Travel: We flew in to Helsinki and got the train in to the centre. There is a tram and metro system but we only used that to get out to the ferry port, choosing to walk the rest of the time. When leaving the city we took Viking Line ferry to Tallinn, the terminals are close to the centre though there are several different ones so make sure you are travelling to the right one.
Accommodation: Hotel Carlton Helsinki (Kaisaniemenkatu 3) was close to the central station and nicely located for all the main sites. A cheaper option in the centre but clean, if dated. Good breakfast buffet. http://www.booking.com/hotel/fi/best-western-carlton.html?aid=1222377&no_rooms=1&group_adults=1
Food & Drink: In Helsinki, we had a nice lunch on the island of Suomenlinna – with homemade sandwiches and craft ale. Back on the mainland, the lunch time market on the sea front had some lovely fresh salmon cooking.
Sights: Helsinki is very walkable city and on your tour around I would recommend two churches: the Temppeliaukkio Church or Church in the Rock and the modern Kampin Kappeli. On the tram, we had a fun half an hour at Linnanmaki theme park including a ride on Finland’s oldest, wooden rollercoaster. For us, the highlight of the visit was a trip to Suomenlinna, the fort island in the bay. History, artists and cafes mix for a good afternoon stroll.
Further Reading & Listening: Do check out my reference list from my recent blog post on Finland.
- I travelled using Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania (Travel Guide) which includes a few pages on Helsinki as a day trip which was enough detail for a couple of days in the capital.
- Music has been an important part of the development of Finnish national – have a listen to Sibelius Symphony No.2 and imagine the rolling landscapes and waterways of Finland.
- For something completely different, Lordi’s success at Eurovision brought Finland’s heavy metal scene to a whole new audience.
- BBC Tech Tent visited Helsinki and this programme includes a good discussion about Scandinavian (including Finnish) technological innovation: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04ht71y
- The BBC has also produced a documentary on Finnish education which helps understand their successful approach: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06qjyrr
- The Amateur Traveller also has a good podcast on Helsinki: http://europe.amateurtraveler.com/travel-to-helsinki-finland/
- On Twitter @ourfinland is the official tourist board account and uses the hashtag #VisitFinland which includes some up to date tips.
- A good photoblog on Finland can be found at: https://sartenada.wordpress.com/