Torni, Finland's first high-rise. Excellent views over Helsinki's downtown. You even have a view from the (famous) toilets. Highly recommended. Find the elevator close to the lobby to get there, but be prepared for expensive drinks. If you're on a tight budget, you can just enjoy the view on the elevator level.
  • Café & Eepos, Runeberginkatu 29. A hidden gem near Temppeliaukion kirkko. Delicious pastries, pies and buns - and it's full of books you can read. There are even glasses available for those with poor eyesight.
  • Café Ekberg, Bulevardi 9, (09) 6811 860, [205]. One of the classic Helsinki cafés.
  • Cafe Engel, Aleksanterinkatu 26 (opposite the Lutheran cathedral). Where the locals go for tea and snacks. Very relaxed, lovely courtyard out the back with films projected late into summer evenings.
  • Café Kafka, Pohjoisesplanadi 2 (Swedish Theatre). A lovely building with a relaxed atmosphere. Here you can find one of the best espressos in town. Closed as of Summer 2010 due to renovations
  • Cafe Succès, Korkeavuorenkatu 2, tel. +358 9 633414. This traditional cafe serves excellent delicacies. Famous for their enormous cinnamon rolls (korvapuusti), also available in Cafe Esplanad [206].
  • Café Tin Tin Tango, Töölöntorinkatu 7 (tram 3B/3T, 8), +358-9-27090972, [207]. M-F 7AM-midnight, Sa-Su 9AM-2AM. A uniquely Helsinki combination of cafe, restaurant, bar, laundromat and sauna, Tin Tin Tango serves up all-day breakfast, soups, salads and sandwiches, but stays open late with wine and occasional live music. Laundry/dryer €4/2. Sauna rental €22-32/hour (1-10 people), reservations required.
  • Espresso Edge, Liisankatu 29, [208]. A cozy bohemian café with a South American vibe, popular among the artsy types of the Kruununhaka neighbourhood, and Faculty of Social Science students from across the street.
  • Fazer, Kluuvikatu 3, [209]. Famous for its decor, architecture, ice-creams, pastries and coffees, this 110-year old café, run by Finland's largest chocolate maker, has been an institution since its birth. There's also the Fazer Bakery shop next to the café. If you are visiting, pay attention to the round room topped with a dome. People say that if you tell secrets here, the other customers will hear them across the room due to the acoustics of the dome.
  • Gran Delicato, Kalevankatu 34, tel. +358 9 694 0403. A very cosy cafe serving Mediterranean salads and paninis, and a variety of coffees. The Greek owner is a showman, usually around to amuse customers. Coffees 2-4€, salads 7-9€, pastas and soups 7-9€. Open weekdays 8.00-22.00, Saturdays 10.00-18.00, Sundays closed.
  • Kaffecentralen, Museokatu 9. This little shop concentrates on selling espresso paraphernalia, and also serves excellent capuccino.
  • Kahvila Sävy, Kinaporinkatu 1, [210]. Small, retro style café with excellent coffee from a Finnish roastery. There are only a few seats in the former barbershop, next to the Sörnäinen metro. Also peculiar percolators for sale.
  • Kakkugalleria, Erottaja 7, [211]. French-type cafe in the Design Forum. Try the lovely Sacher cake. Take away is cheaper.
  • Kipsari, Hämeentie 135 E, [212]. Student cafe at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Arabia. Relaxed atmosphere with live music and DJs at times. Not open during summer when the school's out.
  • Sinisen huvilan kahvila, Linnunlauluntie 11 (Töölönlahti, up the hill). 10AM-10PM during summertime. The "Cafe of the Blue Villa" is an outdoors café with fantastic views over the Töölönlahti bay. Small coffee €1.5.
  • Kämp Café, Pohjoisesplanadi 29, +358 9 5840 9530 (), [213]. M–W 11:30AM–midnight, Th F 11:30AM–1AM, Sa noon–1AM, Su noon–midnight.
  • Strindberg, Pohjoisesplanadi 33, [214]. One of the oldest and most historic cafés of Helsinki. Great terrace on the posh Pohjoisesplanadi with views of the Esplanadi park, restaurant on the 2nd floor. Very popular among locals.

