Helsinki – the capital of my home country, Finland – is the perfect weekend trip. This summer’s visit back home was one week long, but we only had one day to explore Helsinki. I lived there for two years, so I am quite familiar with the city – unlike my British boyfriend. He had been there a couple of times, but only in the wintertime – and believe me, Helsinki is a whole different experience in the summertime! A lot better one, if you ask me.
Getting around Helsinki
Helsinki is small, and you can get around by foot or tram easily. The public transportation is well organised, and you can get all your tickets in one app, including train ticket from the airport to central. You can download the HSL ticket app here.
However, they have recently introduced electric scooters that are all over the city – a lot like Mobikes. We had never tried these before, so of course, we had to go for it! We hired Lime scooters (the same company that does the electric bikes in London, so you can use your existing account!), and after the initial nervousness, the ride went really smoothly. We enjoyed the scooters for about 40 minutes, which ended up costing us around 13 euros each – a bit pricey if you ask me, but hey, it was loads of fun.
What to eat in Helsinki
My boyfriend’s ultimate recommendation to Finland is to eat at Hesburger – the local version of McDonald’s. It’s just a standard fast-food burger place, but if you need something quick to go, I would recommend it. What differentiates them from the competition is their amazing selection of delicious mayos – cucumber mayo is my favourite.
Other than that, I would also recommend strolling around the market square, where you can find a wide range of traditional foods, such as reindeer meatballs and seafood. Try the Finnish ice cream as well, it’s amazing and the softies are a bit different from the ones in the UK.
You can buy more local goodies from Vanha Kauppahalli, which is right next to the market square (Kauppatori). Perfect for finding food-related souvenirs!
Other restaurant recommendations:
- Friends & Brgrs (burgers)
- Naughty Burger (burgers)
- Linko (pizza)
- Skiffer (pizza)
- Via Tribunali (pizza)
- Sushibar + Wine (sushi)
- Konnichiwa (sushi buffet)
- Kiila (for brunch buffet)
- Factory (awesome salads)
Sightseeing in Helsinki
If you only have one day – or more like half a day in Helsinki, such as a layover – I would recommend staying around the market square area. It’s close to the main railway station, so it’s very easy to get to. We did the following:
1. Picnic (Hesburger) at Esplanadin puisto (Esplanade Park), which is a beautiful park surrounded by the more upmarket shopping opportunities. It is a popular summer hangout area.
2. Scooter ride to Kaivopuisto, which is a park not too far from the market square. You can enjoy the sea and the sun, and window shop the parked sailing boats.
3. A quick tour around Senate Square (Senaatintori), where the most famous attraction in Helsinki, the Cathedral, is located. Around here you can find loads of shops that sell local hand made products, art, and fashion. The buildings around there are also veeery pretty! The area is also called Torikorttelit.
4. A trip to Suomenlinna, which is a sea fortress. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and the perfect place to get to know the country’s history and enjoy the sun and some drinks.
The view from the ferry, on your way to Suomenlinna. It’s only a 15-ish minute ride, and you can use your existing HSL day-ticket! No extra fee!
Old bunkers now look like the Shire, don’t they?
Enjoy the sea views with Lonkero, a Finnish alcoholic drink. You can buy it in any shop – but only between 9 am and 9 pm. The architecture in Suomenlinna is also beautiful.
I hope you got some nice tips from this post! If you’ve been to Helsinki, let me know what you thought by posting a comment below. And, if you have any other recommendations, please let me know!