Helsinki Region in Winter
Photo: Rob Smith, Visit Finland
Frozen sea next to Helsinki
Photo: Visit Finland
Photo: Artu Kokkonen, Visit Finland
winter biking in Helsinki
Photo: Janne Suhonen, Visit Finland
Nordic walking on ice
Photo: Visit Finland
Helsinki Region – Finnish capital surrounded by nature
Helsinki, sustainable capital and largest city in Finland, is also a coastal city with over 300 beautiful islands in the archipelago just outside the city gates and stunning green nature right in the city center – pure Finnish lifestyle. But also an amazing culinary scene, design, architecture and of course saunas are typical for Helsinki. Close to the capital you will also find six national parks and other natural highlights, the historic old town of Porvoo with its picturesque wooden houses and the home of the famous composer Jean Sibelius in Ainola – there is a lot to see, let's go.
In the far south, directly on the coast, lies the Finnish capital and is a must do for visitors to Finland. Most of them start or end their trip to the Nordic country in Helsinki. Founded in 1550 by the Swedish King Gustav Vasa, the capital has become the metropolis of the Finns. Even though Helsinki is located in the very south of the country, the other parts of the country are easy to reach and the connections to the neighboring countries: Sweden and Estonia are very good by boat and by plane. You can also reach St. Petersburg by ferry in the Summer time or by train all year round. In the capital itself, you can reach everything easily by foot or by bike, but for a sightseeing tour, you can also take the tram.
Photo: Jussi Hellsten, Visit Finland
On the road in Helsinki between architecture, design and culinary
Walking through the winter streets of Helsinki characterized by classicism, functionalism, art nouveau and modern architecture, you encounter the Finnish attitude to life on every corner. Finnish Art Nouveau, for example, is inspired by Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. Good examples of this architecture are the Central Railway Station, the National Theater and The National Museum of Finland.
Helsinki is well known for its design and embedding design into everyday life in fact Helsinki was elected the World Design Capital in 2012. Visitors who want to learn more about Finnish design should walk the streets of The Design District starting from the Design Museum. The Design District is home to numerous galleries, museums and design shops from clothing to furniture. Finnish design – like the Finnish attitude towards life – is creative, non-conformist, relaxed and tolerant. A mixture of design and architecture can be easily discovered at Alvar Aalto's Finlandia Hall, the Oodi Library and at the Chapel of Silence. Also Löyly, a public sauna with access to the Baltic Sea, is located in an award-winning building.
Löyly Sauna is worth visiting not only for its three public saunas, a huge terrace opening up to sea ...
from Pirjo Räsänen,
Another reason for a trip to Helsinki is the distinct gastronomic scene. Traditional Finnish dishes are reinterpreted and mostly made from local and seasonal ingredients. On every corner, you will find an excellent restaurant or a popular stand and can warm up again after a walk through the cold.
Photo: Visit Finland
Finnish nature in the middle of the city
You don't have to go far away from the metropolis but can experience the special Finnish connection to nature directly in Helsinki.
For example go for a walk around Töölönlahti Bay surrounded by a park in the heart of the city. Stop for a coffee at one of the traditional wooden villas on the way to admire the Finnish National Opera House, Helsinki Central Library Oodi and Musiikitalo - The Helsinki Music Centre.
Another park in the middle of the city is Kaivopuisto. Today the area in the southern part of the city center is known as the diplomatic quarter, and the park is one of the oldest and most popular in Helsinki. The Keskuspuisto Park stretches 10 km from north to south through the city and attracts visitors for a break in its forests.
On the road in Helsinki
Photo: Riku Pihlanto, Visit Finland
It is only a short ferry ride to some beautiful islands off the coast of Helsinki. Of course a visit to the sea fortress Suomenlinna is not to be missed. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the country's most popular tourist destinations and is inhabited by about 900 people all year round. The fortress has played an important role in Finland's turbulent history and is well suited for a winter walk.
Both islands Lonna and Vallisaari are also worth a visit. The first one is a former demining island and today a wellness oasis with public sauna. The latter has been open to the public since 2016 and being so close to the city, it surprises with wild, unspoilt nature. The former defence island was left to its own resources for years.
Finland is also a country of national parks, two of which are located in the immediate vicinity of the capital. Sipoonkorpi National Park is located northeast of Helsinki and is also called the last wilderness in the capital region. It is one of the most important forest areas in Finland is especially for preservation of biodiversity. Steep cliffs and small bogs, forests pervaded by mighty rocks – Sipoonkorpi is a peaceful refuge just outside the gates of the capital.
Nuuksio National Park is located northwest of Helsinki and has everything you could hope for from Finnish nature: lush green forests, wide lakes and fresh air. Nuuksio is particularly easy to reach by public transport, so you can quickly escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the peaceful silence of nature. Especially beautiful at Nuuksio National Park is also the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, an exhibition center that illustrates the nature of all Finnish national parks in an interesting way.
When you visit the capital, there is no way around the Finnish nature. The Finns were born with a connection to nature, which is perhaps why they are among the happiest people in the world. The largest archipelago in the world stretches around Helsinki, with over 300 islands just off the coast of the capital, which can, of course, be seen from the city. Island hopping is the best way to visit some of the islands.
For a lovely day out inthe archipelago cycle to the nearest Metro stop, put your bike on the metro, get off at Haukilahti and cycle to the harbor. There are good connections to the Island Iso-Vasikkasaari and Pentala – both great places for a lovely day out.
Freeskiing in front of Helsinki Cathedral
Photo: Juha Laine, Visit Finland
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