Bars and pubs

  • A21 Cocktail Lounge, Annankatu 21, [215]. A high-priced but incredibly high quality cocktail bar situated in the city center, a few hundred meters from Stockmann's. Generally serves classic cocktail drinks with a twist, but also features several cocktails with a distinctly Finnish vibe (featuring garnishes such as birch leaves and fresh cloudberry) and innovative house specialities. According to worldsbestbars.com, this unlikely find is one of the world's best bars [216], winning the title of the best bar in the world in 2009 and 2010. Drinks €7-25, try the Birch Cooler, Blinker or XXX.
  • Ahjo, Bulevardi 2 (Klaus K), tel. +358-20-7704711. Named after the forge where the mythical Sampo of the Kalevala was made, this is a slick modern bar-lounge with two sides to it: a pure white space as you enter, with a bar counter and sofas, and a darker back room with nooks and crannies for a quieter chat. Drinks €6-8, try the Ahjotonic. Closed Sundays.
  • Arctic Icebar, Yliopistonkatu 5, enter through La Bodega restaurant. Inside the icebar the temperature is a constant -5C, and while it's quite the tourist trap, it does make a pretty good photo op. €10 for entry, parka rental and one vodka cocktail. Open daily 4-11.30PM.
  • Aussie Bar, Salomonkatu 5, right next to the station. The name says it. Place to go get some drinks with some international fun. Live music every Wednesday and the weekends are always crazy in Kangaroo Land... Open Mon - Tue, Sun: 14:00 - 2:00 and Wed - Sat: 12:00 - 3:00.
  • Baarikärpänen. Located in Mikonkatu, right next to the Main Railway Station. Offers R & B and Top 40 hits in a nice lounge-type bar with big comfortable sofas and a dance floor. Reasonably cheap.
  • Bar Molotow, Vaasankatu 29, [217] Small and always cozy indie/alternative/electro/goth rock bar. Nice summer terrace. Located in Kallio/harju district.
  • Baker's, Mannerheimintie 12, [218]. A great place to start up your party. From Tues to Sat they have a sparkling wine happy hour from 5PM: for 100 minutes, a glass of cava costs 100 cents (that's one euro). The service might be somewhat rough. Also lots of young people there on weekends. Has a bar, nightclub, pub and serves also food.
  • Black Door, Iso Roobertinkatu 1, [219]. English pub. Weekdays are relaxed, weekends have live DJs and a full bar. A place to go for quality beers, ales, ciders and whisky.
  • Corona Bar & Billiards, Eerikinkatu 11, (+358-9) 751 75611, [220]. A bar and billiard hall owned by the film director brothers Aki and Mika Kaurismäki, echoing the melancholic mood of their films. Also check out the affiliated Kafe Moskva [221] bar next door for authentic Soviet style experience, complete with Russian music played on dusty vinyls and Russian vodka and champagne. Downstairs is Dubrovnik [222], a small club-cum-movie theater that can be rented for private events and host occasionally live gigs or clubs..
  • Juttutupa, Säästöpankinranta 5, [223]. In a nice old granite house called Graniittilinna you'll find (probably) Helsinki's oldest still operational pub, Juttutupa. Juttutupa is housed in the "workers house" and has historically been the Bar of the policial left. In fact, while Lenin was hiding out in Finland planning the upcoming Russian revolution he was known to frequent Juttutupa, where the table he used to sit at is kept in his memory (the one in the back with a good view of the entrance). On Wednesdays there are often free Jazz concerts. Juttutupa also serves food from the neighboring restaurant's kitchen.
  • Erottaja Bar, Erottajankatu 15-17, tel. +358 9 611 196. A small, consciously crude bar, that formerly was known as one of the primary hipster hangouts in central Helsinki. The bar is now all but deserted by the trendy crowd, and the music turned into the usual fare of hit-list pop, but on the upside the service is friendly and there is ample sitting room at the tables.
  • Korjaamo, Töölönkatu 51, tel. +358 9 4540 117, [224]. One of the best places to hang out at summer, nice terrace, two floor laid back bar with life DJ's in the evening and cafe in the building of the Korjaamo Cultural Factory. Free access to Apple computers with Internet, Wi Fi. Café open daily 11AM–5PM, bar M Tu 4PM–11AM, W Th 4PM-1AM, F Sa 4PM–3AM, Sundays closed.
  • Molly Malone's, Kaisaniemenkatu 1, [225]. An Irish pub/nightclub near the Central Railway Station. Popular among Finns and tourists alike. Live music every night.
  • Loose, Annankatu 21, [226]. A very street-credible rock bar, it is highly popular among Finnish rock musicians.
  • On The Rocks, Mikonkatu 15 (near Central Railway Station), [227]. Located next to Baarikärpänen and Texas, this is a rock-oriented bar with occasional live bands and stand up comedy acts. Minimum age 23.
  • Siltanen, Hämeentie 13, [228]. A popular hipster haunt from the owners of the next door Kuudes Linja club venue (see below). Part bar, part club and part café (with food served until 10PM) with a big terrace and weird décor. Open 11AM-2AM daily, with DJs and the occasional live gig in the evenings. Weekend DJ brunch noon-4PM, prepare to wait for a table though.
  • Sports Academy, Kaivokatu 8, [229]. One of the best sports bars in Helsinki, and definitely the place for you if you are keen about football (soccer) or ice-hockey. A two-story building just opposite the railway station, filled to the rim with TV sets and several giant projectors. A variety of pub food also served - try the crayfish pasta or the ribs. There can be long queues before popular events - get in early!
  • Toveri, Castreninkatu 3, +358 9 753 3862. M-Th 5PM-1AM, F-Sa 5PM-2AM. You'll find various types of beer in this little bar. It's been here in various forms since 1937, and after its most recent transformation it is one of the prettiest bars in Kallio.
  • Vanha ylioppilastalo (usually just Vanha), Mannerheimintie 3, [230]. A bar/café just opposite Stockmann, owned by University of Helsinki's filthy rich students' union. Not very special in the winter, but the rooftop patio in the summer is nice. In the evenings, the club attracts a slighly-over-18 audience.

