Helsinki is a city with a unique coastal geography, punctuated by glistening bays, sharp inlets and small islands. Yet, despite this broken layout, the city itself is relatively small and easy to explore, especially in the summer months, when Helsinki really comes to life. Even with just 24 hours at our disposal, we’ve managed to work out a way for you to see the best of Helsinki in the sunshine and the fascinating islands that lie beyond its shoreline, too. Yes, it’ll be an ‘up early, sleep late’ kind of day, but this is one destination that’s worth sacrificing a lie in for.
Begin your day at Helsinki’s famous Market Square to enjoy a coffee and a spot of people watching. Indulge in some of the foodie treats on sale at the stalls and browse the authentic handicrafts. The atmosphere is buzzing and wandering beneath the brightly coloured tents is a real treat.
Once you’ve seen enough of the market, we recommend you make the most of your position by the water and take a ferry ride over to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fortress sits on an island just offshore from Helsinki’s main city and you should dedicate a good few hours to its exploration. Let us arrange a guide for you or, if you prefer to go it alone, pick up a booklet from the information centre and continue on.Read more
Founded in 1748, the fortress has spent time under Swedish, Russian and finally Finnish rule. It’s a monument that tells a detailed story of Finland’s eclectic history and one of the country’s most famous highlights. When you’ve seen all you can, stop off for lunch at one of the island’s many charming cafes before hopping back on a ferry to the mainland. The rest of Helsinki awaits.
As soon as you’re back on dry land it’s time to make your way to Senate Square. Home to some of Helsinki’s most spectacular architecture, the square is a must-see on any trip to this fascinating city. For one, Helsinki’s most photographed building, the Helsinki Cathedral, can be found here. An Evangelic Lutheran Church designed by Carl Ludwig Engel back in the 19th Century, Helsinki Cathedral is truly inspiring. Be sure to go inside to appreciate the interior architecture and the peace that remains despite the tourists.
From here, move on to wander past the university buildings, the Government Palace and, lastly, Sederholm House, Helsinki’s oldest stone building. Now a branch of the Helsinki City Museum, you’ll recognise this beautiful house by its blue hue.
Fancy spending some time basking in the mid-afternoon sunshine? Then a trip to Esplanade Park will keep you smiling. It’s the perfect place to soak up the incredible atmosphere of summertime Helsinki, filled with locals and travellers alike. Throughout the summer the Park plays host to a number of events including folk dancing, jazz concerts and even a fashion show, so if you time your trip right you could coincide with one of these exciting occurrences.
As night falls, wander through the still brightly lit and charming streets of Helsinki, making your way to our favourite restaurant; Olo Ravintola. Serving some of the most delicious Nordic cuisine to be found in the city, it’s the perfect place to finish up your 24 hours. Helsinki; the jewel in Scandinavia’s crown.