A weekend in Helsinki: a practical guide

Helsinki and its archipelago are the gateway to the majestic and enchanting Lapland. His domination of the Gulf of Finland offers an ideal setting to explore the city. These 300 islands are treasures to discover for all nature lovers. The city, itself, has several tourist attractions such as religious buildings and testifying of the ecclesiastical past of this capital, or to museums rich in historical and cultural collections. But the real heart of this tourism is probably the proximity to nature. The many parks and forests make this destination an undeniable asset to the antipodes of its architecture. Sports enthusiasts can afford kayak trips in the Baltic Sea; and for the less sporty, beautiful walks through this unique natural environment.

What you must see in Helsinki?

  • Lutheran Helsinki Cathedral: Tuomiokirkko

    This religious building in neoclassical style, pure white, is the cathedral of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church. It was built between 1830 and 1852 under the orders of the architect Carl Ludvig Engel, who also aménagea Senate Square (the central Senaatintori ). Under the occupation of Tsarist Russia, the church was erected in honor of St. Nicolas until the country's independence in 1917; and was renamed as the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral Tuomiokirkko . This Russian style is found especially in many monuments in Helsinki; Indeed, the city had to be rebuilt following a fire that destroyed completely the city in 1808. Today, the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral, a symbol of the Finnish capital, is among the most visited monuments Helsinki with around 350,000 visitors a year.

    • Senate Square

      The Senate Square, symbol of Helsinki, is the historic heart of the city. She was also appointed by the German and Finnish architect Carl Ludvig Engel. This vast square is surrounded by outstanding monuments such as the Lutheran Cathedral in Helsinki, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Senate or of the House Sederholm . Close to the port, it is the starting point for visiting the Finnish capital.

      • House Sederholm

        (Aleksanterinkatu 18)

        This house of rich merchant was erected in 1757 by Johan Sederholm on the magnificent Senate Square. Stone built house Sederholm remains the oldest house in the heart of Helsinki. It has survived the flames of the fire of the early nineteenth century, which devastated the city. Today, this charming historic building houses permanent and temporary cultural exhibits belonging to the City Museum Helsinki.

        • Orthodox Cathedral Uspenski

          (Kanavakatu 1)

          The Orthodox Cathedral Uspenski was erected between 1862 and 1868, during the occupation by the Tsar and Emperor Alexander II of Russia; to mark its grip on the city and keep the traditions for the Russian population living in Helsinki. The sumptuous cathedral overlooks the Finnish capital on the hill Katajanokka . Built of red brick and adorned with golden domes, this imposing religious building is the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe; and remains the privileged witness of Russian influence on the history of the city. The interior is also worth seeing because of its ornate decoration of gold and marble.

          • Cathedral Saint-Henri


            Puistokatu 1)

            The Catholic cathedral, neo-Gothic style, was built between 1858 and 1860 in honor of St. Henry, then Bishop of Uppsala; despite the dominance of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland. It is the largest Catholic edifice in Helsinki. However, the originality of this church lies in its ceremonies and its offices expressed in several languages ​​because of its many practicing Catholics, who are mostly foreigners.

            • old covered market

              (Etel & auml; ranta)

              Lying near the market square and the harbor, the old covered market Wanha Kauppahalli welcomes merchants and their customers since 1889! The two parallel passages consisting of red wooden stalls give an authentic touch to this market.

              We meet as many local doing their shopping and tourists strolling through the aisles. Various products of the region (local fish, Finnish coffee, reindeer meat and elk, breads, etc.) are available for the delight of our taste buds!

              • the marketplace


                It is the obligatory passage for anyone arriving in Helsinki by boat (south port), since the place is open to the Gulf of Finland. At the gates of the capital, the market place has a nice frame including the Presidential Palace, City Hall and the Old Hall. Various stalls will satisfy many tourists with handicrafts and regional cuisine. The café tent allows to drink and enjoy a moment without fuss, as we say!

                • National Museum of Finland

                  (Mannerheimintie 34)

                  The National Museum traces the history and culture of Finland, from prehistory to the twenty-first century. The building housing this collection was built between 1905 and 1910 in the style Finnish national romanticism. This peculiar architecture makes it look churches and medieval castles.

                  • City Museum Helsinki

                    (Sofiankatu 4)

                    This museum houses a large collection exposing more than 500 years of history in Helsinki. The visitors will be keen to discover the history of this city and its development, giving the keys to a better understanding of the Finnish capital today.

