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 -30°C on a particularly cold day. Snow falls only intermittently and, until January, often melts into gray slush.
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 -30°C on a particularly cold day. Snow falls only intermittently and, until January, often melts into gray slush.
The summer, can be extraordinarily pleasant. Temperatures climb above 25°C, parks burst into green and sunbathers dot the city's beaches.
The summer can be extraordinarily pleasant. Temperatures climb above 25°C, parks burst into green and sunbathers dot the city's beaches.
Revision as of 17:06, 26 March 2011
Helsinki's symbol, the Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko)
Helsinki (Finnish) or Helsingfors (Swedish)  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 575,000, but the Greater Helsinki region including the neighboring suburban cities of Espoo and Vantaa has a population of over 1.3 million.
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 establisment 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 occupiers - from the Western and Eastern cultures.
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  for an interactive searchable map of the city.
City of Helsinki Tourist Information Office, Corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Unioninkatu (just off Market Square), ☎ +358-9-31013300. 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
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 , 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.
Joulu (Christmas). In the weeks before Christmas, Aleksanterinkatu is festively lit up 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.
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 -30°C on a particularly cold day. Snow falls only intermittently and, until January, often melts into gray slush.
The summer can be extraordinarily pleasant. Temperatures climb above 25°C, parks burst into green and sunbathers dot the city's beaches.
The city is officially bilingual, with a 86% Finnish-speaking majority and a visible 6% Swedish-speaking minority. In practice, however, most people speak both, as well as English and not rarely German. It is however worth to note that English is somewhat more widely spoken than Swedish, since English is a "stronger" language for most Finnish-speaking people, so if you don't speak Finnish, you are actually better off just speaking English unless your native tongue is Swedish, but if it is, it will most often do just fine. Staff at some stores, such as the Stockmann department store, wear name tags with national flags representing the languages they speak (be warned though; many Swedish-speakers have complained about not getting service in Swedish despite the staff member wearing a Swedish flag). Virtually all Finns under the age of 40 understand and speak English and many to a very high level of proficiency, making Helsinki an easy city to visit. 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.
Map of Central Helsinki
All international and domestic flights land at the compact, modern and airy Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport (IATA: HEL, ICAO: EFHK), which is located in Vantaa, 20 kilometers to the north of the central Helsinki. There are two adjacent terminals, connected by a short walkway:
T1: SAS, Blue1 and other Star Alliance airlines, plus such airlines like Air France and KLM.
T2: Finnair, oneworld partners and most other airlines
Regular taxis to the center cost €30-40. Shared Airport Taxi  (tel. 0600 555 555 for bookings) mini-vans start from €27 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, 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 (€5.90, 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, every 30 min), for convenient connections to the metro and eastern suburbs of Helsinki.
Vantaa bus 61 to Tikkurila (€2.40), 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 (€2.40, every 30 min), connections to western Vantaa: suburbs of Myyrmäki, Martinlaakso and Hämeenkylä.
Regional buses 514/535 to Espoo (€4), for connections to the areas of Leppävaara, Westend, Tapiola and Espoon Keskus 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 (email@example.com, fax: + 358 103 444 601), . 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 .
Airport Hotel Bonus Inn, Elannontie 9 (Pakkala exit from Ring III Highway), ☎ +358-9-825511 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +358-9-82551818), . 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, . Mid-range Finnish chain hotel, 10 min away by free shuttle bus. Renovated in 2007.€120.
Hilton Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, ☎ +358-9-73220, . 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, . 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 (2 hours away by train) or even to Tallinn, Estonia, a short ferry ride away.
Copterline  halted their scheduled flights between Helsinki and Tallinn in December 2008.
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.
Long-distance national and international buses terminate at the new underground Central Bus Station (Linja-autoasema) in the Kamppi Center  (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.
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. The trip costs around 15 euros, making this by far the cheapest option, but the buses are cramped and uncomfortable.
Helsinki cathedral, presidental palace and other waterfront buildings from a ferry leaving for Stockholm
Ferries arrive at three harbours with five terminals:
West Harbour (Länsisatama)  - Hietasaarenkuja 8 - Tallink ships M/S Star, M/S Baltic Princess and M/S Superstar to Tallinn; M/S Superfast VII, VIII and IX to Tallinn and Rostock and Eckerö Line ship M/S Nordlandia use the West Terminal. 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. Bus no. 15 goes from the terminal to Ruoholahti metro station and bus no. 15A to Helsinki Central railway station.
