06 Dec An honest guide to Helsinki
Travel to Helsinki!
So, what is there to see in Helsinki?
When we took the spontaneous decision to visit Lapland and decided to spend two nights in the capital of Finland, we started our research. This is an honest guide to Helsinki, so we will not hide the fact that we didn’t know many things about the city before our visit. So, though our travel-research we read the good, the bad and the “must do,” and in the end, we just went! We can now answer with confidence that Helsinki has things to see and do. So let’s go!
Visit the most bizarre churches ever!
We will start this guide to Helsinki with one of the most exciting activities…church hopping! No, we have not begun religious tourism yet. The truth is that in Helsinki we found very unique churches. After all, Finnish architecture is famous! Our favorite one was the Temppeliaukion Church, also known as the Rock Church. It is a Lutheran church, which was built in the 1960s on a rock and is truly impressive.
Extra info: The entrance fee is only 3 euros (for Helsinki is an excellent price) and the opening hours vary depending on the season, so it is good to check it before you go. If you have purchased the Helsinki Card, you have free entrance to the church.
Another very interesting chapel), which could not be missed from a guide to Helsinki, is the Kampii Chapel, also known as the “Chapel of Silence.” Its architecture is extraordinary as it looks like a big wooden egg! Inside is minimalistic as it has only wooden seats and a cross. The name “chapel of silence” has arisen from the fact that it was built with the philosophy to be a point of peace and meditation in a very lively and crowded area in the city.
Extra info: The entrance is free of charge, and no photos are allowed in the room.
Beyond the extraordinary churches, there are also those with classic beauty and architecture such as Helsinki Cathedral and Uspenski Cathedral, which are very close to the prison hotel we stayed. The Uspenski Cathedral is the largest Orthodox Church in Western Europe and has clear influences from the Russian architecture, especially its impressive domes! The Helsinki Cathedral also has a Russian mark, since it was built in honor of the Dukes of Finland, Tsar Nicholas the first. Helsinki, as you imagine has other things too, beyond churches, so keep reading!
Walk to Sibelius Park and visit the homonymous monument.
If anything, Helsinki is ideal for walking. Although the temperature was minus 5 in late November, we managed to cover the city on foot! A lovely area of the town is Sibelius Park. The truth is that we went there to see the Sibelius Monument. A monument devoted to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius which is made with 600 tubes united like a “wave”. Since this is an honest guide to Helsinki, we will tell you that the monument was nice but not as impressive as we expected. The walk back to the park was delightful as it was sunset time and the sky offered us beautiful colors that reflected in the sea. In the park, there is a charming and popular café, Regata! It had tables outside, in a very idyllic scenery by the sea, and a fire to warm up for the lucky ones who got to sit at that table.
A taste of local delicacies at the Old Market Hall.
Helsinki is a quite expensive destination (Finland in general). However, there are many ways to save money, like food. Helsinki has plenty of fine restaurants with stunning Finnish cuisine. However, the cost for such a dinner will hardly cost you less than € 50 per person. So if you do not want to spend this amount but want to taste local cuisine, you can visit the Old Market Hall. There you will find “kiosks” with unique dishes such as salmon in any version you can imagine, reindeer, deer even bear … We got two huge soups with 10 euros each!
Extra info: The Market has been operating since 1889, and the fact that it is closed makes the visit more enjoyable during the winter months. It is open from 8.00am to 18.00pm.
Wandering at the Market Square (Kauppatori).
One of the city’s most central squares that could not be missed from this guide to Helsinki is Market Square! Another interesting area that is just a stone’s throw away from the Hotel Katajanokka that we stayed. While you wander, you can smell the Baltic Sea, enjoy the open-air markets (we had the chance to see the Christmas Market!) and watch the Finns swimming in” Allas sea pool” before relaxing in the sauna! Helsinki’s SkyWeel completes the whole scenery. A large wheel which is offering panoramic city views.
Other “worth to visit” areas in the city.
If you have more than two days, you can expand your activities in the city! Another place that has its honor in this guide for Helsinki is Suomenlinna Island. You can take one of the ferries departing from Market Square, and in less than half an hour you are on the island. There is a substantial naval fortress from the 18th century if you prefer something more relaxing visit the Löyly sauna. The Finns have a tradition with the saunas. There are more than 2,000,000 saunas in the country. Löyly is very modern, clean, with luxury elements and ideal for relaxation. There is also a brunch cafe, but it is good to make your reservation before your visit. For those who have children in Helsinki, there is also a leisure park, Linnanmäki.
So Helsinki worth your visit?
Like every single corner of this world, the capital of Finland has its own charm. It is not one of our favorite destinations, but we certainly enjoyed our visit! Keep in mind that Helsinki a place that you need to visit for the experiences and not that much for the sights. Saunas, walks along the Baltic, scenic trams and so much more. You can easily combine your visit with a trip to Lapland, which stole our heart.