                    • Kiasma Helsinki

                      (Mannerheiminaukio 2)

                      The museum Kiasma offers the opportunity for visitors to experience a contemporary art collection of over 4000 works, 1960s to today. The building was designed under the plans of the American architect Steven Holl in the style of the museum, and was inaugurated in 1998.

                      • Park Kaivopuisto

                        (Kaivopuisto Brunnsparken)

                        In the south of Helsinki, the oldest city park offers a peaceful and relaxing between land and sea. The nature meets urban planning, and makes this chic more pleasant.

                        • Island Seurasaari

                          At only 15 minutes from Helsinki, accessible by bridge, Island Seurasaari provides a breath of fresh air to city dwellers and to passing visitors. Like all Nordic countries it must be, the island has an open-air museum and restoring the various Finnish homes depending on the time and the region, farms, churches, old wooden houses, among others. The Church of Karuna , built in 1685 and moved to the museum in 1910, is among the most impressive buildings and visited this rich history museum. Private people, the island became a haven for many squirrels that inhabit the forest.

                          My experience: My feeling on the Finnish capital

                          At once sweet and pleasant, Helsinki has everything a city where it is good to live and where the charm is at first sight! This quality of life is an undeniable asset for any traveler seeking tranquility. Indeed, the 576,000 inhabitants of the capital live in contact with nature: through the many parks (1 600ha), forests (3 800ha) and Islands .

                          To my surprise, when I arrived in Helsinki, the streets seemed so peaceful. The few passers intersected in the streets near the port. On the Senate Square, few visitors dare to venture in this autumnal freshness. A priori all capital respecting, should have a flood of tourists! In this day of November, at first glance, we were practically the only tourists! The Finnish capital appeared then as a provincial town. Heading towards the Orthodox Cathedral Uspenski , we saw once again: few tourists in sight! Are they all went on vacation in the sun? Or was it just not the right season to visit this charming city? Anyway, visiting Helsinki continued. Arrived at the economic heart of the city, near the train station, the streets were again become livelier. The shopping areas were beautiful and very present with his adept shopping crowd: return to the reality of the twenty-first century !

                          However, the loophole is only a few minutes by boat! The many Helsinki archipelago of islands allow city dwellers to rest, relax and enjoy the serenity offered by these pieces of land at the end of the world, or rather the end of Europe! Helsinki therefore offers all the advantages of a capital close to nature. It is, without any doubt, one of the top destinations in Europe; the gates of the majestic Lapland & hellip;

                          A good plan: Drinking on a tram at Sparakoff tram pub

                          The tram train full of stories was transformed into a pub for our pleasure! Various stations scattered in central Helsinki serve as entry gates, the ticket is 8 € per person. This enchanting invitation to travel without leaving the Finnish capital! This pretty wooden wagon, red, made a tour through Helsinki (approximate duration: 40 minutes); allowing visitors to experience the city from another aspect. The bar provides its customers all beverages at course drink responsibly! Therefore, a drink in hand, adventurers are ready to explore the Finnish streets in this very particular and very jovial locomotion. This makes then feel more attractive and less formal visit. The only false note regrettable, is the scarcity of frequencies of these pastoral journeys; since the tram runs only in summer. Then plan to go there during the summer season!

                          For the less fortunate or for visitors eager to discover Helsinki during winter periods, the Ice Bar will comfort you with its atmosphere very frosty and very surprising.

                          island of Suomenlinna and strong.

                          Maritime Fortress Suomenlinna based on six islands in the archipelago of Helsinki. Very busy, this remarkable military building appears in the UNESCO World Heritage. She was baptized Sveaborg (strong Svea in Swedish) in its construction and fame Suomenlinna (Thick Finland, in Finnish) in the country's independence.

                          Faced with the power and dominance of the Russian empire on the Baltic Sea, the military fortress Sveaborg was erected in 1748 by the Swedish occupying most of Finland. Augustin Ehrensv & auml; rd realized this work, inspired by the French military engineer Vauban. Despite the imposing building, Russian easily invaded Helsinki in 1808. The Russians bombarded the fort until his surrender with 7000 men! Therefore, the Russian undertook its development in the bastion of the tsarist army with many barracks and fortifications. The fortress was also the scene of other bombings during the Crimean War because of its strategic position at the entrance of Helsinki. Restored and renovated the fortress constituted one of the wards of the city during the First World War. The independence of Finland in 1917 marked the revival of the fortress by renaming the Suomenlinna . Today the fortress houses the Naval Academy of the Finnish Navy.

