Helsinki Attractions - Discover Finland's Capital

Helsinki Cathedral

Travel tips for seeing Helsinki sights in one day

How you discover the Helsinki sights on a stopover on a mini-cruise with the ferry, we present you here. We were traveling on one Enjoyment trip by ferry from Tallink Silja from Stockholm via Helsinki to Tallinn and back. We had only planned a one-day stay for Helsinki. A mistake, as we found out. Because the city deserves a longer stay. A few hours is not enough. Since our journey has been through us for several weeks Sweden we just didn't have the time. We wanted to get an impression of the city. The ferry from Stockholm arrives in Finland's capital in the morning. In the afternoon we crossed to Tallinn.

 

Helsinki Card

If you have a day in the city, we recommend buying the City Card *. These are available with a period of validity of 24, 48 or 72 hours. It enables the use of public transport, entry to sights, discounts on dining, shopping and city tours. You can use it to design your visit to Helsinki according to your interests and wishes. Another advantage is that you save the waiting time when buying admission tickets. However, since our stay in the city only lasted a few hours, we decided not to do so and resorted to other offers.

 

 

How to discover Finland's capital best

We did not have much time on ours Mini cruise through the Baltic Sea with the Tallink Silja Lineto see Helsinki. Helsinki in a day is only possible with preparation. It was therefore important to plan our stay. Our ferry out Stockholm reached the port of Helsinki at 09.55:16.30 a.m., punctually according to the schedule. In the afternoon at 80 p.m. our journey to Tallinn, XNUMX kilometers away, was planned on board a ferry with Tallink Silja. What made it a bit tricky was that the ferries use two ports in Helsinki. For us, this meant that we still needed time for the transfer during our stay. This is how we solved the sightseeing tour of Helsinki:

 

Rock Church - a must see among the attractions in Helsinki
Helsinki landmarks - rock church

 

Sightseeing on a city tour of Helsinki

Since it was clear to us that we would only get an impression of Helsinki during this time, we booked one Sightseeing tour*. So we wanted to get an overview of the capital Helsinki. It was clear from the start that we wouldn't see everything in one day. The advantage of this tour is that each passenger gets a headset through which they can hear the explanations of the sights in their own language. A total of 12 languages ​​are offered: Chinese, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and even the Helsinki dialect. The bus was waiting for us right in front of the port terminal, where we still had time to drop off our luggage. At 11.00 a.m. the bus leaves the port for the Helsinki sights.

Experience the Helsinki Old Town on a city tour from the harbor

  • Not far from the harbor start the Hop on / hop off tours * through Helsinki, where you can get on and off at sights along the way. We would do this next time because it offers more opportunities to take a closer look at the attractions.
  • Private tour with guide * through Helsinki. Meet at a square in the city center. Helsinki with a Local - we recommend this if you want to get to know the city with a local.
  • Round trip in the bus * with a stop at the rock church and the Sibelius monument
  • 3 hour excursion in small groups * from the port. The same applies here as for the Helsinki tour by bus and boat - the tour is too long for a short stay on a mini cruise. You don't have time for your own activities.

 

Helsinki Market Square - Helsinki landmarks
Helsinki landmarks - the Market Square with the City Hall in the background

 

Helsinki city tour of the sights in Helsinki

We see the Helsinki old town, the port region, the government palace, the town hall, the parliament, the Finlandia Hall and also the opera house. However, there is not much time left to get out on the way to see the Helsinki sights. There are only two stops we make on this trip. We take a look at the Helsinki rock church and the Sibelius monument. Nevertheless, we reach the city center with a little delay around 12.45:XNUMX p.m. This time, however, the bus driver lets us get off in the city center. The port terminal is no longer on his timetable.

From there it's about a fifteen-minute walk to the port terminal, so we still have time for a walk in the city center and at the port basin. We take a lunch break in one of the harbor cafés between the market square and the market halls. This also gives us the opportunity to watch people stroll through the market or around the harbor basin. If you're looking for other restaurants in the city center, we'll give you tips for one culinary visit from Helsinki near the sights.

There are Helsinki city tours with boat tours that last three hours. But that was too long for us. We wanted to have some time for our own activities. We also had to transport our luggage from one ferry port to another after the tour.

Helsinki City Tour by Boat - This is how you can see the sights of Helsinki from the water

  • Excursions with the boat*. This is an alternative to a city tour by bus, especially when the weather is nice.

 

Side entrance to the market halls of Helsinki - one of the older buildings at the harbor
Helsinki landmarks - side entrance to the market halls

 

Around 15.00 p.m. we make our way to the harbor basin, where we pick up our luggage. We have to wait for the taxi in front of the port building because at this time there are not always some in front of the building. But there is one in time that will bring us to the West Harbor (approx. 10 minutes drive), where our ferry to Tallinn will eventually leave.

So that you have more opportunity to see the city in detail, we recommend an overnight stay or two in Helsinki. Here you can find hotels near the port.

