Helsinki travel guide

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Introduction to Helsinki

Welcome to Helsinki, the capital city of Finland. Nestled on the shores of the Baltic Sea, Helsinki boasts a stunning coastal location that enhances its unique Nordic charm.

Known for its beautiful blend of modernity and rich traditions, Helsinki offers unforgettable experiences for every traveler. Exploring the historic Suomenlinna fortress, relaxing at the iconic Löyly sauna, and savoring a bowl of traditional lohikeitto (salmon soup) are only a few of the many fun things to do in Helsinki. Families with kids will love Linnanmaki theme park; it’s the perfect place to spend a summer day in Helsinki. For upcoming local events, we recommend checking the official website of Helsinki.

Some would say Helsinki's appeal lies in its unique combination of serene natural landscapes and cutting-edge urban design. As you wander through the city, you'll discover a harmonious mix of neoclassical architecture, contemporary art, and innovative design that reflects Finland's progressive spirit. Helsinki's atmosphere is both relaxed and invigorating, making it an ideal destination for visitors of all ages.

History of Helsinki

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, boasts a rich history steeped in cultural significance. Established as a trading town in 1550 by King Gustav I of Sweden, it originally served to rival the Hanseatic city of Reval (now Tallinn).

Despite its strategic location, Helsinki remained a small, quiet town until it was declared the new capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812. This change was enforced by Tsar Alexander I of Russia, with the vision of making Helsinki a symbol of harmony between Western and Eastern culture.

The city's modern design is largely influenced by Classicism and the Empire style, most visible in the architectural splendor of Senate Square. The 20th century saw the introduction of Functionalism and Modernism, shaping the city's diverse architectural landscape.

Today, Helsinki is a vibrant city, a cultural hub that beautifully encapsulates its rich past while embracing the future. Its history is palpably present in its architecture, culture, and people, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts.

Top services in Helsinki

On this page, you'll find all the top travel services in Helsinki, Finland. Enjoy the convenience of planning and booking every detail of your trip to Helsinki, including flights, accommodations, activities, and more, in one place.

Discover the cheapest and most popular flights offered by a variety of airlines that fly to Finland. Check out the best things to do in Helsinki by browsing over 321 top-rated tours available to you in the city. Compare the rates and services of the stays and 7 car rental companies offering CDW insurance coverage.

Experience the best of Helsinki with an expertly curated and fully customizable itinerary. Get answers to questions about the routes and services offered in Helsinki from our free 24/7 customer support. We make it easy for you to find and book every detail of your trip to Helsinki with this travel guide.

Continue reading this Helsinki travel guide to learn how you can enjoy a stress-free and memorable vacation in the city of Helsinki!

Best time to visit Helsinki

The best time to explore Helsinki, Finland's charming capital, is during the summer months of June to August. During this period, the city experiences long daylight hours, with temperatures averaging around 20°C, offering ideal conditions for sightseeing and outdoor activities. The Midsummer Festival in June, a unique celebration of the longest day of the year, is a highlight. If you prefer a less crowded time, consider visiting in late spring (May) or early autumn (September), when the weather remains pleasant, albeit cooler. For winter enthusiasts, a visit between December and February provides a magical snowy landscape, perfect for winter sports and the chance to experience the enchanting Christmas markets. However, daylight is limited in winter, often only a few hours a day. Regardless of the season, be aware that the weather in Helsinki can be unpredictable, so packing layers is always a good idea.

Weather in Helsinki

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, experiences a subarctic climate with cold, snowy winters and mild, relatively short summers. Winter, which spans from November to March, sees average temperatures ranging from -5°C to -10°C. Heavy snowfall is typical, and daylight hours are significantly reduced. The city also experiences 'kaamos,' a period of polar night when the sun barely rises above the horizon.

Summer, occurring from June to August, is mild with temperatures averaging between 15°C and 25°C. During this period, Helsinki enjoys the 'midnight sun' phenomenon, where the sun is visible for nearly 24 hours a day. Autumn, from September to October, and spring, from April to May, are transitional seasons with variable weather conditions.

Notably, Helsinki's climate can change quickly, so it's advisable for travelers to pack clothing for all weather conditions. Also, the city's cold, dry air can lead to skin dehydration, so bringing moisturizing products is recommended.

