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Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki (Finnish) or Helsingfors (Swedish) is the capital of Finland. Founded in 1550, the "Daughter of the Baltic" has been the Finnish capital since 1812, when it was rebuilt by the tsars of Russia along the lines of a miniature St. Petersburg, a role it has played in many a Cold War movie. Today, Helsinki pulls off the trick of being something of an international metropolis while still retaining a small-town feel. The best time to visit is in summer when Finns peel off their overcoats and flock to outdoor bars and cafes to enjoy the sunshine.

Tourist information

  • City of Helsinki Tourist Information Office, Corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Unioninkatu (just off Market Square), ☎ +358 9 3101-3300. M-F 9AM-8PM, Sa-Su 9AM-6PM; closes 6/4PM Oct-Apr. A fount... Read more

Helsinki, Finland

Destination:

Helsinki (Finnish) or Helsingfors (Swedish) is the capital of Finland. Founded in 1550, the "Daughter of the Baltic" has been the Finnish capital since 1812, when it was rebuilt by the tsars of Russia along the lines of a miniature St. Petersburg, a role it has played in many a Cold War movie. Today, Helsinki pulls off the trick of being something of an international metropolis while still retaining a small-town feel. The best time to visit is in summer when Finns peel off their overcoats and flock to outdoor bars and cafes to enjoy the sunshine.

Tourist information

  • City of Helsinki Tourist Information Office, Corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Unioninkatu (just off Market Square), ☎ +358 9 3101-3300. M-F 9AM-8PM, Sa-Su 9AM-6PM; closes 6/4PM Oct-Apr. A fount of information with helpful, multilingual staff. They also sell tickets to museums and sightseeing tours. There is also another one right in the

    Central Railway Station

    .

Climate

Helsinki is among the world's northernmost capitals and the lengthy winter is dark and chilly. Winter temperatures average −5 °C (23 °F), but the wind chill and humidity makes it feel even colder and the mercury can plunge below −20 °C (−4 °F) on a particularly cold day. Days are short. In general, snow falls only intermittently and often melts into grey slush. However lake-effect snowfalls dropping copious amounts of snow during a few hours (and messing up the traffic) is not unheard of in the early winter. Since the Helsinki peninsula juts into the sea, there is often a cold sea wind, and the climate is more maritime than inland, with snow and −5 °C (23 °F) replaced by slush, sleet and 0 °C (32 °F). This is especially apparent in November and December, but the first months of the year almost always have colder temperatures and clear skies.

The spring brings clear skies but the temperature doesn't increase as fast as the sunshine hours; even in April, you may experience sub-zero nights, even as the afternoon temperatures rise above 10 °C (50 °F). The summer is often pleasant. Daytime temperatures are usually around 20 °C (68 °F) and July and August afternoons often see temperatures above 25 °C, and unlike the rest of the year, you don't need a jacket or sweater even at nighttime. The sun sets late in the night and even then dusk turns into dawn without any real darkness in between. Parks burst into green, sunbathers dot the city's beaches and restaurants and bars deploy their terraces and patios, making the streetscape look more Central European for a couple of months. The autumn slowly develops throughout September with fall foliage and moderate temperatures; snow and seriously cold weather before early November are very uncommon.

 


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Helsinki, Finland: Port Information


