Eco-friendly travel guide to Helsinki advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Helsinki, Finland.
- Air quality: 4.3 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 4.0 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 4.5 / 5
- Public transportation: 4 / 5
- Parks: 4 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 3.8 / 5
- Locals' English level: 4 / 5
- Safety: 4.5 / 5
- Accommodation: US$40 - $200
- Budget per day: US$60 - $300
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Travelling responsibly means following some rules. In Helsinki, there are rules regarding garbage disposal and travel. It may appear stringent to some, but discipline has made this city into a world-famous travel destination. Fitting into the culture and being a law abiding tourist will make you a responsible traveller.
- Respect the local culture and people
- Learn how to sort garbage
- Recycle drinking bottles and cans
- Rent a bicycle for short-distance trips on summer time when you do not plan on visiting an island
- Order only how much you need at a restaurant
- Never litter, even if nobody is watching
- Avoid using unnecessary plastic products
- Support child welfare by visiting Linnanmäki amusement park
Air Quality and Pollution
Air Quality Index of Helsinki almost always falls in the lower range of 0-50. This range indicates good air quality. Air pollution gets majorly caused by vehicles emitting nitrogen oxide. Small particles and the smoke carried from outside Helsinki also worsens the air quality.
The concentration of small particles and nitrogen oxide occasionally surpass the levels recommended by the EU. Spring and Summer are accompanied by air pollution due to Ozone formation and accumulation. The air is purest during autumn as it brings rainfall, diluting the pollutants.
Respect the Culture
Finland has an individualistic culture. You are expected to take care of yourself. Looking haywire will create a negative impression. Finland has some unspoken customs about communication. Think before speaking, because the Finnish value their words a lot. Small talk does not fit the norms, so make sure that you want to have a meaningful discussion. It also means that you should have a moderate amount of knowledge about your topic of interest, especially in a culturally rich city like Helsinki.
Finland, while liberal, is a country with a strong national identity. Visitors are not expected but are seen in a good light when they try to learn about the country’s achievements, sports-teams, festivals etc. Conversations happen serially, that is, only one person talks at a time. It is offensive to interrupt an ongoing conversation, wait for your turn to speak. Visitors are expected to respect personal space. Public display of affection is fine as long as you're not going overboard. Respecting public spaces also extends to activities such as smoking and talking on the phone. Enquire beforehand if smoking is allowed in public and switch your phone to silent mode in a church or meeting.
It is ok to be proud of your achievements, but bragging is considered impolite in Finland. Heavy tipping is likely to be responded with confusion as it is an uncommon practice in Finland. If at all you are feeling generous, enquire if tipping is accepted and round up to the nearest 5 or 10. One may encounter different vibes depending on the seasons. Midsummer, which falls in late June, essentially marks the vacation time for Finland. 5-6 weeks after Midsummer, the atmosphere may seem a little more light-hearted in Finland until autumn.
Punctuality is a strong norm and extends beyond workplaces in Finland. Make sure that you are always on time, even for celebrations or a casual hangout. It is common to see people Nordic Walking in Helsinki. It may appear comical to visitors but do not make the locals uncomfortable by staring. As foreigners, an independent, humble and respectful behaviour will get rewarded in Helsinki.
Top 10 Places to Visit
- Suomenlinna: The Suomenlinna fortress site was built around the mid-1700s, back when Sweden had control over the territory. Its purpose was to offer protection from potential invasions from Russia. Now it is a hotspot for tourists. It is an ideal place to take a break and enjoy a serene scenery and learn about Finnish history.
- Helsinki Cathedral: Built-in the honour of Tsar Nicholas I, the once Grand Duke of Finland, this cathedral is adorned with religious symbolism. It has one massive green dome along with four smaller ones. The photogenic piece of art has the Twelve Apostles gazing down from the roof. During Summer months, you can visit a café at this place.
- National Museum of Finland: Designed by architects Armas Lindgren, Eliel Saarinen and Herman Gesellius, this national-romantic building tells Finland’s story since the pre-historic times. Running since 1916, it holds several exhibitions and events, bringing something new every time. Vintti is a popular, interactive exhibition.
- Linnanmäki: Linnanmäki is an amusement park open since 1951. It features various types of rides suited for every level of thrill-seeking. The capital from Linnanmäki gets contributed to child-welfare. Apart from rides, it has a 3D cinema, funhouse, games and arcade and a haunted house.
- Winter World: Even though Helsinki has usually plenty of snow on winter time, Winter World offers some interesting quirks. Skiing and sledging, drinking from glasses made of ice, exploring Igloos, building a snowman and gazing at the detailed ice sculptures are some of the exciting activities one can do.
- Kauppatori: Located in central Helsinki is one of the Finnish marketplaces. The outdoor market gets held on the border of the Baltic sea. It is a lively place to buy souvenirs and traditional Finnish foodstuffs. Being located near the sea, seagulls often try to steal food. They cause trouble but add to the cheerful atmosphere of Kauppatori.
- Seurasaari Open-Air Museum: The Seurasaari Island in western Helsinki features several attractions, one of them being the Seurasaari Open-air museum. It displays the Finnish lifestyle during the 18th to 20th centuries. Buildings from various provinces of Finland have got relocated to this island. The island also has unique biodiversity. It is also a popular place for Midsummer celebrations.
- Temppeliaukio Kirkko: Built by architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen into solid rock, this Lutheran church saw 938 000 visitors in 2019. Sunshine entering through the beams on the roof gives this place a serene feel. The unique architecture of this church makes it one of the major attractions in Helsinki. It is also a very popular place for holding concerts.