Helsinki center hotels

  • The Scandic Grand Marina Hotel * is located at the harbor basin where the ferries from Stockholm dock. Scandic hotels are common in Scandinavia. We stayed in Stockholm in two of them.
  • The Radisson Blu Aleksanteri Hotel * conveniently located for walking to all of the city's attractions. Radisson Blu Hotels offer comfort.
  • A hostel in the center is The Yard Concept Hostel *. There are single to multi-bed rooms. However, everyone uses a shared bathroom - not our thing. However, it offers accommodation that does not cost a lot.
  • If you are looking for inexpensive accommodation in the city, we recommend this one Hostels.
  • Find more Hotels in the city center * here.

 

 

 

Attractions in the city center - the old market halls of Helsinki
Helsinki landmarks - the old market halls

 

How do you pack for a short stay in Helsinki?

If you only make a half-day stopover in the capital Helsinki and continue to Tallinn on the same day, then you can temporarily store your large luggage at the port. This belongs in your day luggage:

  • It's best to take one City backpack with the things you need during the day.
  • Do not forget yours Camera, There is a lot to photograph on this day.
  • Practical is also one rain jacketif it rains on the way, as it was the case with us. Then you save yourself wearing the umbrella and can take pictures in spite of rain.

 

Which sights in Helsinki are within walking distance?

If you don't want to take a city tour or a boat tour through Helsinki, then these are the Helsinki sights that you can easily reach on foot from the port:

  • The cathedral
  • The Senate Square
  • The Uspensky Cathedral
  • The harbor
  • The market
  • The Tori Quarters
  • The Esplanade Park

All others - except Suomenlinna - are a bit further from the harbor. Although they are within walking distance, it takes more time to get there.

 

 

Helsinki sightseeing for 1 day

Helsinki Cathedral

Nobody can get past it - Helsinki Cathedral. You can already see its dome when you enter the port by ship. Of the Dom in the Union Gatan 29 is just a stroll from the port. With its portico and domes, it looks impressive when you look up at it from Senate Square. However, the interior of the cathedral is kept simple. In summer, the steps that lead up to the cathedral are a popular meeting point. Many spend their lunchtime with a snack or a book in the sun below Helsinki Cathedral.

Address: Unioninkatu 29, 00170 Helsinki
Opening hours: 9: 00-18: 00, June-August - midnight
You can visit the tower using a virtual reality headset (for a fee).

 

The Senate Square of Helsinki
Helsinki Sightseeing - The Senate Square in Helsinki © Andreas Hobi, Flickr

 

The Senate Square at the cathedral

The Senate Square is located directly below the cathedral. In the center there is a statue of Alexander II. The square is very large. Administration buildings are grouped around him. On one side of the square is that University Museum. Its permanent exhibition “The Power of Thought” deals with the history of science, teaching and the university.

Restaurants on the Senate Square in Helsinki - perfect for a lunch break

You will also find restaurants such as Restaurant Sunn or Restaurant Savotta here. Café Engel is located between the two. This means that the Senate Square is also a place for a lunch break.

The Uspensky Cathedral in Helsinki
Helsinki Sightseeing - Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki © Antonio Caiazzo, Flickr

 

The Uspensky Cathedral

More impressive than the cathedral interior, however, is the interior of the Uspensky Cathedral. The church is built in the style of Russia and Byzantium. It originated as a symbol of the Russian rule over Finland. It was inaugurated in 1868.

Address: Kanavakatu 1, 00160 Helsinki, Finland

Restaurants near the Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki

There are also places to eat near the cathedral. The restaurants Ravintola Nokka or Shelter and the coffee roaster Johan & Nyström. If you want to eat Russian, you can do it in the Bellevue restaurant, which is located at 3 Rahapajankatu Street.

 

The port of Helsinki © Cha Già José, Flickr
Helsinki Sightseeing - The Port of Helsinki © Cha Già José, Flickr

 

Helsinki harbor - what is there to see

From the Uspenski Cathedral, it takes only minutes to get back to the harbor. A walk around the harbor basin brings you to the market of Helsinki.

Helsinki market - try the specialties of Finland

There is the market with stalls and sidewalk cafes along the harbor promenade. The market is open for street food and snacks sold at the market stalls. If the weather does not play along, you can visit the market halls instead.

Address: Eteläranta, 00170 Helsinki, Finland

The Tori Quarters - Where Helsinki residents go out

On the other side of the harbor you will reach the city center in the old part of Helsinki. Here the Finns go out. Restaurants, bars and cafes, shops, Helsinki City Museum, City Hall and courtyards with terraces are waiting to be explored.

 

 

In Esplanade Park © Dan Lundberg, Flickr
Helsinki Sightseeing - In Esplanade Park © Dan lundberg, Flickr

 

The Esplanade Park - perfect for a walk from the harbor of Helsinki

This park, which runs between boulevards, is just a few steps away. This is where the people of Helsinki meet after work. On midsummer there are dance events or jazz concerts.