Over 300 cruise ships and 400,000 cruise passengers visit Helsinki annually. There are international cruise ship docks in South Harbour, Katajanokka, West Harbour, and Hernesaari. Helsinki is the second busiest passenger port in Europe.
  • Hernesaari, Munkkisaari Quay. There are Internet access, souvenirs, toilets, and guide service. You can take bus 14. The city center is within 10 minutes by taxi, 15 minutes by bus and 30 minutes on foot. 
  • West Harbour, Melkki Quay. There are souvenirs, tourist information, several dining venues, and other facilities. The city center is within 15 minutes by taxi, 10 minutes by tram and 30 minutes on foot. 
  • Katajanokka, Quay for cruises and Katajanokka Quay.  You can take Tram 4 or 5. The city center is within 10 minutes by taxi, 10 minutes by tram and 15 minutes on foot. 
  • South Harbour, Olympia Terminal, Olympiaranta 1. West shore of the bay. The terminal has a money exchange, an ATM, luggage lockers, a trolley rental, a restaurant, kiosk, and the Silja Line service point. The terminal was built for the 1952 Olympic Games, hence the name. Trams 2 and 3 stop almost right outside the terminal. The city center is within 5 minutes by taxi, 5 minutes by bus and 10 minutes on foot. 
  • South Harbour, Makasiini Terminal, Eteläranta 7. West shore of the bay. Linda Line fast catamarans M/S Merilin and M/S Karolin arrive at Makasiini Terminal during open water season. The terminal has a kiosk, currency exchange, luggage lockers, and Linda Line and Silja Line service points. Trams 2 and 3 pass near the terminal. The city center is within 5 minutes by taxi, 5 minutes by bus and 10 minutes on foot.

Get around Helsinki, Finland


All public transport within Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen is coordinated by HSL. There is quite a variety of tickets and fares but the following basic ticket types are the most common ones:

  • Tram ticket (raitiovaunulippu) — valid for one hour on trams only
  • Single ticket (kertalippu) — valid on all HSL services within city limits for one hour.
  • Regional ticket (seutulippu) — valid for 80min within and between Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen
  • Full region ticket — the above plus Kerava, Sipoo and Kirkkonummi, valid 100 minutes (1 hour 40 minutes)

The single ticket allows you to travel by almost any local public transportation method (buses, trains, trams, metro, Suomenlinna ferry) within the boundaries of Helsinki. The Regional ticket covers almost any public transportation method within the boundaries of Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo, and Kauniainen. However, if you purchase a Tram ticket, you are allowed to travel only by tram. All tickets allow unlimited transfers within their validity periods and regions. Unlike public transportation tickets in many other cities, the ticket is not invalidated if you exit the vehicle before the time has expired. Children under the age of seven travel free, while tickets for children under the age of 16 are half price.

Fares can be paid by cash when boarding (except the cheap tram ticket, you get a single ticket instead), by sending a text message to 16355 (valid on trams, metro and some buses; requires a Finnish SIM card) or by Travel Card (matkakortti), a smartcard sold at the R-kioskis and HSL offices, very similar to London's Oyster card. Using the Travel Card is slightly cumbersome, as you must hold your card against the reader and simultaneously press the numbered button corresponding to the desired ticket type. Hold the card without pressing anything to see the remaining value or to register a transfer. One unadvertised but handy feature of the card is that it can be used by multiple people at once — just hold and press the button repeatedly, and the reader will beep and show "2x", "3x", etc. (For any subsequent transfers, holding it against the reader once is sufficient.) A travel card for non-residents can be bought at most R-kioski stores and can be cost-effective if you are using many single tickets (including multiple people sharing the card).

Alternatively, you can opt for the Helsinki Card or HSL Day Ticket, both of which offer unlimited travel within the city.

  • Helsinki Card. The Helsinki Card also offers free admission to a number of museums and other attractions.
  • HSL Day Ticket (matkailijalippu). Tickets are sold at HSL offices, R-Kioskis located in the city center, ticket vending machines or by the driver.

The very useful HSL Journey Planner will get you from a street address, place or sight to another by suggesting possible public transport connections, covering the entire metropolitan Helsinki region. Try e.g. "Airport" or "Railway station" for place names. It is also available in several third-party mobile apps for most smartphones, which can use GPS to find your current location.

There are no ticket checks when getting on the metro, trains, trams or the Suomenlinna ferry, but ticket inspectors in blue uniforms or without uniforms do random checks on board.

By tram

For tourists, the most convenient and scenic means of travel is the extensive tram network, especially lines 2 and 3 that together do a figure-eight circuit around the city (both run the length of the loop, the tram just changes signs halfway through), as well as the circular lines 7A (clockwise) and 7B (counterclockwise). Trams and HSL offices usually stock informative leaflets listing the attractions along the routes. For an up-to-date route map and additional information check out HKL's website.