South Harbour (Eteläsatama) - Olympia Terminal  - Olympiaranta 1 - West shore of the bay. Tallink Silja cruise ferries M/S Silja Serenade and M/S Silja Symphony dock at Olympia Terminal, as well as St.Peter Line cruise ferry M/S «Princess Maria». 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  - 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  - Katajanokanlaituri 8 - Right shore of the bay. Viking Line ships (M/S Rosella, 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  - Provianttikatu 5 - Mainly a cargo port, but used also by Finnlines services to Gdynia and Travemünde and Tallink Silja to Rostock. Take metro to Vuosaari and continue by bus 90B.
See the Port of Helsinki  for the latest details.
Helsinki tram map
All public transportation within Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen is coordinated by HSL. The following basic ticket types are available:
Tram ticket (raitiovaunulippu) (€1,80 from ticket machines, travel card button "0" €1.37, not available from the driver) — valid for one hour on trams only
City ticket (kertalippu) (€2 by mobile phone or in ticket machines, €2.50 from the driver, travel card button "1" €1.82) — valid on all HKL services within city limits for one hour
Regional ticket (seutulippu) (€4.00, travel card button "2" €3.36) — valid for 80 mins within and between Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen
Full region ticket (€6.20, travel card button "3" €5.20) — the above plus Kerava and Kirkkonummi
The City 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 specific Tram or Train ticket, you are allowed to travel only by tram or train respectively. 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 €33 to 3 days €55)  or HSL Tourist Ticket (matkailijalippu) (1 day €6.80, 3 days €13.60 or 5 days €20.40), both of which offer unlimited travel within the city. Tourist Tickets are sold at HSL offices, R-Kiosks located in the city center, ticket vending machines or by the driver (1-day ticket only). The Helsinki Card also offers free admission to a number of museums and attractions.
The HSL Journey Planner  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.
Getting around by night can be a bit tricky (or expensive), as most trains and trams stop before midnight and the buses at 1.30. 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.
Travelling without valid ticket in public transport may cause 80€ inspection fee.
Beers on wheels
The SpåraKOFF Bar Tram 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 Tuesday to Thursday, try to spot the silver-coloured Culture Tram featuring theatre, poetry and live music.
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.
Helsinki metro map
A metro line runs from the center to the eastern suburbs, but 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 usually takes about 21-22 minutes.
Note that since 8th of November 2009 the Central Railway Station metro station suffered heavy flooding damages has been closed for repairs that are estimated to last up to 6 months. The railway station reopened for public use on February 15th 2010, although elevators are still not operational.
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.
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 Tourist Ticket and mobile-phone ticket are both valid also on the Suomenlinna ferry.
Taxi stand on the west side of the Central Railway station
Taxis in Helsinki are expensive. Cab fares are regulated by the government, so getting into any taxi is €5.10 on weekdays, or €8.00 after 8PM and all day Sunday. The meter ticks at €1.33/km. The rate increases if there are over two people. There are also surcharges for large bags and leaving from Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport (€2).
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  or Lähitaksi  0100 7300. If it's a very busy night, try calling Taksione at +358-50-5455454 or Kajon at 01007070. Drivers are not required to pick up a person hailing them on the street, and they usually don't, but it's worth a try if you see one cruising by. 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 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.
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. 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. . There is also a journey planner for cycling . 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 (tel. +358-50-5582525) in Eiranranta near Kaivopuisto. Prices start at €9/30 min, driver not included but available on request.
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, . 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.
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 fortress, seen from a passing ferry
If you see only one place in Helsinki in the summer, make it Suomenlinna. 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 is free. The HKL ferry from Market Square is the cheapest and most convenient of getting there at €3.80 for a 12-hour tourist return. Guided tours 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 at the Visitor Centre (€5).
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, . 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, . 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, . 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.
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"), 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 for 10 km north. It encompasses an area of over 1,000 hectares. The park is mostly in a natural state.
Alppipuisto. 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.
The Church in the Rock
Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko). Aleksanterinkatu, . 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 kms 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, . 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.
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'' 173361 (''+358 9'' 17336228 for tickets), . 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, . 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, . 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 (near Ateneum), ☎ +358 9 1733 6501, . 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, . 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, . 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..
