A happy balance of urban energy and natural playground, Helsinki is a rare thing – a European city that reinvigorates. Pack your days with world-class architecture, art galleries and museums; dine in exciting restaurants, stroll botanical gardens and relax in saunas that overlook the Baltic Sea.
Finland’s capital city is home to more than 1.4 million people - the largest city in the country – yet its coastal location gives a sense of space that allows you to breathe. Bike paths and nearby forest parks give more opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and a network of islands allow residents and tourists to escape the city with little effort.
Helsinki is also within easy reach of Hanko, Stena Line’s chosen port. Thanks to a good road network, you can be in the city less than two hours from when you drive off the ferry – giving you more time for enjoying everything that Helsinki has to offer.
Since the city became the capital of Finland in 1812, Helsinki has taken on the challenge to build a city that rivals any European counterpart.
Senate Square is the oldest part of central Helsinki, and home to many of the city's most famous landmarks such as Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace and the University of Helsinki.
A 20-minute walk will take you to the National Museum, another neoclassical building that charts the story of Finns from prehistoric times to the present day and is an ideal starting point for history lovers.
The Finnish love of design has shaped everything from subterranean churches to seaboard saunas. Modern architecture is best seen in Töölönlahti area. Built in 2018, Oodi Library is here, as well as the intriguing Temppeliaukio Rock Church that literally grounds spirituality into the landscape.
No trip to Helsinki would be complete without diving into the work of famed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. He designed the iconic Finlandia Hall, and you can learn more about him at the Aalto House in the fashionable Munkkinemi district.
This love of design continues in both the Design Museum, and in Helsinki’s retail shops. Marimekko, Artek and Iittala have their flagship stores in Helsinki, and vintage stores packed with clothing and furniture are popular with locals.
SAUNA AND SWIM
It is always sauna time in Finland, but after exploring Helsinki, your body will welcome the rest. Check out Löyly, a public sauna and restaurant complex in Hernesaari district famed for its sculptural wooden building that overlooks the sea.
Alternatively, do some laps in the Allas Sea Pool – a marine spa for swimmers and bathers in the heart of the city. In the summer, it hosts open air concerts to add to the atmosphere. Find it close to Helsinki Market Square, which is also a handy place to eat street food in a heated café tent.
In the evening, explore the vibrant food scene at one of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants, or head to Kallio district for its bistros, pop-up restaurants and nightlife.
If you are there in summer, hop on a boat and join locals in celebrating midsummer with music, dance and bonfires on one of the bay’s many islands. Keep the party going and buy tickets for Flow Festival, one of the world’s best alternative music festivals that takes place each summer.
ISLAND HOP IN HELSINKI
There are many interesting islands within the city district. From Kauppatori, catch a ferry to Suomellinna Island – the 18th century sea fortress and World Heritage site that is home to museums, bunkers and a WWII submarine. Enjoy the Didrichsen Art Museum and a magical sculpture garden framed by the sea on Kuusisaari Island. Or step into Finnish heritage at Seurasaaren Ulkomuseo, an island museum with a large collection of wooden houses that visitors are welcome to explore.
WHAT ELSE TO SEE
Having your own transport makes it easy to take a day trip from Helsinki. Head to the narrow, cobbled streets of Porvoo or the artisan village of Fiskars to get a real taste of Finnish art and culture, and traditional Finnish food.
If you are planning a longer Finnish adventure, then Helsinki is only a few hours by car or motorbike from the sparkling water of the Lakeland region, the coastal stretches of Finland’s archipelagos, or the attractions of Turku or Tampere.
Whatever you want from your driving holiday in Finland, Stena Line can take you there.
A happy balance of urban energy and natural playground, Helsinki is a rare thing – a European city that reinvigorates. Pack your days with world-class architecture, art galleries and museums; dine in exciting restaurants, stroll botanical gardens and relax in...