Nightclubs

The Clock Bar, Teatteri

In Helsinki, the most popular nightclubs have long queues starting to form around 11:30PM. Get in early to avoid standing, although it can be a nice way to meet people. After around 1:00-2:00AM it might be impossible to get in anymore. You may try to just walk past the queue looking important, but a more efficient strategy is to discreetly tip the bouncer (€10-20). The larger group you are, the more difficult things get. Look smart!

  • Bassment, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 21, [231]. Hidden underground as the name suggests, the intimate Bassment offers a selection of electronic music on Fridays and Saturdays and reggae on Sundays. Both local DJs and international guests behind the decks. Function One sound system. The club's entrance is right next to Venue, so be sure to choose the correct door. Entrance €5–10. Open Fr-Su 10PM–4AM.
  • Cuba, Erottajankatu 4, [232]. A night club with a somewhat more "Latin" touch and softer tunes. Clientele mostly trendy young adults. Open until 4AM, often hosts student parties on weekday nights. No entrance fee.
  • DTM, Mannerheimintie 6 B, [233]. Open M-Su 21:00-04:00. Formerly "Don't Tell Mama", DTM is the largest combination of gay cafe, bar, disco and nightclub in Scandinavia. Saturdays the second floor of the club is ladies only. Popular among many celebrities. Straights usually welcome, too, as long as they don't "take over" the place. Entrance €7-10 (Sat and special nights only).
  • Hercules Gay Night Club, Lönnrotinkatu 4, [234]. One of the busiest gay nightclubs in Scandinavia, targets a 30+ clientele, good for bare-faced cruising. Entrance free; coat check €2.50.
  • Vatican, Simonkatu 6. Vatican (former Jenny Woo) tries to profile itself as a nightclub for trendy young adults. You can lie on couches next to the crowded dance floor while sipping some bubbly.
  • Kaarle XII, Kasarmikatu 40, tel. +358 9 6129990, [235]. A Helsinki institution better known as Kalle, this former church hasn't had a renovation in years and really needs one. It still continues to pack in a hard-partying thirtysomething crowd, especially on Thursdays. No less than six different bars (all small), playing top 40 tunes, rock and Finnish pop. The last of the bars has a dancefloor and gets particularly packed, with people dancing on the tables. Minimum age 24. Open Th-Sa 10PM-4AM.
  • Kuudes linja, Hämeentie 13 (entrance from the inner court at Kaikukatu 4), [236]. A live music oriented nightclub for the somewhat artsy crowd. Located a 10 min tram/bus ride away in the Kallio district, Kuudes linja usually offers more experimental/alternative music than the mainstream downtown clubs and also hosts electronic music parties. Arrive early to avoid queues on popular nights — admittance is not guaranteed once the place gets full. The weatherproof terrace in the courtyard is open during the summer – you can bring your own food to the terrace and cook it on their gas grill. Club open W, F, Sa 10PM-4AM, Th 9PM–4AM.
  • The Tiger, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 (Kamppi Center), [237]. Open W-Sa 10PM-4AM. Formerly Lux, this is a contestant for the title of Helsinki's classiest mainstream nightclub, with its dress code, stylish decor, relatively high prices and an age limit of 24. Five bars, two spacious terraces, a VIP lounge and six luxurious booths that can be reserved. Live music on Thur. Cover charge €4-8, free entrance before midnight.
  • Playground, Iso Roobertinkatu 10, [238]. Entrance to this literally underground spot is easy to miss as it is hidden in an inner court, next to Swengi karaoke bar. With a maze-like setup, the venue features electronic music nights and the weekly Sunday morning club opening at 5am and going on until early afternoon (note that alcohol sales only start at 9am due to legislation). Drinks €5-8.
  • Tavastia/Semifinal, Urho Kekkosen katu 4-6, [239]. One of the most prominent rock clubs in Scandinavia, a must see for fans of live rock of any kind. Semifinal has smaller indie/alternative bands for a young crowd. On special nights the two clubs are joined, but usually they host separate gigs. Tickets for all gigs can be bought in advance from the Tiketti ticket sellers next door. The annual Tavastia new year party is an institution in itself, with fans flying from all over the world for the show.
  • Teatteri, Pohjoisesplanadi 2, [240]. A complex featuring a deli, a restaurant, a bar and a night club, all of them trendy and popular among the well-dressed crowd. Check out the aptly named Clock Bar (Kellobaari) downstairs. Closed Sun.

