The must sees when coming to Helsinki!
Helsinki is a city that offers so much to its visitors, you can always find something spectacular; vast urban nature, neverending national parks, best examples of design and architecture, more than 80 museums, libraries of the future, public saunas, splendid festivals, and all of these connected with one of the safest and best public transportation systems in the world.
Even if you have one day, you can still make the best of it with a carefully designed private tour. Below are some of the must-sees and must-dos of Helsinki in one day.
The Senate Square – Helsinki Cathedral
I always suggest my guests to start their day around the Senate Square, the beautiful neoclassical old city centre surrounded by governmental and public buildings. Here, you should definitely visit the Helsinki Cathedral. Built between 1830 and 1852, The Helsinki Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko) is one of the most important landmarks in Helsinki. It is an active Lutheran Cathedral, overlooking The Senate Square. With its green domes and zinc statues of apostles, the cathedral is one of the most photographed buildings in Finland.
The Esplanadi Park
Next head to the Esplanadi Park. Known as Espa among Helsinkians, The Esplanadi Park is one of the most important urban parks in Helsinki and a favourite among locals to have lunch during summertime. It was built in 1818, shortly after Helsinki became the capital of The Grand Duchy of Finland. The park has the Market Square and famous restaurant/cafe Kappeli on one end, and The Swedish Theatre on the other. It houses a stage where you can listen to live music between May and September, statues that belong to famous Finns such as Runeberg and Leino, and old kiosks where you can have coffee and ice cream.
Something to eat?
Finnish Salmon Soup
Now it is time for lunch! Traditional salmon soup is one of the best in Finnish cuisine. It is simple yet so versatile, tasty, healthy and nutritious. Finns mostly use salmon, potatoes, leek, cream and dill but you can find restaurants that add spring onions, carrots, milk, bay leaves and different spices. The soup is served hot with rye bread and butter on the side. As fresh salmon is caught in the big rivers of Northern Finland and Lapland, the salmon soup has been a staple of Finnish kitchens for centuries both as a starter and a main dish. Café Esplanadi might be a great place to enjoy this delicacy.
After you are recharged, you can walk to Kaivopuisto (meaning the well-park), a great viewpoint situated right at the tip of the Helsinki peninsula. It is one of the oldest and most popular parks in the city and is surrounded by embassies and old villas from the 19th century. From its highest points, it provides beautiful views to the Baltic Sea, the islands of Helsinki and the surrounding neighbourhoods. You can also find several cafes and restaurants around the park. The most important time for Kaivopuisto is the 1st of May when thousands of Helsinkian come to the park to celebrate the May Day.
Now it is time for you to enjoy the Helsinki trams. One of the oldest in the world and the first electrical one in Europe, Helsinki has a great tram system that works in the city centre. You can basically reach anywhere around the centre in minutes. You can use the mobile app or ticket machines to get your ticket before you ride in the trams because tickets are not sold in trams and there are no ticket controls in Helsinki. As you can reach various parts of the city with ease, trams help you to see areas that would not have tourist crowds so you can enjoy the city like a local. That’s why you should check out my tram tours that would show you Helsinki from a different perspective.
The Rock Church
After riding the tram no 4 towards the Töölö neighbourhood, your next stop will be Temppeliaukion Kirkko, or The Rock Church as it is known around the world. This is a Lutheran Church designed in modernist style by two Finnish architects, Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. It was built between 1960 and 1969. There was an idea to build a church on this location in the 1930s however with the start of the WWII plans were postponed. Suomalainen brothers won the new competition by suggesting to build a church inside the solid rock. Because of its great acoustics it is used as a venue for numerous events throughout the year and visited by 1 million people annually. Remember to check the opening hours as there are also private events done in the church.
Customised private tours
The best way to enjoy Helsinki is by getting a private tour by an authorised Helsinki guide. The most important reason is that it is easy to miss the beautiful details of this city when you are rushing from one sight to another. Whenever you want to get the best of Helsinki, please get in touch and let me design a great tour you won’t forget