- Ursa Observatory: Standing in Kaivopuisto Park in Helsinki, this observatory has three telescopes. The location and climate of Finland make it an ideal place for stargazing and astronomical observations. The observatory is open for non-members in autumn and spring evenings. There is a cheap entry fee for adults and children. This institution also provides free lectures for the public (these lectures are in Finnish) and several events to make astronomy an interactive subject. Do not miss a chance to look at the beautiful Nordic sky.
- Kiasma Museum: The meaning of the word Kiasma (English: Chaisma) is the intersectional point where two optic nerves crossover. This museum located in Helsinki brings this concept of a crossover to life with its unique architecture. The museum has got intricate designs. It is more than just a display of contemporary art. Instead of passive observation, participation from the public in conferences and workshops is encouraged, making the Kiasma museum an educational place. The intelligent use of the Nordic light (whose nature differs substantially from the southern hemispheres), the delicate dynamic between the size and shape of different rooms are some of the features to be awed.
Helsinki has something interesting at every corner. It is historical and modern simultaneously. Helsinki is always changing while staying true to its roots. The history of Finland gets celebrated throughout Helsinki with statues, historic architecture, museums and food. Apart from the eventful city life, one can make a getaway to a camping site to experience the magical phenomenon of northern lights. Visit the Finnish Lapland - Land of Midnight sun.
- Esplanade Park: Featuring Finland’s first public monument – the statue of Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804-1877), author of the Finnish national anthem and a renowned poet, this garden is one of the most popular parks of Helsinki. Kappeli, one of the oldest restaurants in the city got located in this park along with other major attractions such as the pool with famous sculptures by Viktor Jansson (1886-1958). There are four old Kiosks near the statue of Johan Ludvig Runeberg, reminiscent of the country’s history. The memorials of Zacharias Topelius (1818-1898) and Eino Leino (1878-1926) make the Esplanade Park a historical attraction.
- Alppipuisto park: It got located near the famous Linnanmäki amusement park. The yearly Jazz music festival attracts several tourists. A canopy of majestic trees combined with a pond and a fountain gives it a tranquil sense. It is an excellent spot to get away from the bustling city and take a few moments to unwind.
- Sibelius park: Named after the celebrated composer of Finland - Jean Sibelius in 1945, it was his 80th birthday. It has the renowned Sibelius monument by Eila Hiltunen. It consists of more than 600 pipes made of steel with the Jean Sibelius’ bust on the side. The bust of Sibelius got added after the sculpture caused a debate about abstract art. It was made public on 7th September 1967. It is the main tourist attraction in this park.
- Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden: It is one of the many botanical garden sites belonging to the University of Helsinki. This garden belongs to the Finnish Museum of Natural History. The live plants here get used for research purposes, but the garden is open to visitors. It got designed by architect Gustaf Nyström. The greenhouses of this garden saw a lot of destruction by three bombs during the Continuation War – a dispute between Nazi Germany and Finland. The glasshouses in this garden carry a tropical drift with them. It is one of the major tourist attractions of Helsinki.
- Kirsikkapuisto: It is the cherry blossom (Sakura) garden. It was built in 2007 after sponsorship by the Japanese community. The Hanami festival of Japan gets celebrated each year when the cherry blossom blooms. There are 152 Sakura trees in this garden planted in a part of Roihuvuori green area.
- Nuuksio National Park: Homing several endangered species of flora and fauna, the Nuuksio national park is about 45 minutes away from the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. The numerous lakes, well-marked paths make this place an ideal spot for trekking. The symbol of this park is of the Siberian flying squirrel, an endangered species found abundantly in this national park. It got established in 1994. Located a few kilometres away from the national park is the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia. Haltia is the home to several exhibitions and events encouraging visitors to explore the natural beauty. The building of Haltia itself distinctively got made combining Finnish design and sustainable products.
- Sipoonkorpi national park: Located partially between Helsinki and Sipoo, this national park makes for a good retreat as it is even more tranquil than Nuuksio. It got found in 2011. Local vegetation like mushrooms and berries can get collected during the months of spring and autumn. Hiking is a popular activity here, especially around Kuusijärvi lake. One can also hike on the Kalkinpolttajanpolku trail as it is a more challenging hike. The Kalkinpolttajanpolku trail is five kilometres long and has a forest terrain and granite outcrops. The old countryside of an erstwhile farming village is the trail. There is also an old quarry of Limestone. Hörberget - the highest point of this trail allows you to see up to Vuosaari Harbour. Ponun Perinnepostia, located in the northern part of Sipoonkorpi, is a heritage post consisting of six post boxes. These boxes contain different eras concentrating on various animals.
- Hietaniemi beach: The most popular beach in Helsinki is sometimes crowded, especially during the summer season. Late afternoon is considered the best time to visit this beach as the water has had time to warm up. The street art on the back wall is worth a sight. It got deemed one of the most sought after places to watch the sunset.
- Aurinkolahti beach: Open-air gym and cafes on this beach have made it popular. It is beside the Uutela nature trail. It is never as crowded as Hietaniemi beach.
- Pikkukoski beach: It is a popular spot among families and locals. It is a sandy beach along the Vantaa river, yes, a river not a sea. It offers a quiet place to relax and also a jumping deck, volley-ball courts to have fun. Saunas get held every week. It sometimes gets overcrowded during summers. It is in the district of Oulunkylä.