Sleep

Ruoholahti by night

Accommodation is generally quite expensive, but of a high standard. Hotels are usually cheaper on weekends, when business travelers are away. In a real pinch, it may actually be (far) cheaper to book a "last-minute" or "red-ticket" return cabin (from around Euro 20) on an overnight cruise to Tallinn, and spend the night (and part of the next day) on the boat, rather than sleep in the city.

Budget

There are quite a few budget hotels in Helsinki, the cheapest being youth hostels. Many student dormitories turn into youth hostels during the July-August school break, which happily coincides with peak season for tourists. The Finnish Youth Hostel Association [241] can provide further information.

  • CheapSleep Helsinki, Sturenkatu 27 (Trams 1, 1A, 7A, 7B, numerous buses (inc. airport bus 615)), [242]. checkin: 14.00; checkout: 11.00. Helsinki's newest hostel, excellent transport connections, near social Kallio neighborhood, stylish vibe. Opened in May 2012. Dorms from 18€ and private doubles from 70€ per room.
  • Eurohostel, Linnankatu 9 (Tram 4), [243]. Helsinki's largest hostel, very close to the dock for the Viking Line ferry and the Uspenski Cathedral. Dorms from €24.10, single rooms from €45 (plus €2.50/person for non-HI members).
  • Hostel Erottajanpuisto, Uudenmaankatu 9, [244]. A small, clean, and friendly hostel with a central location. €27€ for a dorm bed.
  • Hostel Suomenlinna, Suomenlinna C 9 (ferry connection from Market Square), [245]. All year open hostel located at the Suomenlinna sea fortress. Great for a quick escape from the city. The ferry runs from 6am to 2am so you are not totally cut off.
  • Rastila Camping, Vuosaari (M Rastila), [246]. The only camping site inside Helsinki borders. Seventeen minute metro ride from the Central Railway Station.
  • Stadion Hostel, Pohjoinen Stadiontie 3 B (Trams 3B, 3T, 7A and 7B), [247]. In the Olympic Stadium building to the north of the center, but quite easily accessed by tram. Dorms from €22.
  • Summer Hostel Academica, Hietaniemenkatu 14 (M Kamppi, Trams 3B and 3T), (, fax: +358 (9) 441 201), [248]. Summer hostel in the heart of Helsinki. Open June-August only. Dorms from €25, hotel rooms from €50. (60.17009,24.921561)
  • Travellers Home, Lönnrotinkatu 16 D, [249]. Central location, clean, and good amenities. Wi-fi €5/day. Fully-furnished flat from €85/night.
  • Omenahotelli, [250]. Omena hotels are self-service budget hotels with no front desk: book and pay on the Internet and let yourself in with a passcode. They have been established in most major Finnish cities and are used widely by Finns travelling in their own country. Omena means apple in Finnish, it is the only fruit that grows in Finnland. 3 hotels in Helsinki, all in the center: Helsinki Eerikinkatu (Eerikinkatu 24, near Kamppi), Helsinki Yrjönkatu (Yrjönkatu 30, close to Forum Shopping Centre), Helsinki Lönnrotinkatu (Lönnrotinkatu 13, close to Esplanadi). Prices start at €36/room (up to 4 people). Rooms include toilet, shower, free wi-fi, 26" LCD-television, small fridge, microwave, water kettle + disposable cups, coffee, tea, hair dryer and dining table. Omena-breakfast 5,80 €/person. Business-package 16 €/night includes Internet connection, two volitional movie per day and breakfast. Parking 17,50 €/night.

