Helsinki: Wikis


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—  City  —
Helsingin kaupunki
Helsingfors stad
Port of Helsinki and the Helsinki Cathedral in March.

Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Stadi, Hesa
Location of Helsinki in Europe
Coordinates: 60°10′15″N 024°56′15″E / 60.17083°N 24.9375°E / 60.17083; 24.9375Coordinates: 60°10′15″N 024°56′15″E / 60.17083°N 24.9375°E / 60.17083; 24.9375
Country Finland
Region Uusimaa
Sub-region Helsinki
Charter 1550
Capital city 1812
 - Mayor Jussi Pajunen
Area (2009-01-01)[1]
 - City 715.55 km2 (276.3 sq mi)
 - Land 213 km2 (82.2 sq mi)
 - Water 502.55 km2 (194 sq mi)
 - Urban 769.48 km2 (297.1 sq mi)
 - Metro 2,969.54 km2 (1,146.5 sq mi)
Area rank 167th largest in Finland
Population (2009-12-31)[2]
 - City 583,484
 Density 2,739.36/km2 (7,094.9/sq mi)
 Urban 1,034,106
 - Urban Density 1,343.9/km2 (3,480.7/sq mi)
 Metro 1,310,755
 - Metro Density 441.4/km2 (1,143.2/sq mi)
Population rank Largest in Finland
Population by native language [3]
 - Finnish 84.3% (official)
 - Swedish 6.1% (official)
 - Others 9.6%
Population by age [4]
 - 0 to 14 13.7%
 - 15 to 64 72%
 - 65 or older 14.3%
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Municipal tax rate[5] 17.5%

Helsinki (About this sound listen ; Swedish: Helsingfors, About this sound listen ) is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the southern part of Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, by the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is 583,484 (31 December 2009),[2] making it the most populous municipality in Finland by a wide margin. Helsinki is located some 400 kilometers east of Stockholm, Sweden, 300 kilometers west of St. Petersburg, Russia and 80 kilometers north of Tallinn, Estonia. Helsinki has close connections with these three cities.

The municipality of Helsinki forms the heart of the Helsinki metropolitan area and Greater Helsinki area. Over one million people live in the Helsinki metropolitan area, which includes the city of Helsinki and three other cities. Two of these cities, Espoo and Vantaa, immediately border Helsinki to the west and north. Kauniainen, the third city, is an enclave within the city of Espoo. The Helsinki metropolitan area is the northernmost urban area on Earth with a population of over 1 million people, and the city is the northernmost capital of an EU member state. Altogether 1.3 million people live in the Greater Helsinki area, which includes the aforementiond cities and 9 suburban satellite towns. Approximately 1 in 4 Finns live in the Greater Helsinki area.

Helsinki is Finland's major political, educational, financial, cultural and research center. Helsinki is also an important regional city on the Baltic Sea and northern Europe. Greater Helsinki has eight universities and six technology parks.[6] Approximately 70% of foreign companies operating in Finland have settled in the Helsinki region.[6]

Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of the municipality of Helsinki. The majority, or 84,3%[7] of the population, speak Finnish as their native language. A minority, at 6,1%, speak Finland Swedish. Those that speak a native language other than Finnish or Swedish stand at around 9,6% of the population.

Since early 2009, Helsinki has begun to contemplate a possible merger with Vantaa. On 30 March 2009, the city council of Vantaa agreed to review Helsinki's proposal of a possible merger. The city council emphasizes that the review is not about the possibility of ceasing the existence of the city of Vantaa.[8]

In 2009, Helsinki was chosen to be the World Design Capital for 2012[9] by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. Helsinki narrowly beat Eindhoven for the title.



The Swedish name Helsingfors ([hɛlsiŋˈfɔrs] or [hɛlsiŋˈfɔʂ]) is the original name of the city of Helsinki (in the very beginning, in the form 'Hellssingeforss'). The Finnish language form of the city's name probably originates from 'Helsinga' and similar names used for the river that is currently known as Vantaanjoki as documented already in the 14th century. Helsinki (pronounced with the stress on the first syllable: [ˈhelsiŋki]), is used to refer to the city in all languages except Swedish and Norwegian. Helsingfors comes from the name of the surrounding parish, Helsinge (source for Finnish Helsinki) and the rapids (in Swedish: fors), which flowed through the original village. The name Helsinge was possibly given by medieval Swedish settlers who came from Hälsingland in Sweden. Another possibility is that the name is derived from the Swedish word hals (neck), referring to the narrowest part of the river, i.e. the rapids.[10] Finnish speakers replaced those that spoke Swedish as a majority of the city's inhabitants in 1890[11], nearly 30 years before Finland's independence. In 2008, 35,125[12] people spoke Swedish as their first language, comprising 6 percent of Helsinki's population.

In Helsinki slang the town is also called Stadi (from the Swedish word stad, meaning city) and Hesa in colloquial Finnish. Helsset is the North Sami name of Helsinki.


Early history

Central Helsinki in 1820 before rebuilding. Drawing by Carl Ludvig Engel.

Helsinki was founded by King Gustav I of Sweden in 1550 as the town of Helsingfors, which he intended to be a rival to the Hanseatic city of Reval (today: Tallinn). Little came of the plans as Helsinki remained a small coastal town for a long time, plagued by poverty, wars, and diseases. The plague of 1710 killed the greater part of the inhabitants of Helsinki.[13] The construction of the naval fortress Sveaborg (In Finnish Viapori, today also Suomenlinna) in the 18th century helped improve Helsinki's status, but it was not until Russia defeated Sweden in the Finnish War and annexed Finland as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809 that the town began to develop into a major city.

Czar Alexander I of Russia moved the capital from Turku to Helsinki to reduce Swedish influence in Finland. The Royal Academy of Turku, back then the only university in the country, was relocated to Helsinki in 1827 and eventually became the modern University of Helsinki. The move consolidated the city's new role, and helped set it on the path of continuous growth. This transformation is highly apparent in the downtown core, which was rebuilt in neoclassical style to resemble St. Petersburg. As elsewhere, technological advancements such as railroads and industrialization were key factors behind the city's growth.

Twentieth century

In 1918 the Finnish Civil War broke out and Helsinki fell to the Red Guards on January 28, the first day of the war. The Red side gained control of the whole of southern Finland after minor hostilities. Most members of the Senate fled to Vaasa, although some senators and officials remained in hiding in the capital. After the tide of war turned against the Red forces, German troops allied with the White Government took control of Helsinki in April 1918.[citation needed]

Unlike Tampere, Helsinki suffered relatively little damage in the war.[citation needed] After the White victory many former Reds were put in prison camps, the largest camp with some 13 300 prisoners was located on the fortress island of Suomenlinna in Helsinki. Although the civil war left a considerable scar in society, the standard of living in the country and the city began to improve in the following decade. Renowned architects such as Eliel Saarinen created utopistic plans for Helsinki, but they were never fully realized.[citation needed]

In the aerial bombings of the Winter War (1939–40) and the Continuation War (1941–44) Helsinki was attacked by Soviet bombers. The most intense air raids took place in the spring of 1944, when over two thousand Soviet planes dropped some 16,000 bombs in and around the city. Fortunately successful air defence efforts spared Helsinki from the destruction visited upon many other European cities.[citation needed]

Despite the tumultuous first half of the 20th century, Helsinki continued to develop steadily. A landmark event was the XV Olympiad (1952 Olympic Games) held in Helsinki. Finland's rapid urbanization in the 1970s, occurring relatively late in a European context, tripled the population in the metropolitan area and led to the development of the Helsinki Metro subway system. The Helsinki metropolitan area was one of the fastest growing urban centres in the European Union in the 1990s. The relatively sparse population density of Helsinki and its peculiar structure have often been attributed to this late growth spurt. The Helsinki metropolitan area is the second most sparsely populated EU-capital after Brussels.[14]


Helsinki seen from Spot Satellite
Suomenlinna has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.

Helsinki is spread across a number of bays and peninsulas and over a number of islands. The inner city area occupies a southern peninsula, which is rarely referred to by its actual name Vironniemi. Population density in certain parts of Helsinki's inner city area is very high, reaching 16,494 inhabitants per square kilometer (42,719/sq mi) in the district of Kallio, but as a whole Helsinki's population density of 3,050 inhabitants per square kilometer (7,899/sq mi) ranks it as quite sparsely populated in comparison to other European capital cities. Much of Helsinki outside the inner city area consists of postwar suburbs separated from each other by patches of forests. A narrow, ten kilometre (6.2 mi) long Helsinki Central Park that stretches from the inner city to the northern border of Helsinki is an important recreational area for residents.

Some notable islands in Helsinki include Seurasaari, Lauttasaari and Korkeasaari – which is also the country's biggest zoo – as well as the fortress island of Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) and the military island of Santahamina.


The city has a temperate continental climate.[citation needed] Owing to the mitigating influence of the Baltic sea and Gulf stream, temperatures in winter are much higher than the northern location might suggest, with the average in January and February around −5 °C.[15] Temperatures below −20 °C occur normally a week or two in a year. However, because of the latitude, days lasts less than six hours in the winter solstice, and the very cloudy weather at this time of year accentuates the darkness. Conversely, Helsinki enjoys long days in summer, almost nineteen hours at the summer solstice. The average maximum temperature from June through August is around 19 to 21 °C (70 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded at city centre was 31.6 °C (89 °F) on July 18, 1945 and the lowest was −34.3 °C (−30 °F) on January 10, 1987.[16]

Climate data for Helsinki
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 8.5
Average high °C (°F) −1.7
Average low °C (°F) −6.9
Record low °C (°F) −34.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 47
Snowfall cm (inches) 20
Sunshine hours 38 70 138 194 284 297 291 238 150 93 36 29 1,742
Source: Climatological statistics for the normal period 1971–2000[15] 2009-01-03[17] and [16]


The view across summertime Kaisaniemenlahti.
The Helsinki Cathedral is probably the most prominent building and symbol of the city.
Parliament of Finland on the right, and new supplemental offices on the left.

Carl Ludvig Engel (1778–1840) designed several neo-classical buildings in Helsinki. He was kept in Helsinki by a unique assignment, as he was elected to plan a new city centre all on his own. The city became low and wide at the time when most buildings had only two or three floors.[citation needed] The central point of Engel's city plan is the Senate Square, surrounded by the Government Palace, the main building of the University, and the enormous Cathedral, which was finished in 1852, twelve years after C. L. Engel's death. Engel's neo-classical plan of the city centre has later given Helsinki the epithet The White City Of The North.

Helsinki is, however, perhaps even more famous for its numerous Art Nouveau (Jugend in Finnish) buildings, designed in the early 1900s and strongly influenced by the Kalevala, which is a very popular theme in the national romantic art of that era. Helsinki's Art Nouveau style is also featured in large residential areas such as Katajanokka and Ullanlinna. The master of the Finnish Art Nouveau was Eliel Saarinen (1873–1950), whose architectural masterpiece was the Helsinki central railway station.

Helsinki also features several buildings by the world-renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898–1976), attributed as one of the pioneers in functionalism. Many of Aalto's works are either loved or hated. Aalto's buildings, such as the headquarters of the paper company Enso and the concert and congress house Finlandia Hall, have sparked much debate amongst Helsinki's inhabitants.

In addition to Aalto's work, there is a body of other noteworthy functionalist architecture in Helsinki, such as the Olympic Stadium, the Tennis Palace, the Rowing Stadium, the Swimming Stadium, the Velodrome, the Glass Palace, the Exhibition Hall (now Töölö Sports Hall) and Helsinki-Malmi Airport. The sports venues were built to serve the 1940 Helsinki Olympic Games; the games were initially cancelled due to the Second World War, but the venues eventually got to fulfill their purpose in the 1952 Olympic Games. Many of them are listed by DoCoMoMo as significant examples of modern architecture. The Olympic Stadium and Helsinki-Malmi Airport are in addition catalogued by the National Board of Antiquities as cultural-historical environments of national significance.[citation needed]

As a historical footnote, Helsinki's neoclassical buildings were often used as a backdrop for scenes set to take place in the Soviet Union in many Cold War era Hollywood movies, when filming in the USSR was not possible. Some of the more notable ones are The Kremlin Letter (1970), Reds (1981) and Gorky Park (1983). Because some of the streetscapes were reminiscent of Leningrad's and Moscow's old buildings, they were used in the production – much to some residents' dismay. At the same time the government secretly instructed Finnish officials not to extend assistance to such film projects.[18]

Helsinki panorama from Hotel Torni, a building famous for having been used by the Allied(Soviet) Control Commission in Helsinki after World War II. Torni, which means Tower in Finnish, is one of the highest buildings in the Helsinki cityscape.


Helsinki has eighty-five members in its city council. The three largest parties are National Coalition (26), Greens (21), and Social Democrats (16).


The population of nearly 585,000 people consists of 85 % whose native language is Finnish and 6.1 % whose native language is Swedish. 9.6% of the population have a native language that is not Finnish or Swedish. Helsinki has a higher proportion of women (53,4%) than elsewhere in Finland (51,1%). Helsinki’s current population density of 3,049.66 people per square kilometer is the highest in Finland by a wide margin. A man's life expectancy is 75.1 years in Helsinki as compared to the national average of 75.7 years. Women in Helsinki have a life expectancy of 81.7 years as compared to the national average of 82.5 years.[19][20]

Helsinki has experienced strong growth since the 1810s, when it replaced Turku as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland, which later became the sovereign Republic of Finland. The city continued to show strong growth from that time onwards, with the exception during the Finnish Civil War period. From the end of WW2 up until the 1970s there was a massive exodus of people from the countryside to the cities of Finland, in particular Helsinki. Helsinki's population doubled in a little over 20 years, from 1944 up to 1969 the population of the city nearly doubled from 275000[21] to 525600[22].

In the 1970s Helsinki's population growth began to slow down due to lack of housing in the capital. Many residents began to move to neighboring Espoo and Vantaa. The population growth in these neighboring cities has risen exponentially. Espoo went from having a population of 22,874 people in 1950 to 244,353 in 2009, a ninefold increase. Neighboring Vantaa has had more dramatic changes. Vantaa went from having a population of 14,976 in 1950 to 197,663 in 2009, a thirteen-fold increase. The dramatic increase in population pushed these cities to work in more cooperation with each other in such areas as public transportation[23] and waste management[24]. The increasing scarcity of housing and the higher costs of living in the Helsinki metropolitan area have pushed many daily commuters to find housing in formerly very rural areas, and even further, to such cities as Lohja (50 kilometers northwest from the city center), Hämeenlinna and Lahti (both 100 kilometers from Helsinki, and Porvoo (50 kilometers to the east).