Heureka Science Centre, Tikkurila (near Tikkurila train station), . 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), . 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), . 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), . 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.€4.
Submarine Vesikko, Suomenlinna, Susisaari (Take an inexpensive ferry from Kauppatori), . 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.€4.
Olympic Stadium's modernistic tower
View from the tower
Helsinki is an Olympic city, the host of the 1952 Olympic Games.
Olympic Stadium, . 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 Finnair 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.
Olympic Tower. The stadium features 72m high tower that offers a great view over the city. €2 (adults) / €1 (children).
The Sibelius Monument
Sibelius Monument, Sibelius Park, . 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, . 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, . 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  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.
Natura Viva - Vuosaari Paddling Center, Ramsinniementie 14, ☎ +358503768585, . 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.
Linnanmäki. 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 aquarium at Tivolikuja 1 is open throughout the year. Tram 3T, 8, bus 23.
Serena Water Amusement Park, Tornimäentie 10, Espoo (Bus 339 from Helsinki Bus Station), tel. +358 9 88705555. 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 €22 except some Fridays €17 (4-8PM only), family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) €75.
Flamingo Entertainment Center, 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 with pretty cool and fast slides in the waterpark section and a large selection of relaxation pools, jacuzzis and different saunas in the other section, and Hohtogolf West Coast 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 called Onnela.
Helsinki has an active cultural life and tickets are generally inexpensive. Important performing groups include:
National Opera (Kansallisooppera), Helsinginkatu 58, tel. +358-9-403021, . Lavishly subsidized, but it's still easy to get good seats. Tickets €14-84. Also runs the National Ballet (Kansallisbaletti).
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (Kaupunginorkesteri), . Performances at the visually striking but acoustically dubious Finlandia Hall. Tickets €20.
UMO Jazz Orchestra, . An important part of Finnish jazz life, known for performing new Finnish music alongside interesting shows, such as with new circus. Various venues.
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).
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.
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 (email@example.com), . 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 , 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 (toimisto@tulepurjehtimaan), . 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.
Arlan sauna, Kaarlenkatu 15, . 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, Harjutorinkatu 1. This is one of the few wood burning public saunas 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). €10 for adults, students €7.5, towel €2 extra.
Sauna Hermanni, Hämeentie 63, . Open from Monday to Saturday. €8 for adults, students €5.
Yrjönkadun Uimahalli,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 €4.40, 2nd Floor €12. The second floor includes access to a steam sauna and a wood-heated sauna, as well as a cafe.
Kämp Spa, Kluuvikatu 4 B, (Kämp Gallery 8th floor), ☎ +358 9 5761 1330 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 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 treateatments, the Spa counts with a gym and 3 different saunas.
Sonera Stadium, Urheilukatu 5 (next to Olympic Stadium), . The home of football (soccer) team HJK . 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), . The largest indoor arena in Finland, the home of ice hockey team Jokerit and also a popular venue for concerts.
Helsingin Jäähalli, Nordenskiöldinkatu 11-13 (1 block from Tram 3B, 4, 7, and 10, stop at Kansaneläkelaitos), . The home of ice hockey team HIFK . Tickets for matches start from €10.
Most of Finland's exchange students end up in Helsinki's universities.
University of Helsinki. . 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, . Newly-formed from three leading universities in their respective areas:
Helsinki University of Technology. . Considered "Finland's MIT", this university is in Otaniemi, Espoo, just across the municipality border.
University of Art and Design Helsinki. . The biggest art university in Scandinavia. Has the highest rate of exchange students of all Finnish universities.
Hanken, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration. .
Sibelius Academy. . The only music university in Finland and one of the largest in Europe.
As elsewhere in the country, obtaining work in Helsinki may be difficult. See the main Finland article for details.
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 .
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 in Kamppi Center (see below) and S-Market Supermarket below Sokos are both open every day until 10PM. Small grocery stores and the R-Kioski convenience store chain are open on Sun year-round, too. You will also find Delish and Pick A Deli convenience stores in the city center, open 24 hours a day year round.
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), . The largest bookstore in Northern Europe, with extensive selections in English too. An underground passage connects the bookstore to Stockmann. Tram: 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10.
