Charming and beautiful - the Daughter of the Baltic
Helsinki is the second-most northern capital in the world and lies on the Baltic Sea. The city is a wonderful mix of east and west, with cultural influences from Sweden and Russia. It was rebuilt by the Russian tsars along the lines of St Petersburg and has been used as a city-double in many cold war movies. Finland’s capital pulls off the trick of being a buzzing metropolis with a cosy, small-town feel. The city is officially bilingual and most residents speak English, as well as one or two other languages. Unlike many capital cities, Helsinki doesn’t try too hard to be stylish, it just is. It dares to be different and much of its charm is in the modern décor or traditional quirkiness of its bars and restaurants. Art Nouveau buildings, excellent museums, chic cafes and interesting landmarks appeal to visitors. Getting around the city is made all the more enjoyable on the trams and ferries.
Go for Helsinki’s quirky character and charm. Some of the landmarks are stunning, as is the architecture and surrounding scenery. The air is fresh and sitting outside a café in one of the parks or taking the ferry to Suomenlinna in the summertime, is a great experience.
When to Go?
Summer, from June to September, is definitely the best time to visit Helsinki, when the days are warm and long. During the cold winter from October to April, daylight only lasts for 6 hours and the temperatures drop well below zero. August is a great time to visit as all the festivals take place during this time. Finns flock to the outdoor cafés and city beaches to enjoy the sunshine.
How to get there?
Direct flights to Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport (HEL) operate from London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester. The airport is 19km from the centre of Helsinki and takes about 25 minutes by road. Taxis are available at the airport and cost around 30-40 Euros into the centre of town. Alternatively take a Finnair airport bus or the no.615 bus into the city.
Watch the world go by from the steps of the Uspenski Cathedral. Browse the shops of the Aleksanterinkatu and Esplanadi – expensive but fun. Visit the stunning Temppeliaukio (Rock Church). Jump on a ferry to the fascinating sea fortress Suomenlinna. Dance the night away at ‘Black’ nightclub, owned by F1 driver Kimi Reikonnen's wife, or listen to Sibelius at the Finlandia Hall. Unwind in the sauna at Yrjonkadun Uimahalli; an art-deco building with 3 saunas and a swimming pool, separate days for men and women and where most visitors don’t bother with bathing suits.