The 1980s were a time of stalled growth in the city of Helsinki, when there was continuous migration to neighboring towns. Since the 1990s and into the 2000s, growth has been both positive and negative.[citation needed] Some reasons for a decline in the population are young families seeking cheaper housing with more green space nearby. The city of Helsinki's own predictions show that the current city of Helsinki should reach a population of 575,000 in 2015 and 586,000 in 2030. However, due to new housing construction within the acquired area of southwestern Sipoo the city should reach a population of well over 600,000 inhabitants.[citation needed]

The most important future population growth areas are including the newly acquired land area of Sipoo: Jätkäsaari, Kalasatama, Keski-Pasila and Kruunuvuorenranta.


The population of the city that does not hold Finnish citizenship stand at 5.2% (29 200) of the population. Those that were born outside Finland stand at 7.9% (44,400) of the population.[citation needed] 33% of foreigners resident in Helsinki are other EU nationals. In 2008, 55,245[25] residents spoke a native language other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami. The largest group of residents with a non-Finnish background come from Estonia (5,900), Russia (5,633), Somalia (2,400), China (1,150) and Thailand (680)[26]. Half of the immigrant population in Finland live in the Helsinki metropolitan area. One third of the immigrant population of Finland reside in the city of Helsinki.[27] 44% of the African population in Finland live in Helsinki. In 2001, out of all the EU-15 capitals, only Lisbon had a smaller share of immigrants in their population. There are some challenges to integration, as the immigrant unemployment rate on average is 2.5 times higher than native Finns[28] .


Kamppi Center, a shopping and transportation complex in the Kamppi district in the centre of Helsinki.

The Helsinki metropolitan area generates approximately one third of Finland's GDP. GDP per capita is roughly 1.5 times the national average[citation needed], making Helsinki one of the wealthiest capitals in Europe. Helsinki's GDP per capita is one of the highest of any city in the world.

The tap water is of excellent quality and it is supplied by 120 km (75 mi) long Päijänne Water Tunnel, one of the world's longest continuous rock tunnels. Bottled Helsinki tap water is even sold to countries such as Saudi Arabia.[29]

The employment rate in the Helsinki metropolitan area stands at around 75% and employment growth has been good. Around 20% work in manufacturing and construction, compared to 10% in London and 30% in Milan. In private-sector services the distribution is that 34.5% work in trade, 17% in transport, 8% in hotels and restaurants, 5.7% in financial services, and 34.5% in other market services.[citation needed]

The metropolitan area's gross value-added per capita is 200% of the mean of 27 European metropolitan areas. It equals Stockholm or Paris. The gross value-added annual growth has been around 4%.[30]

83 of the 100 largest Finnish companies are headquartered in Greater Helsinki. Two-thirds of the 200 highest-paid Finnish executives live in Greater Helsinki and 42% in Helsinki. The average income of the top 50 earners was 1.65 million euro.[31]


Main building of the University of Helsinki.
Haaga-Helia University Of Applied Sciences is the largest business polytechnic in Finland.

Helsinki has 190 comprehensive schools, 41 upper secondary schools and 15 vocational institutes. Half of the 41 upper secondary schools are private or state-owned, the other half municipal. Higher level education is given in eight universities (see the section "Universities" below) and four polytechnics.

Institutions of higher education



Helsinki is one of co-location centres of Knowledge and Innovation Community (Future information and communication society )of The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) [32]


Kiasma is a contemporary art museum located at the heart of Helsinki.

The biggest historical museum in Helsinki is the National Museum of Finland, which displays a vast historical collection from prehistoric times to the 21st century. The museum building itself, a national romantic style neo-medieval castle, is a tourist attraction. Other major historical museum is the Helsinki City Museum, which introduces visitors to Helsinki's 500 year history. The University of Helsinki also has many significant museums, including the University Museum and the Natural History Museum.

The Finnish National Gallery consists of three museums: Ateneum Art Museum for classical Finnish art, Sinebrychoff Art Museum for classical European art, and Kiasma Art Museum for modern art. The old Ateneum, a neo-renaissance palace from 19th century, is one of the city's major historical buildings, whereas the highly modern Kiasma is probably the most debated building in Helsinki. All three museum buildings are state-owned through Senate Properties.

Helsinki has three major theatres: The Finnish National Theatre, the Helsinki City Theatre, and the Finland Swedish Svenska Teatern. The city's main musical venues are the Finnish National Opera and the Finlandia concert-hall. Bigger concerts and events are usually held at one of the city's two big ice hockey arenas: the Hartwall Areena or the Helsinki Ice Hall. Helsinki has Finland's largest fair centre.

Helsinki is considered as one of the main hubs of popular music in Northern Europe, many widely renowned and acclaimed bands have originated in Helsinki, including HIM, Stratovarius, Norther, Wintersun, Finntroll, Ensiferum, The Rasmus, Shape of Despair, The 69 Eyes, Hanoi Rocks, and Apocalyptica.


Helsinki Arena hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2007, the first ever Eurovision Song Contest arranged in Finland, following Lordi's win in 2006.

Helsinki is the 2012 World Design Capital, in recognition of the use of design as an effective tool for social, cultural and economic development in the city. In choosing Helsinki, the World Design Capital selection jury highlighted Helsinki's use of 'Embedded Design', which has tied design in the city to innovation, "creating global brands, such as Nokia, Kone and Marimekko, popular events, like the annual Helsinki Design Week, outstanding education and research institutions, such as the University of Art and Design Helsinki, and exemplary architects and designers such as Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto".[33]


The Helsinki Olympic Stadium was the centre of activities during the 1952 Summer Olympics.

Helsinki has a long tradition of sports: the city gained much of its initial international recognition during the 1952 Summer Olympics, and the city has since then been very open to arranging sporting events, for example the first World Championships in Athletics 1983 and 2005, and European Championships in Athletics 1971, 1994 and 2012 etc. Helsinki hosts fairly successful local teams in both of the most popular team sports in Finland, football and ice hockey. Helsinki houses HJK, Finland's largest and most successful football club. Helsinki's track and field club Helsingin Kisa-Veikot is also pretty dominant in Finland. Ice Hockey is a sport of passion for many Helsinki residents, who usually take a stance for either of the local clubs HIFK or Jokerit. HIFK, with 14 Finnish championships titles, also plays in the highest bandy division,[34] so does Botnia -69. The Olympic stadium hosted the 1st ever Bandy World Championships in 1957.[35]


Helsinki region roads.


Helsinki has several ring roads: Kehä I, Kehä II, and Kehä III. From central city to east and west, there are Itäväylä and Länsiväylä. From the central city to north, there are several routes. There is a proposal to build a Stockholm-like tunnel under central Helsinki to hide cars from streets. Central Helsinki has popular underground parking facilities.

Helsinki has some 390 cars per 1000 inhabitants.[36] This is less than in cities of similar density, for instance, Brussels' 483 per 1000 and Stockholm's 401, and Oslo's 413.[37][38]

Rail transport and buses

The Helsinki Metro with its characteristic bright orange trains is the world's northernmost subway.
Malmi airport, one of the oldest in the world and Finland's- main general aviation airport.

Public transportation is generally a hotly debated subject in the local politics of Helsinki. In Helsinki, public transportation is mostly managed under Helsinki City Transport, the city's transportation authority. The diverse public transport system consists of trams, commuter rail, the subway, bus lines and two ferry lines. The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council manages traffic to the surrounding municipalities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.

Today, Helsinki is the only city in Finland to have trams or subway trains. There used to be two other cities in Finland with trams: Turku and Viipuri (Vyborg, now in Russia), but both have since abandoned trams. The Helsinki Metro, opened in the year 1982, is so far the only subway system in Finland. In 2006, the construction of the long debated extension of the subway system west into Espoo was approved, and serious debate about an eastern extension into Sipoo has taken place.[39]


Air traffic is handled primarily from the international Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, located approximately 19 kilometres (12 mi) north of Helsinki's downtown area, in the neighbouring city of Vantaa. Helsinki's second airport, Malmi Airport, is mainly used for general and private aviation. Copterline has provided fast (18 min.) helicopter flights to Tallinn, but discontinued the regular service in December 2008 on grounds of unprofitability.

Sea transport

Ferry connections to Tallinn and Stockholm are serviced by various companies. Finnlines passenger-freight ferries to Gdynia, Poland and Travemünde, Germany are also available, while Tallink began service to Rostock, Germany in 2007.


See also


  1. ^ "Area by municipality as of 1 January 2009" (in Finnish and Swedish) (PDF). Land Survey of Finland. Retrieved 20 February 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Population by municipality as of 31 December 2009" (in Finnish and Swedish). Population Information System. Population Register Center of Finland.$file/091231.htm. Retrieved 13 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Population according to language and the number of foreigners and land area km2 by area as of 31 December 2008". Statistics Finland's PX-Web databases. Statistics Finland. Retrieved 29 March 2009. 
  4. ^ "Population according to age and gender by area as of 31 December 2008". Statistics Finland's PX-Web databases. Statistics Finland. Retrieved 28 April 2009. 
  5. ^ "List of municipal and parish tax rates in 2010". Tax Administration of Finland. 24 November 2009.;25512. Retrieved 13 January 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Helsinki region in brief
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Vantaa city council agrees to a review of a possible merger proposal, Retrieved 30 March 2009.
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ "Utbildning & Vetenskap: Svenskfinland". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Ruttopuisto – Plague Park". Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  14. ^ 1 January 2007, Hufvudstadsbladet – Helsingfors en metropol om hundra år. Citing Professors Ache (metropolitan planning, Helsinki University of Technology) and Vaatovaara (University of Helsinki), and statistics from The European Economic Research Consortium
  15. ^ a b Climatological statistics for the normal period 1971–2000
  16. ^ a b "Ilmatieteen laitos – Sää ja ilmasto – Ilmastotilastot – Ilman lämpötila" (in Finnish). Finnish Meteorological Institute. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  17. ^ Karttunen, Hannu; Jarmo Koistinen, Elena Saltikoff, Olli Manner (1998). Ilmakehä ja sää. Ursa. ISBN 951-9269-87-8. 
  18. ^ Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Political Department: Memo 56 of 20 January 1982 (labelled highly confidential in 1982)PDF (1.37 MB)
  19. ^ Template:Verkkoviite
  20. ^ Tilasto
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Tilasto
  26. ^ Helsingissä asuu virlaisia enemmän kuin venäläisiä,
  27. ^
  28. ^ Jussi Pajunen jarruttaisi maahanmuuttoa
  29. ^ Bottled water sells, Finnfacts
  30. ^ The Regional Economy of Helsinki from a European Perspective
  31. ^ "Helsingin Sanomat – International Edition – Metro". 2005-11-09. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ Video from the Finnish final 2009 against OLS fromOulu:
  35. ^ Video from the tournament:
  36. ^ This is Helsinki, by City of Helsinki
  37. ^
  38. ^ "Tietokeskus: suunnatframe". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  39. ^ – an information portal dedicated to the "länsimetro" subway expansion in the Helsinki capital region.

External links

Preceded by
Athens, Greece 2006
Eurovision Song Contest Hosts Helsinki
Succeeded by
Belgrade, Serbia 2008

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Helsinki's symbol, the Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko)
Helsinki's symbol, the Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko)

Helsinki (Finnish) or Helsingfors (Swedish) [1] 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.

Helsinki's current population is about 575,000, but the Greater Helsinki region including the neighboring suburban cities of Espoo and Vantaa has a population of over 1.3 million.



Helsinki was founded in A.D. 1550 by King Gustav Vasa of Sweden as a trading post to compete with Tallinn to the south in Estonia, which was Danish at that time. The growth of the city was slow until the establisment of Sveaborg (nowadays Suomenlinna) Maritime Fortress in the front of Helsinki in the middle of 18th century. In 1809, Finland was annexed by Russia during a war of that period and the capital of Finland moved from Turku to Helsinki in 1812. The Czar felt the Grand Duchy of Finland needed a capital of grand proportions. The architects Johan Albrecht Ehrenström, a native Finn, and Carl Ludwig Engel, from Germany, were given the task of rebuilding the city in the Empire style. This can be seen today around the Lutheran Cathedral, which was completed in 1852. The same style, and even architects, is also a part of St. Petersburg's history. Though thoroughly a Scandinavian capital, Helsinki today reflects the influences gained from the occupiers - from the western and eastern cultures.

Helsinki metropolitan area
Helsinki metropolitan area

The county of Helsinki forms the core of Finland's largest urban area, known in Finnish as the "capital area" (pääkaupunkiseutu). The Gulf of Finland lies to the south, while the posh suburban municipality of Espoo, with the embedded tiny enclave of Kauniainen, is to the west. The more industrialized municipality of Vantaa is to the north. Beyond these three, the suburbs rapidly give way to farms and forests, most notably Nuuksio National Park at the intersection of Espoo, Vihti and Kirkkonummi.

Within Helsinki itself, the city center is on the southern peninsula at the end of the city's main thoroughfare Mannerheimintie (or just Mansku). Both the central railway station and the main bus terminal are in the city center. Shopping streets Aleksanterinkatu (or Aleksi for short) and Esplanadi (or Espa) connect to Senate Square (Senaatintori), the historical center of the city. See the Helsinki Guide Map [2] for an interactive searchable map of the city.

Tourist information

City of Helsinki Tourist Information Office, Corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Unioninkatu (just off Market Square), +358-9-31013300. Mon-Fri 9 AM-8 PM, Sat-Sun 9 AM-6 PM; closes 6/4 PM Oct-Apr. A fount of information with helpful, multilingual staff. They also sell tickets to museums and sightseeing tours.  edit

Overview map of Helsinki
Overview map of Helsinki


Helsinki is by far Finland's most cosmopolitan city and, while no London or New York, there is a fairly good cross section of people from around the world.

The city is officially bilingual, with a 86% Finnish-speaking majority and a visible 6% Swedish minority. In practice most people speak both and English as well, and it's not unusual to meet people who speak four languages or more. Staff at some stores, such as the Stockmann department store, wear name tags with national flags representing the languages they speak.


Helsinki's celebrations are among the most exciting in the country.

