Helsinki: what to see and things to do. Places to visit
Kultturisauna Helsinki / Cultural sauna in Helsinki
For many tourists Finland is primarily associated with a sauna. Get acquainted with Helsinki from unusual side by visiting a wood-heated public sauna! This is a special place many call 'the secret of Helsinki'.
Not far from the Helsinki center there is an interesting cultural wood-heated sauna right on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. Sauna opened its doors in 2013 and attracts tourists and local people. Despite the fact that apartments in Helsinki have their own electric saunas, many locals appreciate the light warmth of this wood-heated sauna and meet here with friends at weekend chilling winter nights, dipping in the cool sea water after the steam room.
Sauna building is very simple with pleasant modern Scandinavian design.
Sauna has cosy patio. Nice soft music is playing in the lounge. You can order tea with honey or chilled beer there. It is worth visiting there just because this sauna - one of the most interesting and unusual places in the Helsinki city.
Sauna advance booking time is not required. Just come here and enjoy. You will get a key to a locker at the reception, small cover for the steam room, water and a cup. Take your towel, or you can borrow it from sauna managers. Do not forget your swimsuit, as you'll probably want to plunge into the sea after the hot sauna.
Steam room of this sauna has a large window overlooking the sea. It is very nice to sit in the warm spacious sauna shadows, where even a floor is soaked with heat so that the warmed heels are pushing you out from sauna to flop into the water. Swimming in ice water under the stars of Helsinki - an unforgettable experience. Cool down in the living room or on the terrace outside after this. There is a small fireplace outside where you can fry sausages.
This is a place for all those who love the sea and a sauna. Sauna will appeal to lovers of something unusual and seekers of new impressions from visiting the capital of Finland.
Sauna opening hours: all year round from Wednesday to Sunday from 16 to 21.00 (last admission 20.00).
On weekends after 19.00 quite a lot of people.
Separate steam rooms for men and women.
Time reservation is not required, there is no way to order sauna privately, it is not allowed not bring your own drinks.
– 15 euro per person.
Hakaniemenranta 17, 00530 Helsinki, Finland
St. Thomas Christmas Market in Helsinki
Christmas Street Market opens every year in the heart of Helsinki, Senate Square, 2 weeks before Christmas until mid-December. At the market, with more than a hundred small kiosks offering a variety of handmade products, souvenirs, candles and lights, Christmas decorations, designer items, food and hot drinks. Street market is always cheerful and lively, bright and incredibly comfortable. This is one of the favourite places for Finns to buy Christmas and New Year gifts for family and friends.
Market address: Senaatintori, Helsinki. Aleksanterinkatu 28, 00170 Helsinki
Modern Helsinki areas: Aurinkolahti.
Helsinki eastern district Aurinkolahti - a relatively new area, called Finnish Riviera. Aurinkolahti - coastal area with golden sand embankment and white houses with large panoramic windows and cozy terraces. Aurinkolahti in Finnish means 'sunny bay'. Here is the longest promenade in Helsinki, and the length of the coastal sandy area is about 700 meters. Helsinki residents and tourists come here to walking along the waterfront promenade, jogging, breathing fresh sea air, sunbatheing and swimming.
On the promenade there are benches for relaxing with beautiful sea views, playground, outdoor fitness equipment for adults, several cafes with beautiful outdoor terraces. At the end of the eastern part of the Aurinkolahti waterfront next with the bridge across the canal, near local yacht marina, there is a cozy cafe, Kahvila Kampela.
This is a place with a unique atmosphere, fresh home-made pastries, fresh coffee and dainties. For those who are hungry, cafe can offer Finnish salmon soup. We recommend you to order a local special dessert called pannari (something like a thick baked pancake) with whipped cream and strawberry jam. Pannari is a favourite local delicacy, many people come here just for it. Believe, you will get a real pleasure sitting outside with a cup of coffee and watching the locals working carefully on their boats and yachts.
If you want to spend time outdoors close to nature while having holidays in Helsinki, make a walk trip through the woods and make a grill on the beach, you do not even need to leave the city. Located next to the Aurinkolahti, Cape Uutela (Uutelan ulkoilualue) - one of the best places in Helsinki for exploring the hiking forest paths with access to the sea. In the park there are 2 hiking trails, there is also a 2-equipped barbecue places. If you want to have a picnic without leaving Helsinki - this is a great place for a relaxing holiday.
Uutela Park and Aurinkolahti are in the eastern part of Helsinki, Vuosaari. Very easy to get here by car and on public transport from the city center: the subway exit Vuosaari (last station). Destance from the subway to the beach and promenade is less than a kilometre to the south.