- Isosaari island: It was a former military island located in the Helsinki Archipelago. Ferry services from Helsinki harbour regularly stop at this island. Because it is a former military site, there is a lot to explore. It still has worn-out bunkers, canteen, the torpedo test station, gun range surveillance towers, and underground tunnels. Apart from exploration, several relaxing activities make this a hotspot for people looking to take a day away from the hustle-bustle of the city. There is a golf course, restaurant, numerous beaches offering a serene view of the Baltic sea. Fishing spots and public saunas also attract many tourists. This island can get explored on a one-day trip.
- Bad Bad Boy: This dorky structure of a sneaky boy urinating is situated right outside Helsinki Computer and Game Console Museum. Constructed by Tommi Toija, it was first brought out in August 2014 and originally stood in Helsinki’s East Harbour in the Mutatis Mutandis exhibition. The statue holds an expression of embarrassment and shyness. It weighs 7.5 tons and measures 8.5 meters in height. From certain angles, the statue appears to be watering the little plants on the sidewalk, but it is not the case. Bad Bad Boy shows how humans are vulnerable to nature's elements in a humorous manner.
- Johanneksenkirkko: Designed by Swedish architect Adolf Melander, this Lutheran Church stands in Ullanlinna district. It is the biggest Lutheran Church in Helsinki and has a Gothic Revival style. It consists of two towers which are 74 meters tall each. This church is the largest stone church in Finland when it comes to seating capacity. The construction of these towers got completed in 1891. The hill this church stands on is a popular place for Midsummer celebrations.
- Helsinki central station: A major landmark designed by the famed architect Eliel Saarinen, this railway station commutes 400,000 people daily. In 2013, BBC (British Broadcasting Channel) announced it as one of the most beautiful railway stations worldwide. The initial national romantic design by Eliel Saarinen for this station sparked a debate among people. Hence he had to redesign it into a more rational and modern style. The station has seen several modifications over the years. It has two clock towers and four statues holding spherical lamps. On 26th January 1969, 13 days after the first electric train got tested, regular traffic of electric trains started between Helsinki and Kirkkonummi.
- Uspenski Cathedral: This ancient cathedral is born from the work of two architects - Aleksey Gornostayev, a prominent Russian architect who died in 1862. He designed the cathedral, but due to his death, the construction got led by architect Ivan Varnek. It was built between the years 1862 to 1868 with the majority of funding received by parishioners and private donors. It got initiated on 25th October 1868. The grand cathedral stands on the hillside on the Katajanokka peninsula. The cathedral homes numerous icons and has seen two cases of icon theft so far, one of which is still not recovered. The ceiling is heavily detailed and has a stunning design. This place of religious importance continues being a large hotspot for tourism.
- Helsinki Olympic Stadium: Located in Töölö districts, this stadium has hosted the first Bandy World Championship in 1957, 1952 Summer Olympics (it was the host for equestrian show jumping, athletics, and the football finals), first World Athletics Championships in 1983, 2005 World Championships in Athletics. The European Athletics Championships in 1971, 1994 and 2012 also took place in this stadium. Architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti designed it in functionalist style. In 1938, the construction got completed, but the stadium would not host anything until a decade later. It got renovated during the years 1990-1994. Again before 2005 World Championships in Athletics and has reopened in 2020 after four years of renovation. The stadium is also known for a resident owl Bubi, who showed up in 2007 and halted a match by ten minutes in 2008. Standing at a height of 72.71 metres is the stadium’s tower.
- Ateneum: Theodor Höijer was the Finnish architect who designed the Ateneum, it got completed in 1887. The building got adorned with statues of significant figures in art. The "Three Greats" got situated on the entrance of the second floor. Four forms of art - painting, sculpture, architecture, and geometry depicted by the four Caryatids above the three greats are the highlights. The Latin phrase “Concordia res parvae crescent” meaning “Unity makes Strength” is seen above the four Caryatids. This phrase, used widely in several contexts throughout the world, signifies the struggle of art groups to establish the museum. All the statues mentioned here got made by Carl Eneas Sjöstrand.
- Military Museum: Located on the island of Suomenlinna, the Military Museum is a host to many workshops and events aiming to show the Finnish war history. It got founded on 25th November 1929. More than 200,000 artefacts narrate a story of the Finnish military. The exhibition of Vessiko – the only remaining Finnish submarine from WWII, is a famous tourist attraction, it takes place during summertime. Another part of this museum is the Menege Military Museum. Constructed in 1880-1881, it used to be a Russian arsenal. It was made open to the public on 1st June 1989. The Military Museum of Finland offers a sight into the long Finnish history with artefacts ranging from uniforms, weapons, medals, vehicles, vehicles and even artworks.
- The Finnish Museum of Photography: It is the oldest museum dedicated to photography in Finland. It has three sections covering an area of 800sqm. It consists of the Main Exhibition Space, the Angle, and the Project (reserved for presenting the works of new artists) and Process (reserved for educational activities and exhibitions) spaces. It was made open to the public in 1969. Apart from archived photos from various sources, the museum has an impressive collection of cameras and other instruments of photography. There are more than 3500 such items. The museum is also involved in research (it also has a library dedicated to photography for researchers) and has records of Finnish photographers. Interaction between artists and the public gets fostered by programmes arranged by the museum's Engagement and Learning Programme. This museum is a benchmark of developments in conservation and preservation of photographs.