  • Vappu (Walpurgis Night), Apr 30-May 1. Originally a north European pagan carnival, Vappu is an excuse for students to wear brightly colored overalls and for everybody to drink vast amounts of alcohol. At 6PM on Apr 30, the statue of Havis Amanda at the Market Square is crowned with a student's cap and the revelry begins in the streets. Things can get a little ugly outside as the night wears on, so it's wiser to head indoors to the bars, clubs and restaurants, all of which have massive Vappu parties. The following morning, the party heads to the Kaivopuisto park for a champagne picnic, regardless of the weather. If the weather is good, up to 70,000 people will show up. Left-wing parties hold rallies and speeches, but the event is increasingly non-political.
  • Helsinki-päivä (Helsinki Day), Jun 12. This is the birthday of the city. It traditionally starts with the mayor's morning coffee and is celebrated throughout the day with a variety of concerts, performances, exhibitions and guided tours around the city.
  • Juhannus (Midsummer Festival), Friday between Jun 19 and Jun 25. Although a large bonfire is lit in Seurasaari, the celebration is low key as the tradition is to celebrate "the nightless night" at summer cottages in the countryside. Although some celebrate Juhannus in Helsinki as well, the streets are often eerily empty and the doors of the shops closed.
  • Taiteiden Yö (Night of the Arts), near the end of Aug. The peak of the multi-week Helsinki Festival [3], called "little vappu" by many as the streets are full of revelers. The official event is marked by performing arts through the night. The Night of the Arts was originally organized by local bookstores in the 1990s. It's now organized by the city.
  • Joulu (Christmas). In the weeks before Christmas, Aleksanterinkatu is festively lit up and the Esplanadi hosts an open-air Christmas market. But Christmas itself is a family event, so on the 24th, everything shuts down and stays closed until December 26th.


Helsinki is among the world's northernmost capitals and the lengthy winter, from October all the way up to April, is dark and freezing. Winter temperatures average -5°C, but the wind chill makes it feel even colder and the mercury can plunge below -30°C on a particularly cold day. Snow falls only intermittently and, until January, often melts into gray slush.

The brief summer, on the other hand, can be extraordinarily pleasant. Temperatures climb above 25°C, parks burst into green and sunbathers dot the city's beaches.

Map of Central Helsinki
Map of Central Helsinki

By plane

All international and domestic flights land at the compact, modern and airy Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport [4] (IATA: HEL, ICAO: EFHK), which is 20 kilometers to the north of the city. There are two adjacent terminals, connected by a short walkway:

  • T1: SAS, Blue1 and other Star Alliance airlines, plus a few oddballs like KLM
  • T2: Finnair, oneworld partners and most other airlines

Regular taxis to the center cost €30-40. Shared Airport Taxi [5] (tel. 0600 555 555 for bookings) mini-vans start from €25 for two. A train line to the airport is under construction, but until it's completed in 2014 or so, public transport options are:

  • Regional bus 615 (€4, every 15 min), about 40 min to the Central Railway Station in the heart of Helsinki. The price includes onward transfers to tram, bus, metro, etc.
  • Finnair City Bus (€5.80, every 20 min), about 35 min to Central Railway Station via Scandic Continental Hotel. Credit cards accepted, slightly faster and more comfortable, but no connections.
  • Vantaa bus 61 to Tikkurila (€2.40), the closest railway station for train connections. All north and east-bound trains stop here.
  • Regional bus 519 to Itäkeskus (€4), for convenient connections to the metro and eastern Helsinki.

If you need a place to sleep between flights, there are several reasonable hotels in or very near the airport:

  • Airport Hotel Bonus Inn, Elannontie 9 (Pakkala exit from Ring III Highway), +358-9-825511 (, fax: +358-9-82551818), [6]. Friendly family-owned hotel with basic but very clean and comfortable rooms. Restaurant, sauna (evening only), free shuttle service to airport (5-7 min). €120.  edit
  • Cumulus Airport Hotel, Robert Huberin tie 4, +358-9-41577100, [7]. Mid-range Finnish chain hotel, 10 min away by free shuttle bus. Renovated in 2007. €120.  edit
  • Hilton Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, +358-9-73220, [8]. Full-service hotel right next to the airport, opened in late 2007. Soundproof windows, bar, restaurant, sauna. €150.  edit
  • Scandic Gateway-Helsinki Airport, +358-9-8183600, [9]. This rather unique transit hotel is located under the runway, so all rooms are small and windowless, but it's located airside (Schengen area) and directly accessible from the international terminal. Free wifi. Fairly expensive for what you get, but you're paying for the convenience. €150.  edit

For general aviation (small planes) the Helsinki-Malmi Airport (IATA: HEM, ICAO: EFHF) is available, with fuel and customs facilities available at the airport.

Finally, from some points in Europe, it may be cheaper overall to fly with Ryanair to Tampere (2 hours away by train) or even to Tallinn, Estonia, a short ferry ride away.

By helicopter

Copterline [10] halted their scheduled flights between Helsinki and Tallinn in December 2008.

Central Railway Station
Central Railway Station

All long-distance trains throughout Finland and the Russian cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg terminate in the heart of the city at the Rautatieasema (Central Railway Station). This station also provides easy interchange to the metro and tram lines.

By car

Expressways connect Helsinki to Turku to the west, Tampere and Lahti to the north, and to Porvoo and towards Saint Petersburg in the east.

By bus

Long-distance buses terminate at the new underground Central Bus Station (Linja-autoasema) in the Kamppi Center [11] (Kampin Keskus). The station is adjacent to Mannerheimintie, directly connected to the Kamppi metro station and within a short walking distance from the Central Railway Station.

For travel from St. Petersburg (Russia), Russian minibuses depart from the Oktyabrskaya Hotel (opp Moskovsky train station) around 10 PM and arrive behind Tennispalatsi at Eteläinen Rautatiekatu 8, one block away from Kamppi, early in the morning. Departures back start around 10 AM in the morning. The trip costs around 15 euros, making this by far the cheapest option, but the buses are cramped and uncomfortable.

By boat

Helsinki is well connected with ferry services to Tallinn (Estonia) and Stockholm (Sweden), and there are limited services to Travemünde & Rostock, Germany as well as Gdynia, Poland. Scheduled services to St. Petersburg (Russia) or the Baltics no longer operate (as of 2009), although there are occasional summer cruises.

Ferries arrive at three harbours with five terminals:

  • West Harbour (Länsisatama) [12] - Hietasaarenkuja 8 - Tallink ships M/S Star, M/S Baltic Princess and M/S Superstar to Tallinn; M/S Superfast VII, VIII and IX to Tallinn and Rostock and Eckerö Line ship M/S Nordlandia use the West Terminal. The terminal has luggage lockers, café, a trolley rental, kiosk, a restaurant, public transport ticket machine, bank, an ATM and the Eckerö Line and Tallink Silja Oy service points. Bus no. 15 goes from the terminal to Ruoholahti metro station and bus no. 15A to Helsinki Central railway station.
  • South Harbour (Eteläsatama) - Olympia Terminal [13] - Olympiaranta 1 - West shore of the bay. Tallink Silja cruise ferries M/S Silja Serenade and M/S Silja Symphony dock at Olympia Terminal. The terminal has a money exchange, an ATM, luggage lockers, a trolley rental, a restaurant, kiosk, and the Silja Line service point. Served by trams 1A and 3T.
  • South Harbour (Eteläsatama) - Makasiini Terminal [14] - Eteläranta 7 - West shore of the bay. Linda Line fast catamarans M/S Merilin and M/S Karolin arrive to Makasiini Terminal during open water season. The terminal has a kiosk, currency exchange, luggage lockers and Linda Line and Silja Line service points. Served by trams 1A and 3T, or just walk to Market Square.
  • South Harbour (Eteläsatama) - Katajanokka Terminal [15] - Katajanokanlaituri 8 - Right shore of the bay. Viking Line ships (M/S Rosella, M/S Gabriella, M/S Mariella, M/S Viking XPRS) arrive at Katajanokka Terminal. The terminal has a restaurant, kiosk, an ATM, a currency exchange, luggage lockers, and the Viking Line service point. The terminus of tram 4T is located in front of the terminal. Trams only depart from the terminal at 10-12 AM, 3-5 and 8-9 PM.
  • Vuosaari Harbour (Vuosaaren satama) - Hansa Terminal [16] - Provianttikatu 5 - Mainly a cargo port, but used also by Finnlines services to Gdynia and Travemünde and Tallink Silja to Rostock. Take metro to Vuosaari and continue by bus 90B.

See the Port of Helsinki [17] for the latest details.

Helsinki tram map
Helsinki tram map

All public transportation within Helsinki is coordinated by HKL [18], while regional transportation connecting Helsinki to the neighboring counties of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen is operated by YTV [19] (Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council). The following basic ticket types are available:

  • Tram ticket (raitiovaunulippu) (€1,80 from ticket machines, travel card button "0" €1.37, not available from the driver) — valid for one hour on trams only
  • City ticket (kertalippu) (€2 by mobile phone or in ticket machines, €2.50 from the driver, travel card button "1" €1.82) — valid on all HKL services within city limits for one hour
  • Regional ticket (seutulippu) (€4.00, travel card button "2" €3.36) — valid for 80 mins within and between Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen
  • Full region ticket (€6.20, travel card button "3" €5.20) — a regional ticket that also covers Kerava and Kirkkonummi

The City 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 specific Tram or Train ticket, you are allowed to travel only by tram or train respectively. All tickets allow unlimited transfers within their validity periods and regions. Children under 7 travel free, while tickets for children under 16 are half price.

Fares can be paid by cash when boarding (except on trams), 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 reloadable smartcard sold at the R-kiosks and HKL offices, very similar to London's Oyster card. The Travel Card costs €9 (nonrefundable) and gives a 25% discount on fares. Using it 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.

Alternatively, you can opt for the Helsinki Card (1 day €33 to 3 days €55) [20] or HKL Tourist Ticket (matkailijalippu) (1 day €6.80, 3 days €13.60 or 5 days €20.40), both of which offer unlimited travel within the city. Tourist Tickets are sold at HKL offices, R-Kiosks located in the city center, ticket vending machines or by the driver (1-day ticket only). The Helsinki Card also offers free admission to a number of museums and attractions.

The YTV Journey Planner [21] 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 eg. "Airport" or "Railway station" for place names.

Getting around by night can be a bit tricky (or expensive), as trains and trams stop before midnight and the buses at 1.30. A limited night bus network, all leaving from either Elielinaukio or Rautatientori next to the railway station, runs on weekends and public holidays after 2 am, charging approximately twice the price of a daytime ticket.

Beers on wheels

The SpåraKOFF Bar Tram [22] is a bright red tram converted into a pub on wheels. The tram runs during the summer only from Wednesday to Saturday, once an hour from 2PM to 9PM, along a route roughly paralleling the northern half of the 3T line, with stops at the Railway Square, Linnanmäki amusement park, Opera House, Aleksanterinkatu and the Market Square. The tour lasts about 40 minutes. The price €7 does not include any drinks.

For tourists the most convenient and scenic means of travel is the extensive tram network, especially lines 3B and 3T that together do a figure-eight circuit around the city. (Both run the length of the loop, the tram just changes signs halfway through.) Trams and HKL offices usually stock an informative leaflet listing attractions along the way.

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.

Helsinki metro map
Helsinki metro map

A metro line runs from the center to the eastern suburbs, but 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. Travelling between Ruoholahti and Mellunmäki or Vuosaari usually takes about 21-22 minutes.

Note that since 8th of November 2009 the Central Railway Station metro station suffered heavy flooding damages has been closed for repairs that are estimated to last up to 6 months. The railway station is however fully functional.

By train

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

By ferry

The HKL ferry to Suomenlinna from the Market Square (Kauppatori) is a cheap and popular summer getaway. Another HKL 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. HKL's Tourist Ticket and mobile-phone ticket are both valid also on the Suomenlinna ferry.

Taxi stand on the west side of the Central Railway station
Taxi stand on the west side of the Central Railway station

Taxis in Helsinki are expensive. Cab fares are regulated by the government, so getting into any taxi is €5.10 on weekdays, or €8.00 after 8 PM and all day Sunday. The meter ticks at €1.33/km. The rate increases if there are over two people. There are also surcharges for large bags and leaving from Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport (€2).

During weekend nights and some popular events or holidays, it can be a bit difficult to find a taxi. Walk to the nearest taxi stand or try to book by phone from Taxi Helsinki 0100 0700 [23] or Lähitaksi [24] 0100 7300. If it's a very busy night, try calling Taksione at +358-50-5455454 or Kajon at 01007070. Drivers are not required to pick up a person hailing them on the street, and they usually don't, but it's worth a try if you see one cruising by. If the queues at night seem frustratingly long and you are willing to walk a bit, try heading towards Hakaniementori or Lauttasaari Bridge, where you can often hail a returning taxi (don't bother if the light is not on).

Yellow Line [25] is a good, cost-effective option for getting from the airport to the city center. Minivans carry up to seven or eight passengers and drop passengers off at their individual destinations. The shuttles can be found at their bright yellow desks in arrivals lounges 1 and 2. The cost is €20 for one or two passengers and varies based on the number of people in the van.

By bike

During the summer, Citybikes [26] can be borrowed for free from 26 stands throughout the city center. A refundable deposit of €2 is required, and you tend get what you pay for: the bikes can be in bad shape and availability can be poor. Bicycle helmets can be borrowed from Jugendsali (Pohjoisesplanadi 19). You are required to remain within the boundaries of the city center. Guided bike trips are available through Biketours [27].

If you bring your own bike, there is an extensive network of bike routes within the city. 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. [28]. There is also a journey planner for cycling [29]. Once you get out of the city centre, cycling is less complicated.

If an ordinary bike isn't enough for you, you can also rent a cyclerickshaw (riksa) large enough for three from Riksavuokraus [30] (tel. +358-50-5582525) in Eiranranta near Kaivopuisto. Prices start at €9/30 min, driver not included but available on request.

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 center is in "Zone 1" and costs €3/hour during working hours, although Saturdays (mostly) and Sundays (always) are free. There are also several large underground parking garages at Kamppi and Forum.

By organized tour

If you're looking for an organised tour in or around Helsinki, there's only one game left in town:

  • Helsinki Expert, Pohjoisesplanadi 19, +358-(0)9-2288 1500, [31]. Guided bus tours 1-5 times daily in 11 languages. Free with the Helsinki Card, otherwise €25/15 adult/child. The company also arranges private tours from €155/2 hours.


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.