Stockmann. Corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Mannerheimintie, . The flagship of Finland's premier department store chain. When Helsinkians meet "under the clock" (kellon alla), they mean the one rotating under the main 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. . 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, . 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), . Big shopping mall in the center of Helsinki. Plenty of international brands and restaurants. Long-distance bus terminal in the basement. Metro: Kamppi.
Kauppakeskus Ruoholahti. . Compared to others it's a B-category shopping mall, mainly notable for the Verkkokauppa.com store, the best spot for electronics, computers, digital cameras, etc. in Helsinki. There is also a Brand Outlet Warehouse that sells cheap branded clothing. 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.
In the suburban cities of Vantaa and Espoo you can also find big shopping malls. Vantaa has Jumbo(including Flamingo)  and Myyrmanni, while Espoo has the centers of Iso Omena and Sello. All of these are easily accessible by commuter transport or by car.
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  at Erottajankatu 7 to get a map of shops and galleries.
Aero, Yrjönkatu 8, . 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), . 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, . 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, . 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, . Internationally recognized designer clothes, handmade in Finland.
Marimekko. Pohjoisesplanadi 2, tel. +358(09) 622 2317, . 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 (09) 758 7244).
Myymälä2, Uudenmaankatu 23, . 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.
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, 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), . 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, . 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.
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, . Used rock/Finnish/funk.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
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 choices are largely limited to fast food, although there are a couple of workaday Finnish eateries in the mix. In addition to McDonalds 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, 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.
Bar No 9, Uudenmaankatu 9, . 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.
Golden Rax, Forum second floor, Mannerheimintie 20 / Mikonkatu 8, . 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 and pass the coffee though. 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, . 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), . 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). Serves pelmeny (Russian dumplings), blini (Russian crepes), soups and salads. The menu depends on the mood of the Russian owner. Prices around 10 euros for a dish.
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, . 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 €2.35 if you happen to own a Finnish student card.
VPK, Albertinkatu 29, . 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. €7.70 per head.
Wrong Noodle Bar, Yliopistonkatu 5, . 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, . Select from a few tasty plates of Wok. €9.50 per head.
Kuu, Töölönkatu 27, . 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, . 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.
Juuri, Korkeavuorenkatu 27, +358 9 635 732, . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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, . Tourist restaurant with lots of character and great quality Finnish food. Plenty of old tractors and Finnish memorabilia. Main meals between €10-20.
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.
Kämp Café, Pohjoisesplanadi 29, ☎ +358 9 5840 9530 (email@example.com), . 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 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, . 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. . Nice restaurant with an Italian flavor. Reservations suggested, particularly on the weekend.
Mai Thai, Annankatu 31-33, +358 9 685 6850, . 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.
Mesta, Postikuja 2 (Sanomatalo, 2nd floor), ☎ +358-9-68121450, . Lunch 11AM–3PM M–F, dinner 5–10PM M–Sa. Cheeky, stylish "modern Russian" eatery, serving up reasonable fare at reasonable prices. €9 lunch sets of pelmeny or blinis and the €12/22 "Zapuska" buffet table for dinner are great value.
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, . 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.
Prego, Fabianinkatu 16. Fresh Italian fare, fast but delicious. Half-salads start around €5 (full around €8) and main dishes around €11. Wine by the glass or bottle.
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.  Tasty Chinese food. Main dishes €7-20, lunch buffet €8.5.
Colorado Bar & Grill, Simonkatu 9.  Tasty Tex-Mex food. Main dishes €10-25.
Cantina West, Kasarmikatu 23.  Tasty Tex-Mex food. Famous for it's Pork Baby Ribs(€18). Main dishes €10-25.
Tamarin, Iso Roobertinkatu 18, Fredrikinkatu 49, Eteläesplanadi 4.  Tasty Thai food. Main dishes around €14, lunch buffet €8.5.
Silvoplee, Toinen linja 3, +358 9 726 0900, . 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, . This take out restaurant has the best vegetarian burgers you could imagine. Ask for your burger with dark bread. Cash only. You can get there by taking metro to Sörnäinen.
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).
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).
Boathouse, Liuskasaari island, ☎ +358 9 622 7 1070 (email@example.com), . 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, . 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.
FishMarket, Pohjoisesplanadi 17, ☎ +358 9 1345 6220 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 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, . 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,  Combines North European ingredients into a modern Scandinavian cuisine while using seasons best ingredients available.
Postres, Eteläesplanadi 8, ☎ +358-9-663300, . 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, . 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 (email@example.com). 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. .
