Surprisingly few travelers who visit Europe and travel around ever make it all the way to Helsinki Finland – this means that the few people who do are rewarded with less annoying crowds and a warm welcome by the locals.
But while Finland seems difficult getting to, it is actually pretty easy – overnight ferries leave daily from Stockholm, and from Tallinn Helsinki is just a couple of hours away by ferry.
Finland is also considered to be a very safe country, but if you have planned to travel through several European countries it might be wise getting annual travel insurance to be safe no matter where you travel.
If you’re visiting Helsinki for the first time, a guided tour may be the best way to start. In fact, people usually include a guided tour on any Europe travel plan because it is the fastest and easiest way to see all the important sites very quickly.
After a tour around the city, you can then go back and discover more about the parts that appealed to you, or simply wander around exploring the back streets and corner cafes. It’s always nice to feel that you have seen the main sights, and get some time to just take in the city and atmosphere as a whole.
Helsinki boasts many historical buildings – the Presidential Palace and Parliament building are just two places that are well worth seeing. Finlandia Hall and the Opera House are also nice buildings to check out. Finlandia Hall is the main concert and congress venue and it was built by Alvar Aalto.
Alvar Aalto had a very important role to Helsinki’s architecture, and has designed many of the modernistic buildings that impress visitors to this day. Another wonderful building that must be viewed is the Church in a Rock (or Temppeliaukio Church). This was actually hewn out of solid rock and is one of the foremost attractions in Helsinki.
Although a little controversial in its design, visitors and locals alike have now come to love the building. Try to visit when there is a concert planned here to listen to astounding acoustics!
To experience what life in Finland used to be like, a visit to Seurasaari Island is a must. Eighty seven buildings form an open air museum where guides, dressed in traditional 18th and 19th century costumes show visitors around. See spinning, embroidery and troll making activities and buy some old fashioned treats before leaving the place.
You don’t need to take a guided tour around here though, simply enjoying the island and the fresh breeze from the water with an ice cream in hand is a great way to make the most of this beautiful place.
The island is also a popular place to go for picnic, so go to the market hall or the open market on the square and buy some local delicacies like local berries and Finnish pastries, before taking the short ferry ride to the island.
(photo credit: 1)