Local tip for visiting Helsinki

One insider tip that significantly enhances your Helsinki travel experience involves tapping into the city's vibrant nightlife. Unlike most cities where bars and clubs close early, Helsinki's nightlife is quite the opposite, with some local bars in Kallio district keeping their doors open until 4 AM. However, here's the catch - some of the best local bars and clubs are hidden in plain sight. They don't advertise, and there are no grand neon signs directing you to them. Locals recommend asking around or keeping an eye out for small gatherings outside nondescript doors. This element of unexpected discovery adds an exciting twist to your night out in Helsinki. Also, remember that in Finland, it's customary to remove your coat at the entrance and leave it in the coatroom. So, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to do so—it's just part of the local culture. This insider tip is sure to give you an authentic taste of the city's energetic and unique nightlife scene.

Learn more about Finland

With destinations such as Helsinki, a trip to Finland needs no further explanation. Spanning over 338,145 square kilometers, Finland is an expansive playground of discovery, offering a wealth of diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and captivating experiences awaiting exploration. From bustling metropolises to historic towns and modern urban hubs, Finland has something to enchant every traveler.

In Helsinki alone, travelers are spoiled for choice with an array of experiences and world-famous attractions such as Free Walking Tours Helsinki, Suomenlinna, and Senate Square. Thus, a trip to Finland becomes essential. Whether you're drawn to historical sites, natural wonders, or vibrant cultural experiences, Finland offers an abundance of treasures waiting to be discovered.

There's so much to explore and uncover in Finland. Click or tap the link below to discover more about Finland and its offers.

What to see in Helsinki

Photo of Helsinki Cathedral over city center in spring.

Expect an exhilarating journey through Helsinki, a haven brimming with attractions to suit every traveler’s taste. From historical landmarks to natural wonders, and delectable cuisine, Helsinki offers an abundance of experiences waiting to be discovered. Dive into this ultimate Helsinki travel guide to uncover must-visit spots and get the scoop on what makes the city so special.

Top attractions in Helsinki

With its blend of traditional and modern culture, Helsinki is more than just a wonderful city in Finland. It's a hub for diverse experiences, boasting top attractions that range from historical landmarks to modern marvels, offering a glimpse into Finland's rich heritage and innovative spirit.

One popular place to visit in Helsinki is the unforgettable Free Walking Tours Helsinki. Considered one of the most well-known attractions in the city, a visit to this spectacular travel destination is something you shouldn't miss on your trip to Helsinki. This remarkable attraction is located at Eteläranta, 00170 Helsinki, Finland, and is open for visitors Monday - Sunday, between 08:00-17:00.

For more information about what you can expect during a vacation in Helsinki, check out our list of top attractions below. Discover the best places to visit in Helsinki, including the fascinating Free Walking Tours Helsinki, Suomenlinna, Senate Square, Esplanadi, and Temppeliaukion Church.

Map of attractions

Take a closer look at the city map below for the exact locations of all the top attractions in Helsinki.

Things to do in Helsinki

Photo of Statue of JL Runeberg, the national poet of Finland, at Esplanadi park avenue in Helsinki.

You've explored Helsinki's top attractions and marked them on your map. So now, it's time to delve deeper and discover the top things to do in Helsinki. These activities not only offer excitement and adventure but also provide unique insights into the city's culture and heritage. Take your experience to the next level by checking out the best sights with a knowledgeable guide, embarking on fun adventures unique to Helsinki, or learning more about the city's rich history and traditions.

Discover the most popular tours and experiences in the city below.

Most popular experiences in Helsinki

A visit to Helsinki gets more exciting with memorable experiences. And the city is just perfect for that, with plenty of fun activities. Bus Tours, Half-day Tours, Walking Tours, and more are just some of the options you could explore to fully immerse yourself and make the most of your time.

In this travel guide, we've included some of the best things to do in Helsinki, adding a special touch to your journey in this vibrant city. Explore bustling markets, embark on scenic hikes, sample local delicacies, or immerse yourself in the rich history and heritage of Helsinki. Browse this diverse array of unforgettable experiences Helsinki offers and let your adventures begin!

Top tours & tickets starting in Helsinki

In Helsinki, travelers are spoiled for choice with a dazzling array of 23 categories of top-rated tours and tickets. But among this sea of options, one category reigns supreme: Cultural Tours.

Cultural Tours offer an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Helsinki. For example, the fantastic Private Tour Helsinki Highlights & Medieval Porvoo .

Helsinki also offers plenty of budget-friendly tours and activities that promise travelers a unique experience. This experience costs around 2 EUR.

Elevate your upcoming Helsinki adventure with unforgettable experiences by booking top-rated tours in the city. Uncover the finest tours, activities, and tickets awaiting you in Helsinki right below.


All Experiences in Helsinki

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Search for things to do in Helsinki

Discover the best things to do in Helsinki. Choose from 321 fantastic tours and activities available in the city.

Select your dates and number of travelers in the search bar below to receive the best recommendations for your vacation in Helsinki. Click the green button to view your options and discover a variety of exciting things to do in Helsinki.

