A Day in Helsinki Tour: Local Things to do

Is this your first time spending a day in Helsinki? Do you like to see prominent tourist spots with the help of a travel plan? This plan not only takes you through Helsinki but also includes guidance and recommendations, allowing you to thoroughly enjoy the city in a single day. No, looking back, no regrets. 🙂

This plan takes place in the city’s oldest but also liveliest district, the city center. It contains historical sites, religious structures, administrative structures, islands, markets, museums, galleries, and stores. In a nutshell, it encompasses everything that gives Helsinki its flavor and reputation. After completing this course, you will be referred to as a “helsinkiläinen,” which is someone who lives in and/or is from Helsinki. By filling your day with the activities available, you will undoubtedly get this distinction.


Market Square 

From regional cuisine to one-of-a-kind handicrafts. At this first stop, you may meet locals, browse for unique handicrafts and souvenirs, and sample local dishes while gazing out at the Baltic Sea and breathing in the fresh air of Helsinki.

This area is in the city center, bounded on the west by the Esplanade Park, on the south by the Baltic Sea, on the east by the Katajanokka district, and on the north by the City Hall and the Supreme Court. As a result, it is at the crossroads of recreation, nature, residential area, and administration. What better spot to begin exploring a city than here?

The Market Square, located near the port of Helsinki on the Baltic Sea, has achieved international recognition via trade. It has served as Helsinki’s doorway to the rest of the world since the 18th century. Furthermore, a market is being conducted on this square, selling handicrafts, souvenirs, food, and beverages. This market is popular with both locals and tourists, with high peaks throughout the summer. Every first Friday of the month, a variety of historic American automobiles is on show. In addition, if you visit in October, you will have the opportunity to participate in one of Finland’s oldest ongoing event traditions, the Helsinki Baltic Herring Market, which has been held since 1753.

Golden Checklist

  • See – On the west end, check the most popular and beloved piece of art in Helsinki, Havis Amanda Fountain, and on the north end, check the oldest public monument in Helsinki, the Stone of Empress or Tsarina’s Stone. On this monument written “To Empress Alexandra, who visited the capital of Finland for the first time on 29 May, 10 June 1833”, exposing you to the heritage of the city and reminding you that an Empress walked by here 😉
  • Taste – During the cold winter, you can warm yourself up with the hot coffee served in the stalls. And if you have missed breakfast and are hungry, try the Finnish street food “lihapiirakka” which is a savory pie filled with minced meat and cooked rice.
  • Buy – Shop for unique handicrafts and souvenirs to take home with you 🙂
  • Photo Point – Take pictures from every angle since each will include a spectacular view of Helsinki.
  • Don’t buy too much stuff cause you will be carrying them around throughout the day.



Old Market Hall / Vanha Kauppahalli

Indoors or outside? There is no difference in Helsinki! When the weather turns cold, this option is available to bring warmth and coziness indoors.

The Old Market Hall not only provides shelter from the inclement weather, but also exceptional customer service based on years of expertise. Furthermore, the edifice, which was erected for the sole purpose of trading, is stunning. Inside, you can rest at the Nordic Cafe of Story or the Scandinavia Cafe before continuing your exploration of Finnish culture.

Merchants arriving at Helsinki’s harbor have been selling their wares in this market. It has only been in use since 1889, as people were afraid to move indoors due to cleanliness concerns. Isn’t it relatable? It went through difficult times throughout the World Wars, but with Finland’s accession to the EU, numerous European items, ranging from Polish meat and dairy products to French breakfast, began to gain a foothold in this market.

P.S: Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Golden Checklist

  • See – Check the world’s smallest and friendliest Alko.
  • Photo Point – I had adored the wooden stalls of the Old Market Hall. Definitely take a picture of these cuties!
  • Do – The shops here call themselves merchants, you can do so as well. I’m sure they’ll love it 🙂
  • Don’t get lost in all that selection and start tasting them all. Lunch is around the corner!


Bonus: Uspenski Cathedral 


Feel the History! This historical attraction, which contrasts with the city’s whiteness, allows Helsinki’s heritage to be seen. The cathedral was finished in 1868 and dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God, also known as the Uspenie. Isn’t the name similar? 🙂


Bonus 2: SkyWheel Helsinki 


Go above, go beyond! Isn’t it the best way to view a city from above?


Bonus 3: Helsinki City Hall


Why not take a moment to observe the layers of the city through architecture?


Helsinki Cathedral 


Why is the city referred to as white? You now have an answer! This landmark, which can be seen from miles away, has also become a landmark for mariners.

Helsinki Cathedral is the city’s icon, just like the Eiffel Tower is for Paris. It guards the city, its people, and, of course, its tourists from atop a hill.