Mid-range

  • Bed and Breakfast Panorama Suite, (), [251]. Bed and breakfast room with a magnificient panorama view, own balcony, kitchen and big bathroom. € 30-75/person.
  • Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka, Vyökatu 1, +358 9 686 450, [252]. Housed in what was the Nokka prison until 2002, this classy hotel has retained the original exterior and the internal corridor, but the rooms themselves, built by combining two to three cells, retain no trace of their past. Walking distance to city center. From €99.
  • Best Western Hotel Carlton, Kaisaniemenkatu 3, +358 9 684 1320 (, fax: +358 9 660 112), [253]. Best Western Hotel Carlton is a personal, 19 room hotel in the very center of Helsinki, only 100 metres from Helsinki Central Railway Station.
  • Best Western Hotel Haaga, Nuijamiestentie 10, +358 9 5807 877 (, fax: +358 9 5807 8386), [254]. Best Western Hotel Haaga is centrally located since it's only 15 minutes drive from Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
  • Cumulus Hakaniemi, Siltasaarenkatu 14 (M Hakaniemi), +358 (0)9 5466 0100, [255]. A centrally located business hotel. From €83 for a double in the low season.
  • Cumulus Kaisaniemi, Kaisaniemenkatu 7 (M Kaisaniemi), [256]. A centrally located but minimally equipped business hotel. From €83 for a double in the low season.
  • Cumulus Olympia, Läntinen Brahenkatu 2 (Tram 3), +358 (0)9 69151, [257]. A business hotel near the city centre. From €83 for a double in the low season.
  • Hotel Finn, Kalevankatu 3B, +358 9 6844360 (, fax: +358 9 68443610), [258]. checkin: 15.00; checkout: 12.00. A young, regenerating hotel right in the city center. Even though the rooms are small and fairly no-frills, the hotel is comfortable and cheap. Under new management, the hotel seems to be getting better (and cheaper) by the day. There are 27 rooms, which can accommodate from one to four people per room. Location absolutely perfect. From 55€.
  • Helka, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 23 (near M Kamppi), [259]. A dependable old standby within walking distance of the city center. Generally €~150.
  • Hotel GLO Airport, Helsinki-Vantaa Airport Terminal 2, +358 103 444 600 (, fax: + 358 103 444 601), [260]. The only hotel located in the airport building itself, on the service floor of Terminal 2 and with direct indoor access from Terminal 1.Day Rooms are also made available for use, depending on the booking situation, between 9:00 - 19:00 .
  • Hotel GLO, Kluuvikatu 4, +358 9 5840 9540 (), [261]. Hotel GLO is situated in the centre of Helsinki, between Alexanterinkatu and Pohjois Esplanadi.The hotel has a direct entrance to the shopping centre Kämp Galleria. The Palace Kämp Day Spa is located on the top floor of the hotel. Glo clearly lives of being the slightly cheaper alternative next door to Kämp, but is not quite able to match the quality of service of a true luxury hotel either.
  • Hotel Room, Helsinginkatu 12, +358 40 833 6696 (), [263]. Hotel Room is actually not a hotel, but a funkily furnished 30 sq.m. flat in the Kallio district. Around €100.
  • Scandic Continental Helsinki, Mannerheimintie 46, +358 (0)9 4737 1 (, fax: +358 (0)9 4737 2211), [264]. A large, modern hotel catering to families, leisure travelers, and business travelers. Over 500 rooms, sauna, exercise facilities, wireless Internet access, restaurant and bar. Excellent breakfast included with all rooms. Good location near Tram 4, 7, and 10 for convenient transport to city center (3 min by tram, or a 10 min walk). Finnair buses from the airport stop close to the hotel (about 2 blocks past on the way from the airport, and directly opposite the hotel on the way to the airport), providing convenient transport to/from airport. From €89. (60.179556,24.927978)
  • Sokos Hotel Aleksanteri, Albertinkatu 34, +358 (0)20 1234 643 (, fax: +358 (0)20 1234 644), [265]. Situated in the heart of the city in the trendy Punavuori neighbourhood, next to the historical Alexander Theatre. From €139.
  • StayAt Parliament, Museokatu 18, +358 9 2511 050 (, fax: +358 9 2511 0600), [266]. A modern hotel in an old apartment building in the elegant residential district of Töölö, formerly Accome Töölö. Rooms are modern, spacious and have nice views to the park across the street and to the others architecturally beautiful buildings. A twin room goes for €77–128, a one bedroom room €96–176 and the biggest two bedroom apartment with a sauna and a balcony €110–184.

