"Helsinki - Our Favourite City!" Helsinki by deptlads

Helsinki Travel Guide: 3,708 reviews and 7,682 photos

Helsinki is a wonderful city, whatever the weather. It always seems to have something new to offer - and add to that fascinating architecture, an attractive seaside setting, intriguing history, great food (really, great food), friendly people, and stylish shopping. Not to mention the (in)famous Finnish Friday nights (OK we won't go into that).

But it surprises us the number of times that locals say to us - you live in London why would you want to come here?!

Helsinki remains one of our favourite cities - well, we have been nine times now.

A few special things to do in Helsinki

- Senate Sqaure and the Lutheran cathedral on a sunny day
- Sitting by the harbour at the market square eating fresh peas from the pod (summer)
- Getting the ferry to Suomenlinna sea fortress (any time of year)
- Getting drunk on a Friday night
- Walking across the frozen sea to the small islands in the harbour (winter)
- Listening to jazz on the Esplanade (summer)
- Eating vendace or kalix roe (probably the most fantastic food in the world), with traditional blini (probably the most fattening food in the world)
- Admiring the fantastic jugendstil, and national romantic style architecture
- Sitting by the sea at Cafe Ursula watching the bungee-jumpers (summer)
- Browsing in the Academic Bookshop (designed by Alvar Aalto)
- Taking the pub-tram around the city.
- Spotting locations from the film "Billion Dollar Brain" (Ken Russel, 1967)
- Shopping in Stockmann, and Aarika
- Finding yet another sculpture of a naked man

Summer 2006

After our early summer holiday in May/June 2006, Dave spent 6 weeks travelling on his own. He decided that coming straight back to London was not a good move, so where we should get re-united?

We chose Helsinki.

Dave flew from Copenhagen and Andrew from London City, via Stockholm. The flights were scheduled to arrive with 15 mins of each other. Amazingly, it all worked and we met in the baggage hall at Helsinki Vantaa Airport (aah!)

The weather was fantastic, especially for Andrew who had been suffering in the heatwave in London during July. Bright and sunny, 23 degrees C, and an occasional pleasant breeze. And it stayed like that for the whole 5 days we were there. Perfect!

Even though it was our eighth visit to the city, we still managed to do plenty of things we had not done before, including:

- Surasaari open air museum
- Atheneum national art museum (for a fantastic new temporary exhibition on nordic landscape paintings)
- Dinner at one of the lovely summer restaurants on an island in the harbour (see Klippan in the restaurant tips below)
- Listening to Finnish rock music at a free open-air festival in the Kaivopuisto park by the sea
- A visit to Porvoo

It was a great place to reunite after nearly two months apart, somewhere we could both feel relaxed and enjoy ourselves. We had a really memorable time.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Architecture, Seaside setting, Great food, Friendly people
  • Cons:You can't fly direct from London City Airport
  • In a nutshell:All the best things a European city can offer, with none of the drawbacks
  • Last visit to Helsinki: Mar 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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