- Design Museum: Fashion, graphic and industrial designs from Finland and foreign countries get displayed at the Designmuseo in Helsinki. Gustaf Nyström designed the momentous neo-gothic building in 1894. Its former name “Taideteollisuusmuseo” was changed in 2002. It arranges several workshops to foster knowledge about famous designers from the world. It got situated near the Museum of Finnish Architecture.
- Museum of Finnish Architecture: Magnus Schjerfbeck designed the museum’s building in neo-classical style. It was founded in 1956 and is the second oldest museum dedicated to Architecture worldwide. Numerous workshops and seminars arranged by the museum impart an in-depth knowledge of Finland’s architectural history. The museum has a public library and a bookshop open to visitors from all over the world. Their A&O room helps youngsters learn about architecture through innovative and fun activities.
The city is home to a variety of restaurants, cafes and pastry shops. Helsinki has integrated foreign cuisines in their culture too. Many eating places in Helsinki date back to the 19th century. They promise local ingredients obtained through sustainable and ethical methods. Helsinki’s food culture caters to everyone. Even though their cuisine is predominantly meat-based, there are several vegan places.
Traditional Local Restaurants
- Ora: A ten-course dinner made from ethically harvested local ingredients gets served from Wednesday to Friday. It costs 94€ per person to spend an evening in this fine dining establishment. A wide array of dishes including reindeer, Jerusalem artichoke, Lingonberry make it worthy of a try.
- Lappi: It operates from Monday to Saturday from 4 pm to 10 pm. Making prior reservations is highly recommended. The name “Lappi” gives away the idea of a Lappish cuisine. The wide assortment of traditional Lapland-based delicacies is a must-try in Helsinki.
- Savotta: Located in Senate Square, this building faces the grand Helsinki cathedral. The menu has traditional Finnish dishes and some vegan options too. The interiors of this place got inspired by Finland’s forests. The ingredients get purchased from local produce.
- Konstan möljä: Traditional Finnish/Karelian food, located in Hietalahti.
Vegetarian and Vegan
- OmNam: This place serves vegan dishes inspired by cuisines from all over the world. It is located in Annankatu and is open from Monday to Saturday, mostly functioning from morning till late evening/night. It is involved in sustainable practices, one of them being a donation of leftovers. It also recycles plastic.
- Silvoplee: Lies at Toinen linja and functions from Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm. The speciality of this place is raw and unprocessed foods. Smoothies are also available. Apart from functioning as a vegan restaurant, it is also a café. Your payment depends on the weight of your plate.
- Yes Yes Yes: It is located in Iso Roobertinkatu and has a large collection of vegan and vegetarian dishes. The undivided menu also includes desserts. The interior adorned with beautiful works of art is breathtaking. It also functions as a bar, due to which it opens in the evening.
- Kahvila Puhuri: The oldest building in Lauttasaari is home to Kahvila Puhuri. It is an art and science cafe. Their big menu is ever-changing, so every visit you will something interesting.
You can find many fast food joints all around Helsinki downtown. Some of them are open until 5AM because many Finnish young people like to go and eat after nightclub. Typical fast food on the street include hamburgers, french fries, meat pies, kebab and so on.
Here are some food places with a street food vibes:
- Fat Ramen: This street food shop has got located in the famous Hietalahti Market Hall. It combines Asian and Nordic cuisines to serve hot bowls of ramen in cold Finnish weather. It is the first shop focused on Ramen in Helsinki.
- Fisu & Ranet: This shop serves the famed delicacy of “Fish and Chips” in a traditional style. It opened in 2013. The fish get caught in environmentally sustainable ways.
- Ônam: The Vietnamese eating place located in the Forum Shopping Centre at Mannerheimintie is a family run business. It has a large, versatile menu of more than 20 dishes.
The Finnish folk share a mutual love for drinking. It is understandable considering the long, harsh winters of the country. Alcoholic drinks still get taken with discipline and heavy drinking has got reserved for festivities. Do not forget to try some famous drinks including:
- Salmiakki Koskenkorva (a vodka cocktail revamped with Turkish pepper salty licorice and Koskenkorva Viina)
- Sima (a mead-like drink)
- Koskenkorva Viina also known as Kossu (a well-known type of vodka in Finland)
- Lakka (cloudberry liqueur)
- Finlandia Vodka (a renowned alcoholic drinks in Finland)
- Minttuviina (a mint flavoured liquor) and Minttukaakao (Minttuviina mixed with hot chocolate, popular on winter time).
Helsinki has numerous bars and breweries, where one can spend some time relaxing after a tiring day of exploring the lively city. Being such a condensed city, most of these bars are nearby one other
Finland provides the 4th best Tap water in the world. Its cleaner than bottled water. However, extra precautions always get recommended. The water leaving from the sewage treatment plant may be free of harmful substances, but pollutants may get collected on its way inside the tap. A good piece of advice is to enquire about the water quality in all places.
If you buy bottled water, returning an empty bottle will fetch you a 10 to 40 cent fee back and the return policy applies to most bottles. Most shops will give you a paper slip and a code. You can return the bottle using these. Hence, never throw away the water bottles. Improved water sources are available to almost all of Finland, including Helsinki.
Apart from alcoholic drinks, Helsinki is also well-known for a large number of cafes. Cafes have got located in many museums, stores, and sightseeing locations. The Finns do love their coffee, even though they might not be known for it. They are the heaviest coffee consumers worldwide.
