Helsinki in one dayJul 29, 2013 - Alba
Got just one day to visit Helsinki and you don’t know what to do? Is it a sunny summer day? Do you like to walk? If you answered yes to all these questions, today is your lucky day.
We have combined our favourite walks in Helsinki in one single route. During the journey you will see the most important city landmarks as well as some hidden treasures, which are not usually known by tourists. The route starts from Erottaja, a short street at the end of Mannerheimintie, and ends right in the center in front of the Railway Station.
We also included a couple of suggestions of places to eat. However, this is not meant to be a food guide, so don’t get the impression that those are the only restaurants/cafes in Helsinki! (We promise to make a proper Helsinki food guide at some point)
This route is designed to be done in one day, but be prepared to walk quite a bit. Some of the places mentioned here are only open during summer months, so we strongly suggest that you pick a sunny warm day to do this walk (or at least a day where there is no rain or snow).
Are you ready to enjoy Helsinki? Put on a pair of comfy shoes, download this fantastic map (pdf) and let’s go!
1. Design Museum
Open daily during summer 11:00-18:00.
Their shop has a nice range of Finnish and international design stuff.
2. Johannes Church
Gothic church made of red bricks, very popular for weddings. Wikipedia says that it is the largest stone church in Finland and I guess we'll believe it.
3. Café Succès
Sat 10-17:00, Sun 12:00-17:00
A classic place for breakfast. This cosy old-fashioned café is a good place to try the traditional korvapuusti (cinnamon bun).
4. Brooklyn Cafe
Sat 9:30-16:30, Sun closed
Not exactly traditional Finnish, but well, who cares? They got delicious bagels, cupcakes, good music and probably better coffee than in Café Succès 3.
5. Café Suksii
Fredrikintori Square (also called Fredan tori)
This outdoor café is located in Fredan tori, a lively little square in the heart of Punavuori distric. They got coffee, waffles and freshly baked pastries. Ah! And there is a Flea Market on Sundays 10:00-16:00.
If it happens to be full (or the weather is not that nice) there is also Restaurant Tori on the same square, where you can order breakfast any time of the day. You should also try their meatballs for lunch.
6. Helsinki Design District
Around 200 unique little shops scattered around Punavuori district and the city centre. There you will find Finnish design goods, antiques, fashion and all kinds of creative stuff. Here you can see the location and opening times of all the stores.
7. Helsinki Cathedral
It is one of Helsinki’s most emblematic buildings. This Lutheran cathedral is pretty impressive but a bit too touristy as well. Definitely a must see but there is no need to spend much time wandering around, just take the mandatory picture and move on.
8. Kauppatori Market Square
You can find anything from fresh fish to Russian souvenirs. There are also a couple of outdoor cafes where you can try traditional lettu (crepes with strawberry jam) or lihapiirakka (meat pastry). Be aware of seagulls though, they are evil.
There is a ferry that connects Kauppatori with Suomenlinna Island. If you happen to have more than one day to spend in Helsinki, Suomenlinna is definitely worth the trip.
9. Uspenski Cathedral
This is the Orthodox cathedral. Another emblematic building, another mandatory picture. Move on.
10. Tervasaari Island
A lovely little island, like a miniature version of Suomenlinna but without the fortress.
11. Hakaniemi Kauppahalli Market
Sat 8:00-16:00 Sunday closed
It is an indoor market hall located in Hakaniemi lively market square, which is a bit more authentic than Kauppatori 8 . Asides from an excellent selection of fresh & local foodstuff, they got a decent variety of souvenirs on the second floor.
They also have a couple of lunch places inside the market; we absolutely love the Bouillabaisse fish soup at Soppakeitiö (Mon-Fri 11:00-17:00 Sat 11:00-14:30)
There are also outdoor cafés in the market square that sell snacks and the typical riisipuuro (rice porridge).
12. Kallio’s church
Itäinen Papinkatu 2
We know you have done a bit of walking already, so perhaps there is no need to hike up the hill to see this church (unless you want to do it for the views). You can just stop for a moment and give it a good look down from Hakaniemi square, before continuing forward.
If you have more days to spend in the city we definitely encourage you to seek adventure in the streets of Kallio district, one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Helsinki. It is one of those places that will deserve a guide itself.
13. Flying Dutch
Sat 12:00-20:00, Sun 12:00-19:00
Get some lunch in this outdoor restaurant located on an old boat.
This quirky place has been there for ages, food is nothing super special but the set-up is very authentic. The rapusalaatti (crab salad) & the merilohikeitto (salmon soup) are classics.
Kolmas linja 17
If you want something a bit more exotic than the Flying Dutch, go ahead and try Sandro´s lunch (Mon-Fri 11:00- 14.30). They also got awesome brunch on Sundays.
15. Sinisen huvilan Café
This summer café has one of the nicest views in town. On a sunny afternoon, you have big chances to find us there enjoying an ice-cream, we love this place. Order a filter coffee and a terva (tar) ice-cream, it cannot get more Finnish than that.
Burn some more calories by walking around Töölö’s bay. On the way you will see some examples of Finnish architecture: the Opera house 17 and the Finlandia Hall 18.
17. Ooppera house
It is the home of the Finnish National Opera. They organize opera and ballet performances as well as classical concerts.
18. Finlandia Hall
A concert house designed by one of the kings of Finnish architecture: Alvar Aalto.
19. Music House
Ugly as hell, but by now you totally deserve an afternoon beer at their lovely terrace.
The ugliest building in Helsinki, popularly called Makkaratalo (the sausage house). Even the music house will look great after checking out this building. We promise.
What about dinner?
We have not included dinner places on the map because otherwise we will never finish this guide. However, if you feel like eating some typical Finnish food here you have a couple of suggestions:
We don’t usually like buffet style places. But Konstan Mölja is an exception. You will really feel to be eating at your Finnish grandma wooden cabin in the middle of the forest. Simple, hearty and cheap.
The kind of place you will go to impress a girlfriend. Not exactly a budget restaurant but the food is outstanding. Make sure you don't leave without trying the liquorice crème brulee!
I think you are all set now.
Just in case, you can download the Helsinki in one day magic map from here (pdf). Enjoy!
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