Restaurants around Esplanade Park near Helsinki Harbor

There are places to eat in and around Esplanade Park. The Kappeli café-restaurant, which has been welcoming guests for more than 150 years, is located in the park. Japanese cuisine is available at Kita Esplanadi on Eteläesplanadi Street. These restaurants are located near the park. The Pompier Espa serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 13 p.m. and an a la carte menu from 17 p.m. If you are looking for a place to eat, then you should make a note of the Savoy. You can eat Italian next door at Presto. Asian cuisine is available at Ravintola.

You will also find restaurants along the Pohjoisesplanadi. There is the Esplanad café. The Strindberg offers a café, a restaurant (1st floor) and a bar. Are you hungry for afternoon tea? Then make a note of the Kämp Brasserie. Or do you want to try Finland's cuisine? You can find them in the Ravintola Aino.

 

The rock church © Flöten, Flickr
The rock church © flöschen, Flickr

 

The rock church - one of the highlights of Helsinki

The rock church is exceptional. It is also one of the main attractions of Helsinki. This church is built into the granite rock. Such cave churches have existed in Finland since the Middle Ages. This church was completed in 1969. It costs entry.

Address: Rock church, Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

Restaurants at the Felsenkirche - No big choice

There are hardly any places to eat near the rock church. Only the Café Cafetoria on Runeberginkatu Street is near the church. There are better ways you can spend your time during a day stay in Helsinki.

The Sibelius Monument - one of the Helsinki landmarks outside the city center

Outside the city center is the monument that commemorates the composer Jean Sibelius. He is one of Finland's composers. His Finlandia as well as the Karelia Suite and the Valse Triste are best known. He composed a total of seven symphonies. The monument is located in the Töölo district, just steps from the sea.

Address: Sibelius monument, Sibeliuksen puisto, Mechelininkatu, 00250 Helsinki, Finland

Restaurants at the Sibelius Monument - You Eat Better Near Helsinki Sightseeing in the Old Town

There are no places to eat near the Sibelius Monument either. The Café Regatta on the beach is ideal here. The food scene in Helsinki is more varied.

 

Suomenlinna, the fortress of Sweden © Timo Newton-Syms, Flickr
Suomenlinna, the fortress Sweden © Timo Newton-Syms, Flickr

 

By boat to Suomenlinna, the Sweden Castle - Helsinki sights on the island

The Sea Fortress is not in the city itself, but on an island. This can be reached after a ferry ride from the port. You should definitely take your time for the island. There are museums there that are worth visiting. Guided tours are offered. There are also restaurants and cafes on the island where you can spend an afternoon.

Restaurants on Suomenlinna near Helsinki attractions

At Suomenlinna there are restaurants and cafes near the ferry station where the boats that go from the city center dock. The brewery dates back to the Swedes in the city. Beer plays a role in the restaurant. The Bastion Bistro serves pizzas and burgers. Café Vanille has coffee and cake or soups for when you're hungry.

 

 

With the exception of the Rock Church, the Sibelius Monument and the island of Suomenlinna, you can explore all Helsinki sights on foot during a short stay. Admittedly, we cannot say that we know Helsinki. You need more time for that. But we knew that beforehand. We got an impression of the Helsinki sights, of the capital of Finland, its government buildings, the city center and the residential areas on this tour. It made us curious about more. Maybe Finland will be back on our itinerary soon. Who knows?

 

Travel ideas for Finland

 

 

 

Helsinki tips
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Slow Travel Tips you find here. discover Cities Tips for Slow Travelers.

Source for Helsinki sights in 1 day: research on site. We thank the Tallink Silja Line for inviting us to this mini cruise. However, our opinion remains our own.

 

Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and see caption

Helsinki Attractions - Discover Finland's Capital

6 thoughts too "Helsinki Attractions - Discover Finland's Capital"

    1. Hello Eve,

      It was not perfect, but we were happy with the weather in Helsinki. It is a manageable city for the capital of Finland. We liked that nature is so close.

      Greetings,
      Monika

  1. Half a day would probably not be enough for me in a city, even if you have solved this challenge well. I'll look at Helsinki next year, then plan on 2 days. I always need enough time to have breakfast in a nice cafe in the morning and find a great Aussicbt, then makes me such a city trip happy :)

    1. Dear Nicole,

      basically I agree with you. We are usually Slow Travelers who spend a lot of time exploring a city or region. Here it was not different. And I am sure that there are also many people who do not stay in Helsinki on such a mini-cruise through the Baltic Sea, but continue on to Tallinn, as we did. On this trip we were already more than three weeks on the way, so the time was not enough for a longer stay.

      Best regards,
      Monika

  2. A nice summary of the main sights of Helsinki. I especially liked the Uspensky cathedrals and the market halls back then. The rock church unfortunately passed me by. It looks interesting.

    Best regards,
    Ricarda

    1. Dear Ricarda,

      the rock church is just outside the city center. We got on the city tour. This is a very unusual church, built directly in the rocks.

      Best regards,
      Monika

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