Savoy, Eteläesplanadi 14, tel. +358 9 684 4020, . 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.
Bellevue, Rahapajankatu 3, tel. +358 9 179560, . 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, . 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, . 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.
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, . 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, . 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tu–S 6PM–midnight. Mecca offers creative kitchen and a unique selection of wines.
Palace Gourmet, Eteläranta 10, 10th Floor, ☎ +358 9 1345 6715 (email@example.com), . 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 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, . 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 (email@example.com), . 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.
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). Most bars in Kallio close at 2AM, whereas in city centre there are many that are open until 4AM.
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. 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, which can be picked up at many bars, cafes and shops.
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, . 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.
Café Tin Tin Tango, Töölöntorinkatu 7 (tram 3B/3T, 8), ☎ +358-9-27090972, . 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, . 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, . 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.
Kaffecentrallen, Museokatu 9. This little shop concentrates on selling espresso paraphernalia, and also serves excellent capuccino.
Kahvila Sävy, Kinaporinkatu 1, . 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, . French-type cafe in the Design Forum. Try the lovely Sacher cake. Take away is cheaper.
Kipsari, Hämeentie 135 E, . 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 and very few tourists.Small coffee €1.5.
Kämp Café, Pohjoisesplanadi 29, ☎ +358 9 5840 9530 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . M–W 11:30AM–midnight, Th F 11:30AM–1AM, Sa noon–1AM, Su noon–midnight.
Posto, Lönnrotinkatu 9, ☎ +358 9 45 3146461. In a desert of terrible and expensive filter coffee, Cafe Posto is an oasis of Mediterranean taste and price.
Strindberg, Pohjoisesplanadi 33, . 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, . 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 , 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.
Butterfly, previously 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.
Baker's, Mannerheimintie 12, . 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 Robertinkatu 1, . 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, . 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 bar next door for authentic Soviet style experience, complete with Russian music played on dusty vinyls and Russian vodka and champagne. Downstairs is Dubrovnik, Ipod Video Converter a small club-cum-movie theater that can be rented for private events and host occasionally live gigs or clubs..
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, . 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, . An Irish pub/nightclub near the Central Railway Station. Popular among Finns and tourists alike. Live music every night.
Lime, Yliopistonkatu 8, . A small cocktail bar with DJs playing music varying from downtempo to house.
Loose, Annankatu 21, . A very street-credible rock bar, it is highly popular among Finnish rock musicians.
On The Rocks, Mikonkatu 15 (near Central Railway Station), . 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, . A new and quite 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 4PM-2AM on weekdays, noon-2AM on weekends, with DJs and the occasional live gig. Weekend brunch noon-6PM, with DJs playing jazz, soul and latin (Sat) or traditional Finnish music (Sun).
Sports Academy, Kaivokatu 8, . 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, . 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.
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!
Cuba, Erottajankatu 4, . 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, Iso Roobertinkatu 28, . Open M-Sa 9AM-4AM, Su 12PM-4AM. 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).
Fever, Annankatu 32, . Mostly popular with 20-something crowd, this club plays the current Top 40 list. As a rather unusual feature in the Helsinki scene, this club is open every day of the week.
Hercules Gay Night Club, Lönnrotinkatu 4, . One of the busiest gay nightclubs in Scandinavia, targets a 30+ clientele, good for bare-faced cruising. Entrance free; coat check €2.50.
Jenny Woo, Simonkatu 6, . Tries to profile itself as a nightclub for trendy young adults and has succeeded in doing so: "because it's all about yoo", goes their cringe-worthy tagline. You can lie on couches next to the crowded dance floor while sipping some bubbly. Expect long lines on weekends.
Kaarle XII, Kasarmikatu 40, tel. +358 9 6129990, . 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), . 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 W-Sa from 7PM – you can bring your own food to the terrace and cook it on their gas grill. Tu-Th 9PM-3AM, F-Sa 10PM-4AM, Su 9PM-3AM. Not open on all Tuesdays and Sundays, check in advance.
Lost & Found, Annankatu 6, . Formerly a hetero-friendly gay club and nowadays more likely vice-versa, this nightclub is open every day till 4AM. Mysteriously popular despite the sweaty atmosphere on the unbelievably crowded dance floor. In the somewhat cheesy disco downstairs, there's always action here on late nights (even on weekdays). One of the best places for celebrity-spotting in Helsinki. Sunday especially good.
