Despite coming from Sweden, a neighboring country to Finland, and despite the fact that they even speak Swedish as a second language and that the country was once part of Sweden – I never had any real plans on visiting Finland.
It seemed like a beautiful country, and the thought of visiting northern Finland and go dog sledding would be an experience of a life-time.
But it also seemed so… distant…Finland is a beautiful country and a great travel destination with many attractions any time of year.
Helsinki has been the capital of Finland since the early 1800’s, although it was founded in 1550.
Helsinki boasts many interesting places to visit including the largest military sea fortress – Suomenlinna Fortress.
We’ve arrived in Helsinki, and we’re going to explore Helsinki- the capital city of Finland.
We’re going to start by visiting the Ouspensky Cathedral built in 1869.
The five domes on top are actually covered in 22 carat gold.
It’s the largest Orthodox Church in Western Europe, which is kind of funny because only 1.1% of the Finnish populations are actually Orthodox.
Let’s have a look inside. Helsinki Cathedral which has become sort of like the icon of Helsinki and I think it looks really cool from the outside…and white.
To read more about our time in Helsinki, make sure you check out:
- Helsinki, Finland – A Quick Meeting With Santa Claus
What To Do and See on A Voyage to Helsinki Finland
Take a look at a few fun and interesting attractions in Helsinki this beautiful country:
Kauppatori at Market Square
This colorful marketplace has a cheerful atmosphere that you will love.
Located on the harbor, there are many vendors who sell fresh fruits and vegetables, a variety of sea foods, pastries and souvenirs.
Take your pick of the many outdoor cafes or enjoy lunch at a boat restaurant.
Stroll along the Esplanade while you’re there to experience many of the historic sites in the city.
Catch a ferry from the harbor near Kauppatori to this military sea fortress that was built in the early 1700’s.
It continues to be a royal residence and it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit museums, enjoy the unique architecture, go shopping and dine at the cafes and restaurants while visiting.
Accessible by bus, you can experience life in Finland dating back to the early 1600’s on Seurasaari Island.
After passing over a beautiful bridge to the island, be sure to visit houses set up with guides dressed in time period attire.
Be sure to ask questions of the guides to get the most out of your visit.
Add a visit to the old church to your itinerary and on return to Helsinki, stop at the Bronze Age Village which is very interesting and well worth your time.
Linnanmaki Amusement Park
Wonderful fun for the whole family, the Linnanmaki Amusement Park has a variety of rides including a popular wooden roller coaster.
There are arcades and a variety of outside performances for you to enjoy.
The park is open from early May through September.
Take a cruise
Helsinki, Finland is only one of many interesting ports in this area that you can enjoy when taking a cruise.
If you’re planning on visiting Iceland or Northern Europe, you may want to check out a cruise with a port stop in Helsinki.
Sea Enrichment Voyages, for example, combines learning with fun across unique destinations in this areas of the globe.
Helsinki Finland – Quick Meeting With Santa Claus
A Quick Meeting With Santa Claus – Despite coming from Sweden, a neighboring country to Finland, and despite the fact that they even speak Swedish as a second language and that the country was once part of Sweden – I never had any real plans on visiting Finland.
It seemed like a beautiful country, and the thought of visiting northern Finland and go dog sledding would be an experience of a life-time, but it also seemed so… distant…
I’ve traveled to all corners of the world, all the way down to the other side of the globe to New Zealand – but for some reason Finland seemed harder to reach.
I know it doesn’t make any sense at all, and luckily, with the Europe Train Challenge, I finally – at the end of the whole thing, managed to reach Finland.
I didn’t know very much of the country.
All I knew was that in Sweden you call it ”the land of the thousand lakes”, that they are the kings of Heavy Metal and that they speak the loveliest, most adorable Swedish accent.
The one thing which surprised me on our visit to Helsinki, was the atmosphere. I had heard that the Finnish people were distant, cold and hard to reach (just like my view of the country itself had been), but they turned out to be quite the opposite: warm and welcoming.
The people acted more like people do in small towns and on the countryside.
They were more than happy to speak English, the open-air markets seemed more like those in eastern Europe, and a small question to a guy in a bakery led to him excitedly telling us all about the Finnish cuisine, its tradition and what his mother used to make for him as a child.
But I think the absolute best memory I will have of Helsinki was that of 5 am in the morning on the day we were leaving.
Stepping off the tram on the way to the ferry, we had just realized that we were completely lost when we heard someone yelling:
Where are you going?!
Turning around, we saw an old man with a long, white beard and a large round belly standing in the doorway.
He held up the door as we ran across the street in the rain, and entered a small room packed with unorganized papers and dolls from floor to ceiling.
He introduced himself as Santa Claus – and there was no doubt in my mind that it was actually him.
He had it all; the beard, the body, the potato nose, the round glasses and that gruff grandpa voice – it was the most unexpected ending to our stay in Helsinki, but where else would you meet Santa than in Finland?