| The central hub of
Helsinki is around the bustling seafront Kauppatori
(the Market Square). Here, the locals gather to lunch, shop for
fresh fish and vegetables and to buy produce from the market stalls.
From this point, the architectural heart of Helsinki, Senaatintori
(Senate Square), is a 5-minute walk away.
The best view of the city is from its tallest building, Hotel
Torni, from where it is easy for one to see Helsinki’s
most noted landmarks and these include: Alvar Aalto’s
Finlandia Hall and Steven Holl’s arc of a building,
Kiasma, the contemporary art gallery. A good way
for tourists to get orientated and see the sights is to take tram
3T, which takes in most of the attractions.
City of Helsinki Tourist Office
Telephone number: (09) 169 3757.
Fax number: (09) 169 3839.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 0900-2000hrs,
Saturday and Sunday 0900-1800hrs (May-September), Monday-Friday
0900-1800hrs, Saturday 1000-1600hrs (October-April).
The Helsinki Card entitles the visitor to free
travel on the buses, trams, trains and the metro. A discount
on a sightseeing tour, free admittance to museums and some other
places of interest, special discounts at many restaurants, theatres,
concerts and the opera, as well as gifts at department stores are
also offered with this pass. The pass is valid for 1 day at a cost
of €24, 2 days at €34 or 3 days at €42. The Helsinki
Card is available for purchase at the City of Helsinki
Tourist Office, the Hotel Booking Centre, travel agencies
and some hotels.
Helsinki’s neo-classical heart dates from the first half of
the 19th century and was built by Carl Ludvig Engel,
a native of Berlin. As he was also largely responsible for St Petersburg’s
architecture, the square has doubled up as a backdrop for Cold War
spy-espionage films, such as Gorky Park (1983),
Reds (1981) and White Nights (1985).
Buildings that border the square include the white-domed Tuomiokirkko,
a Lutheran cathedral, consecrated in 1852, the Government
Palace and the University Library. In
the centre of the square stands a statue of Tsar Alexander
II, cast during 1894.
Transport: Tram 1, 3B, 3T, 4 or 7B.
Talo (Sederholm House)
Located near Senate Square, this building is the oldest in Helsinki
(1757). Built in the 18th-century Rococo style, Sederholm
Talo has been turned into a museum that documents the life
of Johan Sederholm, a Counsellor of Commerce who
lived during the early part of the 18th century.
Telephone number: (09) 169 3625.
Fax number: (09) 169 3526.
Transport: Tram 1, 3B, 3T or 4.
Daily 1100-1700 (June-August), Wednesday-Sunday 1100-1700hrs (September-May).
The Market Square or ‘fish market’ is situated on the
seafront and is where the locals lunch on cheap eats, including
freshly caught salmon steaks and reindeer meat. It is a great spot
for visitors to find souvenirs like Russian fur hats, gloves and
hats knitted on the spot, carved wooden bowls, reindeer skins and
Lapp hunting knives. Additionally, an undercover market is just
100m (328ft) away, selling similar goods. The Market Hall is a great
stop for souvenirs such as dried reindeer salami
and Finlandia vodka.
Transport: Tram 1, 3B or 3T.
Monday-Thursday 0800-1700 hrs, Friday 0800-1800 hrs.
Kirkko (Temppeliaukio Church)
The ‘Church in the Rock’, designed
by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, was consecrated during 1969. The
church is built into solid rock, with the inner wall left raw and
unfinished, and has a solid copper dome. The wall surrounding the
church is made from the rock quarried on the site.
Telephone number: (09) 494 698. Fax number: (09) 496 366.
Transport: Tram 3T.
Opening hours: Monday
and Wednesday-Friday 1000-2000hrs, Tuesday 1000-1300hrs and 1400-2000hrs,
Saturday 1000-1800hrs, Sunday 1200-1345hrs and 1500-1745hrs.
Hundreds of steel pipes shaped by sculptor Eila Hiltunen
make up the impressive monument to the famous Finnish composer,
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). A rebel under oppressive
Russian rule, Sibelius’ tunes have become synonymous with
Finnish patriotism – his tune, ‘Finlandia’,
came to symbolise the Finnish struggle for independence and a journey
to this monument is a pilgrimage for most Finns.
Sibelius Park, Töölö, between Topeliuksenkatu and
Transport: Bus 18 from Railway Square.
Daily dawn to dusk.
Kiasma (Contemporary Art Museum)
A stunning building, built by award-winning architect Steven
Holl, is a sculpture in itself. The museum showcases the
best in Finnish and international contemporary art since the 1960s,
and approximately 4000 pieces on display at any one time with a
designer café and an excellent bookshop.
Telephone number: (09) 1733 6500.
Fax number: (09) 1733 6503.
Transport: Tram 3B, 3T, 4, 7A or 7B.
Tuesday 0900-1700hrs, Wednesday-Sunday 1000-2030hrs.
(Museum of Art and Design)
This interesting museum tracks the history of Finnish design and
art, showcasing the works of Kaj Franck, Timo
Sarpaneva, Alvar and Aino Aalto and a
few others. It also features special events throughout the year,
a café with chairs by legendary designer Yrjö
Kukkapuro and there is also a shop selling local crafts.
Telephone number: (09) 622 0540.
Fax number(09) 6220 5455.
Transport: Tram 10, bus 17.
hours: Tuesday 1100-1800hrs, Wednesday 1100-2000hrs, Thursday-Sunday
This fascinating museum was the home of the much-celebrated C
G E Mannerheim. Born in 1867, he served for 30 years in
the Russian Imperial Army, leading Finland to independence in a
bloody civil war that saw 30,000 Finns killed in 108 days, Mannerheim
served as a commander-in-chief, a regent and as president.
Telephone number: (09) 635 443.
Fax number: (09) 636 736.
Transport: Tram 3B or 3T.
hours: Friday-Sunday 1100-1600hrs.
Finlandia Hall is Helsinki’s conference and concert centre.
The hall was built in 1971 and is one of Alvar Aalto’s
most famous works. It is also home to the Helsinki Philharmonic
Orchestra, founded by Robert Kajanus during 1882. The hall
is a great place to hear Finland’s finest musicians as well
as appreciate the distinctive, angular architecture employed in
Telephone number: (09) 40241.
Fax number: (09) 446 259.
Transport: Tram 4, 7B, 7A or 10.
hours: Monday-Friday 1000-1800hrs, Saturday 1100-1700hrs,
Nationalmuseum (National Museum of Finland)
This museum contains many rich archaeological and ethnographic collections,
depicting Finnish life from prehistory to the present day. Interesting
exhibits are those on the culture of the Sami people
Telephone number: (09) 40501.
Fax number: (09) 4050 9400.
Transport: Tram 4, 7B, 7A or 10.
hours: Tuesday-Wednesday 1100-2000hrs, Thursday-Sunday
Admission: €4 adults
No trip to Finland is complete without taking a sauna.
This was once where women gave birth and the Finns still see it
as a refuge and a great place to rejuvenate the body and soul. This
72-year-old sauna is the only wood-heated public sauna in the downtown
area there are separate saunas for women and men.
Telephone number: (09) 753 1535 or (050) 363 8535.
Tram 6, 7A or 7B.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday
1400-2000hrs, Sat 1300-1900hrs.
(City Winter Garden)
The City Winter Garden gives a taste of the tropics in the middle
of Helsinki. Founded during 1893, the gardens bristle with cacti,
palms and other plants foreign to Finnish soil.
Telephone number: (09) 166 5410.
Tram 8 from Ruoholahti metro or Töölö.
hours: Monday-Saturday 1200-1500hrs, Sunday 1200-1600hrs.