25 Things to Do in Helsinki + Hidden Gems: by a Local!

people going up the stairs to a white church

Are you visiting Helsinki, the stunning Finnish capital, and looking for ways to spend your time? I am lucky enough to call this city my home, so I have gathered for you 26 exciting things to do in Helsinki! The activities range from visiting unique churches and taking ferries to historical fortresses, cute coffee shops, and astonishing museums!

I am so excited to share with you all the amazing spots in the city! I know you’ll have a wonderful time experiencing the city just like a local would!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Want to jump straight into action? Here you have the top 3 tours in Helsinki if you need a quick plan when you visit Finland! Remember: book in advance!

HACK: Want to travel around the city and get into museums and attractions hassle-free? With this Helsinki Card Region you can get into all of Helsinki’s museums and use public transport, and you’ll only pay as little as €60! There are even cool discounts in some shops and restaurants!

Get Your Helsinki Card Region

1. Explore the historic Suomenlinna Sea Fortress

A fort on an island in the middle of a body of water.

Without a doubt, sailing to the serene Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is a must on your Helsinki trip! Suomenlinna is one of the most beautiful Islands surrounded by the Baltic Sea, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with history. It is also a beautiful natural green space full of walking trails, cute cafés, and stunning scenic sights!

On your visit to the Suomenlinna Museum, learn about the history of the fortress from the Swedish Era through the Russian Empire to the present day!

A group of people standing on a rocky cliff overlooking the ocean.

There are 2 ways you can visit Suomenlinna:

  • Take the HSL public transport ferry ride, which costs €3.10/person (learn how to buy here), and explore the island. The museum itself costs €8 for adults, €4 for kids.
  • You can take a ferry ride by an authorized guide from Helsinki to Suomenlinna, who will tour the island with you and teach you everything about this little corner of the Helsinki Peninsula on a guided tour!

If you visit during the summer, you can pack your swimsuit and a nice picnic basket and have a lovely Finnish summer day!

TOUR PRICE: €25 per person

Join a guided tour

2. Visit the iconic Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square

a large white building with columns and a dome on top

Suppose you want to admire the architecture of Helsinki Cathedral or attend vibrant events at Senate Square. In that case, this is another must-stop in Finland’s capital and one of the most iconic landmarks in Helsinki. If you are traveling during the wintertime, there is nothing nicer than seeing the entire street covered in white snow and visiting the Christmas market in Senate Square with the Helsinki Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko) in the back while warming up with some alcohol-free glögi.

If you visit during the summer, you will love having a coffee at the cathedral’s terrace or simply sitting by its steps while you watch life go by.

When here, you can also join a small-group walking tour of the city center, which starts at Senate Square and goes around important historical landmarks filling you in on some juicy details along the way.

If you decide to visit on your own, the admission to the cathedral is €5 per person, but sometimes it hosts free concerts, so check the official website before visiting!

PRICE TOUR: €50 per person

Book your walking tour

3. Relax in the tranquility of Esplanade Park

people sitting on a bench in a park

Is there anything nicer than walking through Esplanade Park on a Sunday morning? It is just perfect! The area is super nice and central, and you can see a lot of historical buildings and Finnish architecture while walking around the park.

At the end of the park, you can find Kauppatori, the central market square, the City Hall, and Uspenski Cathedral can be seen from here, so you better have your camera ready for some amazing pictures of the views!

If you wish, you can buy ice cream at any of the little stands you can find around the park or sit on the terraces of the fancy cafés in the area. Whatever you choose, the peaceful atmosphere and beautiful scenery will captivate you!

4. Discover contemporary art at Kiasma Museum

a building next to trees

Kiasma Museum is such an amazing and cool Finnish museum of contemporary art, and it is part of the Finnish National Gallery together with other museums such as the Ateneum Museum and Amos Anderson Museum (find the complete list of Helsinki museums here).

Kiasma Museum is the perfect place to see amazing Finnish and Nordic Art through guided tours to enhance your experience and changing exhibitions.

The museum’s building is stunning, designed by the American architect Steven Holl. There is a lovely café and a gift shop at the museum so that you can end your visit with a treat and a souvenir! This museum is located only a 5-minute walk away from the central train station.

If you still haven’t decided where to stay in the city of Helsinki, know that this area is one of the best ones. See the full rundown in our related post on the best areas and hotels in Helsinki.

PRICE: €20 per person

5. Experience the bustling Market Square and waterfront

waterfront with buildings in the background

Here’s a plan: take a mini food tour in Kauppatori, wander along the bustling Market Square, and then experience the local flavors at Old Market Hall.

Did you know Finnish strawberries taste different? During the summer, strawberries have a lot of soft sunlight due to the long summer days, giving berries a unique flavor!