Suomenlinna fortress, seen from a passing ferry
Suomenlinna fortress, seen from a passing ferry

If you see only one place in Helsinki in the summer, make it Suomenlinna [32]. The "Gibraltar of the North" was once the greatest sea fortress in the Baltic, built by the Swedish in the mid-1700s at great expense to protect their eastern flank. But when the Russians invaded in February 1808, the bulk of the unprepared and bankrupt Swedish army hastily withdrew, allowing the Russians to conquer Helsinki without a fight and besiege the fortress. With no reinforcements in sight, commander Carl Olof Cronstedt surrendered unconditionally two months later, and Finland was ceded to the Russians. Cronstedt's actions probably saved countless civilian lives, but King Gustav IV needed a scapegoat and sentenced him to death for treason; fortunately, the losing king was himself soon overthrown, and Cronstadt lived out his years gardening.

Today's Suomenlinna is still living in its own time with only old buildings, few cars, fewer than a thousand inhabitants and lots of old fortifications, catacombs and cast iron cannons. But it's not just a museum: the sprawling complex houses restaurants, cafes, theaters and museums, and is a very popular place for a picnic on a fine summer day, watching the vast passenger ferries drift by on their way to Estonia and St Petersburg. It was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1991 as a unique monument to European military architecture.

Entry to the island is free. The HKL ferry from Market Square is the cheapest and most convenient of getting there at €3.80 for a 12-hour tourist return. Guided tours in English are available daily at 11 AM and 2 PM in Jun-Aug and on Sat/Sun only at 1:30 PM the rest of the year, €7/person, and history buffs will want to drop into the Suomenlinna Museum [33] at the Visitor Centre (€5).

Old stable in Seurasaari
Old stable in Seurasaari

A beautiful archipelago (saaristo) surrounds the Helsinki city center. In addition to the major islands listed below, 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.

  • Seurasaari Open Air Museum, [34]. A pleasant little island to the north of the center, filled with walking trails and authentic old Finnish houses collected from all over the country. An excellent half-day trip, especially in the summer, when many buildings have guides practising crafts in traditional dress. There's a very pleasant if somewhat pricy summer cafe/restaurant atop a small hill at the center of the island. Entry to the park free, entry into the museum buildings €5 (buy tickets at entrance). Take bus 24 from Erottaja at the northern end of Esplanadi to the terminus (20-30 minutes), then walk across the bridge. Beware of mercenary squirrels that will raid your bags if you carry any food.
  • Pihlajasaari, [35]. Few tourists find their way here, but this is a very popular summer spot for Helsinkians, with sandy beaches (including a mixed nude beach) and a restaurant dishing out cold beer and ciders. Ferries run from Merisatama pier at the southern end of Kaivopuisto Park (tram 3B) hourly from 9:30 AM to 8:30 PM, 10-15 min, €5 return.
  • Korkeasaari, [36]. A large island in central Helsinki best known for Helsinki Zoo, with approximately 200 different animal species. Connected to the mainland by bridge (bus 11 from Central Railway Station), in summer you can also open for a 15-min ferry ride from Hakaniemi and Market Square. Entry to the zoo €5/3 adult/child.
  • Esplanadi Park. Located between Market Square (Kauppatori) and the two Esplanadi boulevards, this small but stately park has a commanding position at the heart of the city. In the summer time it is full of people sitting on the lawn, meeting their friends and quite often also having a drink or two. In the summer there are often free concerts given by local artists on the stage close to Kauppatori, facing restaurant Kappeli. If you're walking around with an ice cream or sandwich, do watch out for the aggressive birds.
  • Kaivopuisto. A beautiful park by the sea in the southernmost part of the city. In summer you might want to sit down for a cup of coffee in one of the seaside cafes and enjoy the view of sailboats and the people on the promenade. Housing surrounding this area is the most expensive in Helsinki.
A view over Töölönlahti
A view over Töölönlahti
  • Töölönlahti. Located northwest from the central railway station, this is a bay surrounded by a nice park that is dotted with attractions such as the Finlandia Concert Hall and the National Opera. Töölönlahti is partly in a natural state which is quite rare in major cities. Walking and jogging around the bay is a popular outdoor activity.
  • Sinebrychoffin puisto. Also known as "Koffin puisto", located in Punavuori district next to the Sinebrychoff art museum. Popular with young people, in the summer it is full of people having picnics or just drinking pussikalja (literally: "beer in a bag"), while in the winter kids ride sleds down the snowy slope.
  • Central Park (Keskuspuisto). This is a huge park starting just north of the Olympic Stadium and extending for 10 km north. It encompasses an area of over 1,000 hectares. The park is mostly in a natural state.
The Church in the Rock
The Church in the Rock
Uspenski Cathedral
Uspenski Cathedral
  • Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko). Aleksanterinkatu, [37]. The unofficial symbol of the city, this striking white cathedral dominates the central Senate Square. Based on designs by Carl Ludvig Engel and completed in 1852, the cathedral has recently been refurbished and looks better than ever, with the 12 apostles on the roof once again looking down at the world below. Open 9AM-6PM daily. Free.
  • The Church in the Rock (Temppeliaukion kirkko, literally "Temple Square Church"). Lutherinkatu 3 (tram 3B), +358 9-494698. An atmospheric if minimalistic church, this church was literally dug out of solid rock. From above, it resembles a crashed UFO. The roof is made of 22 kms of copper strips. Completed in 1969, this has become one of Helsinki's most popular attractions. Concerts are often held here thanks to the excellent acoustics. 10AM-5PM daily. Free.
  • Uspenski Cathedral (Uspenskin katedraali). Kanavakatu 1, +358 9-634267, [38]. A classical onion-domed Russian church prominently located near the Market Square, Uspenski Cathedral serves Finland's small Orthodox minority and is the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe. The name comes from the Russian uspenie, from the Dormition (death) of the Virgin Mary. The five domes are topped with 22-carat gold, and some of the icons within are held to be miraculous. Open Tue-Fri 9:30AM-4PM, Sat 9:30AM-2PM, Sun 12PM-3PM. May-Sep Mon,Wed, Sat 9:30AM-4PM, Tue 9:30AM-6PM, Sun 12PM-3PM. Free.
  • St. John's Church (Johanneksenkirkko). Korkeavuorenkatu 12, +358 9-7092370. The largest church in Helsinki and a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture. Mon-Fri 12-15PM. Free.
  • Church of Kallio (Kallion kirkko). On top of the hill at the end of Siltasaarenkatu. The church is built of grey granite (1912) and its massive looks dominate the view from Hakaniemi. It was designed by Finnish architect Lars Sonck. The church has both baroque and French romantic organs and concerts are organized frequently. Tue-Fri 12AM-6PM, Sat-Sun 10AM-6PM. Free.
Alexander II and the Lutheran Cathedral
Alexander II and the Lutheran Cathedral
Senate Square on a snowy December morning
Senate Square on a snowy December morning

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.

  • Ateneum Art Museum, Kaivokatu 2, tel. +358 9 173361 (+358 9 17336228 for tickets), [39]. Ateneum can be considered the most nationally significant art museum, and it has the largest collection of paintings and sculptures in Finland. Particularly notable is the collection of works by major Finnish artists. Works include renowned interpretations of the national epic Kalevala. Adults €6, under 18 free, special prices may apply during major exhibitions. First Wednesday of the month 5PM-8PM free admission. Open Tue-Fri 9AM-6PM, Wed-Thu 9AM-8PM, Sat-Sun 11AM-5PM. Closed Mon.
  • Design Museum. Korkeavuorenkatu 23, +358 9 622 0540, [40]. Exhibitions of modern commercial and industrial design and modern art. The permanent exhibit in the basement showcases the history of consumer-goods design over the course of the 20th century, with a particular focus on the contributions of Finnish designers. Admission is €7 for adults, €3 for students, and free for children. Open Tue 11AM-8PM, Wed-Sun 11AM-6PM. Closed Mondays.
  • Helsinki City Museum, Sofiankatu 4 (and elsewhere), +358 9 3103 6630, [41]. The museum actually covers a whole series of old buildings around Helsinki, but the centerpiece is the (short) street of Sofiankatu itself, carefully restored as a replica of the 1930s. All museums and exhibitions are free of charge.
  • Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. Mannerheiminaukio 2, tel. +358 9 1733 6501, [42]. Located near Ateneum, Kiasma is everything Ateneum isn't. The sometimes unusual collections mostly include works by contemporary Finnish artists and artists from nearby countries. There are also periodical exhibitions. The building itself is arguably a work of art. Entrance fee €7 for adults, €5 for students (though not postgraduates - only undergraduates qualify for the discounted price), senior citizens, visual artists, and groups with at least 7 people. Free admission for visitors under 18. First Wed of the month is free from 5PM-8PM. Tue 10AM-5PM, Wed-Sun 10AM-8:30PM. Closed Mondays.
  • National Museum of Finland (Kansallismuseo), Mannerheimintie 34, [43]. A beautiful classical building houses this old museum, which has recently been renovated. The exhibit includes displays of artifacts and items relating to Finland's history. Admission is €6/4 adult/child. Free admission for visitors under 18. Tuesday has free admission from 5:30PM-8PM. Tue-Wed 11AM-8PM, Thu-Sun 11AM-6PM, Closed Mon.
  • Museum of Cultures (Kulttuurien museo), Tennispalatsi 2nd floor, Eteläinen Rautatiekatu 8, [44]. One of Helsinki's quirkier museums, concentrates on changing exhibitions of cultures outside Finland. Admission €5/4 adult/child. Tuesdays 5PM-8PM and Fridays 11AM-6PM free admission. Open Tue-Thu 11AM-8PM, Fri-Sun 11AM-6PM, Closed Mon.
  • Heureka Science Centre, Tikkurila (near Tikkurila train station), Vantaa, [45]. If you have children, this is a great place for a day trip. Hands-on science tests and exhibitions plus Verne super-cinema. There's also a Heureka Shop, where you can buy interesting science-related memorabilia. Open Mon-Wed, Thu 10AM-8PM, Fri 10AM-5PM, Sat-Sun 10AM-6PM. Admission (exhibitions and one super-movie) for adult costs €19, for children (6-15) €12.50.
  • Mannerheim Museum, Kalliolinnantie 14 (Trams 3T and 3B stop close), [46]. Finnish Marshall Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim lived in this villa 1924—51. The museum contains his personal home and his vast array of items acquired during his life and on his long travels. Open Fri, Sat, Sun 11AM-4PM. Admission (exhibitions including guided tour) costs €8.
  • Military Museum, Maurinkatu 1 (Trams 7A and 7B stop close-by), [47]. The Military Museum of Finland, founded in 1929, is the central museum of the Finnish Defence Forces. Open Tue-Thu at 11–17 and Fri - Sund at 11-16. Closed on Mondays. Admission €4.
  • Military Museum Manege, Suomenlinna, Iso Mustasaari (Take an inexpensive ferry from Kauppatori), [48]. The Manege exhibits vehicles and armament used by Finnish forces during Winter War and WW2. Open summertime (open 12.5-31.8, closed 19-21.6) Daily 11:00-18:00. Admission €4.
  • Submarine Vesikko, Suomenlinna, Susisaari (Take an inexpensive ferry from Kauppatori), [49]. Vesikko was one of five submarines to serve the Finnish Navy during the wars in 1939-44. Open summertime (open 12.5-31.8, closed 19-21.6) Daily 11:00-18:00. Admission €4.
Olympic Stadium's modernistic tower
Olympic Stadium's modernistic tower
View from the tower
View from the tower

Helsinki is an Olympic city, the host of the 1952 Olympic Games.

  • Olympic Stadium, [50]. Originally built for the Olympics and renovated for the 2005 World Athletic Championships. Next to the stadium are soccer fields. There is Museum of Sport in the stadium building. Another stadium called Finnair stadium is not far from the Olympic site. The most popular building in the complex, though, is the Uimastadion, Helsinki's largest outdoor pool (open May-Sep), whose three pools and water slides draw around 5,000 visitors a day in the summer. After the war, the pool was used to store herring and potatoes! Open Mon-Fri 9AM-8PM, Sat-Sun 9AM-6PM.
  • Olympic Tower. The stadium features 72m high tower that offers a great view over the city. €2 (adults) / €1 (children).
The Sibelius Monument
The Sibelius Monument
  • Sibelius Monument, Sibelius Park, [51]. The world-famous composer Jean Sibelius' monument was designed by sculptress Eila Hiltunen and unveiled in 1967. It is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Helsinki as nearly every guided tourist tour is brought to Sibelius Park to marvel at this unique work of art resembling organ pipes, welded together from 600 pipes and weighing over 24 metric tons.
  • Parliament House (Eduskunta), Mannerheimintie 30, [52]. The House of the 200-seat Parliament of Finland was designed by J.S. Sirén in the classic style of the 1920s and officially inaugurated in 1931. The interior is classical with a touch of functionalism and art deco. Tours in English at 11AM and 12PM on Satm 12PM and 1PM on Sun. During the months of Jul and Aug English tours are at 1PM on weekdays. Free.
  • Finlandia Hall, Mannerheimintie 13, [53]. Designed by Finland's best known architect Alvar Aalto and located across the street from the National Museum, the marble Finlandia Hall is a popular congress and concert venue in Helsinki. The building itself is worth a visit particularly for architecture buffs, with guided tours available (€6/4, check website for schedule). Be sure to view the building also from across the Töölönlahti bay in the evening when it is floodlit. Mon-Fri 9AM-4PM. Free.
  • Flamingo Spa Waterpark & Wellness, Flamingo Spa, Tasetie 8, Vantaa, [54]. A modern new indoor water park & spa located in the Flamingo shopping & entertainment center just north of Helsinki. Pretty cool and fast slides in the waterpark section and a large selection of relaxation pools, jacuzzis and different saunas in the Spa & Wellness section (18+ only). Separate ticketing for the two sections. €10-32.  edit
  • Hohtogolf West Coast, Tasetie 8, Vantaa (at Flamingo shopping center), +358-9-42890112, [55]. Noon-midnight. Glow in the dark 15-hole miniature golf course with over-the-top mechanized special effects and a special "horror" section. Cheesy but fun, especially after a few drinks from the bar. Sunday is family day: entry is €4 cheaper, but no alcohol served. €19.  edit
  • Linnanmäki [56]. The oldest amusement park in Finland, famous for its wooden roller coaster. Entrance to the park is free of charge, all-day passes €35 (adults) and €22 (children). Open only during the summer, however the adjacent Sea Life [57] aquarium at Tivolikuja 1 is open throughout the year. Tram 3T, 8, bus 23.
  • Serena Water Amusement Park [58], Tornimäentie 10, Espoo (bus 339), tel. +358 9 88705555. Open 11PM-8PM daily. This is the largest water park in the Nordic countries with some 2,000 sq.m. of heated pools indoors. The buildings have seen their best days, but kids love the water slides. An extra 1,000 m² of outdoor area is open in the summer. Serena is at its best in winter when you can kick back in a jacuzzi and watch people ski on the other side of the glass windows. All-day pass €22 except some Fridays €17 (4-8 PM only), family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) €75.


