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About city What to see Gallery Where to stay

Helsinki is one of the coldest cities in the world; the average annual temperature here does not exceed 0 °C and the sun is totally blocked for around 51 day a year, so it’s no wonder many people have doubts about visiting this icy place. However, wild Nordic nature, mountains, an abundance of small islands, crystal clear water, fascinating architecture and heated pavements make Helsinki a city worth visiting at least once.

Helsinki is situated in the Uusimaa Region on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. Together with the nearby cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen it makes up the Capital Region – a continuous city with a million inhabitants. Helsinki itself is strewn across many individual islands, connected by bridges, and the city is formed from around 300 of these islands.

Furthermore, it’s the centre of Finland’s industry and culture. Many automobile, ship, electrical engineering, textile, chemistry and food industry plants operate from here. It also has several metro lines, a large seaport and an international airport.

Old embankment Helsinki
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Old embankment Helsinki

Maples and squirrels are held as symbols of the city. This owes to the fact that every micro-district of the city has at least a few green zones infested by rabbits and even more so by squirrels. From time to time the city government makes a pledge to exterminate them, but after a while the populations of these animals restore to their previous levels. Helsinki’s parks are home not only to pheasants, but also to elk.

Just like in the rest of Southern Finland, Helsinki’s landscape is formed by flat granite hills. The highest place of the city, hovering just 62m above sea level, can be found in the Kivikk neighbourhood. The capital of Finland is scattered along many bays and islands, the most famous of which are: Seurasaari, Lauttasaari and Korkeasaari, which has the largest zoo in the country, and also the island-stronghold Suomennlina.

Sveaborg sea fortress
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Sveaborg sea fortress

The city was built in 1550 near the Vantaa River by Gustav I of Sweden as a competitor of the Hanseatic city of Reval (known as Tallinn today). However, for many years Helsinki remained a small coastal city, and in 1710 most of its inhabitants were wiped out by the plague. After the nearby Sveaborg harbour was built in the 18th century, the city finally began to grow.

Helsinki became an important city only in 1812 when Russia occupied Finland. During that time, the city gained many Neo-classical touches, all so characteristic of Saint Petersburg’s architecture, and in 1917 Helsinki became the capital of independent Finland.

Some of the best-known tourist attractions are: the former Classical-style Senate Palace, St. Michael’s Cathedral, the city railway station, formed in the style of “National Romanticism”, and the Finlandia Palace.

Beautiful view of famous Helsinki Cathedral
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Beautiful view of famous Helsinki Cathedral

The city, nicknamed the “White City of the North”, is also famous for its water. It’s so clean, tasty and of such high quality that it is exported to many different countries facing a potable water problem. One of these countries is Saudi Arabia, which has been buying potable water from the Finns for decades.

Another tourist attraction in Helsinki is the monument containing the Havis Amanda fountains, situated in the Market Square. Unofficially, it’s considered to be the guardian of men. It is believed that if a man wishes to increase his potency, he has to wash his face with the fountain’s water and cry “Rakastaa!” (meaning “to love!” in Finnish) three times.

Helsinki. South Harbour Quay on a sunny winter day
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Helsinki. South Harbour Quay on a sunny winter day

In Helsinki, as in the rest of the country, fines for traffic violations are determined in accordance with the salary of the offender - this means that those who make more money pay more in fines. A journey without a ticket on public transportation, however, incurs the same fine for everyone – 80 Euros. By the way, bikes are very popular here, and Helsinki has over 1000 km of bike paths.

Quite interestingly, public sidewalks and boulevards in the central part of the city do not get slippery during winter, because they are heated from the bottom. This way, neither snow nor ice can take hold.

What to see

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