With the city’s designation as the capital in the early nineteenth century, Helsinki underwent a dramatic transformation. Carl Ludvig Engel, a German architect, was tasked with designing the Senate Square and the Helsinki Cathedral. As a result, the city now has a new look.

Golden Checklist

  • See – Architectural design of the building reminds you of the Greek heritage, right? Indeed, the building is shaped like a Greek cross and if you take a turn around it, you’ll notice that. Moreover, at the corner of each pediment stands an Apostles. Let me do the math for you: A cross, four ends, a pediment in each end, four pediments, three corners in each pediment…four times three equals 12 Apostles 🙂
  • Do – Take a break at the stairs and enjoy the liveliness of the square!
  • Don’t speak loudly at the cathedral. People might be praying.


Bonus: Senate Square 

Traveling means walking 🙂 Whilst there, go down the stairs and enjoy a walk around the historical monuments. One of these is a memorial to the Ulrika Eleonora Church, which once stood there with all its glory.



Restaurant Fisken på Disken – Lunch Option 1

Freshly fished and served to you! Recognized as the greatest seafood restaurant in town! Because of its courteous service and tasty seafood cooked with a Finnish touch, this restaurant is popular with both locals and visitors.

I’ve been there and can’t wait to go back! On Sundays and Mondays, the restaurant on the 5th floor of the Kammpi Shopping Centre is closed. Instead, visit our alternate restaurant:) It’s also a good idea to book ahead of time.

P.S: 10 to 15% tip of the bill can be given.

Golden Checklist

  • See – This restaurant is located on the 5th floor of Kammpi Shopping Centre, which is called the new downtown centre of Helsinki. So, why not take a look around and immerse yourself in the modern side of Helsinki?
  • Taste – One word: Salmon Soup. Opps, that made two 😀 A seafood bar with fresh oysters is a must-taste too.
  • Photo Point – Are you among the ones who take pictures of irresistible food? Welcome to the club 😀
  • Don’t leave before tasting that salmon soup!



Ravintola Teerenpeli – Lunch Option 2

If seafood isn’t your thing, try this alternative spot that serves freshly brewed products alongside appetizers. Ravintola Teerenpeli, which is part of Sokos Hotel Presidentti, has seven locations in Finland. IWSC awarded it Worldwide Produce in 2020.

Teerenpeli Brewery was established in 1995 in Lahti, Finland. The company then began producing cider. Treenpeli Distillery, on the other hand, was founded in 2002 in Lahti, Finland, and is today one of the oldest distilleries.

P.S: 10 to 15% of the bill can be tipped.

Golden Checklist

  • Taste – Try Teerenpeli’s Giant Toast. Oh yea, it is a tasty giant 😀
  • Do – See the factory.
  • Don’t forget that if you buy anything, you’ll be carrying it for quite a while.


Kamppi Chapel 

An opportunity to converse with stillness… This new edifice is your retreat in Helsinki’s busiest region if you value peace and quiet. Kamppi Chapel won the International Architecture Awards in 2010 and hosts roughly 350,000 visitors every year, which I find fascinating for a chapel of this size.

This edifice, which opened in June 2012, is a modern church chapel. The chapel’s wooden interior and exterior ensure simplicity and minimalism with a modern appearance. It is designed to be a sanctuary for solitude and to welcome people with an ecumenical perspective.

Kamppi Chapel can hold up to 60 people at once. As a result, you may have to wait a little longer to get in. Large groups are not permitted in the chapel during evening services (Fridays at 6 p.m.) or concerts.

Golden Checklist

  • Do – Take a moment, breathe in and out. Chat with silence 🙂
  • Don’t – Taking pictures inside is not allowed since it would ruin the ‘silence’. You need a special permit for this.


Temppeliaukio Church 


This is an unusual but fantastic attraction. You have to look down to find it:) Every year, over 500,000 tourists visit Temppeliaukio Church. Finally, a church carved out of rock is hardly something we see every day, is it? Furthermore, because of the unworked rock walls, it is an excellent site for performances.

The church was created by the Suomalainen brothers, Timo and Tuomo, who won the architectural competition for the site, and it opened in 1969. It is also known as the Rock Church and the Church of the Rock.

Golden Checklist

  • See – Once you are in, lift your head up and get mesmerized by the light coming through the skylight and shining on the rock walls. An iconic view…
  • Don’t hold yourself back. Touch the rock walls and feel their strength!



The National Museum of Finland 

Here’s the backstory. Here is the lineage. It’s time to walk through the aisles, looking left and right. What better place to learn about Finnish culture, history, and legacy than a national museum? I recommend that you visit their website for unique exhibitions and events that are currently taking place here.

The National Museum of Finland, which opened in 1916 and received its current name with Finland’s independence in 1917, exhibits artefacts and works of art spanning Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present.