Helsinki has an active cultural life and tickets are generally inexpensive. Important performing groups include:

  • National Opera (Kansallisooppera), Helsinginkatu 58, tel. +358-9-403021, [59]. Lavishly subsidized, but it's still easy to get good seats. Tickets €14-84. Also runs the National Ballet (Kansallisbaletti).
  • Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (Kaupunginorkesteri), [60]. Performances at the visually striking but acoustically dubious Finlandia Hall. Tickets €20.
  • UMO Jazz Orchestra, [61]. An important part of Finnish jazz life, known for performing new Finnish music alongside interesting shows, such as with new circus. Various venues.
  • Hietaniemi Beach, Hietaniemenkatu. It's safe to say that most people don't come to Helsinki for the beaches, but on a hot summer day Hietsu (as it is known among the locals) is a good place to be. Beach volleyball, swimming and various events are popular. Bus 55A from Kamppi/Rautatientori, or just walk (15-20 min from the centre).
  • Härmälä Farm, Mäntykummuntie 6, Vantaa, tel. +358 9 876 7339, +358 (0)400 880 539. Open by arrangement around the year. A typical Finnish farm located in the village of Sotunki and surrounded by a picturesque landscape. On the farm you can meet animals representing the traditional Finnish stock: cows, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and more. Admission €3, families €10.
  • Arlan sauna, Kaarlenkatu 15, [62]. Old public sauna in Kallio. Separate saunas for men and women. Washing service and traditional bloodletting (kuppaus) also available. €9 for adults, students €7.
  • Kotiharjun sauna [63], Harjutorinkatu 1. This is one of the few wood burning public saunas in Helsinki. Separate saunas for men and women. There's a good chance you'll find a top level chess match in the dressing room. Don't miss cooling off outside, especially in winter. On Saturdays you'll find bachelor partiers (Kotiharju is pretty near to Kallio's nightlife). €10 for adults, students €7.5, towel €2 extra.
  • Urjönkadun Uimahalli [64], 10:16, 8 December 2009 (EST) Yrjönkatu 21b in Helsinki, across from the Torni Hotel, an art-deco bath house with three types of saunas and a swimming pool. Take a sauna and swim in the nude. There are separate days for women and men. Bathing suits are not banned, but almost everyone goes without one. Men's swimming days are: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday; Women's days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday. 1st Floor €4.40, 2nd Floor €12.10:16, 8 December 2009 (EST)
  • Finnair Stadion, Urheilukatu 5 (1 block from Olympic Stadium), [65]. The home of football (soccer) team HJK [66]. Tickets for matches start from €12.  edit
  • Hartwall Areena, Areenankuja 1 (7 min walk from Pasila station, 10 min walk from Tram 7 stop at Kyllikinportti‎), [67]. The largest indoor arena in Finland, the home of ice hockey team Jokerit [68] and also a popular venue for concerts.  edit
  • Helsingin Jäähalli, Nordenskiöldinkatu 11-13 (1 block from Tram 3B, 4, 7, and 10, stop at Kansaneläkelaitos‎), [69]. The home of ice hockey team HIFK [70]. Tickets for matches start from €10.  edit


Most of Finland's exchange students end up in Helsinki's universities. The Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics and the University of Art and Design Helsinki are currently in the process of being merged into one large "innovation university" called Aalto University.

  • University of Helsinki. [71]. With over 40,000 students, this is Finland's largest university and its alumni include Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel.
  • Helsinki University of Technology. [72]. Considered "Finland's MIT", this university is located in Otaniemi, Espoo, just across the municipality border.
  • University of Art and Design Helsinki. [73]. The biggest art university in Scandinavia. Has the highest rate of exchange students of all Finnish universities.
  • Helsinki School of Economics. [74].
  • Hanken, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration. [75].
  • Sibelius Academy. [76]. The only music university in Finland and one of the largest in Europe.


As elsewhere in the country, obtaining work in Helsinki may be difficult. See the main Finland article for details.


Shopping in Helsinki is generally expensive, but fans of Finnish and Nordic design will find plenty of things of interest. Most large shops and department stores are open weekdays from 9AM-9PM. As in the rest of Finland, most shops close by 6PM on Saturday and are closed entirely on Sunday (except in summer and before Christmas, when they typically open at noon). A notable exception is the Asematunneli complex, located underground adjacent to the Central Railway Station, most shops here are open until 10PM almost every day of the year. A supermarket in Kamppi Center (see below) is also open until 10PM. Small grocery stores and the R-Kioski convenience store chain are open on Sun year-round, too. In the Punavuori area there is a Delish convenience store open 24 hours a day year round.

Department stores and shopping malls

Helsinki's main shopping drag is Aleksanterinkatu (Aleksi), which runs from Senate Square to Mannerheimintie and is packed with large stores. The parallel Esplanadi boulevards have specialist and generally very expensive boutiques. Access to the area is easy, as trams 3, 4/4T and 7A/7B all run down Aleksanterinkatu, and the area is just a stone's throw from the Central Railway Station and Kaisaniemi metro stations.

  • Academic Bookstore (Akateeminen Kirjakauppa). Keskuskatu (opposite Stockmann), [77]. The largest bookstore in Northern Europe, with extensive selections in English too. An underground passage connects the bookstore to Stockmann. Tram: 3, 6, 7.
  • Stockmann. Corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Mannerheimintie, [78]. The flagship of Finland's premier department store chain. When Helsinkians meet "under the clock" (kellon alla), they mean the one rotating under the main entrance to Stockmann. Large selection of souvenirs and Finnish goods, and the Herkku supermarket in the basement offers an amazing range of gourmet food from all over Europe. There are also smaller branches of Stockmann at Itäkeskus, Jumbo, Tapiola and the airport. Tram: 3, 6, 7, 4, 10. Not open on Sundays.
  • Itäkeskus. [79]. The largest shopping mall in the Nordic countries with some 240 shops. Metro: Itäkeskus, about 16 minutes from the center.
  • Kämp Galleria, between Mikonkatu and Kluuvikatu, [80]. Helsinki's fanciest shopping mall, with brands like Marimekko, Aarikka, and Iittala goods. Tram: 6, 7.
  • Kampin Keskus, [81]. Big shopping mall in the center of Helsinki. Plenty of international brands and restaurants. Long-distance bus terminal in the basement. Metro: Kamppi.
  • Kauppakeskus Ruoholahti. [82]. Compared to others, a B-category shopping mall, mainly notable for the store, the best spot for electronics, computers, digital cameras, etc. in Helsinki. There is also a Brand Outlet Warehouse that sells cheap branded clothing. Metro: Ruoholahti. Tram: 8.
  • Sokos. A large department store conveniently located right next to the railway station. Tram: 1, 3B/T, 4, 6, 10, Metro: Central Railway Station.

In the suburban cities of Vantaa and Espoo you can also find big shopping malls. Vantaa has Jumbo [83] and Myyrmanni [84], while Espoo has the centers of Iso Omena [85] and Sello [86]. All of these are easily accessible by commuter transport or by car.


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 [87] at Erottajankatu 7 to get a map of shops and galleries.

  • Aero, Yrjönkatu 8, [88]. New and vintage design furniture, lighting, textiles, jewelery, glass. Finnish designers represented include Eero Aarnio, Alvar Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva and Ilmari Tapiovaara. Not for the budget traveller.
  • Arabia Factory Shop. Hämeentie 135 (Tram 6 terminus), [89]. Factory outlet for Arabia ceramics and Iittala glassware, best known for selling slightly defective goods at modestly discounted prices. Open Mon-Fri 10AM-8PM, Sat-Sun 10AM-4PM.
  • Helsinki 10, Eerikinkatu 3, tel. +358-10-5489801, [90]. This bright-white "lifestyle department store" sells both international and Finnish (designer) labels such as Raf Simons, Wood Wood, Acne and April77 as well as second-hand clothes, accessories, records, magazines etc. Open Mon-Fri 11AM-8PM, Sat 11AM-6PM.
  • Iittala Shop, Pohjoisesplanadi 25, [91]. An airy concept store for the Iittala brand of Finnish glassware, pans, kitchen utensils and more. Personal service by the friendly staff. Open Mon-Fri 10AM-7PM, Sat 10AM-4PM.
  • Ivana Helsinki, Uudenmaankatu 15, tel. +358 9 6224422, [92]. Internationally recognized designer clothes, handmade in Finland.
  • Marimekko. Pohjoisesplanadi 2, tel. +358(09) 622 2317, [93]. Innovative and unique Finnish interior design, bags, and fabrics. This is the flagship store, but items can also be found at the Kämp Gallery, Kamppi Centre, Hakaniemi Market Hall, or their factory shop (Kirvesmiehenkatu 7, tel. +358 (09) 758 7244).
  • Myymälä2, Uudenmaankatu 23, [94]. Gallery and shop for young designers, artists and musicians. And while you are there, check out Lux shop on the opposite side of the street.
  • Pitkämies, Kolmas Linja 17, [95]. Lively alternative comic, record and clothing store and part of the Comics Centre which organises monthly exhibitions, workshops and courses. Open Tue-Fri: 11AM-7PM, Sat 10AM-4PM
  • Wunder, Laivurinrinne 1, [96]. A small clothes shop with a sparse yet exclusive selection of designer labels such as Daniel Palillo (one of the owners), Marjan Pejoski, Gaspard Yurkievich and Stephan Schneider. Affordable vintage sunglasses for sale, too. Open Mon-Fri 12PM-7pm, Sat 12PM-6pm.
Old Market Hall
Old Market Hall

Most outdoor markets in Helsinki are open only in summer, but the market halls are open all year round.

  • Hakaniemi Market Hall (Hakaniemen kauppahalli) and Hakaniemi Open-Air Market (Hakaniemen tori). A busy market frequented by locals, this is where you can find specialities at affordable prices. The first floor of the market hall is largely food. Head to the second floor for handicrafts and souvenirs. The open-air market offers fresh vegetables and seasonal products. Walking up Hämeentie from Hakaniemi market, you'll find most of Helsinki's African, Middle Eastern, Indian and Asian grocery stores. Metro: Hakaniemi. Tram: 1, 1A, 3B, 6, 7, 9.
  • Hietalahti Antique and Art Hall [97], Hietalahdentori (tram 6), tel. +358 9 670145. Here you can find many antique shops in one place, just few kilometers west from the city centre. Open Mon-Fri 10AM-5PM, Sat 10AM-3PM.
  • Hietalahti Open Air Flea market. Next to Hietalahti Antique and Art Hall, this is the most popular flea market in Helsinki. Open year round, but busiest from May to August.
  • Market Square (Kauppatori). At the end of Esplanadi facing the sea, this open-air market sells fresh fish and produce from all over Finland. Open year round. It's busiest in summer, although the Christmas Market in December is also worth a look. One section of the market is devoted to souvenirs, but best buys here are the fresh berries and other produce. In summer, try the sweet green peas (herne). Just pop open the pod and eat as is.
  • Old Market Hall (Vanha kauppahalli), [98]. Right next to Market Square, this old brick building houses Finland's best collection of gourmet food boutiques. Try to find the stall which sells beaver sausage!
  • Valtteri Flea Market, [99]. An indoor flea market popular among locals. Located in an old industrial building in Vallila district. Trams 1, 1A, 3B, 9 and bus 70T. Open Wed, Sat and Sun 9AM-3PM.


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"/7"). 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 Viiskulma', a brisk walk from the city center:

  • A.H. Records, Fredrikinkatu 12, [100]. Used rock/Finnish/funk.
  • Digelius, [101]. Jazz/classical.
  • Eronen, Laivurinrinne 2, [102]. Dub/jazz/salsa.
  • Lifesaver, Pursimiehenkatu 3. Electronic/soul/disco/funk/hip-hop/jazz. New owners and a new location since Deceber 2009.
  • Levylaivuri, Laivurinkatu 41.
  • Popparienkeli, Fredrikinkatu 12, [103]. Rock/pop.

Elsewhere around the city center:

  • Darkside Records, Albertinkatu 12.
  • Disndat Records, within Kaisaniemi metro station, [104]. Electronic.
  • Fennica Records, Albertinkatu 36, [105].
  • Green Grass, Fredrikinkatu 60. Rock/pop.
  • Keltainen Jäänsärkijä, Urho Kekkosenkatu 4-6 A, [106]. Helsinki's largest indie store, covers virtually except classical and electronic.
  • Stupido, Iso Roobertinkatu 23, [107]. Rock/indie/misc.

A bit further:

  • The Funkiest, Lapinlahdenkatu 8, [108]. Hip-hop/funk and jazz reissues.
  • Compact Records (Dark Side of the), Lönnrotinkatu 23.
  • Music Hunter, Unioninkatu 45, [109]. Rock.
  • Streetbeat, Kirvesmiehenkatu 4 (Metro: Herttoniemi), [110]. One of Finland's dance/electronic music pioneers, but they've closed their city center store and moved into the suburbs.

In Kallio, easily accessed via Hakaniemi metro station:

  • Black & White, Toinen Linja 1, [111]. Rock.
  • Hippie Shake records, Hämeentie 1, [112]. Rare 60/70s rock and hard rock.
  • Fatty Sounds, Hämeentie 4, [113]
  • Goofin Records, Hämeentie 46, [114]. Rockabilly.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under €10
Mid-range €10-30
Splurge Over €30

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, when most restaurants offer lunch sets for around €6-10. Lunch sets are typically served from 10:30AM to 2PM, but the times vary between venues. In the evening, only budget places are less than €10, while splurges cost well over €30 per head.

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 McDonalds and its Finnish imitators Hesburger/Carrols, Helsinki is also full of pizza and kebab places, where a meal typically costs around €7-8 (sometimes as low as €4-5, especially in Kallio). A more healthy option is Unicafe [115], a chain of restaurants owned by the Helsinki University student union, which has around 10 outlets in central Helsinki and offers full meals from €5.70, including vegetarian options.

