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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Helsinki Sightseeing
Helsinki Sightseeing Guide - TravelPuppy.com
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.

Tourist Information

City of Helsinki Tourist Office
Pohjoisesplanadi 19
Telephone number: (09) 169 3757.
Fax number: (09) 169 3839.
E-mail: tourist.info@hel.fi
Website: www.hel.fi/tourism

Opening hours: Monday-Friday 0900-2000hrs, Saturday and Sunday 0900-1800hrs (May-September), Monday-Friday 0900-1800hrs, Saturday 1000-1600hrs (October-April).

Passes

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.

Key Attractions

Senaatintori (Senate Square)

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.

Senaatintori
Transport: Tram 1, 3B, 3T, 4 or 7B.

Sederholm 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.

Aleksanterinkatu 16-18
Telephone number: (09) 169 3625.
Fax number: (09) 169 3526.
Transport: Tram 1, 3B, 3T or 4.

Opening hours: Daily 1100-1700 (June-August), Wednesday-Sunday 1100-1700hrs (September-May).
Admission: €3.

Kauppatori (Market Square)

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.

Kauppatori
Transport: Tram 1, 3B or 3T.
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 0800-1700 hrs, Friday 0800-1800 hrs.

Temppeliaukion 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.

Lutherinkatu 3
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.
Admission: Free.

Sibelius Monumentti

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 Mechelininkatu
Transport: Bus 18 from Railway Square.
Opening hours: Daily dawn to dusk.
Admission: Free.

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.

Mannerheiminaukio 2
Telephone number: (09) 1733 6500.
Fax number: (09) 1733 6503.
Website: www.kiasma.fi
Transport: Tram 3B, 3T, 4, 7A or 7B.
Opening hours: Tuesday 0900-1700hrs, Wednesday-Sunday 1000-2030hrs.
Admission: €5.50

Taideteolisuusmuseo (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.

Korkeavuorenkatu 23
Telephone number: (09) 622 0540.
Fax number(09) 6220 5455.
E-mail: info@designmuseum.fi
Website: www.designmuseum.fi

Transport: Tram 10, bus 17.
Opening hours: Tuesday 1100-1800hrs, Wednesday 1100-2000hrs, Thursday-Sunday 1100-1800hrs.
Admission: €6.50

Mannerheim Museo

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.

Kalliolinnantie 14,
Kaivopuisto Park
Telephone number: (09) 635 443.
Fax number: (09) 636 736.
Website: www.mannerheim-museo.fi

Transport: Tram 3B or 3T.
Opening hours: Friday-Sunday 1100-1600hrs.
Admission: €7.00

Finlandia-Talo (Finlandia Hall)

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 Aalto’s buildings.

Mannerheimintie 13
Telephone number: (09) 40241.
Fax number: (09) 446 259.
E-mail: finlandiahall@fin.hel.fi
Website: www.finlandia.hel.fi

Transport: Tram 4, 7B, 7A or 10.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 1000-1800hrs, Saturday 1100-1700hrs, Sunday
Admission: €6

Finlands 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 of Lapland.

Mannerheimintie 34
Telephone number: (09) 40501.
Fax number: (09) 4050 9400.
E-mail: kansallismuseo@nba.fi
Website: www.nba.fi

Transport: Tram 4, 7B, 7A or 10.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Wednesday 1100-2000hrs, Thursday-Sunday 1100-1800hrs.
Admission: €4 adults

Further Distractions

Kotiharju Sauna

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.

Harjutorinkatu 1
Telephone number: (09) 753 1535 or (050) 363 8535.

Transport: Tram 6, 7A or 7B.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 1400-2000hrs, Sat 1300-1900hrs.
Admission: €6.50.

Kaupungin Talvipuutarha (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.

Hammarskjöldintie 1
Telephone number: (09) 166 5410.

Transport: Tram 8 from Ruoholahti metro or Töölö.
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 1200-1500hrs, Sunday 1200-1600hrs.
Admission: Free.