If you are looking forward to trying Finnish foods and fresh produce during the summertime, Central Market Square has the juiciest and sweetest strawberries in the summer! Nothing better than having a sweet treat with the waterfront on one side and the City Town Hall on the other!

A long line of wooden tables and chairs in a market.

Conversely, the Old Market Hall, which is steps away from the Market Square, has the best international and Finnish food, including traditional Salmon soup. You can explore it by yourself, but I suggest joining a food tour with a local guide who will point out all the best places to eat and the most delicious food to try.

P.S. Don’t forget to buy a souvenir before leaving the market!

TOUR PRICE: €130 per person

Book your city and food tour

6. Delve into history at the National Museum of Finland

A large building with a tower on it.

The National Museum of Finland (€16) is the perfect place to learn about Finland’s history and heritage. It features artifacts from the Stone Age to the present day, making it the place to learn about the different traditions and customs of the country.

If you are interested in learning about Finnish culture, I recommend exploring its counterpart – Seurasaari Open-Air Museum (fee €10/person). This museum is located on Seurasaari Island, and it is a great chance to be part of traditional events or activities. If you travel during the summer, you can delight in the celebrations of the Midsummer Festival and see the bonfire dances!

To see the city’s main attractions and Seurasaari Island without worrying about transport and learning surprising historical facts along the way, this city and Seurasaari tour has your back! 

TOUR PRICE: €190 per person

Book your city & Seurasaari tour

7. Delight in beach activities at Hietaniemi

A group of people sitting on the beach at a concert

If I mention Helsinki, Finland, probably, most people would probably think about the winter time and the snowy paradise this country is during that time, but what if I told you there is a beach in the middle of the city, where you can swim and lay in the sand under the sun. Crazy, right?! But it is real, in the Töölo area, in Hietaniemi, you have a beautiful beach you can visit 24/7!

There is a nice café in the area and public bathrooms in case you need to change your swimming suit! If you are into sports, there are a few tennis and volleyball courts! Pack a nice picnic and enjoy the summer in Hietaniemen Ranta!

8. Sip coffee in trendy Kallio cafés

What can I say about Kallio? It is definitely one of the city’s most fun and youthful areas, with many restaurants, cafés, and vibrant nightlife! It is trendy, artsy, and cool!

The perfect day in this neighborhood? Wake up and have a coffee and a donut in Round Kallio Café, then go for a walk around Kaisaniemenlahti, and buy vintage clothes and decorations at the many second-hand shops you can find in Hakaniemi. At the end of the day, have a nice meal, and go to any of the bars in Vaasankatu!

9. Learn new things at Helsinki City Museum

The building where the museum is located.

This is definitely one of my favorite museums in the city, and every time my friends come to visit me in the city, I take them to this museum. It is located near the Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square, only a 2-minute walk away. The museum staff is super nice, and there is a nice gift shop and café where you can buy something nice or a treat!

The Helsinki City Museum has amazing exhibitions from local artists, and usually, there is something related to Helsinki and its history, culture, and art. Sometimes they have cool art events and festivals, so check out what’s going on when you visit!

PRICE: free

10. Immerse in nature at Central Park (Keskuspuisto)

A person is riding a bike on a dirt path in a forest.

Wandering around in Finnish nature in Central Park, one of the nicest things about Helsinki, and Finland in general, is its care and connection with forests and nature. This park is around 100 years old, so when you visit, have fun and respect Mother Nature!

This place is perfect for biking, hiking, playing football, and even embracing winter sports at local ice-skating rinks. You will have fun activities to practice in the park during the summer and the wintertime! This park is located only 30 minutes away from Kamppi station, and you can reach it by public transport!

11. Ride a Ferris wheel in Linnanmäki

A ferris wheel in front of a church

Can you believe there is even an amusement park in the middle of the city?! This is the perfect attraction for families with small kids and adults. There are games for all ages, from crazy roller coasters that leave you hanging upside down and crazy wheels that shake you all around to nice carousels and easy games for little kids!

All these Linnanmäki crazy rides will make you hungry, and luckily there are so many food spots at the amusement park selling everything from burgers and ice cream to curries and Italian food. The best thing is that all restaurants have vegan-friendly meals! Whatever you do, don’t miss out on getting bubble tea!

PRICE: €50 per person

Get your tickets

12. Pay a visit to Uspenski Cathedral

A church on top of a hill with people walking in front of it.

Did you know this cathedral is the biggest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe? It also shows Russia’s impact on Finnish history, and the cathedral has fascinating architecture worth visiting! The cathedral is super close to Kauppatori and Market Square, and from it, you can see the Town Hall and other landmarks.