  • Bar No 9, Uudenmaankatu 9, [116]. Popular bar that also serves a variety of dishes with a twist of cross-kitchen style, priced from €4.90-15.90, most main courses under €10. Tends to be packed at lunch and dinner time.
  • Chilli, Keskuskatu 6 (and other outlets around time). Cheap kebab, shawarma, and falafel. Large portions, though be warned that this isn't your traditional Middle Eastern fare. Pitas come with something akin to spaghetti sauce inside. Filling choice, especially on a budget.
  • Golden Rax, Forum second floor, Mannerheimintie 20 / Mikonkatu 8, [117]. Cheap and greasy, all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Includes soggy pasta, wilted salad, and drinks. €9.50 per person, €1.50 extra if you want ice-cream. There is also a salad-only menu which costs €6.50.
  • Happiness Thai Buffet, Kaisaniemi Metro station. Open Mon-Fri 11-20, Sat-Sun 12-19. Decent Thai food with vegetarian options in an all-you-can-eat buffet, single dishes also available. Do yourself a favor and pass the coffee though. Buffet €7.90, single servings €7.
  • Kahvila Suomi, Pursimiehenkatu 12, tel. +358 9 657422. Huge portions of tasty no-nonsense Finnish food like meatballs and mashed potatoes, which explains the dock workers that crowd here at lunchtime. The Japanese tourists, on the other hand, come because the cult hit movie Kamome Shokudo was filmed here! Most mains under €10, priced sandwiches available.
  • La Famiglia, Keskuskatu 3, tel. +358 9 85685680, [118]. 11AM-midnight daily. Unpretentious Italian food even for under €10, although the most of the items on the menu should be listed under the Mid-price section. The weekday lunch buffet of soup, salad and two kinds of pasta (€7-10) is still a particularly good value.
  • Pasta La Vista, Mikonkatu 8 (Ateneum), [119]. Pick a pasta, a filling and a sauce, for €7.70-8.70. Menu changes often, vegetarian options also available.
  • Pelmenit, Kustaankatu 7 (close to Sörnäinen metro station). Serves pelmeny (Russian dumplings), blini (Russian crepes), soups and salads. The menu depends on the mood of the Russian owner. Prices around 6 euros for a dish.
  • Sky Express, Annankatu 31. A pizza spot very close to the city center. It's a relatively small place, but the service is very fast and the place is open late at night. Opens around 11AM, and closes at 11PM (10PM on Sundays). Try the Päivän jättipizza ("Daily giant pizza"), which is a large, thin pizza with a varying selection of fillings plus a 0.4 liter soft drink for €6, which is almost unbeatably cheap.
  • Unicafe Ylioppilasaukio, Mannerheimintie 3 B, [120]. Open Mon-Fri 11AM-7PM, Sat 11AM-5PM. The biggest and most centrally located student restaurant and cafeteria is only a two-minute walk away from the main railway station. The lunch price is only €4-6 including drink, bread and the salad buffet, and €2.35 if you happen to own a Finnish student card.
  • VPK, Albertinkatu 29, [121]. Mon-Fri 11AM-3PM. Run by the Volunteer Fire Brigade, this restaurant serves a daily changing buffet of hearty Finnish fare in a cafeteria straight from the 1950s, complete with grim portraits of moustached Hosemasters staring down at you. Pea soup and pancakes on Thursday are particularly popular. €7.70 per head.
  • Wrong Noodle Bar, Yliopistonkatu 5, [122]. Mon-Fri 10-21. Sat 12-21. Sun 13-19. Asian-European fastfood concept. €7-10 per head.
  • Singapore Hot Wok, Kamppi Shopping Centre, E floor, Urho Kekkosen katu 5 B, [123]. Select from a few tasty plates of Wok. €9.50 per head.



  • Cella, Fleminginkatu 15, [124]. Established 1969, this is one of the oldest restaurants in the Kallio disctrict, serving classic Finnish food with lots of grease and salt. For a "real" restaurant (not fast food) in Helsinki it's reasonably priced, around € 10-20 for main dishes. The chef himself often serves the food, complete with a sexist joke or an insult, and may even force feed you the leftovers if you don't finish your meal! Also serves as a pub with a decent selection of beers, ciders and single malts.
  • Juuri, Korkeavuorenkatu 27, +358 9 635 732, [125]. Tiny restaurant known for its special Finnish entrées called sapakset (a play on tapas), with roots in Finnish food tradition. Try the cabbage roll with crayfish or the egg cheese with marjoram. All sapakset €2.7, main dishes from €22. Lunch sets €9.50-11.60. Open Mon-Sat 11AM-midnight, Sun 4PM-10PM. (weekdays 11AM-3PM only).
  • Konstan Möljä, Hietalahdenkatu 14, +358 9 694 7504, [126]. Traditional Finnish food. Lunch buffet €7.90, main dishes €15+.
  • Kosmos, Kalevankatu 3, +358 9 647 255, [127]. A Helsinki institution dating to 1924, proudly serving "Helsinkian" food — a melange of Russian, French and Swedish influences. Try one of the three classics: Vorschmack with duchess potatoes, the Sylvester Sandwich au gratin and Baltic herrings with mashed potatoes. Mains €15-25. Trams: 3B/T, 4, 6, 10
  • Kynsilaukka (Garlic), Fredrikinkatu 22, +358 9 651939, [128]. Good Finnish-influenced food from people truly dedicated to garlic. From the wonderfully intense garlic butter served with the bread to the sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle overtones in most of the dishes, this place is a delight for the garlic lover. Portion sizes are large, so if you're saving room for dessert (and you should), either skip the starters or else order the smaller size of both starter and main dish. The cinnamon pie dessert is particularly recommended. Main dishes €12-28. Trams: 3B/T. Open Mon-Fri 11AM-11PM, Sat Sun 1PM-11PM.
  • Manala, Dagmarinkatu 2, +358 9 5807 7707, [129]. The name may mean "Hell" and their motto "For devilish hunger and hellish thirst", but it's actually an understated white-linen-cloth restaurant serving traditional Finnish food and wood-fired pizzas. Open 11AM-4AM (Sat/Sun 2PM-4AM), lunch menus Mo-Fr 11AM-2PM. Main dishes €10-18. Trams: 3B/T, 4, 7A/B, 10.
  • Messenius, Messeniuksenkatu 7, tel. +358 9 2414950, [130]. This fine neighbourhood place outside the city centre is famed for the "catch of the day", often caught by the fishing enthusiast owners themselves. Also fairly good steaks for the carnivores amongst us.
  • Perho, Mechelininkatu 7, +358 9 508 786 49, [131]. Run by a cooking school, the cooks and waiters are all enthusiastic students, so the quality of food and service are good. Serves traditional Finnish and Russian food, set menus €20 to €30 including wine. Open Mon-Sat 11 AM-11 PM, Sun noon-5 PM.
  • Ravintola N:o 11 (Restaurant Nr. 11), Pihlajatie 34, +358 9 477 2863, [132]. This classic neighbourhood eatery in the Meilahti district, long known as Kuusihokki, recently reverted to its original 1946 name by its new owners who also improved the kitchen. The menu consists of basic but superbly executed classics such as salmon soup. The fantastic original 40s interior is also worth seeing.
  • Sea Horse, Kapteeninkatu 11, +358 9 628 169, [133]. Established in 1933 as a basic eatery, this joint has slowly become a local legend affectionately known as Sikala ("Pigsty"), and both the decor and the menu are still preserved from the 1950s. A long-time Wallpaper Magazine favourite. Try the famous herring dishes or the onion steak. Meals between €10-30.
  • Weeruska, Porvoonkatu 18, +358 (0)20 7424 270, [134]. Serves simple, but tasty, home-made style food. The clientele at lunch is primarily blue-collar workers and the portions are sized accordingly. Meals between €8-17.
  • Zetor, Kaivopiha, Mannerheimintie 3-5, +358 9 666 966, [135]. Tourist restaurant with lots of character and great quality Finnish food. Plenty of old tractors and Finnish memorabilia. Main meals between €10-20.


Central Helsinki is dominated by restaurants dedicated to international cuisine, and these are particularly useful for vegetarian visitors, Finnish food being largely meat-based. A particular touch is provided by a bunch of "Nepalese" restaurants, which actually serve generic north Indian food, but almost any of which you are guaranteed to leave happy and full. Localized Chinese and Italian cuisines are also well represented.

  • Belge, Kluuvikatu 5 (Kauppakeskus Kluuvi), +358 9 6229620, [136]. A reasonable selection of Belgian beers, a nice range of bistro fare, and a good location for people watching. The dining room upstairs is non-smoking. Main dishes €12-17.
  • Benjam's Bistro, Dagmarinkatu 5, tel: +358 9 492 322. You want home made Italian cooking in Helsinki? Here it is. Benjam's is run by an Italian family. Atmosphere is cozy, but some of the food comes directly from the supermarket, tortellini and many desserts, for example. Main dishes €10-15.
  • Everest, Luotsikatu 12 A, +358 9 6942563. A well-known "Nepalese" (north Indian) restaurant. Main dishes €10-20.
  • Gastone, Korkeavuorenkatu 45, +358 9 666116. [137]. Nice restaurant with an Italian flavor. Reservations suggested, particularly on the weekend.
  • Mai Thai, Annankatu 31-33, +358 9 685 6850, [138]. One of the best Thai restaurants in Helsinki - simply incredible! Make sure to reserve a table in advance, and heed the chilli ratings when ordering.
  • Mandarin Court, Lönnrotinkatu 2, +358 9 278 2700. Finland's first attempt at an authentic Chinese restaurant, seems to get watered down more and more every year but still has a nice selection of dim sum. Main dishes €11-15.
  • Mesta, Postikuja 2 (Sanomatalo, 2nd floor), +358-9-68121450, [139]. Lunch 11 AM-3 PM Mon-Fri, dinner 5-10 PM Mon-Sat. Cheeky, stylish "modern Russian" eatery, serving up reasonable fare at reasonable prices. €9 lunch sets of pelmeny or blinis and the €12/22 "Zapuska" buffet table for dinner are great value.  edit
  • Meze Point, Mikonkatu 8, +358 9 6222 625. Mediterranean meze plates, several vegetarian dishes. Excellent vegetarian moussaka. Main dishes €15-20.
  • Mt. Everest, Lapinlahdenkatu 17, +358 9 6831 5450, [140]. Good Nepalese food. Main dishes €10-20.
  • New Bamboo Center, Annankatu 29, +358 9 6943117. Well-known and popular downtown Malaysian-Chinese restaurant. Cheap lunch/dinner. Vegan-friendly with several vegan dishes. If you like elbow room you might want to pass on this restaurant, since the seating is somewhere between "intimate" and "cramped". The food is very good, though.
  • Prego, Fabianinkatu 16. Fresh Italian fare, fast but delicious. Half-salads start around €5 (full around €8) and main dishes around €11. Wine by the glass or bottle.
  • Sawat Dee, Alppikatu 5, +358 9 773 2745. Serves very tasty Thai food in a milieu resembling backwoods gas station bar. Main dishes €10-12, lunch set €7.5.
  • Empire Plaza, Urho Kekkosen katu 1, Kamppi Shopping Centre. [141] Tasty Chinese food. Main dishes €7-20, lunch buffet €8.5.
  • Colorado Bar & Grill, Simonkatu 9. [142] Tasty Tex-Mex food. Main dishes €10-25.
  • Cantina West, Kasarmikatu 23. [143] Tasty Tex-Mex food. Famous for it's Pork Baby Ribs(€18). Main dishes €10-25.
  • Tamarin, Iso Roobertinkatu 18, Fredrikinkatu 49, Eteläesplanadi 4. [144] Tasty Thai food. Main dishes around €14, lunch buffet €8.5.


  • Silvoplee, Toinen linja 3, +358 9 726 0900, [145]. Vegetarian restaurant specializing in living and raw foods but also serves warm dishes. Buffet, pay per weight. Closed on Sun.
  • Vegemesta, Vaasankatu 6, +358 44 9385 212, [146]. This take out restaurant has the best vegetarian burgers you could imagine. Ask for your burger with dark bread. Cash only. You can get there by taking metro to Sörnäinen.
  • Zucchini, Fabianinkatu 4. Good lunch restaurant, meals around €8 euros. Vegan and vegetarian options.


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).


  • Carelia, Mannerheimintie 56, tel. +358 9 27090976 – Finnish-French with a strong fish and seafood emphasis. Oysters and other seafood in winter, local fish in the summer season. Located in the premises of an old pharmacy with some of the pharmacy interior still intact. One of the best (if not the best) wine cellars in town: there are 37 different champagnes alone on the wine list.
  • Chez Dominique. Rikhardinkatu 4, tel. +358 9 612 7393, [147]. Finland's only Michelin two-star restaurant, run by famed Finnish chef Hans Välimäki. Set dinner courses of innovative French food with fresh Finnish ingredients and modern twists start at €79 per head, not including drinks. Those wishing to sample the full range of delights in this restaurant should expect to pay €250 or more. Reservations essential. Trams 3B and 10.
  • Fish Market, Pohjoisesplanadi 17, tel. +358 9 13456220, [148]. High quality seafood restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere. Trams 1 and 1A.
  • Havis, Eteläranta 16, tel. +358 9 68695660, [149]. The successor of the legendary Havis Amanda, "Daughter of the Baltic", and still the best upscale seafood restaurant in town. Trams 1 and 1A.
  • Karljohan, Yrjönkatu 21, tel. +358 9 6121121. Very nice restaurant opposite the Hotel Torni with Swedish and Finnish traditional cooking and keeping high standards. On Thursdays, try the traditional lunch of pea soup and pancake.
  • Postres, Eteläesplanadi 8, +358-9-663300, [150]. Tue-Fri 11:30AM-2PM, 6PM-midnight, Sat 6PM-midnight. Airy restaurant with one Michelin star and great views of Esplanadi park, serving elaborate modern cuisine, but with plenty of Finnish ingredients like local fish, dill, liquorice, cloudberries, etc. Despite the name, there's nothing Spanish about the place, and the desserts are perhaps the weakest point of the menu. Reservations essential for dinner, but for their great value three-course lunches you may be able to sneak in without one. Lunch from €29, dinner from €53.  edit
  • Rivoli, Albertinkatu 38, tel. +358 9 643455. Traditional fine dining restaurant quite close to the SAS Royal and Scandic Simonkentta hotels. Specialities include oysters, shellfish and mussels in season (this was the first place in Finland to import them) and zander in an onion and cream sauce (traditional style).
  • Saaga, Bulevardi 34 B, tel. +358 9 74255544, [151]. Traditional Lapp food in kitschy Lapp surroundings — reindeer horn chandeliers and the lot — but unlike some of the competition, they don't compromise on food quality. The octolingual menu runs the gamut from smoked elk to bear meatballs. Don't miss the buttermilk pancakes (äkäset) for dessert. €50 for a full meal.
  • Savoy, Eteläesplanadi 14, tel. +358 9 684 4020, [152]. A luxurious restaurant with a magnificent view of downtown Helsinki's rooftops. Savoy is decorated just as Alvar Aalto designed it in the 30's, and they still serve some of the dishes that Field Marshal Mannerheim used to order, such as the famous Vorschmack (a comparatively cheap €18). Other mains from €40, while the opulent "Menu Savoy" will set you back €102.


