Earlier this month I spent 2 nights in Helsinki, Finland with my best friend for her 30th birthday!
Click here to see my trip vlog!
We flew from London to Helsinki with Finnair for just under £100 return per person. Check SkyScanner for best fares.
We stayed at Hotel Lilla Roberts in the heart of Helsinki. It’s a stunning hotel, the rooms and facilities are gorgeous and the service is fantastic. It costs EUR 200 (£170) per night (inc. breakfast) but I can see some seasonal offers online which you can take advantage of.
Breakfast was very tasty too.
Currency is the euro! Check conversion rates before you go.
You can use public transport to get to the airport into the city, but we used Uber to the hotel from the airport & then walked the rest of it. Trams are really famous and can get you about if you prefer not to walk.
*TOP TIP* – go to the app store and download MapsMe!
You can download a map of the area, plug in all the places and restaurants you want to visit, and then you can use it to map your journeys without using any data!
What we did…
1 – Finnish Sauna
I didn’t realise that this was a massive part of Finnish culture, but apparently it is! So make sure you get a chance to experience one. It’s a place for physical and mental cleansing & taking a sauna with others is seen as a bonding process… (you can’t hide much!)
We went to Loyly which is a 5 minute taxi ride away from Helsinki centre. It cost EUR 19 (£16.20) for access to the sauna for 2 hours. Make sure you book in advance as we saw people being turned away.
It was quite a strange experience… loads of people drinking beer by a fire in their swimwear in the middle of winter! Of course, you nip in and out of the sauna too, although I couldn’t take it for more than 5 mins at a time. If you’re feeling brave, you can run into the Baltic Sea after… it’s actually not as bad as you think it will be!
2 – Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
You can get a boat from Helsinki to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress for approx. £4.50.
The fortress is built on 8 islands and is an UNESCO World Heritage site. There’s not a massive amount to do there, but it is really nice to take a boat trip and walk around.
I’m sure there’s loads of really interesting history to learn about, but we didn’t have a massive amount of time there.
3 – Helsinki Cathedral
Beautiful cathedral just off Senate Square.
4 – Uspenski Cathedral
Very impressive Eastern Orthodox cathedral built on a hill. Free to enter!
5 – Temppeliaukion Church
This is a 1960s church excavated into rock. Quite cool to see but you really don’t need a massive amount of time there. Costs EUR 3 (£2.70) per person to enter.
6 – Sibelius Monument
Monument in the middle of a park, dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Nothing mind blowing but cool to see if you have the time.
7 – Market Square
Very pretty market square. We visited in December so Christmas stalls and lights were out in full force.
As mentioned above, we visited Helsinki in December so there were loads of gorgeous Christmas trees and other decorations lighting up the city.
There are a few shopping malls / areas if you fancy shopping…
… and some pretty squares / buildings / parks which you’ll discover as you walk around the city.
Where to eat…
We were obsessed with Finnish salmon / fish soup and ate it every day. The soup at Loyly (the sauna mentioned earlier) was SO tasty!
Finnish restaurant on Senate Square. It’s decorated like an old logging camp with waiters wearing traditional Finnish logging clothing. The food was tasty, although the salmon soup was less luxurious than in Loyly… probably more traditional.
Sushibar + Wine
Lively sushi restaurant chain in Helsinki. There are a few different restaurants so make sure you go to the one you book… (oops!) Nice sushi and reasonably priced (for Helsinki!)
On the water very close to Sibelius Monument, this cafe is adorable and super quaint! Lots of outdoor seating so would be lovely in the summer.
Cute little Filipino-inspired restaurant close to our hotel. We nipped in here for a cocktail but the food looked incredible and the place had a lovely atmosphere.
Cute and cosy Italian restaurant. Not a whole ton of choice but tasty menu.
We really enjoyed our weekend in Helsinki. There’s not a massive amount to do / see, but it’s the perfect place to relax, enjoy delicious food and see a few pretty places.
Other recommendations we didn’t do…
- Kallio – cool neighbourhood
- Korjaamo – culture hub
- Hakaniemen Kauppahalli – best food market
- Kahvila Sinisen Huvilan – icecream with a view
- Juuri – for tapas
- Good Life Coffee – best coffee
- Cafe Succès – traditional Finnish salmon soup