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Top 7 things to do in Helsinki

Beautiful girl sits on the stairs of Helsinki Cathedral
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Beautiful girl sits on the stairs of Helsinki Cathedral

During summer, the capital of Finland – home to around only half a million people – can be one of the most enjoyable places in Europe. If you came in winter, though, don’t fret, as there’s plenty to do here even when it’s cold – especially if you’re into your gastronomy.

1. Eat a Northern Deer Steak

Since time immemorial, Northern Deer meat was one of the main food sources of the Finnish people. It’s no surprise, then, that Finns have perfected dishes made from it, and since Finland’s restaurants uphold only the highest of standards, finding bad food in Helsinki is close to impossible. Eating here is quite expensive, though.

2. Explore the Fort

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

Suomenlinna is a UNESCO-protected sea fort in Helsinki. Then-occupying Sweden began its construction in 1785, hoping it might help fend off the Russians. In the 20th century, Russia did manage to seize the fort, however, releasing it only in 1917 after Finland announced its independence. The fort became open to the public in 1973. Today it hosts a number of art galleries and even a theatre. Here you can also see a submarine.

3. Enjoy Scandinavian Design

Video
Video by SuomalainenTyo.  Suomiškas dizainas

It’s one of the things Scandinavian countries are praised for. At Helsinki’s Design Museum you’ll see a number of examples of exceptional Finnish design. The exposition consists of Finnish furniture, clothing, ceramics and collections of glass artefacts that were amassed during the last 100 years or so. An exhibition of this calibre might just be enough to inspire you to buy one these exquisite marvels of Finnish design.

4. Spend Some Time at a Prison

Not long ago, Hotel Katajanokka was not a very pleasant place to stay – up until 2002, it was a prison. Thanks to a group of investors who bought the building, however, it soon became a trendy hotel, where prison cells were merged together and turned into rooms. Luckily, many original details were left intact – the large metal doors and frames still make the impression of a prison.

5. Visit Tallinn

Excursion train on Town Hall Square
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Excursion train on Town Hall Square

Tallinn – the capital of Estonia – can be reached from Helsinki by ferry in just 2 ½ hours. Make sure you don't miss this great opportunity – Tallinn’s medieval Old Town and church towers are very different from Helsinki’s modern buildings. And if you happen to miss your trip back, which are usually scheduled at 4 hour intervals, you can always stay a little longer.

6. Take Part in Restaurant Day

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Video by Wolfpacktravels.  Restoranų diena Helsinkyje

This rapidly-growing international movement has its beginnings in Finland. In May 2011, three Finns – Antti Tuomola, Olli Sirén and Timo Santala – came up with a way to bypass the numerous bureaucratic hurdles and opened a restaurant in an unexpected place for just one day. This idea soon became so popular that, currently, these short-lived establishments, functional during the Restaurant Day, see over a million visitors in total. What’s best about this idea is that on the day, you can get snacks sold from a bicycle carriage or end up in someone’s apartment where a specified fee will buy you some truly fantastic dishes.

7. Go Sunbathing on the Stairs of Senate Square

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Video by Finnair.  Helsinkis

Since there aren’t too many sunny days in Helsinki, so whenever the sun does make an appearance, be sure to go to Senate Square. This is the main square of the city and home to Helsinki’s main buildings – the University of Helsinki, the Government Palace and the Helsinki Cathedral. The centre of the square is adorned with a sculpture depicting Tsar Alexander II. The square often hosts concerts and is the place of much general city life. So get a snack, sit down on the steps, and you’re guaranteed to feel like a true Helsinkian.

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