Splurge

  • Hotel Haven, Unioninkatu 17, 358 9 681930, [267]. Hotel Haven, Finland’s first member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is designed to provide homely warmth, exclusive comfort and high-quality services for the discerning guest. From €169.
  • Crowne Plaza, Mannerheimintie 50, [268]. Formerly the Hotel Hesperia. Rooms offer comfy beds, modern furniture and up-to-date electronics. The hotel also has a sparkling new gym with a pool. From €255.
  • Hilton Strand, John Stenbergin ranta 4, 358-9-39351 (fax: 358-9-3935-3255), [269]. Located across the Pitkäsilta bridge, a 15-minute walk or short tram ride away from the main railway station.
  • Klaus K, Bulevardi 2, +358 20 7704700, [270]. Helsinki's first boutique hotel, although they prefer the term "personal contemporary hotel". Rooms range from the small Passion & Mystical types to the aptly named Envy Plus. Central location, funky styling and reasonable prices make this a winner. From €115.
  • Hotel Kämp, Pohjoisesplanadi 29, +358 9 576111, [271]. Opened 1887, this historic hotel claims to be the only true 5-star in Scandinavia, with doormen in top hats, yacht charters and prices to match: the eight-room Mannerheim Suite can be yours for only €3300 per night. Part of Starwood's Luxury Collection. Rooms from €120.
  • Radisson Blu Plaza, Mikonkatu 23, +358 20 123 4700, [272]. Classy hotel in a protected and carefully renovated, Kalevala-inspired 1917 building, located near the railway station within easy walking distance of Aleksanterinkatu. Excellent breakfast buffet. From €150.

Stay safe

Risks in Helsinki

Crime/violence: Low
Drunk people on weekend nights, bouncers in clubs, pickpockets
Occassional violence in rail transport
Certain suburbs may have street gangs
Authorities/corruption: Low
Security guards and nightclub bouncers might be rude and/or violent
Transportation: Low
Occasional delays in rail traffic
Traffic culture may be sometimes aggressive
Health: Low
Infectious tick bites in the archipelago
Nature: Low

The crime rate in Helsinki was earlier generally low, although locals grumble that things have gotten worse since the EU removed restrictions on movement. Pickpockets target crowds and bicycles are prone to petty theft. Walking in the streets after dark is generally safe and the city center is indeed quite lively until the early hours of the morning. However, it's best to steer clear of obviously drunk people looking to pick a fight, the traditional trouble spots being the frustratingly long queues for late night snack food or taxis. Getting mugged for money in the streets of central Helsinki is almost unheard of, but you might not want to get into any unlicensed taxis even though the licensed ones are almost always way short of demand during pre-Christmas and summer seasons. A licensed taxi in Finland will always have a yellow box with its number on the roof.

The most crimes in city center concentrate around central railway station and Kamppi shopping center. The Kaisaniemi park behind the main Railway Station is possibly best avoided at night, and the area of Kalasatama, Kallio and Sörnäinen (northeast from the center, after the Pitkäsilta bridge) may be somewhat rougher than other parts of the downtown.

In winter, try to keep a steady footing: despite the use of vast quantities of gravel and salt, pavements can be quite slippery when the temperature hovers around zero and near-invisible black ice forms.

Especially in the summer downtown Helsinki is flooded by Roma beggars arriving in organized busloads from Romania. This problem exists in most cities in Europe, but is particularly ample in Helsinki due to the fact that there are virtually no local beggars. Before giving these people money please consider that this is at least partly organized activity, reports of trafficking are rampant, the beggars are a large dismay for the local population due to they side-effects they bring along (such as widespread theft of metals from public buildings, such as the Finlandia house). You might instead want to consider donating some money to a charity helping the Roma population at home develop sustainable life.

Helsinki's bedrock is close to the surface, so new building works invariably involve some dynamite to build foundations, and it's thus quite common to hear explosions around the center. Blasting is often preceded by a loud sequence of warning beeps, which speed up as they count down. There is no danger to anyone, as the builders are experts (and the solid granite bedrock is very, very strong), but now you know where that "BOOM!" came from.

If you are just passing through and choose Helsinki to apply for a Russian visa, be careful when choosing a travel agency: some may charge a lot extra for "express service" (although applying for one yourself at the consulate will take weeks).

Respect

  • When using escalators, people in Helsinki usually reserve the right side of the moving staircase for standing and the left side for people walking up the stairs. Standing still on the left side will certainly make people irritated and flag you as a tourist or a fool. (This only goes for the major cities, in small cities people don't walk in the escalators.)
  • It would also be wise to use common sense while boarding trains or trams, don't block people when the doors open. Take one step back and let people get off first and you won't irritate other people. (Buses must be entered through the front door and exited from the rear.)
  • Avoid walking in the cycle lane. Dedicated cycle paths are clearly marked, but sometimes run directly next to the sidewalk. Helsinki cyclists are subject to a comparatively hilly landscape and are unwilling to slow down and lose momentum. Usually, however, they are careful, signal clearly and use their bells, meaning that straying tourists most often are just sworn at.
  • When waiting in lines, be patient and polite. Finns never cross queues but make sure you actually stand in the line. If insecure, ask.
  • Finns usually don't address people that are doing things (in their opinion) wrong. They will just look at your foolish behaviour and swear silently to themselves. You might embarrass yourself but addressing it will make an even bigger scene.