  • Bellevue, Rahapajankatu 3, tel. +358 9 179560, [153]. The oldest Russian restaurant in Helsinki was founded by emigrants from the Rodina in the turbulent year of 1917. Fitting location in the shadow of the Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral and a professional kitchen dishing out Russian traditional favorites with a French twist.
  • Kasakka, Meritullinkatu 13, tel. +358 9 135 6288, [154]. Less well-known thanks to its location slightly out of the way and on top of a steep hill to boot, this restaurant must be doing something right to have stayed in business since 1969. Mains €20-30, set menus €38-55.
  • Saslik, Neitsytpolku 12, +358 9 74255500, [155]. Traditional Russian delicacies. Russian music and decor of old samovars, stained-glass windows and paintings. Try traditional blinis or Saslik's bear specialities. Meals €20-35, bear dishes €66-76.
  • Wellamo, Vyökatu 9, tel. +358 9 663139. Not strictly Russian, but a longtime favorite of both bohemians and the Orthodox community from nearby Uspensky Cathedral. Apart from the wonderful Russian dishes, lighter Mediterranean fare is also available.


  • Farouge, Yrjönkatu 6, +358 9 6123455. Probably the only real Lebanese restaurant in Finland. Friendly service and excellent food. The hand made baklava might be the best this side of the Mediterranean. Main dishes €14-38. Lunch Mon-Sat 11AM-3PM Closed Sun.
  • Kabuki, Lapinlahdenkatu 12, +358 9 694 9446, [156]. Helsinki's best-known Japanese restaurant and a favorite of Finnish celebrities, which explains the signed ice hockey jerseys and Star Wars memorabilia scattered throughout. Alas, while the food is decent, it's not quite the real thing. Reservations recommended for dinner. Closed Sat.
  • La Petite Maison, Huvilakatu 28, +358 (0)10 270 1704, [157]. Classic French cuisine on one of the most idyllic streets in Helsinki. Only 22 seats. Bib Gourmand recognition in the 2006 Michelin guide. Menus (three to six courses) €61-89.
  • Tokyo55, Runeberginkatu 55, +358 10 841 1111, [158]. Tue-Fri 4 PM-midnight, Sat 2 PM-midnight. The speciality here is sushi, served up by Japanese chefs, but there are also Finnish-styled options like maki rolls with smoked salmon and dill. Good selection of sake and Japanese beers. €30.  edit
Chilling out at the Arctic Icebar, located at restaurant La Bodega
Chilling out at the Arctic Icebar, located at restaurant La Bodega

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 around Eerikinkatu and surrounding streets.

Going out is not cheap, and complaining about the prices is a popular Finnish pastime, but compared to (say) London or New York City the prices aren't that bad. If you are on a budget and intent on getting plastered, follow the Finns and drink up a good "base" at home or hotel before going out on town. Alternatively, you can start the night outside the city centre area and head to the district of Kallio where bar prices are significantly lower. Popular places include Heinähattu, Roskapankki and Tauko but there are lots more to choose from, just walk along Helsinginkatu or Vaasankatu. You can reach Kallio from the center by walking, by tram (lines 1, 3B, 6 or 7B) or by metro (get off at Hakaniemi and walk uphill, or Sörnäinen, and head west). Most bars in Kallio close at 2AM, whereas in city centre there are many that are open until 4AM.

Note that, while entry to bars and clubs is often (but not always) free, you must use and pay for the coat check (narikka), usually around €2, if you're wearing anything more than a T-shirt. In many places you must pay even if you don't leave anything at the cloakroom. If a ticket price is advertised, it usually does not cover the coat check.

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 some times be let in if one fits the clientele, especially women.

Information on clubs and live performances can be found in free, Finnish-language tabloids such as City [159], which can be picked up at many bars, cafes and shops.

  • Ateljee Baari, Hotel Torni (14th floor), Kalevankatu 5. Despite the name it's more like a cafe, located on top of Hotel Torni, Finland's first high-rise. Excellent views over Helsinki's downtown. You even have a view from the (famous) toilets. Highly recommended. Find the elevator close to the lobby to get there, but be prepared for expensive drinks. If you're on a tight budget, you can just enjoy the view on the elevator level.
  • Café & Eepos, Runeberginkatu 29. A hidden gem near Temppeliaukion kirkko. Delicious pastries, pies and buns - and it's full of books you can read. There are even glasses available for those with poor eyesight.
  • Café Ekberg, Bulevardi 9, (09) 6811 860, [160]. One of the classic Helsinki cafés.  edit
  • Cafe Engel, Aleksanterinkatu 26 (opposite the Lutheran cathedral). Where the locals go for tea and snacks. Very relaxed, lovely courtyard out the back with films projected late into summer evenings.
  • Café Kafka, Pohjoisesplanadi 2 (Swedish Theatre). A lovely building with a relaxed atmosphere. Here you can find one of the best espressos in town.
  • Cafe Succès, Korkeavuorenkatu 2, tel. +358 9 633414. This traditional cafe serves excellent delicacies. Famous for their enormous cinnamon rolls (korvapuusti), also available in Cafe Esplanad [161].
  • Café Tin Tin Tango, Töölöntorinkatu 7 (tram 3B/3T, 8), +358-9-27090972, [162]. Mon-Fri 7 AM-midnight, Sat-Sun 9 AM-2 AM. A uniquely Helsinki combination of cafe, restaurant, bar, laundromat and sauna, Tin Tin Tango serves up all-day breakfast, soups, salads and sandwiches, but stays open late with wine and occasional live music. Laundry/dryer €4/2. Sauna rental €22-32/hour (1-10 people), reservations required.  edit
  • Fazer, Kluuvikatu 3, [163]. Famous for its decor, architecture, ice-creams, pastries and coffees, this 110-year old café, run by Finland's largest chocolate maker, has been an institution since its birth. There's also the Fazer Bakery shop next to the café. If you are visiting, pay attention to the round room topped with a dome. People say that if you tell secrets here, the other customers will hear them across the room due to the acoustics of the dome.
  • Kaffecentrallen, Museokatu 9. This little shop concentrates on selling espresso paraphernalia, and also serves excellent capuccino.
  • Kakkugalleria, Erottaja 7, [164]. French-type cafe in the Design Forum. Try the lovely Sacher cake. Take away is cheaper.
  • Kipsari, Hämeentie 135 E, [165]. Student cafe at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Arabia. Relaxed atmosphere with live music and DJs at times. Not open during summer when the school's out.
  • Sinisen huvilan kahvila, Linnunlauluntie 11 (Töölönlahti, up the hill). 10-22 during summertime. The "Cafe of the Blue Villa" is an outdoors café with fantastic views over the Töölönlahti bay and very few tourists. Small coffee €1.5.  edit
  • Strindberg, Pohjoisesplanadi 33, [166]. One of the oldest and most historic cafés of Helsinki. Great terrace on the posh Pohjoisesplanadi with views of the Esplanadi park, restaurant on the 2nd floor. Very popular among locals.
  • Ahjo, Bulevardi 2 (Klaus K), tel. +358-20-7704711, [167]. Named after the forge where the mythical Sampo of the Kalevala was made, this is a slick modern bar-lounge with two sides to it: a pure white space as you enter, with a bar counter and sofas, and a darker back room with nooks and crannies for a quieter chat. Drinks €6-8, try the Ahjotonic. Closed Sundays.
  • Arctic Icebar, Yliopistonkatu 5, enter through La Bodega restaurant. Inside the icebar the temperature is a constant -5C, and while it's quite the tourist trap, it does make a pretty good photo op. €10 for entry, parka rental and one vodka cocktail. Open daily 4-11.30PM.
  • Butterfly, previously Baarikärpänen. Located in Mikonkatu, right next to the Main Railway Station. Offers R & B and Top 40 hits in a nice lounge-type bar with big comfortable sofas and a dance floor. Reasonably cheap.
  • Baker's, Mannerheimintie 12, [168]. A great place to start up your party. From Tues to Sat they have a sparkling wine happy hour from 5PM: for 100 minutes, a glass of cava costs 100 cents (that's one euro). The service might be somewhat rough. Also lots of young people there on weekends. Has a bar, nightclub, pub and serves also food.
  • Black Door, Iso Robertinkatu 1, [169]. English pub. Weekdays are relaxed, weekends have live DJs and a full bar. A place to go for quality beers, ales, ciders and whisky.
  • Corona Bar & Billiards, Eerikinkatu 11, (+358-9) 751 75611, [170]. A bar and billiard hall owned by the film director brothers Aki and Mika Kaurismäki, echoing the melancholic mood of their films. Also check out the affiliated Kafe Moskva [171] bar next door for authentic Soviet style experience, complete with Russian music played on dusty vinyls and Russian vodka and champagne. Downstairs is Dubrovnik [172], a small club-cum-movie theater that can be rented for private events and host occasionally live gigs or clubs..  edit
  • Erottaja Bar, Erottajankatu 15-17, tel. +358 9 611 196. A small, consciously crude bar, that formerly was known as one of the primary hipster hangouts in central Helsinki. The bar is now all but deserted by the trendy crowd, and the music turned into the usual fare of hit-list pop, but on the upside the service is friendly and there is ample sitting room at the tables.
  • Foxy Wine House, Iso Roobertinkatu 3-5 (inner court), tel. +358 9 644956, [173]. Mon-Thu 4PM-midnight, Fri Sat 4PM-2AM. Closed Sun. Wine houses haven't really caught on in Finland, but this new privately-owned spot is determined to have a go at it. The cozy venue is run by two wine enthusiasts. The wines are reasonably priced and the place easily approachable. Small tapas style dishes also served. Wines €5-8.
  • Molly Malone's, Kaisaniemenkatu 1, [174]. An Irish pub/nightclub near the Central Railway Station. Popular among Finns and tourists alike. Live music every night.
  • Lime, Yliopistonkatu 8, [175]. A small cocktail bar with DJs playing music varying from downtempo to house.
  • Loose, Annankatu 21, [176]. A very street-credible rock bar, it is highly popular among Finnish rock musicians.
  • On The Rocks, Mikonkatu 15 (near Central Railway Station), [177]. Located next to Baarikärpänen and Texas, this is a rock-oriented bar with occasional live bands and stand up comedy acts. Minimum age 23.
  • Siltanen, Hämeentie 13, [178]. A new and quite popular hipster haunt from the owners of the next door Kuudes Linja club venue (see below). Part bar, part club and part café (with food served until 10PM) with a big terrace and weird décor. Open 16-02 on weekdays, 12-02 on weekends, with DJs and the occasional live gig. Saturday brunch 12-18 with DJs playing jazz, soul and latin, Sunday 12-18 with traditional Finnish music.
  • Sports Academy, Kaivokatu 8, [179]. One of the best sports bars in Helsinki, and definitely the place for you if you are keen about football (soccer) or ice-hockey. A two-story building just opposite the railway station, filled to the rim with TV sets and several giant projectors. A variety of pub food also served - try the crayfish pasta or the ribs. There can be long queues before popular events - get in early!
  • Toveri, Castreninkatu 3, +358 9 753 3862. Mon-Thu 17-01, Fri-Sat 17-02. You'll find various types of beer in this little bar. It's been here in various forms since 1937, and after its most recent transformation it is one of the prettiest bars in Kallio.  edit
  • Vanha ylioppilastalo (usually just Vanha), Mannerheimintie 3, [180]. A bar/café just opposite Stockmann, owned by University of Helsinki's filthy rich students' union. Not very special in the winter, but the rooftop patio in the summer is nice. In the evenings, the club attracts a slighly-over-18 audience.
The Clock Bar, Teatteri
The Clock Bar, Teatteri

In Helsinki, the most popular nightclubs have long queues starting to form around 11:30 PM. Get in early to avoid standing, although it can be a nice way to meet people. After around 1:00-2:00 AM it might be impossible to get in anymore. You may try to just walk past the queue looking important, but a more efficient strategy is to discreetly tip the bouncer (€10-20). The larger group you are, the more difficult things get. Look smart!

  • Cuba, Erottajankatu 4, [181]. A night club with a somewhat more "Latin" touch and softer tunes. Clientele mostly trendy young adults. Open until 4 AM, often hosts student parties on weekday nights. No entrance fee.
  • DTM, Iso Roobertinkatu 28, [182]. Open Mon-Sat 9AM-4AM, Sun 12PM-4AM. Formerly "Don't Tell Mama", DTM is the largest combination of gay cafe, bar, disco and nightclub in Scandinavia. Saturdays the second floor of the club is ladies only. Popular among many celebrities. Entrance €7-10 (Sat and special nights only).
  • Fever, Annankatu 32, [183]. Mostly popular with 20-something crowd, this club plays the current Top 40 list. As a rather unusual feature in the Helsinki scene, this club is open every day of the week.
  • Hercules Gay Night Club, Lönnrotinkatu 4, [184]. One of the busiest gay nightclubs in Scandinavia, targets a 30+ clientele.
  • Jenny Woo, Simonkatu 6, [185]. Tries to profile itself as a nightclub for trendy young adults and has succeeded in doing so: "because it's all about yoo", goes their cringe-worthy tagline. You can lie on couches next to the crowded dance floor while sipping some bubbly. Expect long lines on weekends.
  • Kaarle XII, Kasarmikatu 40, tel. +358 9 6129990, [186]. A Helsinki institution better known as Kalle, this former church hasn't had a renovation in years and really needs one. It still continues to pack in a hard-partying thirtysomething crowd, especially on Thursdays. No less than six different bars (all small), playing top 40 tunes, rock and Finnish pop. The last of the bars has a dancefloor and gets particularly packed, with people dancing on the tables. Minimum age 24. Open Thu-Sat 10PM-4AM.
  • Kuudes linja, Hämeentie 13 (entrance from the inner court at Kaikukatu 4), [187]. A live music oriented nightclub for the somewhat artsy crowd. Located a 10 min tram/bus ride away in the Kallio district, Kuudes linja usually offers more experimental/alternative music than the mainstream downtown clubs and also hosts electronic music parties. Arrive early to avoid queues on popular nights — admittance is not guaranteed once the place gets full. The weatherproof terrace in the courtyard is open during the summer from 6PM daily and is especially popular on Sun with live DJs. You can also bring your own food to the terrace and cook it on their gas grill. Tue-Thu 10PM-3AM, Fri-Sat 11PM-4AM, Sun 10PM-3AM. Not open on all Tuesdays and Sundays, check in advance.
  • Lost & Found, Annankatu 6, [188]. Formerly a hetero-friendly gay club and nowadays more likely vice-versa, this nightclub is open every day till 4 AM. Mysteriously popular despite the sweaty atmosphere on the unbelievably crowded dance floor. In the somewhat cheesy disco downstairs, there's always action here on late nights (even on weekdays). One of the best places for celebrity-spotting in Helsinki. Sunday especially good.
  • The Tiger, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 (Kamppi Center), [189]. Open Wed-Sat 10PM-4AM. Formerly Lux, this is a contestant for the title of Helsinki's classiest mainstream nightclub, with its dress code, stylish decor, relatively high prices and an age limit of 24. Five bars, two spacious terraces, a VIP lounge and six luxurious booths that can be reserved. Live music on Thur. Cover charge €4-8, free entrance before midnight.
  • Redrum, Vuorikatu 2, [190]. Open Wed-Mon 10PM-4AM. Recently renovated and with a reshuffle of the programming, Redrum is easily one of the top club venues in Helsinki. Music includes house, techno, indie rock, hip hop, reggae, and plenty more. Run by the same people as Kuudes Linja. Exclusive sound by Funktion One [191], whose other reference locations include Space in Ibiza and Berghain in Berlin. Expect a crowd during weekends and popular events. Cover charge €4-10, includes a free beer, cider or soft drink from Sun to Thu.
  • Playground, Iso Roobertinkatu 10, [192]. Formerly Rose Garden, entrance to this literally underground spot is easy to miss as it is unmarked and hidden in an inner court. With a maze-like setup, the venue is not quite as popular as it used to be after the former proprietors left and opened up their new club Redrum (see above). Reggae is prominently featured in the club lineup, along occasional electronic music nights. Drinks €5-8.
  • Royal Onnela, Fredrikinkatu 48, [193].Open Wed-Sat 10PM-4AM, Sun Mon 11PM-4AM (bars at the street level open at 4PM). Onnela, a Finnish word meaning the place of happiness, is popular amongst the mainstream twenty-something crowd. The nightclub consists of two floors and eight different bars (Lapland-themed street bar, karaoke bar, club, disco, retro, rock, Finnhits and 99 shots bar). Cover charge ranges from free to €7.
  • Tavastia/Semifinal, Urho Kekkosen katu 4-6, [194]. One of the most prominent rock clubs in Scandinavia, a must see for fans of live rock of any kind. Semifinal has smaller indie/alternative bands for a young crowd. On special nights the two clubs are joined, but usually they host separate gigs. Tickets for all gigs can be bought in advance from the Tiketti ticket sellers next door. The annual Tavastia new year party is an institution in itself, with fans flying from all over the world for the show.
  • Teatteri, Pohjoisesplanadi 2, [195]. A complex featuring a deli, a restaurant, a bar and a night club, all of them trendy and popular among the well-dressed crowd. Check out the aptly named Clock Bar (Kellobaari) downstairs. Closed Sun.
Ruoholahti by night
Ruoholahti by night

Accommodation is generally quite expensive, but of a high standard. Hotels are usually cheaper on weekends, when business travelers are away.


There are quite a few budget hotels in Helsinki, the cheapest being youth hostels. Many student dormitories turn into youth hostels during the July-August school break, which happily coincides with peak season for tourists. The Finnish Youth Hostel Association [196] can provide further information.

  • Eurohostel, Linnankatu 9 (Tram 4), [197]. Helsinki's largest hostel, very close to the dock for the Viking Line ferry and the Uspenski Cathedral. Dorms from €22.40, single/double rooms from €39/44 (plus €2.50/person for non-HI members).  edit
  • Hostel Erottajanpuisto, Uudenmaankatu 9, [198]. A small, clean, and friendly hostel with a central location. €22.5 for a dorm bed.  edit
  • Hostel Suomenlinna, Suomenlinna C 9 (ferry connection from Market Square), [199]. All year open hostel located at the Suomenlinna sea fortress.  edit
  • Rastila Camping, Vuosaari (M Rastila), [200]. The only camping site inside Helsinki borders. Seventeen minute metro ride from the Central Railway Station.  edit
  • Stadion Hostel, Pohjoinen Stadiontie 3 B (Trams 3B, 3T, 7A and 7B), [201]. In the Olympic Stadium building to the north of the center, but quite easily accessed by tram. Dorms from €20.  edit
  • Summer Hostel Academica, Hietaniemenkatu 14 (M Kamppi, Trams 3B and 3T), [202]. Summer hostel in the heart of Helsinki. Open June-August only.  edit
  • Summer Hostel Satakuntatalo, Lapinrinne 1 A (M Kamppi), [203]. It's not exactly a palace, but reasonably priced and the location is great. Prepare to queue for the showers and try to avoid the rooms next to the bus tunnel and the nearby construction site. No membership required. Open Jun-Aug only. €19.50.  edit
  • Travellers Home, Lönnrotinkatu 16 D, [204]. Central location, clean, and good amenities. Wi-fi €5/day. Fully-furnished flat from €85/night.  edit
  • Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka, Vyökatu 1, +358 9 686 450. Housed in what was the Nokka prison until 2002, this classy hotel has retained the original exterior and the internal corridor, but the rooms themselves, built by combining two to three cells, retain no trace of their past. Walking distance to city center. From €99.  edit
  • Cumulus Kaisaniemi, Kaisaniemenkatu 7 (M Kaisaniemi). A centrally located but minimally equipped business hotel. From €83 for a double in the low season.  edit
  • Finn, Kalevankatu 3B, +358 9 6844360 (, fax: +358 9 68443610), [205]. A clean hotel near the main railway station. Even though the rooms are small and fairly no-frills, the hotel is comfortable and cheap. There are 27 rooms, which can accommodate from one to four people per room. Rooms include telephone and TV. €55-115.  edit
  • Helka, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 23 (near M Kamppi), [206]. A dependable old standby within walking distance of the city center. Generally €~100.  edit
  • Hotel Room, Helsinginkatu 12, +358 40 833 6696 (), [207]. Hotel Room is actually not a hotel, but a funkily furnished 30 sq.m. flat in the Kallio district. Around €100.  edit
  • Omenahotelli, Eerikinkatu 24 (M Kamppi), [208]. A self-service hotel with no front desk. Book and pay on the Internet and let yourself in with a passcode. Prices start at €36/person for four people and €87 for a single room.  edit
  • Scandic Continental Helsinki, Mannerheimintie 46, +358 (0)9 4737 1 (, fax: +358 (0)9 4737 2211), [209]. A large, modern hotel catering to families, leisure travelers, and business travelers. Over 500 rooms, sauna, exercise facilities, wireless Internet access, restaurant and bar. Excellent breakfast included with all rooms. Good location near Tram 4, 7, and 10 for convenient transport to city center (3 min by tram, or a 10 min walk). Finnair buses from the airport stop directly behind the hotel, providing convenient transport to/from airport. From €89. (60.179556,24.927978) edit
  • Sokos Hotel Aleksanteri, Albertinkatu 34, +358 (0)20 1234 643 (, fax: +358 (0)20 1234 644), [210]. Situated in the heart of the city in the trendy Punavuori neighbourhood, next to the historical Alexander Theatre. From €139.  edit
  • StayAt Parliament, Museokatu 18, +358 9 2511 050 (, fax: +358 9 2511 0600), [211]. A modern hotel in an old apartment building in the elegant residential district of Töölö, formerly Accome Töölö. Rooms are modern, spacious and have nice views to the park across the street and to the others architectually beautiful buildings. A twin room goes for €77–128, a one bedroom room €96–176 and the biggest two bedroom apartment with a sauna and a balcony €110–184.  edit
  • Crowne Plaza, Mannerheimintie 50, [212]. Formerly the Hotel Hesperia. Rooms offer comfy beds, modern furniture and up-to-date electronics. The hotel also has a sparkling new gym with a pool. From €255.  edit
  • Hilton Strand, (M Hakaniemi). Located across the Pitkäsilta bridge, a 15-minute walk or short tram ride away from the main railway station. From €100.  edit
  • Klaus K, Bulevardi 2, +358 20 7704700, [213]. Helsinki's first boutique hotel, although they prefer the term "personal contemporary hotel". Rooms range from the small Passion & Mystical types to the aptly named Envy Plus. Central location, funky styling and reasonable prices make this a winner. From €115.  edit
  • Hotel Kämp, Pohjoisesplanadi 29, +358 9 576111, [214]. Opened 1887, this historic hotel claims to be the only true 5-star in Scandinavia, with doormen in top hats, yacht charters and prices to match: the eight-room Mannerheim Suite can be yours for only €3300 per night. Part of Starwood's Luxury Collection. Rooms from €175.  edit
  • Palace Hotel, Eteläranta 10, +358 9 13456660, [215]. Four-star hotel located by the seashore next to the Market Square. From €120.  edit
  • Radisson Blu Plaza, Mikonkatu 23, +358 20 123 4700, [216]. Classy hotel in a protected and carefully renovated, Kalevala-inspired 1917 building, located near the railway station within easy walking distance of Aleksanterinkatu. Excellent breakfast buffet. From €150.  edit


Much of Helsinki is blanketed with wifi ("wlan") hotspots, and the City of Helsinki maintains a handy map [217]. By comparison, Internet cafes with shared PCs are few and far between in Helsinki, but here is a partial listing.

  • Library 10, Elielinaukio 2 G, tel. +358 9 3108 5000, [218]. A public Internet and music library located in the main post office building at the western side of the central railway station. You can surf the Internet for free for 30 minutes on the library's computers, but you're going to have to queue. Also has wi-fi, but you need a library card to access the network.
  • Mbar, Mannerheimintie 22-24 (Lasipalatsi), tel. +358 9 612 4542, [219]. A pleasant and popular living room-ish space in the heart of the city with local DJs playing drum & bass, house and chillout beats. Computers with Internet access (€5 per hour; €2 minimum charge), free wifi for laptop & cell phone owners. The terrace is a popular hipster hangout in the summer, situated in the former bus station area just next to the bar. Drinks €4-5.
  • Soihtu, Aurorankatu 13 B 16, tel. +358 45 652 0787, [220]. A small youth-friendly café. It is volunteer-run in the evenings and free wi-fi is available. Customers can borrow GNU/Linux laptops.

Stay safe

The crime rate in Helsinki is generally low. Occasional pickpockets target summer 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, the traditional trouble spots being the frustratingly long queues for late night snack food or taxis. The Kaisaniemi park behind the main Railway Station is possibly best avoided at night, and the area of Kallio and Sörnäinen (northeast from the center, after the Pitkäsilta bridge) may be somewhat rougher than other parts of the downtown. Recently, due to free movement of people in the European Union, Helsinki has been a destination for beggars and petty criminals from poorer parts of the Union.

In the summer, a common problem in the center of the city are aggressive birds. The seagulls will try to take your ice cream cone or sandwich from you, so try to avoid eating where you see a lot of bigger birds. Tourists feeding the birds are a main cause of the problem, and feeding birds is prohibited.

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.

Helsinki's bedrock is close to the surface, so new building works invariably involve some dynamite to build foundations, and it's thus quite common to hear explosions around the center. Blasting is often preceded by a loud sequence of warning beeps, which speed up as they count down. There is no danger to anyone, as the builders are experts (and the solid granite bedrock is very, very strong), but now you know where that "BOOM!" came from.

Nuuksio National Forest Park in Espoo, Finland
Nuuksio National Forest Park in Espoo, Finland

In Finland itself the following make good day trips:

  • Nuuksio National Park, a piece of untamed wilderness ca 25 km from Helsinki city centre. Accessible by bus from city.
  • Porvoo, a charming old town of wooden houses is just 60 km away.
  • Tampere, the third-largest city in Finland, and the birthplace of Finnish industry, boasting one of the last Lenin museums left in the world as well as a spy museum. 180 km north of Helsinki, one hour 30 min to two hours by train.
  • Turku, the fifth-largest city in Finland and the historic capital. The cathedral and the medieval castle are well worth visiting. Two hours by train.
  • Hanko, the southernmost spot in Finland, 140 km west of Helsinki. This town of less than 10,000 people is famous for its summer activities, including sailing, tennis, art, theater, etc.

As a coastal city, Helsinki has good connections to some fine international destinations nearby:

  • In Russia, Saint Petersburg, "the Venice of the North", is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
  • Stockholm, the Swedish capital, is somewhat like Helsinki but more Scandinavian and bigger.
  • Tallinn in Estonia is known for its medieval city center and is easily accessible even as a day trip.
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:


See also Helsinkî, and Ħelsinki



Proper noun




  1. The capital city of Finland. The Greater Helsinki has a population of 1.2 million.

Derived terms



Dutch Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia nl

Proper noun


  1. Helsinki


Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia fi


  • IPA: [ˈhelsiŋki]
  • Hyphenation: hel‧sin‧ki

Proper noun


  1. Helsinki.



  • (colloquial) Hesa
  • (slang) Stadi



  • IPA: /xɛlˈs̪in̪ci/
  •  audiohelp, file

Proper noun

Helsinki pl.

  1. Helsinki


Plural only
Nominative Helsinki
Genitive Helsinek
Dative Helsinkom
Accusative Helsinki
Instrumental Helsinkami
Locative Helsinkach
Vocative Helsinki

Derived terms

  • helsińczyk m., helsinka f.
  • adjective: helsiński


Proper noun


  1. Helsinki

Simple English

Helsinki is the capital city of Finland. Helsinki is the largest city in Finland. 550,000 people live in Helsinki, and 1,000,000 live in the Helsinki metropolitan area.

Helsinki is on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. When one looks from Helsinki, Tallinn is on the opposite side of the sea, but it is too far away to see. A poetic name for Helsinki is "the daughter of the Baltic Sea".


In 1550 Swedish king Gustav Vasa commanded people to build a new city and move there. His idea was to build a new place to trade, which would be more popular than Tallinn. The idea did not work well, and many people returned from Helsinki to their homes. Later Sweden built the fortress Suomenlinna in Helsinki. After Russia had taken Finland from Sweden in several wars, they started developing Helsinki. Helsinki became the capital of autonomous province of Finland. When Finland became independent in 1917, Helsinki stayed as the capital city.


Helsinki spreads around several bays and over several islands. Some famous islands include Seurasaari, Lauttasaari and Korkeasaari - which is also the country's biggest zoo - as well as the fortress island of Suomenlinna (Sveaborg).

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