Think of a vibrant and prosperous city, with an eclectic mix of neo-classical and art nouveau buildings……and you have Helsinki, the ‘Pearl of the Baltic’ , the capital of Finland and one of the truly amazing cruise port destinations.
A compact and relaxed city with a population of just over 500,000, Helsinki feels like it is surrounded by water. Your cruise ship will dock very close to the main city, enabling the passenger to get maximum exploring time in this lovely port.
At the Southern most tip of Finland, Helsinki enjoys a milder climate than the rest of the country. A delight to explore and easy to get around by bus, walking, cycling (cycle hire is free), metro or tram. Helsinki offers the visitor many attractions, including over forty museums. The most prominent building on the cities skyline is the Neoclassical Helsingin Tuomiokirkko (Helsinki Cathedral) at the heart of Senate Square, with its green domed roof. Senate Square is also where you will find Temppeliaukio an underground church hewn of solid rock where you can take in a daytime concert.
Visit Suomenlinna the ‘Castle of Finland’ and the reason why Helsinki became a capital city way back in 1812. The island of Katajanokka is accessible via a footbridge. Here the Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral on the hill above the harbour is another of Helsinki’s most recognisable landmarks, you will also find many Art Nouveau buildings here.
If you appreciate art as well as architecture, head for the very modern Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art or the Ateneum Art Museum where you will find many examples of traditional and more modern Finnish art.
The Finnish people are some of the best educated in the world enjoying a prosperous economy and low unemployment and it is worth bearing in mind that Helsinki
is one of the safest cities in the world.
There are no shortages of places to take lunch in Helsinki including many island restaurants. Helsinki can even boast its own two star Michelin restaurant. The Finnish are a nation of coffee drinkers and this fact has resulted in Helsinki’s many elegant cafés where coffee (kahvi) is traditionally taken with pulla, a cinnamon flavoured bun with sugar on-top.
Stroll through the Sibelius Park where you will find Finland’s tribute to their great composer Jean Sibelius. The National Museum of Finland, Kansallismuseo is well worth a visit. In 1952 Helsinki hosted the summer Olympics, the stadium is now home to the Finland national football team. Other places of architectural significance are Finlandia Hall, the Opera House and Parliament House. Head to Kauppatori, Helsinki’s famous waterfront market place where you will find fresh fish, seasonal fruits and berries and even reindeer sausages!
After sampling so many delights what could be better than to take a traditional sauna! Invented by the Finnish there are around 1.6 million of them in Finland.