I highly recommend taking this walking tour to see the area’s main historical buildings and understand Finland’s history and how it became the country it is today!

TOUR PRICE: tip-based

Book your walking tour

13. Encounter Finnish wildlife at Nuuksio National Park

A woman in a yellow hat sitting on a rock overlooking a lake.

This stunning national park is filled with wildlife, from flying squirrels to moose, without counting the endless types of birds and all the fauna!

You can go hiking, have a picnic, or camp. It is even possible to go berry and mushroom picking in the park, which is an extraordinary experience!

Nuuksio National Park is located in Espoo, around 1 hour from Helsinki, but you can access it super easy and hassle-free on your own! However, if you want to see the main sites in the national park and learn about the nature and wildlife in the park, this tour guided by a biologist is perfect for you.

TIP: nature enthusiasts should also visit Sipoonkorpi National Park in Vantaa, near Helsinki Airport and 1 hour away from Helsinki Center!

TOUR PRICE: from €56 per person

Book Nuuksio National Park tour

14. Revel in art at the Ateneum Museum

A large building with a lot of advertisements on it.

The Ateneum Museum is great for those who want to see incredible Finnish art dating from the 18th century to Art Nouveau! This museum hosts over 30,000 Finnish national treasures from stunning artists like Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Ellen Thesleff. It is the perfect place to learn and understand Finland’s art development and how history influenced local art! They also feature international artists such as Vincent Van Gogh.

Best way to end a visit to the Ateneum Museum? Pay a visit to their cute coffee shop, sit down, enjoy a sweet treat, and talk about the amazing art you witnessed!

PRICE: €20 per person

15. Experience Löyly, a modern public sauna

A wooden deck with chairs and a view of the ocean.

Are you ready to try the famous Avanto? If you don’t know, Avanto is basically ice dipping after a good sauna session. It is a Finnish sauna culture tradition that is good for your body and mind! Public saunas are very popular in Finland – if there is a body of water, there is probably a sauna nearby!

In Löyly, you can enjoy a traditional Finnish sauna experience in the city. This place offers a wide range of saunas, from the traditional smoke sauna to the once-heated saunas. I recommend you try them all and then dip them in the ice water.

As my Finnish friend says, it will be below -1 degrees, or it will be frozen!

PRICE: €23/person for a 2-hour sauna session

16. Spend time in the city’s botanic gardens

A large glass house in the middle of a garden.

This cute little Botanic Garden in Kaisaniemi (€12) is part of Helsinki University, and it is a little oasis of peace and tranquility where you can indulge and have a wonderful time in nature! It is possible to have a picnic at the botanic garden, but you can also go for a treat at the garden’s café!

In addition, Helsinki Winter Garden (free admission) is super big, it even feels like a garden city! In these greenhouses, you can find different species of plants, from rainforest to Mediterranean, desert, and African plant species! Please note that the entrance here is free, but touching the plants is forbidden.

17. Pay a visit to Oodi, the public library

A building with a large wooden structure.

This library is incredible both on the outside and the inside. It has modern architecture that will make you feel like you are entering a different world! You can borrow books, print documents, or use the meeting rooms. It even has sewing machines in case you want to fix a piece of clothing or get creative with fashion!

Oodi is the perfect place to work, study, or simply have a coffee on the terrace and observe the beautiful scenery. Sometimes, they have book signings of famous authors in the building! The library is located near the main train station, so there are a lot of amazing attractions steps away!

PRICE: free

18. Stroll through the Design District for art and fashion

A cobblestone street lined with brick buildings.

Once in Helsinki, don’t miss going for a stroll and exploring the unique Design District or checking out boutique shops in Punavuori. This fancy area of the city is super cute. Sometimes, it is hard to separate these areas as they are close together and all equally pretty.

While in the area, enjoy seaside views from the Ullanlinna District and visit the beautiful Kaivopuisto Park! This park is perfect for picnics or for reading on relaxing Sundays under the sun! If you visit during Pride, join the event and enjoy the good vibes! 🌈

PRICE: free

19. Experience tranquility in Kamppi Chapel of Silence

A large wooden building with people walking in front of it.

Kamppi Chapel of Silence feels special. It is located in the middle of the city, near the main train station and Amos Rex museum, and was built to create peace and serenity in the middle of a vibrant city. If you’re looking for these, you should pay a visit to this beautiful wooden church with unique architecture!

PRICE: free

20. Take a look at Helsinki Olympic Stadium

An aerial view of a soccer stadium in finland.

Did you know that the Helsinki Olympic Stadium is the biggest stadium in the whole of Finland? It was built in 1938, and the Olympic Games 1952 were held here. Today, it hosts sports events and concerts! The surrounding area is picturesque and perfect for cycling through scenic city routes.