- Fazer Café: This café was founded by Karl Fazer in 1891 during the Autumn season. He was a master confectioner and opened the café at age 25. Soon after the initiation of the café, Fazer’s keenness to surpass the expectations of his customers became widespread. His enthusiasm combined with the excellent quality of products at the café eventually made it very popular among locals as well as tourists.
- Ekberg café: It is the oldest café in Finland with a 160-year old history behind it. The central location makes it easily accessible. It is open every day. Because the café prepares dishes made by seasonal ingredients, one can expect to find different delicacies depending on the season.
Cozy cafés with a seaside view:
- Cafe Regatta: It stands beside Sibelius Park. Constructed in 1887 by the famous coffee family Paulig, this red cottage café brings a rustic countryside feel to the hustling city of Helsinki. It is popular for its Blueberry pie and Cinnamon buns.
- Café Ursula has also good selection of salty and sweet meals.
- Cafe Carusel has a menu with great selection of food and drinks.
Ranked 14th worldwide in consumption of beer per capita, Finland now homes 85 craft breweries. Helsinki provides a fine and rich quality of beer. Controlling oneself from having too many is a bigger challenge than finding a good brewery.
- Ohrana Krouvi Panimo: Ohrana Krouvi Panimo displays a large variety of strengths and flavours for their beers. They brew everything in the basement. Apple cider is among their lighter drinks and is a good starting point for your exploration of beers. Saison is a Belgian farmhouse ale. 7.7% Stout combines the taste of chocolate and coffee. These are just a few of the many unique drinks one can get here. A newer experience could be eating at the brewery. They make sure that their dishes contain beer. Ohrana’s beer-marinated onions with herring toast make for a hearty meal.
- Bryggeri Brewery: The meaning of the word “Bryggeri” in all four Scandinavian languages is “Brewery.” It translates its name to “Brewery Brewery.” It is located near the Helsinki cathedral. It is because of how serious Bryggeri is about each beer it serves so each glass has a unique beer for it. The purpose of this practice is to amplify the flavors of each beer. It is this level of dedication that allows visitors to taste the beer exactly as intended by the brewmaster. A few examples are the Sahti – a conventional beer in Finland. It has high alcoholic content and is laced with Juniper. These factors cause it to be unavailable in shops. It is offered only at breweries.
- Stadin Panimo: It is a must-go for people who are adventurous and would like to try beers from around the world. The freshest beer is available here. One could find the beer most suitable for them in Stadin Panimo easily.
- Vallilan Panimo: A very distinctive beer makes this brewery a worthwhile destination. Hemp, being legal in Finland, gets used to flavor an ale here. It should be added to your bucket list if you are planning to give your taste buds a new and different experience.
Helsinki is a colourful place. There is always some event taking place - a music festival, art exhibition, food tasting event and much more. The Helsinki coffee festival gets held over three days in April. The light art event called Lux Helsinki lasts for five days. Saunas are ingrained in Finland’s culture and tourists can visit public saunas in Helsinki. On Helsinki Sauna day in march, also many private saunas are free to the public.
Yoga and Retreats
Most yoga places in Helsinki are located in Töölö and Kluuvi areas. These areas are situated in the central part of Helsinki. There are more than 50 yoga studios in Helsinki. Some of them are mentioned below. Open-air yoga classes often get arranged in parks and beaches in summer. Yoga classes are also held every week in some gyms.
- YogaNordic: It is situated beside Kampi shopping center. It has three more branches and is quite popular. People of all ages are welcome to the studio. A team of yoga instructors guide and teach you how to relax and unwind through Yoga. Instructors function within fixed hours. They also arrange online yoga lessons. YogaNordic has classes specially arranged for children. The timings of each instructor are mentioned on their website.
- Pihasali: It was founded in 2002 by Kirsi Piha-Timonen, she ran it for ten years. Hanna Henriikka Ruax ran it for four years (2012-2016). As of 2020, Sanna Yrjänheikki – a dance instructor who owns the Pihasali. Along with Yoga, Pihasali has classes for dance, pilates, and barre. Classes can be booked via email. They offer a 10% discount for students, seniors, and the unemployed. Their prices are mentioned on their website along with the type and duration of different courses.
- Studio Tulijooga: Tulijooga is in Punavuori district of Helsinki. A private class can be booked via their website, although one needs to sign up. Good for the tourists, the classes are also conducted in English. Each session lasts up to 60-90 minutes. The pricing information is mentioned on their website. A group class usually takes up to 33 people. They teach Bikram yoga, Aerial yoga, Yin yoga, hot flow, and hot yoga.
- BAY yoga studio: Situated in Katajanokka district on the Baltic seacoast, this studio offers several courses for beginner, intermediate and advanced Yoga. They also have a course for pilates, yin yoga, and barre. The pricing depends on the number of days and has a validity period
- Kamppi chapel: Helsinki is one of the cities with the most hustle and bustle in Finland. The "Chapel of Silence” is a place to relax which allows you to get away from all the noise in the city. In contrast to the complex Finnish architecture, the Kamppi Chapel has a simplistic design. It is devoid of any statues or paintings. It shares a likeness to multi-faith prayer rooms. In 2010, the architects of Kamppi chapel - Kimmo Lintula, Niko Sirola, and Mikko Summanen won an award for the design. It was constructed in 2012 and rose to fame in a short time.
Finland is one of the countries that are mindful about the environment. It is also a major tourist attraction. The responsibility of protecting the environment is huge, but Finland has done an excellent job. Even the crowded city of Helsinki takes measures to reduce pollution of all kinds.