                          At only 20 minutes by boat, Island Suomenlinna is one of the most visited tourist attractions of the country, both local and tourists.

                          The visitors have the opportunity to sneak through the various tunnels and galleries, but also to approach the guns and shell holes; legacies of numerous bombings. Museum Suomenlinna traces the history of the island and its fortress.

                          A trip to Tallinn

                          Tallinn is located only 80 km from the Finnish capital. The speed ferry company Lindaline (link: www. lindaline.fi ) through the Gulf of Finland in 1:30. It is then possible to make a day trip to the beautiful Estonian capital; taking the first boat at 08:00 and the last at 17:00 (Arrival / return: 35 € per person).

                          At the gates of the magnificent and haunting Russia, Tallinn reflects the rich history of his nation and its people & hellip; At first glance, Tallinn has everything a prosperous city of the Soviet era, lying at the crossroads of trade routes between Europe and Russia. Overlooking the Gulf of Finland, Tallinn has raised many passions in history by its neighbors Russians, Germans and Swedes. By opening up to capitalism (since 1991), Tallinn was able to develop to the point of saying that the Estonian capital has become one of the leading cities of Northern Europe in the same way that Helsinki or Stockholm.

                          While strolling through the streets of the historic center of Tallinn, one discovers an old medieval city ranked on the list of Unesco World Heritage of Humanity since 1997 & cedil; which has many tourist attractions. Also, over the years, it has preserved its fortifications unlike its neighbor Riga Latvian; which earned him one of the few European cities to keep most intact architectural remains dating from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. The old city then takes us into the medieval life through the Pikk street. These abodes of another time testify to the former prosperity of this city. All his treasures (churches, monasteries, merchants houses) evoking the golden age of Tallinn are limited to inside the walls and can therefore be visited in a day or two.

                          In the end, Tallinn therefore does not lack attractions both geographically, culturally and festive. Many people come from Finland or Russia to enjoy the sweetness of the Estonian capital much cheaper and just as friendly, these neighboring Helsinki and St. Petersburg.

                          Favorite: The islands and surrounding nature

                          Arriving in Helsinki by boat; one can only admire the beauty of the coastal scenery. All these small islands scattered in the archipelago offer a pretty sight through the mist. Some islands are inhabited by conifers; others are home to wooden houses, red, typical of the Scandinavian region. The fauna and flora seem to be in perfect harmony on her pieces of land, despite a fairly cold climate. Also, the winter provides the opportunity for visitors to walk through its enchanting scenery or to try the skids on the frozen waters. The summer also has its share of beautiful walks by boat from the sea maze. In this maze of small islands, it is possible to swim despite the cool of the Baltic Sea! For the less brave or the more cautious, the discovery of the islands by kayak is as relaxing and invigorating. Ultimately, each season offers a wealth of leisure adapted to the climate and places (forests, parks, sea).

                          This vast archipelago of almost 300 islands, surrounded by the Baltic Sea, is a major asset to the development of nature-based tourism. Back to the roots and traditional values ​​is an excellent remedy for those times where we have neglected the health of the planet. This proximity that have the Finns with nature, gives food for thought about our ways of living.

                          This environment, the first hostile surroundings, is the source of life and builder of well being & hellip;

                          Helsinki practical

                          Getting there by plane: Air France, you can find prices at € 150 return

                          Where to stay:

                          • Sokos Hotel Albert (Albertinkatu 30): Very comfortable hotel in a quiet neighborhood.

                          • Fabian Hotel (Fabianinkatu 7): Budget hotel and excellent

                            Restaurants tested for you:

                            • Sea Horse (Kapteeninkatu 11): Good table to enjoy traditional dishes.

                            • Karl Johan (Yrjonkatu 21). Cozy restaurant and not too expensive

                              Where to shop? The city center is full of shops.

                              Bookmarks bar:

                              • Artic Icebar (Yliopistonkatu 5): Spend a unique moment in an ice bar!

                                • Sparakoff Tram pub (Mikonkatu Terminal): A streetcar still circulating transformed into pub < / span>

                                  Average budget: A 3-day weekend / 2 nights back between 450 and 500 € .

                                  Citycard: The Helsinki Card offers many advantages to discover the Finnish capital ( www.helsinkiexpert.com/helsinki_card )

                                  Useful addresses:

                                  • embassy Finland 103 rue Grenelle 75007 Paris /