If you wish to see the stadium from up high, you can visit the Olympic Stadium Tower and admire the city and the Stadium in all its splendor!

PRICE: €7 per person

21. Attend a concert at Temppeliaukion Church

The interior of a church with benches and a rock wall.

Temppeliaukion Church is another extraordinary church in Helsinki, completed in 1969. What’s special about it is that it was excavated in solid rock! I highly recommend a visit, particularly when there is a concert happening!

PRICE: €5 per person

Get your skip-the-line ticket

22. Dive into Finnish design at the Design Museum

A large red brick building with parked cars in front of it

The Design Museum is the perfect place to understand and see the evolution of delicate and stunning Finnish design and the different identities that define society and its representation. In the exhibitions, you can find cell phones, graphic design, ceramics, furniture, and clothing items.

PRO TIP: if you love design, you should participate in Helsinki’s Design Week, which hosts many Nordic artists and their pieces and events, talks, and exhibitions around design! See the official website for the dates and tickets.

PRICE: €15 per person 

23. Cruise to neighboring islands

A woman looking out of a ferry on a cloudy day.

My favorite thing about the city is all the beautiful islands of Helsinki’s archipelago. How amazing is it to have easy access to all this stunning natural scenery? You can stop to photograph urban nature at Lammassaari Island, which means sheep island, and yes, there are sheep there!

You can also visit Mustikkamaa (Blueberry Island), have a nice walk, and relax on the beach! Just a few minutes walk from Mustikkamaa, you can engage with wildlife at Korkeasaari Zoo and visit the tropical houses.

If you want to see more of all the islands in Helsinki, I recommend taking a ferry ride around the archipelago to learn about the islands!

TOUR PRICE: from €26 per person

Book Archipelago ferry ride

24. Attend a concert at Sibelius Monument

A large statue of a tree made of metal.

Located in Töölo, you can find the most beautiful green area, Sibelius Park, which holds the stunning silver monument of Sibelius, one of the most important figures and composers in Finland. Visit the park, and admire the monument celebrating his music. Sometimes there are concerts happening in the park, but if not, it is still a beautiful place to relax under the sun!

25. Take the kids to Sea Life Aquarium

A large aquarium with a lot of fish in it.

If you have little kids and want them to see something special that will remember their whole life, pay a visit to SEA LIFE Aquarium. It has around 50 aquariums and 100 species of marine life to learn about and observe! This Aquarium also aims to educate visitors about the environment, what is threatening the seas, and how to protect biodiversity!

PRICE: €20 for adults, €16 for kids

Get your aquarium ticket

🏛️ Best museum:Kiasma Museum
🛥️ Top paid attraction:Suomenlinna Tour and Ferry Ride
🚶🏽‍♂️ Best free activity:Esplanadi Park
👧 Best attraction for kids:Linnanmäki
🥟 Must-try food:Korvapuusti

FAQs about things to do in Helsinki

A statue in the middle of a park at dusk.

🤔 Is Helsinki worth the hype?

Yes, it is worth the hype! You should definitely visit Helsinki, it is one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Europe and has so much to offer, from history and culture, to stunning nature!

🇫🇮 What is special about Helsinki?

Helsinki is filled with stunning nature, a rich history, and amazing art. It almost feels like Helsinki is Europe’s hidden gem! I recommend this history walking tour of the city to find out all it has to offer.

📆 How many days should I spend in Helsinki?

I recommend you stay at least 4 days, so you can properly visit all the islands and museums, which are simply fabulous.

🎨 What are the best museums in Helsinki?

One of my favorite museums is the Kiasma Museum, but you can see all of them in our guide to the best museums in Helsinki.

Conclusion

A woman is standing in front of a church at night.

That is a wrap for today, my friends! Those were the top things to do in Helsinki! It is amazing to see the wide range of activities and events it offers, regardless of whether you visit in the summer or winter!

Have you ever been to Helsinki? Which of these attractions has caught your eye? Let me know in the comments, and if you are taking the tours, remember to book in advance to save yourself a spot!

Until the next one,

Daniela


Pin it for later!

collage of 2 images with a church with a statue in front of it and a fort by the sea

Pin it for later!

church with a statue in front of it

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on this page might be affiliate links, which means that at absolutely no extra cost for you we will earn a small commission for a sale generated through the website. We only recommend the things we actually use ourselves and never accept useless sponsored crap. Thank you so much for supporting this project!

4 Comments

  1. Markdsw 26.06.2020 at 16:51
  2. Emma 03.04.2018 at 19:25
  3. Linda 30.12.2017 at 23:21
  4. Caroline 19.09.2017 at 00:50

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow @misstourist on Instagram!