- Hotel Helka: Owned by the Young Women's Christian Association of Finland (YWCA), the income of Hotel Helka is contributed towards the organization's work toward female empowerment. It is one of Helsinki’s many green hotels. This hotel actively takes part in reducing food and waste using five methods: Order optimization, cautious planning, accurate servings, usage of the remaining food, the untouched leftovers can be used for preparing dishes or are donated to charity after being supervised.
- Hotel Haaga Central Park: This hotel is the holder of the Green key due to its strict practices toward environmental sustainability. "Portaat luomuun" is a six-level program aimed towards increasing the consumption of local and organic food. Hotel Haaga is a participant of this program and has reached level three as of 2017. They have the OVA Self-Monitoring system installed in their hotel. It pays attention to the smallest details and helps them in product selection. They make sure to use LED and energy-saving light bulbs and dispose of them in an environmentally sustainable way. The hotel carefully separates its garbage The recommended modes to transport to the hotel are also eco-friendly.
- Marski by Scandic: This Green hotel is located on Mannerheimintie in the heart of Helsinki. It offers various services from its restaurant to meeting rooms. It has the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. It recently was renovated in 2019. It offers free high-speed wifi, a gym, sauna, and baby-sitting services. The rooms are soundproof and equipped with blackout curtains. It also features a charging station for your electric vehicle.
Hostels and Guest Houses
- Myö Hostel: Situated four kilometers away from the center of Helsinki, the Myö hostel falls in Old Ruskeasuo. It is a self-serving boutique-hostel popular amongst backpackers. It is surrounded by beautiful Finnish nature despite being in the central, well-connected part of the city. Guests make their food in the hostel and the grocery store being nearby helps in doing so. They have private and dorm rooms.
- The Yard Hostel: This hostel is in Kamppi. The central railway station and numerous tourist attractions are within walking distance from the hostel. It offers shared and private rooms. This hostel was found in an old building made in 1906 and was made open for the public in 2017.
- Diana park: Located in the neighborhood of Punavuori / Kamppi, Diana park is a great place to stay while traveling Helsinki. Usko Nyström, a specialist in architecture of art Noveau / Jugend type designed the building in 1899. In 1900, it was built. The designs in the building are often not found in new buildings. It has been accommodating people since 1965 and is a place with many stories. The place has also been a shooting location for various Finnish tv-series.
- Töölö Towers: It is about 1.2 kilometers away from the center of Helsinki. Many famous locations are accessible from this place such as the fortress of Suomenlinna is about 4 kilometers away. It takes 20 minutes to walk to the city center from here. There are around 178 rooms. All of them are soundproof. Laundry facilities are also available. It is equipped with wifi and pets are also accommodated. There are recreational facilities for children. It has a library, sauna, and a garden place as well.
- SleepWell Apartments East: It is set in the district of Itäinen Suurpiiri close to a bus stop. It is 10 kilometers away from the center of the city and 9 kilometers away from Senate Square. Hotels offering different cuisines are a few hundred meters away from this place. It also gives direct access to a shopping complex. It is equipped with all the bare necessities such as washing machine, toiletries, kitchen wares, and ironing facilities.
- Scandinavian Studio Apartment: This is located beside the newly found Amos Rex Art Museum. The famous Helsinki cathedral is also nearby to this place. It is a short walking distance from Kamppi underground station and Helsinki central station. This makes it easier for tourists to travel from this venue. One downside of this apartment is that is it does not allow pets.
Couchsurfing involves compulsory interaction with other people. These people are locals, they can guide your travel and tell you about pocket-friendly travel. At times, Couchsurfing can go wrong when the personalities and attitudes of the host and the guest do not align at all. It is important to get along with people and learn to adjust if one plans to Couchsurf their way to their destination. Finland is a hospitable nation and locals welcome travelers to stay at their place.
At present, there are more than 18,000 hosts on the website. Simply connect with a host and find yourself a place to stay during your visit to Helsinki. It is not only used for travelers but also people doing short courses or part-time jobs in Helsinki
The outdoors in Helsinki are exceptionally beautiful and safe. The unique Nordic biodiversity is kept in good condition as Finland’s culture emphasizes the conservation and protection of nature. Camping is, hence a fun activity to do in Helsinki.
- Sipoonkorpi National Park: Ängesböle is a camping site within this national park. It has a water source. Carrying winter clothes while camping here is recommended because it can get quite cold at night. The canopy of tall pine trees offers scenic beauty like no other and the night is livened up with sounds of different birds. During June, the night does not fall completely, that it is not pitch black at night. However, visitors are advised to travel this place with a guide, because it is difficult to navigate one’s way inside the large area of the national park. Sometimes Google Map services do not work inside the national park and first-timers could lose their way. A campsite which is smaller than Ängesböle is situated on the nature trail of Kalkirukki.
- Rastila Camping area is located in Eastern Helsinki.
How to Get There
Public transport gets emphasized more each day. As a result, transport services are convenient in the entire country. The HSL and VR mobile apps will allow you to purchase train and bus tickets.
Helsinki airport (a.k.a. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport) is the largest in Finland. Helsinki is a popular tourist spot hence it is common for many countries to have a flight going directly to Helsinki. Many flights regularly arrive and depart from Helsinki airport to foreign countries. One of these is China, which has twenty-five direct flights per week to Helsinki. Going from the airport to the city center of Helsinki takes about thirty minutes.