The Tiger, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 (Kamppi Center), . 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, . Formerly Rose Garden, entrance to this literally underground spot is easy to miss as it is unmarked and hidden in an inner court. With a maze-like setup, the venue is not quite as popular as it used to be after the former proprietors left and opened up their new club Redrum (see above). Reggae is prominently featured in the club lineup, along occasional electronic music nights. Drinks €5-8.
Tavastia/Semifinal, Urho Kekkosen katu 4-6, . 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, . 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.
YK, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 21, . Opened in June 2010, a two-floor nightclub for urban rhythms ranging from indie pop to dubstep to techno. Function One sound system and a view over Kamppi from the second floor bar.
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 Tallin, and spend the night (and part of the next day) on the boat, rather than sleep in the city.
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  can provide further information.
Eurohostel, Linnankatu 9 (Tram 4), . Helsinki's largest hostel, very close to the dock for the Viking Line ferry and the Uspenski Cathedral. Dorms from €22.40, single/double rooms from €39/44 (plus €2.50/person for non-HI members).
Hostel Erottajanpuisto, Uudenmaankatu 9, . A small, clean, and friendly hostel with a central location.€22.5 for a dorm bed.
Hostel Suomenlinna, Suomenlinna C 9 (ferry connection from Market Square), . All year open hostel located at the Suomenlinna sea fortress.
Rastila Camping, Vuosaari (M Rastila), . 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), . In the Olympic Stadium building to the north of the center, but quite easily accessed by tram.Dorms from €20.
Summer Hostel Academica, Hietaniemenkatu 14 (M Kamppi, Trams 3B and 3T), . Summer hostel in the heart of Helsinki. Open June-August only.
Travellers Home, Lönnrotinkatu 16 D, . Central location, clean, and good amenities. Wi-fi €5/day.Fully-furnished flat from €85/night.
Bed and Breakfast Panorama Suite, (email@example.com), . 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, . 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.
Cumulus Kaisaniemi, Kaisaniemenkatu 7 (M Kaisaniemi). A centrally located but minimally equipped business hotel.From €83 for a double in the low season.
Hotel Finn, Kalevankatu 3B, ☎ +358 9 6844360 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +358 9 68443610), . 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), . A dependable old standby within walking distance of the city center.Generally €~100.
Hotel GLO Airport, Helsinki-Vantaa Airport Terminal 2, ☎ +358 103 444 600 (email@example.com, fax: + 358 103 444 601), . 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 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.
Hotel Room, Helsinginkatu 12, ☎ +358 40 833 6696 (email@example.com), . Hotel Room is actually not a hotel, but a funkily furnished 30 sq.m. flat in the Kallio district.Around €100.
Omenahotelli, Eerikinkatu 24 (M Kamppi), . A self-service hotel with no front desk. Book and pay on the Internet and let yourself in with a passcode. Prices start at €36/person for four people and €87 for a single room.
Scandic Continental Helsinki, Mannerheimintie 46, ☎ +358 (0)9 4737 1 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +358 (0)9 4737 2211), . 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 directly behind the hotel, providing convenient transport to/from airport. From €89. (60.179556,24.927978)
Sokos Hotel Aleksanteri, Albertinkatu 34, ☎ +358 (0)20 1234 643 (email@example.com, fax: +358 (0)20 1234 644), . 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +358 9 2511 0600), . 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 architectually 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.
Crowne Plaza, Mannerheimintie 50, . 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), . 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, . 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, . 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, . 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.
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. 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 recent years, aggressive beggars mainly from Romania have become a common sight in the center of the city in the summer time.
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.
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 extra for "express service".
Much of Helsinki is blanketed with wifi ("wlan") hotspots, and the City of Helsinki maintains a handy map . By comparison, Internet cafes with pos system 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, . 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, . 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.
Soihtu, Aurorankatu 13 B 16, tel. +358 45 652 0787, . A small youth-friendly café. It is volunteer-run in the evenings and free wi-fi is available. Customers can borrow GNU/Linux laptops.
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, a charming old town of wooden houses is just 60 km away.
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.
Turku, the fifth-largest city in Finland and the historic 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 sailing, tennis, art, theater, etc.
As a coastal city, Helsinki has good connections to some fine international destinations nearby: