This page suggests itineraries for Helsinki, the capital city of Finland. All itineraries assume that the day starts at the Central Railway Station. The station is a hub for public transport, and can be easily reached from all the major hotels by public transport or by foot.
Most of the major attractions of Helsinki are located in a fairly small area, and a person of average physical fittness can easily access them by foot. The city does, however, have an extensive public transport system, which makes life much easier for those who prefer not spending the entire day on their feet.
The itineraries assume that the visit happens in the summer, which in Helsinki is between June and August. Those preferring cooler temperatures might also visit in May or in September. Some major tourist attractractions, such as the Suomenlinna fortress and the Seurasaari park, may not be worth visiting if the weather is bad, which happens often in the autumn and early spring.
Two hours in Helsinki
This itinerary is suitable for travellers who only have a very short time to spend in the city, for example between a business meeting and a flight home.
Walk one block towards east along Kaivokatu street, and turn right to Keskuskatu. Turn left to the shopping street of Aleksanterinkatu. Walk along Aleksanterinkatu to the Senate Square (Senaatintori) to view the Lutheran Cathedral and the neoclassical old city centre. Continue along Aleksanterinkatu and turn south to Mariankatu. After one block you will see the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, which is also worth seeing from the inside, if you have the time. The walk along the Pohjoisesplanadi street. Between the street and the sea lies the Market Square (Kauppatori), which is worth seeing during the market hours. Follow the Pohjoisesplanadi to the Esplanadi Park (Esplanadinpuisto). If you have the time, you might want to stop for a coffee or a snack in Kappeli, a restaurant and a café in the park. Walk along the park to the corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Keskuskatu. You might want to visit the Stockmann department store (between the streets Pohjoisesplanadi, Keskuskatu, Aleksanterinkatu and Mannerheimintie) to buy souvenirs or presents. You can reach the Central Railway Station by following Keskuskatu and Kaivokatu.
Six hours in Helsinki
This itinerary is suitable for people who have a limited time in Helsinki, for example because they need to catch a flight in the evening.
Walk one block towards east along Kaivokatu street, and turn right to Keskuskatu. Follow the street to the Esplanadi park (Esplanadinpuisto). Follow the park east towards the sea. When you reach the eastern end of the park, turn north along Unioninkatu to reach the Senate Square (Senaatintori). There you can view the Lutheran Cathedral and the neoclassical old city centre. From the square, follow Aleksanterinkatu to the east turn south to Mariankatu. After one block you will see the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, which is worth visiting at this point.
The lunch and snack opportunities during this part of the visit are provided by the restaurants and cafés in the blocks surrounding the Esplanadi Park. Kappeli, a restaurant and a café in the park, is also worth considering.
From the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, walk to the Market Square (Kauppatori), between the Pohjoisesplanadi street and and the sea. From the market square, take a ferry to the Suomenlinna sea fortress. When your reach the fortress, spread on several islands connected by bridges, take a note of the ferry time tables for the return journey. From the ferry harbour, walk south until it is time to turn back to catch the ferry. Note that a full exploration of the area takes at least half a day, but the ferry ride alone makes the visit worthwhile for most tourists.
There are a few cafés and restaurants in Suomenlinna, providing opportunities for refueling.
From the Market Square, walk to the corner of Eteläesplanadi and Eteläranta. Take the tram 3T and rest your feet for a while. Step out of the tram the Kamppi tram stop, located at the Fredrikinkatu street. Follow Fredrikinkatu, Urho Kekkosen katu, Annankatu and Yrjönkatu to the Hotel Torni, located at the point where Yrjönkatu makes two 90 degree turns close to eachother. The route appears complex, but the distance is only about four city blocks. From the lobby of the Hotel Torni, take lift to the topmost floor. From there, climb to the rooftop bar along the steep, narrow staircase. At the bar you can enjoy a very expensive drink, but you are also paying for an unparalled view of the city. From the hotel, you can reach the Central Railway Station by following the route Yrjönkatu - Simokatu - Kaivokatu. If you have time, you may want to do some shopping in the Kamppi Centre shopping mall (Kampin Keskus), located between Urho Kekkosen katu and Salomonkatu.
Lunch and snack opportunities during this part of the itenary are provided by the food courts in the Kamppi Centre and the small ethnic restaurants along Annankatu.
Those wishing a more relaxed visit might consider skipping the last third of the itinerary.
If you really wish to squeeze in as much as possible to a short time frame, you might wish to take the tram 3T a bit further to the stop Kauppakorkeakoulut, along the Arkadiankatu street. From there, you can follow the route Arkadiankatu - Fredrikinkatu - Lutheringkatu - Temppelikatu to the Church in the Rock (Temppeliaukion kirkko), renowned for the stark architecture incorporating the very rock in which the church is built. Despite the route which appears complex, the church is actually just a block or two from the tram stop.
The Suomenlinna fortress might not be worth visiting if the weather is bad. In that case you might consider some of the following options: