Helsinki in one day: Sights & our tips

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Hello Helsinki, you friendly port city! Helsinki may be Finland’s capital, but the vibe is surprisingly cozy. Helsinki is green, modern and surrounded by the sea. No matter where you are, the water is not far away in Helsinki. This maritime influence makes Helsinki so special.

Are you planning a trip to Helsinki and want to know which sights you shouldn’t miss? We have put together a tour of the most important highlights for one day. And of course there are additional tips for more time as well as our personal recommendations for restaurants and cafés. Here we go!

1. Helsinki FAQs: First travel tips at a glance What makes Helsinki so special? Architecture Highlights: Helsinki is a paradise for architecture fans. And by that we mean not so much the overall picture of the city, but rather individual architectural eye-catchers. From classicism to Art Nouveau to unusual modernist buildings – all this can be found in Helsinki. Design & Museums: Design is very important in Helsinki . 2018 Helsinki was world capital of design and after as before, the topic of design is omnipresent. The density of boutiques, studios and galleries is greatest in the so-called Design District. Nordic Flair & Water: We just love the maritime charm of Scandinavian cities and Helsinki is no exception. The city sits on a promontory and is surrounded by the sea. This gives Helsinki a very special, very relaxed flair. Gastronomy: Helsinki = foodie paradise! There are an incredible number of incredibly great cafes and restaurants in Helsinki. Of course, we present our favorites further down in this blog article. Is one day enough to see the main sights? Yes and no. Helsinki is comparatively manageable. There are some sights, but only a few of them are such must-sees that you cannot leave Helsinki without having seen them.

In this respect, a full day is sufficient in principle to get a good first overview. Of course, we will tell you our tips for the perfect tour of the highlights later in this blog article.

Of course, more time is always better, no question. So if you want to see more than just the all-important sights in Helsinki, then we would recommend staying longer.

When is the best Travel time for Helsinki? “Helsinki is a summer city”, we were told. And honestly, we have to agree. We know Helsinki in summer as well as in winter and find that the lively flair of the city can only really be felt in the warm months.

We were for the first time in Winter in Helsinki, more precisely in February as a stopover on our way back from Lapland. Of course, this is perfect, because the vast majority of flights go via Helsinki.

Unfortunately we were unlucky with the weather – hello gray skies and sleet. And so it happened that the spark between Helsinki and us didn’t really want to jump over. Although we imagine that it can look completely different on a sunny, ice-cold winter day.

Anyway, our second trip to Helsinki took place in summer – and it was only then that we really fell in love with the city. The days are endlessly long and the daytime temperatures climb to comfortable 15 until 25 Centigrade. Everything takes place outdoors and the city literally pulsates – the complete contrast to winter.

Is Helsinki expensive? One trip After all, going to Finland doesn’t exactly have the reputation of being a cheap undertaking. And yes, we have to admit: Helsinki is no exception. Roughly speaking, the prices (e.g. for hotels and restaurants) are approximately 20 percent higher than in Austria or Germany.

2 . Our hotel tips for Helsinki The perfect day in Helsinki naturally also includes the perfect hotel . We have been to Helsinki twice so far and have two great hotel tips for you. Both hotels are beautiful and we highly recommend them.

Lapland Hotels Bulevardi The beautiful Lapland Hotels Bulevardi is one of the hippest in all of Helsinki. The entire hotel is incredibly tasteful and furnished with great attention to detail – a dream!

The rooms are a pure oasis of well-being – so comfortably furnished and equipped with lots of extras. Our tip: The more expensive rooms have a private sauna in the room! So if you travel to Helsinki in winter, you can look forward to pure luxury.

The breakfast is gigantic (and also for brunch with external guests very popular in Helsinki). There is (almost) nothing here that does not exist. Many Nordic specialties are served as well as international classics such as granola and co. Our conclusion: A fantastic hotel in a central location that is a pleasure to remember.