Contact

Much of Helsinki is blanketed with wifi ("wlan") hotspots, and the City of Helsinki maintains a handy map [273]. By comparison, Internet cafes with shared PCs are few and far between in Helsinki, but here is a partial listing.

  • Library 10, Elielinaukio 2 G, tel. +358 9 3108 5000, [274]. A public Internet and music library located in the main post office building at the western side of the central railway station. You can surf the Internet for free for 30 minutes on the library's computers , but you're going to have to queue. Also has wi-fi, but you need a library card to access the network.
  • Mbar, Mannerheimintie 22-24 (Lasipalatsi), tel. +358 9 612 4542, [275]. A pleasant and popular living room-ish space in the heart of the city with local DJs playing drum & bass, house and chillout beats. Computers with Internet access (€5 per hour; €2 minimum charge), free wifi for laptop & cell phone owners. The terrace is a popular hipster hangout in the summer, situated in the former bus station area just next to the bar. Drinks €4-5.

Many internet/cyber cafes in Finland can be expensive. There are a large number of locations in Helsinki that offer free public wifi for those needing to connect to the office while outside of the country. Most cafes offer these services without requiring a person to be a paying customer. Some restaurants will do this as well, but may insist that you purchase something. There is a list of the free wifi locations compiled online [276].

Cope

Some things to pack:

See also Finland#Bring.
  • Comfortable shoes. Helsinki is best experienced on foot.
  • An umbrella or a raincoat for wet weather.
  • Warm clothes in good materials (Long johns/stockings under your pants/skirt will keep you warm without looking like you wear your ski-outfit).

Getting cash

There are many ATMs in the city, but some foreign card-holders, such as a Canadian, have reported trouble in using them, even when they purport to be connected to international networks their banks are part of, so consider doing some research before you arrive.

There are many locations of a currency exchange called Forex, but they charge a whopping 6,5 € commission on top of their buy-sell spread.

Credit/debit cards are widely accepted even for small amounts. Most places accept identification and a signature, but PIN-transactions are preferred.

Toilets

Finding a good toilet in Helsinki can be tricky. Many department stores and fast-food restaurants have clean toilets, often for the charge of 1 EUR. That is also the cost of public toilet booths found in most city squares (though these might be messy) so be sure to carry some 1 EUR coins. Restaurants' toilets are often reserved for customers, and might be messy depending on the establishment. Some good, clean toilets are found in Kamppi Center [277], in Kamppi Long Distance Bus Terminal (Matkahuolto). Urinating in town is illegal, but urinals are often free even if you have to pay for a WC. The libraries, museums, and government buildings often have free, clean toilets.

Most major hotels have clean lobby toilets. Some of them might be reserved for house guests and require an access code, but travellers can often get access to them on request.

Laundry

Since all Finnish apartments either have a washing machine or access to a communal laundry room, there are virtually no self-service laundries to be found in Helsinki, with few exceptions:

  • Pesukaari, Mechelininkatu 16, Etu-Töölö (Kauppakorkeakoulu)
  • Cafe Tin Tin Tangon pesula, Töölöntorinkatu 7, Taka-Töölö (Töölöntori)
  • Rööperin Itsepalvelupesula, Punavuorenkatu 3, Punavuori (Viiskulma)
  • Kallion Itsepalvelupesula, Suonionkatu 1, Kallio (Kallion virastotalo)
  • Pesula Vic, Agrikolankatu 13, Kallio (Kallion kirjasto)

Most youth hostels have washing machines. Some dry cleaners offer to wash shirts and bed linen as well, but this tends to be quite expensive.

Health

Finnish healthcare is generally of high quality, although you may have to face a long wait in emergency rooms. How fast you get to see the doctor is dependent on how ill you are and if others are sicker. If you have a small wound that needs stitches you will wait if there are victims of a car-accident. But if you are in a bad car-accident you know you will get help first. Money, name or title won't help pass the queue.

EU/EES citizens with a European Health Insurance card pay the same (rather low) fee for emergency and necessary care as a local citizen. Others must pay the whole health care cost. More information on hospital fees can be found on the Helsinki City information site [278].

In an emergency, always call 112 for SOS Alarm, for ambulance, police, fire service, air and sea rescue, mountain patrol, or priest on call. English-speaking operators are available.

There are two hospitals with 24-hour emergency care units in the inner city:

  • Haartman Hospital, Haartmaninkatu 4, Building 12 (Tram 4 to Meilahden sairaala), +46 8 58 70 10 00, [279].
  • Maria Hospital, Lapinlahdenkatu 16, building 15 C, inner yard (Busses 102-165 from Kamppi Center to Espoo, leave at first stop in Lapinrinne), +46 8 616 10 00, [280].