There is also a free Helsinki Sightseeing 3T Tram Audio Guide available for downloading here (the route has changed a bit since the audio guide was made and so has the number of the tram).

From Wednesday to Friday, try to spot the silver-colored Culture Tram featuring live performances, art exhibitions and video installations on the route of tram 7B.

NOTE: The circular lines 3T and 3B were renamed 2 and 3 in 2013. The routes are still the same. Chances are that you will run into paper maps and secondary sources where the old numbers are used.

By bus

While the trams operate in the city center, buses cover the rest of the city. The main stations for northbound and eastbound buses are on the two squares adjacent to the Central Railway Station: Eliel Square (Elielinaukio) and Railway Square (Rautatientori). Westbound buses operate from the underground bus station in the Kamppi Center which is adjacent to the Kamppi metro station.

Buses are always entered through the front door and exited through the middle and backdoors. When getting on the bus with a ticket you have bought earlier, you need to show it to the driver. If you don't have a ticket, you can buy one from the driver in cash. If you are using a travel card, follow the instructions given above.

By metro

Helsinki's metro holds the minor distinction of being the northernmost subway system in the world with Mellunmäki being the northernmost station. There's a single line which runs from the center to eastern suburbs, but apart from the Itäkeskus shopping center, Rastila camping site, and Aurinkolahti Beach, few places along the line are of interest to tourists. After Itäkeskus, the line splits in two, with one line going to Mellunmäki and the other to Vuosaari. Traveling between Ruoholahti and Mellunmäki or Vuosaari takes 21–22 minutes.

By train

VR's suburban trains operate north from the Central Railway Station, branching out in three directions. HSL city tickets are valid within city limits, regional tickets on suburban trains to Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen.

All carriages on local trains have the electronic readers which allow you to buy a fare with a travel card. If you want to buy a ticket in cash, you must go to a ticket sales carriage (lipunmyyntivaunu) and buy a ticket from the train conductor. The ticket sales carriages are indicated with signs by the doors and on the windows (the middle section of the rearmost set of cars for multi-unit trains). There is also a large sign on the station platform showing where the ticket sales carriages should stop. Note that you will have to stop the conductor and ask for a ticket yourself, otherwise she or he will simply walk past you.

By ferry

The HSL ferry to

Suomenlinna

from the

Market Square

(Kauppatori) is a cheap and popular summer getaway. Another HSL operated ferry, mostly used only by the island's residents, leaves from the eastern end of Katajanokka. In addition, private operators provide ferries to Suomenlinna and various other islands during the summer; however, schedules can be sparse. HSL's Day Ticket and mobile-phone ticket are both valid also on the Suomenlinna ferry.

By taxi

Taxis in Helsinki are expensive. Taxi fares are regulated by the government and are reviewed annually. The rate increases if there are more than two passengers. Generally, baggage that is considered large enough to warrant an extra charge is baggage that won't fit in the trunk easily, for example, without folding down the back seat. This charge is also applied if you are traveling with a large pet - although service dogs travel free.

During some popular events or holidays, it can be difficult to find a free taxi. Walk to the nearest taxi stand or try to book one by phone from Taxi Helsinki 0100-0700 or Lähitaksi 0100-7300. To pre-order a taxi for a given time, call 0100-0600. A pre-order can be placed for a taxi maximum two weeks prior to the time the taxi is needed, and a minimum of a half an hour before. A pre-order fee will be added to the taxi fare.

Drivers are not required to pick up a person hailing them on the street. If their light is on, and they pass a person hailing them, it is usually because there is a taxi stand very near by with available taxis waiting for customers. If you are not near a taxi stand, you will very likely be able to hail a passing taxi with the light on.

Helsinki Limo will provide private car services as transfers and longer trips. Their vehicles are always new and black with leather interior. Worth of asking offers either from info@helsinkilimo.com or simply calling +358 20-787-0360. Drivers speak English and can even, by order, give short sightseeings. Quality company.

Yellow Line is a good and cost-effective option. Minivans carry up to seven or eight passengers and drop passengers off at their individual destinations. 

