Before Your Trip

Discover All About Helsinki: Ultimate Guide 2023

Helsinki is Finland’s capital and largest city, located on the Gulf of Finland. For first-time visitors, the city provides a diverse choice of activities and attractions as well as places to visit Helsinki. Here are some tips for those who are curious about activities, attractions, and transportation Helsinki alternatives to help you make the most of your vacation to Helsinki.


We produced this guide with the support of people in Helsinki to assist you throughout your visit to Helsinki.

Things to do in Helsinki

  • Visit Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sea fortress built on a group of islands just off the coast of Helsinki.
  • Take a stroll through the picturesque streets of the city’s Design District, home to a wide variety of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Things to do Helsinki change due to your hobbies and interests.
  • Enjoy the natural beauty of the city’s many parks, including Töölönlahti Bay, which offers great views of the city skyline.


Local Tip About Using Coins in Helsinki

Gone are the days when carrying physical money was a must in Finland. Locals have not touched cash living in Finland for a couple of years. There are multiple ways to make transactions and as long as you have digital money, nothing is stopping you to spend in Finland.


Places to Visit in Helsinki

  • Explore the historic centre of the city, including Senate Square, home to the Helsinki Cathedral, and the Presidential Palace. There are various places to visit Helsinki where you will have local experiences!
  • Visit the Helsinki museums, we recommend you the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, which features a wide range of contemporary art from around the world.
  • Take a walk along the Esplanade, a popular shopping and dining area that is also home to several museums.
  • Design District is a creative area with colorful aura!
  • The islands in Helsinki should be visited for sure! You can also check tours to save time visiting Helsinki islands.


Local Tip About Helsinki Being Safe

Finland is one of the safest countries in the world, all neighbourhoods are considerably very safe. Once you lose my wallet and someone who found it calls you the next day to give it back with all your belongings in place. Except, the only thing you may want to make sure to keep your bike safe and locked to somewhere.


Restaurant in Helsinki

  • Traditional Finnish dishes, such as reindeer stew and salmon soup, are available in the city’s various restaurants.
  • Try some of the city’s famous smoked fish at one of the many seafood restaurants that specialize in traditional Finnish fish dishes.
  • Tip: Wi-Fi is available in most restaurants, and staff can assist with connectivity if necessary.


Local Tip About Tipping Guide for Restaurants in Helsinki

Finland does not have a culture of tipping. Even though nobody will object to being tipped, it is rare to see tipping.  


Transportation in Helsinki

  • The city of Helsinki has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, trams, and trains.
  • Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) system offers a variety of forms of transportation in Helsinki, including buses, trams, and trains.
  • The Helsinki Card is a great option for visitors because of incluing unlimited public transportation as well as discounts on many of the city’s attractions.

Maps are placed at every stop, it is possible to track and find the transport schedule simply by reading those maps. Public transport routes can also be found using google maps or applications that are provided by the transport municipality in different cities. HSL in Helsi Metropolitan Area, for instance.


Transportation Card in Helsinki

  • The Helsinki Card is a great option for visitors, as it offers unlimited use of public transportation Helsinki as well as discounts on many of the city’s attractions.
  • You can also use the HSL Mobile application to purchase tickets, see the time of the next bus, train or metro and see your travel history.

Tickets can be purchased both online and through ticket kiosks placed at different locations. A physical card can also be bought from HSL service centers that can be used to purchase instant tickets in buses, trains and trams by simply topoing up the card beforehand. Top up can be done again by using web, mobile application and through an HSL kiosk. 


Public Transportation in Helsinki

  • There is a great option that Helsinki has an extensive public transportation Helsinki system, including buses, trams, and trains.
  • The Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) offers a variety of transportation options, including buses, trams, and trains.
  • The HSL Mobile application is a convenient way to purchase tickets and plan your trip.

Museum Pass Programs in Helsinki

  • Many of the city’s museums, notably the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the National Museum of Finland, are discounted with the Helsinki Card.
  • The Helsinki Museums Pass, which provides free admission to more than 40 institutions and exhibitions, is another alternative for visitors wishing to experience the city’s various museums.

Various museum passes are available all around Finland and can be easily bought online. Students can get discounts on public places by showing their student ID.


Mobile Applications Locals Use in Helsinki

  • HSL Mobile Application is a convenient way to purchase tickets and plan your trip.
  • Helsinki Bikes app for Android and Apple is a public bike-sharing system with stations all over the city.
  • Two very dominant food delivery services in Finland are Foodora and Wolt, customers can order food, beverages and as well as groceries. The easiest way is to download the mobile application.
  • For public transportation, use the HSL application for the most convenient public transport services in Helsinki Metropolitan Area. These applications differ in different cities around Finland. VR Finland is responsible for intercity travel and night trains.
  • Taxi services are not the cheapest and can be Taxi Helsinki and Yango (Yango being cheaper but sometimes fails to deliver the best experience).
  • If you’re planning on saving or on budget travel, then websites such as Offerilla can be quite useful. For hotel and flight booking people use random websites but Booking is the most common one.
  • For those who are traveling alone, Hostellit provides the most convenient options all around Finland. People who prefer to live in an apartment or in the countryside can find make the best choices using AirBnb.
  • People who want to join social gatherings, sports activities and webinars can use the Meetup application.

Local Tip

Locals prefer reading to making calls and so most of the information is available at all times on the internet regarding transport, visiting hours of museums or services provided at a given place.

There are different applications that are used in different cities all around Finland, HSL being most common and is used in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. It is available through both web and mobile applications.


Shopping Areas in Helsinki

  • The Esplanade has become a popular tourist destination due to its abundance of restaurants, shops, and museums.
  • Shopping, galleries, and dining options abound in the Design District.
  • Everything from clothes and accessories to home decor and electronics can be found at Stockmann.
  • For genuine Finnish goods including fresh meat, fish, cheese, and fruit, head to Hakaniemi Market Hall.
  • Another popular mall in the neighborhood, Kamppi Shopping Centre is home to a wide range of stores, eateries, and cafes.

Local Tip About Dress Code in Helsinki

People like to dress nicely, black is especially trendy during winters and white during the summer-time. Finland support gender equality so it is not common for people to comment on someone’s clothing either. The weather can be quite unpredictable though and it is advised to pay extra attention to the changes.


Frequently Asked Questions

How many days in Helsinki is enough?

It depends on your interests and the type of trip you're looking for. A minimum of 2-3 days would be enough to see the main sights and experience the city's culture, but if you want to explore more of the surrounding areas, a longer stay would be recommended.

What is Helsinki most known for?

Helsinki is known for its archipelago, Design District, and its many museums and art galleries. The city is also known for its vibrant food and café culture, as well as its beautiful parks and waterfront promenade.

Is 2 days in Helsinki enough?

Two days in Helsinki can be enough to see the main sights and experience the city's culture, but it might be too short if you want to explore more of the surrounding areas.

Is Helsinki worth visiting for a day?

While it is possible to see some of the main sights and experience the city's culture in one day, it would be rushed and you will be missing a lot of what Helsinki has to offer. It would be better to have at least 2 days or more to explore the city more fully. Helsinki offers a wide range of activities and attractions for travelers of all interests. Whether you're interested in history, art, nature, or simply exploring the city, there is something for everyone in Helsinki. With an extensive public transportation system and many transportation card options, getting around the city is easy and convenient, while the city's many museums and shopping areas offer plenty of opportunities for visitors to experience the local culture and lifestyle.
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Buse Yıldırım

A global citizen, eager to travel where she has not travelled yet.
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