Here you can book the hotel: Lapland Hotels Bulevardi

Hotel F6 Helsinki Hotel F6 Helsinki is a Friendly and stylish boutique hotel in the center. The rooms lack nothing in terms of comfort. The beds are a dream – so comfortable! We also really liked the design. And there are also plenty of other amenities such as Rituals cosmetic products or a huge flat screen TV.

The breakfast is particularly noteworthy. From the muesli selection (freeze-dried berries!) to the warm dishes (porridge), everything on offer is an absolute delight. The location could hardly be better. In a few minutes you can walk not only to the harbor and market hall, but also to the Helsinki Cathedral.

Our conclusion: An absolute feel-good hotel that we can highly recommend. A sauna would be the icing on the cake, but the price of the hotel is still comparatively affordable. We would come back in a heartbeat!

Here you can book the hotel: Hotel F6 Helsinki

3. Helsinki Sightseeing in One Day Helsinki Cathedral We start our day in Helsinki at the most important sight of the city, the Helsinki Cathedral. This classical magnificent building shines in white and is simply an absolute eye-catcher. Thanks to the spacious square, the cathedral looks all the more impressive.

As powerful as this sight looks from the outside, the church is simple on the inside. We still think it’s worth checking out. If only because the contrast between imposing and simplicity is really unprecedented.

By the way, the cathedral is enthroned on the so-called Senate Square. In addition to the cathedral, other sights of Helsinki are located here, including the main building of the University of Helsinki and the Finnish National Library in the immediate vicinity. However, the cathedral clearly attracts everyone’s attention.

Further information: Helsinki Cathedral (official website)

Harbor & market hall From the cathedral you can walk to the spacious harbor in five minutes from Helsinki. Here is the marketplace with the Old Market Hall (“Vanha Kauppahalli”).

The Old Market Hall is not only a photogenic gem from the outside, but also worth a visit inside. A short stroll past the many food stalls and small bistros should definitely be enough time on a day in Helsinki. (Note: closed on Sundays.)

At the harbor, ships leave for Fortress Island Suomenlinna. If you have a little more time, you should not miss this sight.

Uspensky Cathedral From the harbor you can already see the next attraction in Helsinki: the Uspenski Cathedral. Perched on a small hill, this red-brick Orthodox church is quite an eye-catcher thanks to its Russian-Byzantine architecture.

You can also visit the Uspenski Cathedral from the inside. Please note that the opening times are somewhat limited, especially at weekends.

Our tip: The Café Johan & Nyström is very close to the Uspenski Cathedral. If you fancy a short coffee break, then you’ve come to the right place, because the coffee here is excellent.

Helsinki Railway Station The next stop on our Helsinki walking tour is a rather unusual sight: the train station. It is not necessarily a classic beauty, but it is quite exciting from an architectural point of view.

Four oversized, huge statues are enthroned on the granite facade of the main entrance. They almost reminded us of a brutalist architectural style. In any case, they are a very popular photo motif in Helsinki.

Our conclusion: If you don’t have much time, you don’t necessarily have to walk to the train station, but since you’ll probably pass by here anyway, a short stopover is worthwhile.

Chapel of Silence Also in the station district, Only a five-minute walk from the train station takes you to Helsinki’s next architectural highlight, the Kamppi Chapel, also known as the Chapel of Silence.

The oval, modern wooden building immediately catches the eye. You can also visit the chapel inside for free. However, photography is prohibited inside.

As the name of the chapel suggests, it is a place of reflection. The ceiling is soundproof so you don’t hear the street noise inside. A really very special, m editative flair in the middle of the big city.

Further information & opening times: Chapel of Silence (official website)

Amos Rex Museum The historic glass palace (Lasipalatsi) from the year 2012 has been renovated and has housed since 1936 an underground art museum, the Amos Rex Museum. Modern, contemporary art is on display.