By bike

If you rent a bicycle, you'll find an extensive network of bike routes within the city. Bikers are required by law to ride on the street next to cars unless a bike lane or integrated pedestrian/cyclists sidewalk runs next to it, and the police ticket cyclists breaking this rule. Bike lanes are clearly marked by street markings and blue traffic signs. Biking is also allowed on pedestrian streets.

Downtown bike lanes are typically on the sidewalks (instead of next to car lanes on the street) so be aware of pedestrians. Don't be afraid to ring your bell! Review your bike map carefully, as some bike routes will stop and require you to walk your bike or drive next to cars. There is also a journey planner for cycling. Once you get out of the city centre, cycling is less complicated and there are great, well-labeled paths.

Public libraries often have free biking maps for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. If they are not visibly displayed on tables, ask for one from the staff.

If an ordinary bike isn't enough for you, you can also rent a cyclerickshaw (riksa) large enough for three from Riksavuokraus (tel. +358 50-5582525) in Eiranranta near Kaivopuisto.

Baana

Baana - Helsinki's new "Low Line" (as opposed to NYC's High Line) opened on June 12, 2012, providing pedestrians and cyclists with a 1.3 km long connector between the Western Harbour area to Kamppi and Töölö Bay. At the Harbour end, you can see all the international cruise ships that stop in Helsinki and visit a free sightseeing terrace with MiG-21BIS fighter jet on display - located at the Verkkokauppa.com electronics store. On the Kamppi end, there's a bicycle hire centre and cultural activities and sights.

By walking

Don't forget walking! The central part of Helsinki is compact and easily walkable. There is no need for public transportation in the main Kamppi-Central railway station area where many attractions are, and even anywhere on the main peninsula (south of the train station) is within 30 minutes at a nice leisurely pace.

By car

Car rental is not a particularly good way of getting around Helsinki, since parking is limited and expensive. Most street-side parking in the city centre is in "Zone 1." There are also several large underground car parks at the Kamppi and Forum shopping centres. Nevertheless, central Helsinki is relatively difficult to get around by car due to restrictions, and is congested in the morning 06.30-08.30 towards the city and in the afternoon 15:00-17:00 towards the suburbs - the ring roads are congested both directions at both times. For instance, if driving from Porvoo to central Helsinki at around 16:00, one can expect to spend half an hour driving 47 km to the end of the expressway and another half an hour to drive 7 km to the Kamppi centre.

What to see in Helsinki, Finland


Surrounded by sea and a vast archipelago, Helsinki is at its best in the summer when the dialogue between the city and nature is at its fullest. Classical Helsinki's sights can be divided into an eclectic set of churches and a wide variety of museums. For a coastal amble past some of Helsinki's minor and major sights, see the itinerary A seaside stroll in Helsinki.

Museums and galleries

Many of Helsinki's museums are as interesting from the outside as from the inside. Architecture buffs will get a kick out of Helsinki's Neo-Classical center, centered around Senate Square (Senaatintori), where a statue of the liberal Russian czar Alexander II stands guard. Aleksanterinkatu and the Railway Station square also have some beautiful neo-classical buildings — look out for the Romantic Kalevala-esque themes — but unfortunately, these areas also have many concrete monstrosities mixed in.

Islands

If you see only one place in Helsinki in the summer, make it Suomenlinna. Entry to the island itself is free, but you need to pay for the ferry ride. The HSL ferry from Market Square is the cheapest and most convenient way of getting there. The ferry is a part of the Helsinki local traffic, so if you have an HSL Day Ticket it includes ferry travel. The ferry runs approximately every half hour. On summer weekends the island is a popular picnic destination and you may have to wait for a long time as hundreds of people crowd the ferry terminal. In this case, it may be worth it to use the more expensive private ferry company at the other end of the Market Square.

Suomenlinna is far from the only island, a beautiful archipelago (saaristo) surrounds the Helsinki city center. The major islands are Korkeasaari with the eponymous zoo, Seurasaari with its open-air museum and Pihlajasaari with its beach. In addition to these, there are scheduled services to many smaller islands, and you can also tour them by sightseeing cruise. Most of the cruises depart from the Western corner of the Market Square and last from one to several hours. Note most ferries and cruises operate only in the summer high season.

