Helsinki is a city we often don't hear about!
It is not mentioned as one of the top destinations worldwide but, once you are there you will not be disappointed. Helsinki really is a gem, here are a few tips that you should know to make the most your trip.
1. Helsinki Card
What makes a big hit with this card is not the cost-saving aspect, but the convenience. If you stay at least 3 days you'll be charged 55€ and you get a detailed map of Helsinki and a guidebook that gives you all the information you need to make the most of your stay! By signing up for the card, you can also take advantage of a three bus tour of the city.
It's the best way to visit the more out-of-the-way destinations such as the Sibelius Monument and the Church in the Rock. They're both on the way of the free tour and are worthy to be visited. If you stay in Helsinki only a couple of days, you may not have enough time to see all the attractions. The card can be purchased at the Helsinki train station and airport.
2. Free Museum (with the Helsinki Card)
Another reason to purchase the Helsinki card is because you can enter museums for free. As well as other cities in Northern Europe, Helsinki is quite expensive You're charged 6 to 8€ to visit a place that you can easily stroll through in under an hour. Luckily, the Helsinki Card enables you to have free admission to a lot of small museums. For example, if you don't have enough time to visit all the museums available on the card, try not to miss the Sinebrychoff museum. It's the best museum for foreign art in the city; there are two Tiepolos, two Cranachs and one Rembrant featured. Well, it's not like visiting Louvre museums but still not too shabby! Another museum that's worthy to be visited is the Atheneum, the most famous art museum. There always is a sort of uniquely Finnish exhibit. It's located in the very heart of the city, next to the train station.
3. Proximity in Europe
Maybe if you're planning a quick trip to Helsinhki you will not have time to visit other beautiful spots close to Helsinki. Anyway. just in case you want to extend your journey, go to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia which lies just across the Baltic and St. Petersburg which is just a short cruise away. You don't need to have a visa for entering Russia, if you stay for a short period of time (48 hours max)
4. Proximity within the city itself
If you like moving around on foot, Helsinki is the right place. The city is not too big and offers some great photo opportunities while walking. It's the best way to save money and do some sightseeing in the city!
5. Market Square
There is nothing better than step into this fantastic Market near the South Harbor. It is the best place to pick up souvenirs and to try some of Finland's more traditional fare. There is always a market set up in this square and you can find everything; from coffee and doughnuts, to freshly picked currants and mushrooms. You can taste the particular and amazing Lappish cuisine.
6. Baked goods
Helsinki stands its own ground and has nothing to envy to Vienna and Paris when it comes to Scandinavian specialties. Be sure to taste cinnamon rolls at the Cafè Esplanad and Café Ekberg they're both the best cafes of the city. Another gem of the Helsinki bakery is the dallaspulla. I'll do my best to explain its filling: This is what I got: custard, though a warm, creamy, eggy, caramelized sort of custard. The pastry around the custard is wet and gooey from the filling's moisture, while the outside is flaky and magnificent.
7. English skills
Visiting Finland can be an opportunity to practice your English and improve it. English is in fact Finns' second tongue. If you' are not good enough with English, don't worry, Finns are very down-to-earth and friendly people that they'll help you getting into the place and not to feel uneasy!
8. The Sauna
After a long day of walking, gawking and eating, you can dream about a Finnish sauna. Many hotels in Helsinki have their own sauna and pool where you can relax. Otherwise, if you cannot wait to be back to your hotel Yrjönkatu, a swimming hall in the center of town lets you follow your sauna dream with a naked swim in their indoor pool. If you intend to fit in a naked swim, be sure to check the swimming halls schedule as men and women have separate hours and separate swims!
9. The Coffee
If you think you can have a tasty cup of coffee only in Italy, you'll be surprised that the Finns know how to brew a good cup!. They're the biggest coffee drinkers per capita. Even if you're not a coffee drinker you'll end up with developing a caffeine addiction at the end of your journey.
Travel tips by Francy R