Anyone who wants to visit the museum should be prepared for quite a lot quirky and unusual (modern art). And also good to know: the entrance fee is quite high.

If you don’t want to visit the museum (due to time or price reasons), you can “only” marvel at the architecture from the outside. The iconic domes, through whose windows light falls into the exhibition hall, are freely accessible.

Further information & opening times: Amos Rex Museum (official website)

Oodi Central Library Last but not least, we can definitely recommend a visit to the Oodi Central Library, which is only around 10 walking distance from the Amos Rex Museum. If you like libraries, you will love it here. In any case, we were very impressed by the modern architecture.

The Oodi Central Library was only in 2018 opened and is therefore one of the newest sights in the city. As soon as you enter you can see the unusual architecture: the modern masterpiece made of glass, steel and wood is reminiscent of a mighty wave.

You should definitely visit the inside of the library as well – especially the third and last level. A really unusual interplay of lines and glass awaits you there.

Further information & opening times: Oodi Central Library (official website)

Further sights & tips for more time Temppeliaukio Rock Church This very unusual church is located north of the center, a little off the beaten track Featured Sights. The church was built into a granite rock. If you have enough time, you can definitely stop by.

Sibelius Monument & Cafe Regatta A little further north, about 03 Walking distance from the Rock Church, near the sea is the so-called Sibelius Monument. The sculpture by Finnish artist Eila Hiltunen comes from the 60s and is dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

In any case, the architecture of the monument is unique: It consists of 500 steel tubes, which together result in a kind of wave pattern. You can also walk under the monument – there are interesting perspectives for photography enthusiasts.

Just a stone’s throw from the Sibelius Monument is the legendary Cafe Regatta, recommended in almost every travel guide. No wonder – the café is photogenic and the location on the water is great.

Suomenlinna Fortress Island The historic sea fortress Suomenlinna is one of the most popular tourist destinations and recreation areas in Helsinki. Ferries to Fortress Island depart from the east side of Market Square (Kauppatori). The crossing takes about 01 minutes. You should plan at least half a day for the trip.

Löyly Sauna & Public Beach Would you like to immerse yourself in Finnish sauna culture? Then we recommend this stylish sauna. The sauna is very popular both in summer and in winter – we definitely recommend booking in good time!

Löyly Sauna is located right by the water along a nice promenade – there is also a small city beach here, which is very popular in summer.

4. Tips for restaurants & cafes in Helsinki Nolla: Wow, what a great concept! Nolla means “zero” in Finnish – and with good reason: a zero-waste restaurant awaits you here. Pretty cool thing, right? The ambience is very stylish and the food is simply delicious. It is not without reason that this restaurant has been awarded by Michelin for its particularly great price-performance ratio. Definitely recommended!

Johan & Nyström: This friendly café is very close to the Uspenski Cathedral and we used it very much for a short stopover can recommend. The coffee tastes very good.

Levain Bakery & Eatery: This nice bakery has two locations in Helsinki. (One is near the rock church.) Here you can have breakfast or lunch in a casual, cozy atmosphere.

More culinary tips for Helsinki Unfortunately, due to lack of time, we were not able to test all the great restaurants in Helsinki for a long time. That’s why we recommend the blog of dear Kathrin, who lives in Helsinki. She has collected some really great tips, including in this article: The Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurants in Helsinki.

And one last tip: We recommend making reservations for popular restaurants – ideally several days in advance, especially at the weekend. We were in Helsinki on a Saturday – we know what we’re talking about.

5. Map: All sights & tips at a glance Last but not least you will find this on this map finally all our recommendations at a glance. We have drawn the most important sights in Helsinki for you, as well as our café and restaurant tips. A little tip: If you click on the rectangle at the top right, you can easily open the map in the Google Maps app on your smartphone.

40888Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliates Left. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you ever been to Helsinki? How did you like it? Which sights can you recommend? We look forward to your additional tips in the comments!