What to eat in Helsinki

Helsinki, the vibrant capital of Finland, is a food lover's paradise. Its culinary scene is a tantalizing blend of traditional and modern, presenting a gastronomic journey that will leave you craving for more. The city's food culture is a reflection of its history and surroundings, offering a variety of seafood dishes, reindeer meat, and iconic Finnish pastries. The Market Square is one of the best places to eat in Helsinki, where street food stalls serve seasonal local fare, such as fried vendace and hearty salmon soup. Venture into the bustling neighbourhood of Kallio for a more diverse culinary experience, with its eclectic mix of trendy bistros, ethnic eateries, and classic Finnish bakeries. For a taste of luxury, book a table at one of the high-end restaurants in Eira, such as the Michelin-starred Olo. Don't miss the opportunity to sample traditional dishes like Karelian pie, a rye crust pastry filled with rice porridge, and the Finnish rye bread. As you explore Helsinki's culinary scene, remember to pair your meals with local craft beers or a glass of Finnish gin for an authentic dining experience.

Best shopping in Helsinki

Helsinki, the design capital of Finland, offers a unique shopping experience brimming with high-end fashion, local craftsmanship, and a plethora of souvenirs. The Design District is the best place to go shopping in Helsinki, renowned for its chic boutiques and art galleries. Here, you can find Finnish design items from Marimekko and Iittala, perfect for souvenirs. For a more traditional Finnish shopping experience, head to the Market Square, filled with vendors selling everything from local food to handcrafted items.

The Esplanadi, a grand boulevard lined with luxury brands and Finnish designer stores, is a must-visit for fashion enthusiasts. For an all-in-one shopping experience, visit the Kamppi Centre, a modern shopping mall housing over 150 shops, restaurants, and a bus terminal.

When shopping in Helsinki, remember that tax-free shopping is available for non-EU residents, which can mean significant savings on your purchases. Helsinki's shopping scene is a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, making it a paradise for shoppers.

Best Free Things to Do in Helsinki

Discovering the best free things to do in Helsinki lets you explore the city's unique Nordic charm without breaking the bank. Start your journey at the historical Senate Square, which features the grand Helsinki Cathedral, an iconic symbol of the city. Wander through Market Square, a bustling waterfront market offering a sensory feast of fresh Finnish produce and local handicrafts. Explore the vibrant district of Kallio, renowned for its bohemian atmosphere, vintage stores, and quirky cafes. Delve into nature at Central Park, a verdant oasis stretching over 10 kilometers, perfect for hiking, picnicking, or simply unwinding. Don't miss the Sibelius Monument, a stunning tribute to the famous Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. Lastly, enrich your cultural perspective by visiting Helsinki's numerous free museums on their designated free-entry days, such as the National Museum of Finland or the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. With these free activities, you're sure to enjoy a rich and fulfilling Helsinki experience.

How to get to Helsinki

International travelers can fly to Helsinki by booking flights with Finnair, airBaltic, Norwegian International, Kenya Airways, and Pegasus, offering flights to Helsinki. From the arrival airport, travelers can choose from various public and private transfer options to Helsinki.

For those seeking the best flight ticket deals to Helsinki, knowing the cheapest travel times and which airlines offer the most affordable flights is helpful. Luckily, we provide this information to help you discover the cheapest and most popular flights to Helsinki. Go to this page to compare all flights to Helsinki.

Find cheap flights to Helsinki

Photo of view of a marina in the Kruununhaka district of Helsinki.

Booking budget-friendly flights to Helsinki is a crucial part of planning your trip to the city. This section will guide you through the process, helping you find the best deals for your journey.

Booking in advance is a smart move when traveling to Helsinki. Airlines release their best deals months ahead of departure, so early birds catch the lower fares. Consider flexible travel dates while planning your visit to the city. Mid-week and off-peak seasons often offer more wallet-friendly options.

To help you find cheap flights to Helsinki, you can use the powerful booking widget below. Enter your departure city, choose between round trip or one-way, pick your fare class, select travel dates, and specify the number of travelers. Click "Search" and the widget will do the rest. You'll see a list of flights matching your criteria, making your trip to Helsinki even more convenient.

Fine-tune your search with filters to sort by price, airline, layovers, and more. Once you've found your ideal flight, click "Book" and you'll be redirected to the booking page to complete your reservation. Enter your payment details and receive a confirmation – it's that simple!

Remember to book ahead, stay flexible, and utilize the widget's features to make your journey to Helsinki both affordable and unforgettable.

