Whether visiting at the end of the year, wrapping up warm against the temperatures of minus four to walk the streets lined with festive Christmas lights, or in the summer and the balmy highs of 17 degrees, Helsinki is has much to offer. The capital city perched on the peninsula in the Gulf of Finland is perfect for a stopover or a city stay before heading to the vast winter playground of Lapland. We have chosen our highlights if we only had 24 hours in this captivating capital.
A Helsinki Card will get you from A to B on the city’s well designed system of trams, buses and a metro. Of course walking around is always a great way to experience a city, with Helsinki being no different. Start the morning with a visit to the Rock Church, Finnish name Temppeliaukio Kirkko. While churches and cathedrals are often popular tourist attractions, Helisinki’s Rock Church is one with a difference. Architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen blew a hole out of solid rock in 1969 and used this as the starting point to create a beautiful and unique church. It delights both the sense of sight, the light streaming in from the skylights in the copper dome to illuminate the altar, and sound. The rock walls create outstanding acoustics and it is a popular venue for concerts. It is free to enter and marvel at during the day.
The church at the time of being built was at the forefront of design. Continue experiencing the city’s renowned cutting edge and inspirational design at the Museum of Finnish Architecture which exhibits the diverse and innovative style of Finnish architecture design. A visit here will make it easy to see why Helsinki was named World Design Capital for 2012.
In the afternoon visit the Fortress of Suomenlinna. A sea fortress built on six islands just south of the coast of Helsinki, Suomenlinna is a UNESCO listed site which has played a part in several important historical events. The stronghold spread out across the archipelago was once used to defend the sovereign states of Kingdom of Sweden, the Russian Empire and the Republic of Finland. Now it is the venue for idyllic picnics, with a food basket from the deli Viaporin, before discovering the secrets hided within the fortified walls, exploring the tunnels where so much history has come to pass. The only way to reach Suomenlinna is by ferry, which is covered with a Helsinki Card.
Take a stroll through Esplanadi park in the heart of the city, along the picturesque tree-lined promenade surrounded with inviting restaurants and cafes. For your evening meal we recommend Kappeli which serves classical Finnish dishes such as meatballs with brandy sauce and buttery mash, reindeer fillet with boletus topping and Kappeli’s cake, the restaurants take on the country classic. It’s glamorous and slightly extravagant interiors don’t mean an expensive bill, with a meal costing the same as the city centre average. From here you are just a quick walk away from Sokos Hotel Torni for a nightcap. The Ateljee Bar on the top floor is the perfect way to end your day, overlooking the best view of the city with cocktail in hand.