Helsinki

Despite being a small city, the Finns have packed a lot to do in their capital Helsinki. You can explore the city well in 5 days without rushing, or spend longer and take some day trips out of town. Here are my top tips on how to spend your time in Helsinki!

With regards to accommodation, I highly recommend staying on the island of Suomenlinna. Hostel Suomenlinna costs £22 a night for a bed in a dormitory, which is a really good price for Helsinki! It’s very clean, tidy and friendly; also built onto a primary school which is quite interesting. The amazing ferry ride runs from early morning to late at night and is very cheap. It’s a beautiful place to stay, even if you just do 1 night to explore the island.

Food and drink in Helsinki compared to the rest of the world is pretty expensive, but cheaper than its neighbouring countries, being in the Euro. Eating cheap is still easy if you shop and cook from a supermarket. A pint costs £6-7 and a main meal in a decent restaurant starting from £15-20. Visit Skiffer for an interesting take on pizzas. Also the bar at the top of Torni Hotel, it’s worth a drink for the views! If you’re an avid museum goer, get a Helsinki Card, it’ll save you some money and get you deals on food & drink.

Travel around the city is well connected with buses and trams. Walking around doesn't take long though so I recommend getting around this way and exploring the city. If, however, you don’t fancy it, you can pickup travel cards from 1-7 days, costing £8-32; they work on all public transport in and around the city.

Here were my favourite things to do in Helsinki

Löyly Bar and Sauna. This incredible restaurant on Helsinki's coast featuring what the Finns most love; a sauna! Here you can enjoy the warm, sweaty comforts of Löyly's two large sauna rooms. When you've had enough of the heat, there is a convenient ladder leading into the sea bur careful; it's freezing!!! Löyly also has a stylish restaurant and bar built onto it, the food here is great, I recommend the burger and a pint of the local beer. This is a great place for a Friday or Saturday night out!

Café Esplanad. I felt like I was in the middle of Paris with this cafe. The food here is good, creating your own salads and sandwiches is what I mostly did. But it's the vibe here in the evenings that is unbeatable. When I was there a jazz band came on and was playing for the rest of the night. So I recommend coming here for the evening and sitting with a nice glass of wine, maybe find out if there's any live music before you commit.

Linnanmäki Theme Park. Something you wouldn't expect in the Finnish capital, I know. This theme park however was a great day out and is still close to the city centre. It packs a few exhilarating rides, especially the drop ride that towers above Helsinki for some amazing views. There's plenty to keep the adults screaming and the kids. When heading back into the city centre, I highly recommend walking and taking a walk on the footpath in Linnunlaulu Park that goes in between Töölönlahti Tölöviken Lake and the railway tracks. Start walking before sunset and get some great views when walking through the park. There are a few cafes to stop at.

Nuuksio National Park. If you fancy getting out of the city and seeing some Finnish nature then this national park has plenty to offer. You can spend days walking around its many routes. I advise taking the Haukankierros Trail (4km) or the Korpinkierros Trail (8km) to get a good overview of the park. You can take a but from Helsinki to get to the beginning of the trails. Visit http://www.nationalparks.fi/en/nuuksionp for more info.

Porvoo, Old Town. Another day trip out if you fancy it. Porvoo is one of the 6 medieval towns of Finland and is a great way to see some old Finnish architecture on the cobbled streets. There are many locals shops selling many things. I highly recommend going to Fryysarinranta restaurant and having the Bacon Waffle and Snails, it was so delicious I wish I had it again for main course.

Suomenlinna Island. If you're not staying on the island and haven't visited then I would do so. There is an old prison that is still on the island and can be explored easily. There are many stylish buildings to keep your eyes entertained and some great coastal walks around the island. The ferry is also a great experience and runs very often.

Market Square. Situated on the edge of Helsinki next to the ferry port there's a lot to buy at this little market, including some great food. I've also added it for another reason as well. The square is also a meeting point for many events. When I was there I stumbled across a classic car meet up at night. It might be worth checking it out each night to see if there's anything around.

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