Promenade address: Aurinkoranta, 00990 Helsinki.
Address of the Kahvila Kampela: Uutelantie 1, 00990 Helsinki.
Uutela park: next to Kahvila Kampela, to the east.
Holels in Helsinki, Aurinkolahti and Vuosaari areas
Skating on the Gulf of Finland
Many tourists know that the central skating rink is located in Helsinki near the train station right on the square. But not many people know that in Helsinki there is a boundless natural ice rink along city coastal line. Especially popular natural skating trails are on the bay of Vuosaari, eastern district of Helsinki. Ice on the Gulf og Finland usually starts from the end of December. This is the best time to skate around the bay in Helsinki, as yet not a lot of snow on ice.
For outdoor enthusiasts and adventure finders, a trip to Helsinki can be not only cultural but also sporty. You will definitely remember a frosty winter day walk on the frozen surface of the Gulf of Finland. The most popular skating and walking trails are routes around the island Seurasaari, as well as access to the ice in the area of the park Kaivopuisto. Well, if you take a thermos of hot coffee or tea, then Gulf of Finland ice walking trip in Helsinki will be a nice variety of shopping or museums.
Safety is important. Be sure to stay on marked paths and if you do not see other people out on the ice, you should probably stay away, too.
Address Seurasaari: Seurasaari, 00250 Helsinki.
Address Kaivopuisto park: Kaivopuisto, 00140 Helsinki or near Ehrenströmsvägen 3, Helsinki
Vuosaari: Eastern part of Helsinki, metro station Rastila or Vuosaari.
Old Market Hall / Vanha Kauppahalli
Old Market Hall in central Helsinki is a meeting place for gourmets since 1889, but it also attracts tourists interested in local touch. Stylized antique wooden trade pavilions, pictures on the walls, made a hundred years ago at this old market hall, make feeling of the last century.
Here at the Old Market Hall you can enjoy traditional gastronomic products, as well as Lappish delicacies, buy seasonal berries, mushrooms and local vegetables.
Who said that the market - it's only retail shops? In the Helsinki Old Market Hall can be found cafes and small restaurants for a light snack, as well as for a real dinner. Among others, there is a small cozy and always brisk place that serves simple but delicious soups. Small fish shop offers fresh oysters with sauce and a glass of champagne. And the aroma of freshly baked pastries and freshly brewed coffee makes visitors crazy.
Old Market Helsinki / Vanha Kauppahalli: Eteläranta, 00130 Helsinki
Hotels in the Helsinki city center and near Market square
Yachts, Skiffer ale, sailor pizza and Helsinki sea views
If you already visited the center of Helsinki and its main attractions, and want something interesting and original, we recommend you to go to the island Liuskasaari, located in the south of Helsinki. The island is located just a couple of miles from the center of Helsinki, and just 100 meters from the promenade Merisatamanranta. There is a small ferry to the island Liuskasaari every 20-30 minutes. This island is home of the HSS sailing club, one of the oldest sailing clubs in Finland, famous for its classic wooden yachts. The island Liuskasaari hosted some of the sailing events for the 1952 Summer Olympics.
On the island you can take a walk along the pier and enjoy the beautiful classic wooden yachts, as well as modern sailing boats. At 17.00 in the evening on weekdays you can see how club members prepare sports boats and go for sailing training. This island is a perfect destination on a warm sunny day for picnic, sunbathing and enjoying the sea views with passing yachts, boats and cruise ferries.
If you are hungry, there is a respectable restaurant HSS Boathouse Restaurant with panoramic windows and a terrace, as well as very accessible and famous open air cafe Skiffer, which serves some of the best pizza in Helsinki and salads. We recommend this place for its simplicity, ease, a great view to sea and city, its special feeling, as well as the wonderful tastes. Pizza here is amazing and original: a thin crispy dough from the oven, juicy sauce and flavor in fillings. Also Skiffer serves local Skiffer ale. In a small shop near you can choose a small yacht souvenir. And for fans of the original and interesting experiences, there is a floating sauna moored. Sauna can be booked for an hour or several hours, you can steam there and plunge into the sea water. Pizza and cold beer can be brought straight to the sauna for you.
Island address: Liuskaluoto, 00140 Helsinki
Ferry ticket round-trip – 6 euro.
Pizza price from 15 euro, Skiffer ale - from 6 euro.
Skiffer cafe on the island is closed during winter, but Skiffer Erottaja (Erottaja 11, 00130 Helsinki) cafe-restaurant is open in Helsinki city-center with exactly the same atmosphere, the menu and happy visitors - sailors and all lovers of the sea and good mood.