What to do in Helsinki, Finland


Cinema

The situation with movie theaters in Helsinki has deteriorated in recent years when one by one small theaters have closed their doors.

Foreign films are mostly shown in the original language with Finnish (and usually Swedish) subtitles.

In downtown Helsinki, there are two large multiplexes: Tennispalatsi located in Salomonkatu 15, Kamppi and Kinopalatsi in Kaisaniemenkatu 2, Kaisaniemi, both maintained by Finnkino, the largest movie theater chain in Finland. In addition, Finnkino operates a historical cinema with two screens, Maxim in Kluuvikatu 1, Kluuvi.

Theaters concentrating on classic and art house films are few and far between in Helsinki today. The movie theater Orion, Eerikinkatu 15, run by the Finnish National Audiovisual Archive, displays a wide variety of films, including classics.

There are also some (small) independent movie theaters in neighboring Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen showing mainly the bigger blockbusters: Bio Grand in Tikkurila, Vantaa, Bio Jaseka in Myyrmäki, Vantaa, Bio Grani in Kauniainen and Kino Tapiola in Tapiola, Espoo. Many of them have a matinée series of cheaper, more art house screenings supported by the local culture board. In addition, Finnkino operates three screens in Omena cinema in the Iso Omena shopping center in Matinkylä, Espoo as well as six screens in Flamingo multiplex in the entertainment center Flamingo in Vantaa. In Leppävaara, Espoo there are also six screens in the Bio Rex multiplex at Sello shopping center.

Luckily, several film festivals enrich the cinema culture in the Helsinki region. The biggest is the Helsinki International Film Festival - Love and Anarchy held annually in September. Espoo has its own international film festival Espoo Ciné held every August in Tapiola and Leppävaara. In January, Helsinki Documentary Film Festival Docpoint takes over. Some of the smaller film festivals include (to name few) Lens Politica showing political films and art, Helsinki Short Film Festival for short films, Artichoke Film Festival concentrating on films of and by women, and Night Visions focusing on horror, fantasy, science fiction, action and cult cinema. Cinemania website collects at least some of the festivals together and also sells passes of 5 or 10 screenings that may be used in several festivals. However, check the site for the most up-to-date information as the ticket policy varies from festival to festival.

Concerts

Helsinki has an active cultural life and tickets are generally inexpensive.

  • tiketti. There are many lives of many genres. So you must browse what show will be held and buy a ticket.
  • tavastia. Live club with rock/ pop/jazz lives.

Important performing groups include:

  • Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (Kaupunginorkesteri). Performances have recently moved to the Music House, a brand new visually questionable but acoustically excellent concert hall. On selected Wednesdays, you can go see dress rehearsals. The rehearsals start at 9.30 AM. Check availability on the site before showing up at the Music House!
  • UMO Jazz Orchestra. An important part of Finnish jazz life, known for performing new Finnish music alongside interesting shows, such as with new circus. Various venues.

At sea

Helsinki is on the Finnish Gulf, and several cruise liners arrange trips out to the archipelago ranging from short hops lasting only an hour or two to trips ranging a full day.
  • Söderskär Lighthouse (Royal Line from Kauppatori market), ☎ +358 400-502-771, e-mail: majakka@soderskar.fi. July-mid Aug: Tu The Sa at 11:00. An old secluded lighthouse island out at sea, in the middle of a bird reserve. Day trips are arranged by Royal Line, including lunch, a guided tour of the lighthouse (Finnish/English) and a couple of hours to linger on the island.
  • Skippered Day Sailing, Laivastokatu 1, Katajanokka, ☎ +358 50-592-9141, e-mail: toimisto@tulepurjehtimaan.com. Leaves daily 10:00. Visit the coastal archipelago on a 35 ft sailboat, for two hours or full day trips with an experienced skipper. Island hopping is also possible.