For less serious illnesses and ailments, getting in touch with a local clinic, terveyskeskus, is a much better option than the hospital emergency rooms. The Helsinki healthcare hotline 10023 terveysneuvonta (+358 9 10023, [281]) can give medical advice and help you find a doctor. The doctors usually speak good English.

Pharmacies

  • YA Yliopiston Apteekki Töölö, Mannerheimintie 96 (Tram 4 and 10 to Kansaneläkelaitos), +358 300 20200, [282]. This pharmacy is centrally located and open 24 hours, all days of the week, including holidays. They have a very large inventory of specialized drugs.
  • YA Yliopiston Apteekki Kaivopiha, Mannerheimintie 5 (Lasipalatsi), +358 300 20200, [283]. Located near Central Railway Station, with extra long operating hours: Mon-Fri 07:00-24:00, Sat 9-18 and Sun 10-18.

Tap water

The tap water in Helsinki is of very high quality. There is no reason for buying bottled water. It is also completely accepted to ask for tap water in restaurants. Many places have a tap and glasses for self-service.

Embassies

  • Ch-flag.png People's Republic of China, Vanha kelkkamäki 9, Kulosaari, +358 9 22890118, [285]. Mo-Fr 9:00-11:00.
  • Rp-flag.png Philippines, 4th Floor Keskuskatu 1B, +358 (0) 9 682 98500 (fax: +358 (0) 9 682-98518), [286].
  • Ru-flag.png Russia, Tehtaankatu 1B, +358 (0) 9 661876 (fax: +358 (0) 9 661006), [287].
  • Sp-flag.png Spain, Kalliolinnantie 6, =+358 9 6877080, Emergencies: +358 40 5511503 (, fax: +358 9 170923), [288]. Mo-Fr: 09:00-13:00.
  • Tw-flag.PNG Taiwan, Aleksanterinkatu 17, 4th Floor, +358 9 6829 3800, [289].
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom, Itäinen Puistotie 17, +358 (0)9 2286 5100 (fax: +358 (0)9 2286 5262), [290].
  • Us-flag.png United States, Itäinen Puistotie 14B, +358-9-616 250, [291].

Get out

Nuuksio National Forest Park in Espoo, Finland

In Finland itself the following make good day trips:

  • Nuuksio National Park, a piece of untamed wilderness ca 25 km from Helsinki city centre. Accessible by bus from city.
  • Porvoo, the second oldest town in Finlandis just 60 km away. It has a charming old town of wooden houses. Much more lively in the summer.
  • Tampere, the third-largest city in Finland, and the birthplace of Finnish industry, boasting one of the last Lenin museums left in the world as well as a spy museum. 180 km north of Helsinki, one hour 30 min to two hours by train.
  • Hämeenlinna, 100 km to north is famous for the Häme castle, a large medieval castle, and the beautiful park area Aulanko. One hour by train.
  • Turku, the oldest and now fifth-largest city in Finland, and historical capital. The cathedral and the medieval castle are well worth visiting. Two hours by train.
  • Hanko, the southernmost spot in Finland, 140 km west of Helsinki. This town of less than 10,000 people is famous for its summer activities, including sandy beaches, sailing, tennis, art, theater, etc.

As a coastal city, Helsinki has good connections to some fine international destinations nearby:

  • 3.5 hrs with semi-bullet train Allegro departing twice a day ( 70€ single, one way ),
  • Overnight by ship ( 100€ / head list price for cruise there-and-back )
  • Get plenty of Russian flavour with minibuses departing from behind Tennispalatsi from 10€-to-30€ single, one-way depending on how fully booked the bus is, how soon it is to depart and your fluency in Russian from the perspective of the driver demanding the fare.
Also available as Helsinki-Stockholm-Tallinn-St.Petersburg-Helsinki cruise operated by the St. Peterline at approx. 250€ / head list price ( 4 nights on board and 3 days in cities ). Tram 9 door-to-door from central railway station to the terminal.
  • Stockholm, the Swedish capital, is somewhat like Helsinki but more Scandinavian and bigger.
Stockholm is also accessible from Turku ( 2hr train ride from Helsinki ) harbor ( Trains to Turku offer special door-to-door service ( running on up to the harbour ) for Turku-Stockholm departures )
Served by Viking Line and Silja Line.
  • Tallinn in Estonia is known for its medieval city center and is easily accessible even as a day trip ( around 20€ ). Terminal to Tallinn and Saint Petersburg is a door-to-door service with tram 9 from central railway station.
Served by Tallink and Eckerö line.
Extreme getout Copterline offers the fastest way out of Finland, an 18 minute chopper ride to Tallinn departs from Hernesaari ( approx. 20€ taxi fare from center )







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