It takes about thirty minutes for the Finnair city bus to go from Helsinki Airport to the city center of Elielinaukio. The single tickets for this bus are booked online in advance. Purchasing tickets directly from the driver is somewhat more expensive than online booking. The buses Lentoasema-Rautatientori and Lentoasema-Elielinaukio will also take you to the city center from the airport. These arrive at Helsinki airport every 20 minutes. You can reach Helsinki also from every part of Finland by long distance buses.
There is a train station at Helsinki airport. It is convenient because you can go there directly without having to go outside. An ABC ticket is needed. The I and P train routes will take you to the center of the city in about 30 minutes. Use the app mentioned earlier to purchase tickets because tickets cannot get booked on the train. Helsinki can be reach from all major cities in Finland by long distance train. There is also a train connection between Helsinki and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Even though Finland is one of the safest places in the world, Hitchhiking should always get approached with caution. You should ask the driver to drop you off at the nearest railway station or bus stop if the driver is not going to the center of the city. Sometimes if you're lucky, you can also hitchhike between major cities. Then you just need to try your best to catch a ride where the highway begins.
The public transport system of Helsinki makes travelling easy. There are a variety of travel options to opt. The most convenient and sustainable way to travel Helsinki is cycling. It is encouraged to use public transport as much as possible. It is both eco-friendly and pocket-friendly compared to private vehicles. Do not forget to get a Helsinki City Card. It grants you unlimited access to the public transport of Helsinki for up to 72 hours.
In the descriptions of the places earlier, it became obvious that almost the entire city of Helsinki is a tourist hotspot. The destinations stand very close to each other. One does not need to spend a lot of money to get to a famous place in Helsinki. A little prior research on the distance between different destinations will allow you to explore a big chunk of Helsinki on foot.
Helsinki has a pretty flat landscape so it makes cycling an ideal mode of transport. Helsinki central area is not a very large. Bicycles get provided on rent at various locations all around the Helsinki. It is environmentally and economically sustainable.
There are several locations across Helsinki to rent an electric car like:
- Helsinki Airport [HEL]
- Hilton Strand Hotel
- Veho Pitaejaenmaeki
- Veho Suutarila
When renting an electric car, make sure to book a hotel with a charging portal.
You can also find electric stand up city scooters from every corner of Helsinki downtown. You just need to download an application for using those. Two most popular scooter companies/apps are Voi, Tier and Lime.
The city of Helsinki provides a cohesive network of bus routes throughout the city. The map for the same gets found at the HSL information offices. Their main office stands at the Helsinki central railway station. The tickets can get purchased from HSL travel transit locations and the app.
Tram, Train and Subway
- The Helsinki Central Railway station has trains going to through these three railway lines:
- Riihimäki via Tikkurila
- Kirkkonummi via Espoo
- Vantaankoski via Myyrmäki
- Tickets get purchased from VR offices, ticket machines, and the VR mobile app.
- Helsinki has a comprehensive tram network.
- Helsinki has also a handy subway (metro). You can also reach Espoo by subway.
Helsinki allows for a guilt-free shopping spree with its efforts towards developing a sustainable lifestyle. The Think Sustainably service has made criteria for determining a sustainability score for institutions which can get checked for free. Clothing made out of recycled textile and restaurants who keep a check on their food waste has made Helsinki a model for sustainable living. The openness towards second-hand clothing has also helped the city develop a reputation for being eco-friendly.
Helsinki has a rich food culture which saw a lot of evolution after Finland joined the European Union. The must-try dishes of Helsinki are Runeberg Torte. These rum cakes got named after the Finnish poet Johan Runeberg), Baltic Herring (it gets served in a variety of ways, even pickled herring), Pulla (Finnish cinnamon buns), Crayfish. Try the Salmiakkicandy - you probably will not think it is tasty initially. It is an acquired taste. It is worth a try because it is popular in Finland), Blini, Cabbage Rolls (knowns as Kaalikääryleet in Finnish), Lingonberry Pie, Grillimakkara (grilled sausages), and Pea Soup.
- Old Market Hall: The oldest indoor market hall of Finland has been functioning since 1889. It is an ideal place to buy a quick snack while traveling and purchase all types of groceries. It has an energetic and lively vibe to it. It is a cozy place to warm up during the cold Finnish winters. It got designed by Gustaf Nyström after studying various marketplaces across European countries. In the initial days following the hall’s foundation, butter, cheese, meat products, eggs, and garden produce were permitted to be sold. With time, fish (which was only sold outdoors till then) also started being sold in the hall. The 1900-1945 period was harsh for the old market hall as several wars broke out, the nation's economic situation worsened. Post-1954, trade within the Old market hall blossomed as Finland started to condition started to heal. Finland joined the European Union in 1995. It brought numerous benefits to the old market halls as foreign trade improved. It marked the start of the rich culture Finland has surrounding cheese. As of today, Old Market Hall offers a variety of delicacies from Finland and abroad.
- Hietalahti market hall: The only reason this food market is not as famous as the old market hall is its location. It is a ten- minute walk away from the center of Helsinki. Sometimes, food tasting events get arranged along with the music. During summer, this place also functions as a flea market.
- Abattoir: This massive market highlights the Finnish food culture. The locals call it Teurastamo. Every month, this food market hosts a big event, for example, a farmer's market. For the Finnish, it is a fun place to spend time at, open all year round. The Abattoir gets packed with restaurants, distilleries, pasta factories, a college, events, and much more. It is similar to a fair where one can experience the culture, socialize with acquaintances.