What to eat and drink in Helsinki, Finland


Eat

Helsinki has by far the best cosmopolitan restaurants in Finland, and is a good place to escape the usual diet of meat and potatoes... if you can foot the bill, that is. As usual in Finland, the best time to eat out is lunch. Lunch sets are typically served from 10:30 AM to 2 PM, but the times vary between venues. Almost every place will have at least one vegetarian option.

A surprisingly large number of restaurants close down for a month or more in summer (July–August), so call ahead to avoid disappointment.

Budget choices are largely limited to fast food, although there are a couple of workaday Finnish eateries in the mix. In addition to McDonald's and its Finnish imitators Hesburger/Carrols, Helsinki is also full of pizza and kebab places. A more healthy option is Unicafe, a chain of restaurants owned by the Helsinki University student union, which has around 10 outlets in central Helsinki. There are also many other lunch restaurants for students that serve affordable food also for non-students. During lunch time, usually from 11 AM to 3 PM, most restaurants serves food for reasonable prices.

Two classes of fine dining stand out in Helsinki: fresh seafood and Russian. During the dark days of the Soviet Union, it was sometimes said that the best Russian restaurants in the world were across the border in Helsinki. For something authentically Finnish and uniquely Helsinki, try Vorschmack, an unusual but surprisingly tasty mix of minced lamb and herring, served with chopped pickles and sour cream (smetana).

Cafés

Finland is the largest coffee consuming nation per capita and coffee breaks are written into law. However, in Finland, most coffee is filter-brewed from a light, more caffeinated, roast that is quite different to what the rest of the world drinks. Finns often enjoy a bun (pulla) or cinnamon bun (korvapuusti) with their coffee.

In Finland commonly espressos and lattes are called "special coffees" and a large number of establishments that make such coffees have popped up all over town ever since the nineties when they arrived. One which will give any Italian cafeteria a go for their money is La Torrefazione next to Stockmann. In the more common cafeterias the normal light brew coffee is sold by self-service at the counter even at some more expensive cafeterias (there is only a handful of cafeterias serving to the table in Helsinki - this shows how commonplace coffee drinking is considered).

Drink

Bars and pubs

Helsinki has plenty of hip places for a drink. The main nightlife districts, all in the city center within crawling distance of each other, are around Iso-Roobertinkatu, the Central Railway Station and Kamppi. Helsinki's busy gay nightlife is centered mostly around Iso-Roobertinkatu and Eerikinkatu and surrounding streets.

The drinking age is 18, and this is rather strictly enforced, so bring along ID. Underaged drinking is still a huge problem, and many bars and clubs apply house limits of 20–24 years, but these are enforced less strictly and a patron of younger age will sometimes be let in if one fits the clientele, especially women.

 

Shopping in Helsinki, Finland


Shopping in Helsinki is generally not so expensive, fans of Finnish and Nordic design will find plenty of things of interest. You can also enjoy the season of sales and discounts (in January and July). Since 2016, opening hours have been fully liberalized, but most large shops and department stores still have the normal hours of weekdays from 9 AM-9 PM, Saturdays 9 AM-6 PM, and Sunday noon-6 PM. A notable exception is the Asematunneli complex, located underground adjacent to the Central Railway Station, most shops here are open until 10 PM almost every day of the year. Because of the recent change of laws, hours are still in a state of flux and for the most part, you could expect them to get longer.

All S-markets are open until 10 PM every day. At least the major supermarkets K-Supermarket and Lidl in the Kamppi Center (see below) are open until 10 PM each day, and the S-Market supermarket below Sokos, next to the railway station, is open 24/7. Small grocery stores and the R-Kioski convenience store chain, are open until 10 PM or 11 PM (or later) year-round, too. A handful of small Alepa grocery stores are open 24 hours a day. In the center, you will also find small Delish and Pick A Deli convenience stores in the city center, open 24 hours a day year round but more expensive than regular grocery stores. On holidays, many stores are closed (though we need to see how this changes with the new opening hour laws), but at least the central S-supermarket (Sokos) and K-supermarket (Kamppi) are historically barely affected by holidays. Historically, other centrally located small grocery stores and R-kioskis have some holiday opening hours, too.