Popular flights to Helsinki

Travelers visiting Helsinki can easily access the city via Helsinki, offering direct connection to 1396 destinations worldwide. To streamline your travel planning process, explore the most popular flights to Helsinki below. Discover direct routes from major international hubs and convenient connections tailored to suit your travel preferences. Click to delve into the diverse array of flights available to Helsinki and embark on an unforgettable journey.

Car rentals in Helsinki

Photo of panoramic aerial view of Helsinki in a beautiful summer day.

To navigate Helsinki effortlessly, renting a car is an excellent choice. With your own wheels, you can explore every nook and cranny of the destination without relying on public transportation and even venture off the beaten path. On our website, you'll discover a selection of over 7 car rental companies in Helsinki, ready to provide you with the perfect vehicle for your travels.

Automatic cars for rent in Helsinki start at 39 EUR per day or 270 EUR per week. The cheapest automatic rental car is a Volkswagen Polo 1.0 Auto. If you prefer driving a manual car, you'll find multiple options for rent in Helsinki, starting at 36 EUR per day or 252 EUR per week. The cheapest manual rental car is a Volkswagen Up 1.0.

Learn more about the different types of cars you can rent in Helsinki, Finland below.

Popular types of cars for rent in Helsinki

Renting a car in Helsinki is a popular choice among travelers who want to explore the city at their own pace. A wide variety of popular car rentals are available to choose from in Helsinki, ensuring you find the best car for your travel plans.

Check out all the options available and book your car rental in Helsinki for your upcoming adventures in Finland below. All car rentals come with CDW insurance for added protection throughout your trip.

Search for car rentals in Helsinki

Get ready to hit the road and explore the beautiful city of Helsinki. Find the best deals on a variety of popular car rentals in Helsinki, Finland, or any other destination in Europe by using the search tool below.

Enter your pick-up and drop-off location, driver's age, and dates. Click the green button to view your options.

Popular destinations to visit after Helsinki

Photo of multicolored facades of buildings in Helsinki.

The city of Helsinki is just one of the many unique and scenic destinations you can visit in Finland. So if you're itching for another cultural adventure, a relaxing road trip, an action-filled city break, or a memorable weekend getaway, know that Finland has it all.

Each destination in Finland offers something unique to experience! Take the opportunity to visit other captivating places in Finland that are as magical as the city of Helsinki. The most popular travel destinations in Finland are listed below. Click on the name of the place you want to explore next to learn more about it.

All the best destinations in Finland

When unsure about where to go next, use the map below. This map shows the locations of all the best destinations in Finland. Use the map to plan your trip and find the best routes.

Domestic flights from Helsinki

Photo of Assumption Cathedral in Helsinki.

Experience the authentic charm of Finland by expanding your travels beyond the boundaries of Helsinki. Explore other destinations around Finland with a domestic flight. A domestic flight is typically a short-haul flight, with the longest duration not exceeding two hours. To find the best flights from Helsinki to other amazing locations in Finland, add the required details below and select 'Search' to view the best domestic flights in Finland for your chosen dates. You can also jump to the last section of this travel guide to find the most popular domestic flights from Helsinki.

Popular domestic flights from Helsinki

Travelers in Finland can catch flights to domestic airports in Joensuu, Ivalo, Kajaani, Vaasa, and Turku. Domestic flights in Finland are operated by 5 airlines, including Finnair, airBaltic, Norwegian International, SAS, and Transaviabaltika. There are around 22 scheduled flight routes operating to Helsinki on a weekly basis.

From Helsinki, travelers can book scheduled flights to 16 domestic destinations. The most popular flights from Helsinki depart to many top-rated destinations in Finland and are offered by Finnair, airBaltic, and Norwegian International.

Search domestic flights from Helsinki

Traveling to another city or region in Finland? Use the flight search tool below to quickly find the cheapest one-way or round-trip flights from Helsinki to different local destinations.

Enter all the necessary information and click or tap on the Search button to see a list of the available domestic flights in Finland on the selected dates.

Transportation in Helsinki

Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, offers a variety of convenient and efficient modes of transport. The city's public transit system, managed by HSL, includes buses, trams, metro, commuter trains, and even ferries to the offshore islands. HSL's mobile app allows you to plan your journey and buy tickets easily.

For a more private mode of transport, taxis are readily available and can be hailed on the street, booked online, or via a mobile app. If you prefer to drive, numerous car rental agencies are found throughout the city, offering a range of vehicles to suit your needs.

For a unique local experience, consider renting a city bike. Helsinki's extensive bike-sharing program features hundreds of pick-up and drop-off points. Another unique mode of transport is the traditional Finnish water taxi. These offer a scenic way to travel between various points along Helsinki's extensive coastline and archipelago.

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