Helsinki has two major flea markets. Flea markets have increasingly received praise from the Finnish population. Moreover, this idea always received support from the city council. Outdoor markets are almost a form of recreation for the Finnish folk, as harsh winters do not allow for such open-air trades. Flea markets are also a place fostering healthy social exchange among locals, tourists, and vendors.
- Hietalahti flea market: It is the largest flea market in Helsinki. It is also known as Hietsu by the locals and positioned in Hietalahti Square. It stays open the whole week, opening in the morning and closing in the evening. Bargaining for products is uncommon, but not unheard of. The Finnish mostly avoid bargaining, but you do not need to do too. There are about 150 stalls selling clothes, footwear, accessories, and everything between in this market.
- Hakaniemi flea market: Around 200 stalls decorate the landscape of Hakaniemi Square in Kampinmalmi district. Flea markets gain more favor as the Finnish become increasingly conscious about environmental issues. Founded by Päivyt Toivonen and Orvokki Hyytinen – two entrepreneurs with an idea to turn the market into a meeting place for locals, artists, and tourists. It is only open on Sundays. Apart from the usual items, Hakaniemi Flea market is a place for an artist to display and sell their creations.
- Fredrikintori Square Flea Market: Also known as Fredan tori, this market gets held in the district of Punavuori district. It has been functioning since 2015. It is a centre to buy Finnish antiques from the 50 s and 60 s. From glass designs and jewelry to vintage textiles, this market is a haven for antique enthusiasts. It also serves as a host for events such as the RööperiFest block party held in August and Helsinki Day.
- Kaivarin Kanuuna Flea Market: The Kaivopuisto area in Helsinki holds a fleamarket-cum-second hand store. People drop off their unwanted items to the sellers in this market. One can find almost everything here, but it is mainly known for vintage items.
- Kauppatori flea market
- Töölöntori flea market
- Haagan tori flea market
- Ylä-Malmin tori flea market.
Second Hand Stores
- Kaunis Veera: This second-hand store is the oldest in of its kind in Helsinki. It has been serving the public since 1973. It sells clothing, footwear, and accessories from renowned Finnish and international brands in a warm and welcoming milieu. The items sold here get made from recycled materials. Kaunis Veera also plays a massive role in waste management by recycling more than the guidelines of the regional waste management requirements. It also recycles plastic. The establishment also encourages the use of public transport, cycling or walking to reach the venue. The shop also uses LED lights for the most part.
- Frida Marina: This vintage store situated in Kallio district offers second-hand clothing and accessories from the 40s to the 80s. The proper discrimination and good condition of the clothes will make it seem as if it is not a second-hand store. It also has a café. Even if one is not looking to buy, window shopping through this shop is also an extraordinary experience as one gets to experience fashion dating back to the 40s. Nearby this shop stands another vintage collection store - Pieni sydän.
- Pure Waste + Costo Concept Shop: Everything from clothes to accessories in this shop gets made from environmentally sustainable products. A large quantity of freshwater gets saved because their products get recycled from waste, due to which growing new cotton is not required. Despite the origins of these items, they are stylish and long-lasting. Pure Waste is changing the way “waste” gets perceived. The cost of dyeing clothes is also not incurred because the textile waste of various colors gets matched and re-spun to create new clothing.
- Nudge: It is a sustainable clothing and makeup shop. Eco-friendly brands from Finland and the rest of the world have their products for sale in this shop. Some of these brands are Armed Angels, Kings of Indigo, EcoAlf, and Dick Moby. Like most shops in Helsinki, it also has a café.
Helsinki is involved in the development of sustainable lifestyles. Biowaste, package waste from various institutions, and mixed waste is collected and transported by the HSY (Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority). There are different color codes assigned for waste products of different kinds. It is crucial to follow these codes strictly. Below is how waste disposal happens.
Drinking bottles and cans are recyclable, and you can get the deposit back from all grocery stores.
- Brown – Biowaste
- Blue and Black – metal waste found around the house
- Blue container “lasi” – this is for glass jars. Drinking glasses go in the grey container for mixed waste
- Yellow – Dispose of empty shampoo bottles and other things made of plastic
- Blue “Kartonk – It gets used to dispose of cartons made of cardboard, e.g. cereal boxes. Folding the boxes flat before disposing of is recommended to save more space.
Work and Study Abroad
Helsinki is home to many job opportunities and education. The education system in Finland is one of the best worldwide. It is possibly the best place to work because Finland has solved the work-life balance puzzle. Apart from all the perks, there is a clear need for labour as the younger generation will not be able to fill in for the baby-boomers.
The University of Helsinki admits a large number of exchange students every year. The process of applying as an exchange student is lengthy. It requires numerous documents such as an application form, motivation letter, learning agreement, transcript of records, language certificate, invitation letter – this letter is needed if you wish to engage in practical work. Students are also required to apply for housing via the mobility online application portal.
The age group allowed to work as Au Pair is 17-30, the purpose is to enable the youth to learn about Finnish culture. Applicants are required to show how much they have already learned about the country and the language. There are laws regarding holidays (one per week, two successive holidays every two weeks, and enough time to learn the language). The pocket money provided is a minimum of 280 euros every month.
After your work permit as an Au Pair expires, an extension permit is not given on Au Pair grounds again. The host family should also not be closely related to you. You have obtained an accident and health insurance for the duration of your stay. Your health certificate (not older than three months) shows that you do not carry any infectious diseases.
All volunteering jobs may not be suitable for a foreigner. Some of these jobs require you to get trained in that area. However, volunteering in the waste management sector or working as a park pal in one of the national parks is easier.