In the neighboring cities of Vantaa and Espoo, you can also find big shopping malls. Vantaa has Jumbo(including Flamingo) and Myyrmanni, while Espoo has the centers of Sello, and Iso Omena. All of these are easily accessible by public transport or by car (free parking).

Design

There are high-end design stores around Aleksanterinkatu and Etelä-Esplanadi. The Design District Helsinki area around Uudenmaankatu and Iso Roobertinkatu is full of design and antique shops, fashion stores, museums, art galleries, restaurants and showrooms. Here you can find the most interesting names, classics, trend-setters and so much more. Visit Design Forum Finland at Erottajankatu 7 to get a map of shops and galleries.

Markets

Most outdoor markets in Helsinki are open only in summer, but the market halls are open all year round. They are great places to taste Finnish delicacies. The three major market halls are the Old Market Hall, Hietaniemi and Hakaniemi.

Records

Helsinki has a selection of great "underground" record stores with a greatly varying selection of both Finnish and international music. Most of them also sell vinyl (12, 10 or 7 inch). Generally speaking, prices aren't cheap, but the selection may be worth it. Some of the more collectible stuff may even be cheaper than elsewhere.

If you have only a limited amount of time, check out the record stores around Viisikulma, a brisk walk from the city center.

Clothing

In addition to Aleksanterinkatu, various fashion boutiques can be found along Fredrikinkatu, a 10-15 minute walk south from the railway station. Of course, you can also head to department stores and malls like Stockmann, Kamppi and Forum.

Safety in Helsinki, Finland


Helsinki is a safe city for its size. Just use your common sense, and steer clear of overly loud groups of young men.

There are rare exceptional health hazards, although the extreme cold in the winter should be borne in mind by visitors, especially those planning outdoor activities. Whilst in summer the temperature rises occasionally to 30°C, in the winter months it can drop to around -30°C for a week or two. Dressing warmly is a must. If you forget to bring winter clothing, you can always visit local shops for appropriate apparel. Also, watch out for slippery sidewalks in winter. Thousands of people slip and injure themselves every winter! Winter-time driving needs also special caution as the roads may be very slippery with ice and/or snow.
In emergencies, phone 112 (free from all phones).

Crime
The crime rate in Helsinki is generally low – Helsinki being maybe one of the safest capitals in Europe – although locals grumble that things have gotten worse since the EU removed restrictions on movement. Pickpockets target crowds and bicycles are prone to petty theft. Walking in the streets after dark is generally safe and the city center is indeed quite lively until the early hours of the morning. However, it's best to steer clear of obviously drunk people looking to pick a fight. Getting mugged for money in the streets of central Helsinki is almost unheard of, but you might not want to get into any unlicensed taxis even though the licensed ones are almost always way short of demand during pre-Christmas and summer seasons. A licensed taxi in Finland will always have a yellow box with its number on the roof.

Pedestrian safety
In winter, try to keep a steady footing: despite the use of vast quantities of gravel and salt, pavements can be quite slippery when the temperature hovers around zero and near-invisible black ice forms.

Language spoken in Helsinki, Finland


The city is officially bilingual, with an 86% Finnish-speaking majority and a visible 6% Swedish-speaking minority. Many in the Finnish-speaking majority only know the basics of Swedish, which they learned in school, while some speak it fluently.

The majority of Finnish-speaking people are much more comfortable with speaking English than Swedish, and especially the younger generations usually speak very good English. Although locals will appreciate an effort to say a few words in Finnish, they know very well how difficult Finnish is and will readily switch to English – many people also like the chance to practice their English.

Finnish letters are always pronounced the same way, regardless of context (unlike e.g. English "a" in "car" and "hat"), with letters doubled for long sounds. Word stress is always on the first syllable. This makes it easy to learn how words should be pronounced, while actually pronouncing them correctly may be quite difficult.

Street signs and most other signs are usually in both Finnish and Swedish. In tourist-oriented areas, English signage is also prevalent. The Finnish and Swedish names for different streets and areas in Helsinki may differ significantly, for example, Suomenlinna/Sveaborg for the fortress or Pasila/Böle for one of the train stations.