P.S.: Tickets are available online for a lower price. Plus, on Fridays from 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm, on International Museum Day, 18 May, and on Helsinki Day, 12 June, the entrance is free.

Golden Checklist

  • See – As soon as you enter, you will encounter four frescoes dating back to 1928 and depicting scenes from the national epic, Kalevala. Look up!
  • Buy – Shop for souvenirs at the Museum Shop.
  • Photo Point – Taking pictures inside is allowed. Go for it 🙂


HAM Helsinki Art Museum 

Art triumphs over history. If you are more interested in art than history, this is a good option for you. If you’re lucky, you might find a work of art here that’s worth the trip across the world’s art museums:)

The Helsinki Art Museum, or HAM for short, is an art museum with a collection of 9,000 works of art, around 3,500 of which are on show throughout the city, both indoors and outdoors. As a result, HAM does not confine art behind walls, but rather grants it the freedom it represents.

Golden Checklist

  • Buy – Shop for souvenirs at the HAM Shop.
  • Photo Point – Take a picture of your front, back, left and right, cause I’m sure they will all be filled with awesome pieces 😉
  • Do – Check beforehand the events and exhibitions via their website and spend your time accordingly.
  • Don’t freeze by the coolness of these works of art 😀


Bonus: Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma


A young and vibrant Helsinki is awaiting you at this location. Rather modern than aged. Then welcome!



Design District 

Creative sight-seeing! With the feel of Helsinki, embark on a trip to the soul, creativity, and design.

The Design District has 25 streets and 200 members in total. Members include anything from design stores, retail boutiques, and art galleries to restaurants and hotels. You will experience “a creative lifeseeing” while traversing these streets, examining what speaks to your spirit. This means that you will get to witness numerous domains of life up close and actively interact with them. Check out the current happenings first 😉

Finland’s Design Year was 2005. That year, several design shops and enterprises gathered in Helsinki for festivities and celebrations. Entrepreneurs were interested in this because they believed that a design-free zone would reflect the vibrancy of the city. As a result, Helsinki’s Design District was established. Today, Helsinki is a UNESCO City of Design and the world’s only city with an official Chief Design Officer.

Golden Checklist

  • See – Watch out for the Design District Helsinki sticker displayed on the member shops’ windows. This sticker will guide you in finding your way.
  • Buy – Shop for local products created with Finnish design, most of which you cannot find anywhere else.
  • Do – Check the Design Museum, if you strive for losing it all in design 😀
  • Don’t – Lose the track of time whilst getting in and out of eye-catching shops 🙂


Bonus: Esplanadi 

Had so much walking on the asphalt streets and craving a break under the shades of trees. This location, referred to as “Espa” for short by the locals, has opened its arms for you, my dear. Don’t get surprised to see street artists singing songs for you, only to brighten your day up 🙂

No travel plan is yet completed without a spread of green.


Restaurant Yes Yes Yes – Dinner Option 1

Cute and Chic collide! Who can say no to a wonderful meal after a long day of exploring? This restaurant is popular due to its vegetarian food, pleasant service, and gorgeous décor.

An ex-location McDonald’s got rid of all the frying oil and got a total makeover. It is now healthier than ever. 🙂

P.S.: I suggest you book in advance via their website since it might get packed at peak times. Also, it is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

P.S.2: 10 to 15% of the bill can be tipped.

Golden Checklist

  • Taste – You can have the tasting menu which, as its name suggests, lets you taste them all 😉
  • Photo Point – Those square tiles, sphere lights, and that heart-shaped mirror. Geometry is there with harmony and waiting for you to capture it.
  • Do – Shout out: “Yes, yes, yes!”
  • Don’t hesitate to have a bit more than usual. All are healthy!


Ravintola Spis – Dinner Option 2


Bu gönderiyi Instagram’da gör


Spis (@restaurantspis)’in paylaştığı bir gönderi

A fantastic brick in the wall! Scandinavian cuisine is prepared with care for you. The nordic cuisine is well represented here, making it an oasis for travellers.

Ravintola Spis has a different menu every day, so you may enjoy a full course here. The eatery is on the small side. It could be a good idea to book ahead of time on their website. It is also closed on Sundays and Mondays.

P.S.: 10 to 15% of the bill can be tipped. 

Golden Checklist

  • See – The bricks on the wall reminded me of the popular Pink Floyd song, awakening the rebel in me. Take a look at them. Might create the same effect on you 🙂
  • Don’t wait for them to take your order. The menu is set!


Bonus: Huvilakatu 

This last sprint is worth the effort with unique and colorful structures surrounding you on each side. These buildings have situated themselves among the symbols of Helsinki in time. No wonder!


Bonus 2: Ekberg 1852

Years of experience topped with flavor. An ideal place to have coffee and a dessert.


Buse Yıldırım

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