LOCAL TIME

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August 18, 2019
Europe/Helsinki

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17.76 °C/64 °F
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Average: 9.5 (10 votes)

The Senate Square (Finnish: Senaatintori, Swedish: Senatstorget) presents Carl Ludvig Engel's architecture as a unique allegory of political,...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Helsinki Cathedral, Finland
Average: 9.9 (10 votes)

Helsinki Cathedral (Finnish: Helsingin tuomiokirkko, Suurkirkko; Swedish: Helsingfors domkyrka, Storkyrkan) is the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Ateneum, Helsinki, Finland
Average: 9.4 (10 votes)

For similarly named entities, see Athenaeum (disambiguation) Ateneum is an art museum in Helsinki, Finland and one of the museums of the Finnish...
http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en ||| Free Art License Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland
Average: 9.8 (10 votes)

Temppeliaukio Church (Finnish: Temppeliaukion kirkko, Swedish: Tempelplatsens kyrka) is a Lutheran church in the Töölö neighborhood of Helsinki. The...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5 ||| Public domain Linnanmäki, Helsinki, Finland
Average: 9.3 (10 votes)

Linnanmäki (Swedish: Borgbacken, colloquially Lintsi, literal translation Castle Hill) is an amusement park in Helsinki, Finland. It was opened on...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Seurasaari, Helsinki, Finland
Average: 9.7 (10 votes)

Seurasaari (Swedish: Fölisön) is an island and a district in Helsinki, Finland, known mostly as the location of the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, which...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 ||| Public domain National Museum of Finland, Helsinki
Average: 9.2 (10 votes)

The National Museum of Finland (Finnish: Kansallismuseo, Swedish: Nationalmuseum) presents Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present day,...
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html ||| GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki, Finland
Average: 9.6 (10 votes)

Uspenski Cathedral (Finnish: Uspenskin katedraali, Swedish: Uspenskij-katedralen, Russian: Успенский собор, Uspenskij sobor) is an Eastern Orthodox...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5 ||| Public domain Natural History Museum of Helsinki, Finland
Average: 9 (10 votes)

The Natural History Museum of Helsinki (Finnish: Luonnontieteellinen museo, Swedish: Naturhistoriska museet) is an exhibition of the Finnish Museum...

Latest travel blogs about Helsinki, Finland




Walking Through Helsinki


Let's take a walk through  Helsinki ! This is a monument to the Finnish writer Aleksis Kivi, on the Helsinki railway station square.  There was some action near the Blacksmiths. I wonder what they are protesting? This giant fish sticks out of the ground at the House of Music. I...

If you have a tourist Helsinki Card, you can get a free tour on the Panorama bus. You'll save 31 Euros, which is the usual cost of the tour. In this post I will show you the route and the places we visited during the tour. Intersection of the Fabianinkatu street and the ...
I went to Finland for the first time. A lot of things were new to me. I'll try to include all my curious moments, interesting details and episodes from the life of the city ( Helsinki ). This was the first picture taken near a station. The day promised to be interesting. This is the ...
This sculpture really impressed me. The monument,  Sibelius Monument,  was created by Eila Hiltunen. The construction is situated in the middle of a park in  Helsinki . Sibelius used to live nearby when he was young, there's also a street named after him. The memorial...
What about a cup of coffee... in a church! This is not a joke, I was also surprised. I was walking down the street called Fredrikinkatu, in  Helsinki, and saw a Lutheran church. I went to its entrance and saw a flickering screen inviting visitors to the church for a cup of coffee...
You can find Solo Sokos Torni Hotel in a five-minute walk from a train station and the  Esplanadi Park . Well, this is just a usual hotel, there were a lot of them in the  Helsinki center. However, there is a nuance: there's the Ateljee bar on the 15th floor, and you...
Tourist cards enable you to visit museums for free, get discounts on entertainment and take public transport throughout  Helsinki . You can find such offers in many cities around the world. How does it work? How much does it cost? Does this card help you save money? I'll explain my own...

Helsinki, Finland shore excursions