We all know that Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is considered as an expensive city. There are however, plenty of free things to do in Helsinki, so it is possible to explore the city on a budget, too. Here are my Top 10 Free Things to Do in Helsinki, one of my favourite cities in the world.
1. Explore Helsinki City Museum
Located in the Tori Quarters, Helsinki City Museum takes visitors on a journey through time to bygone Helsinki with 3D technology, a typical Helsinki home from the 1950s and a local bar from the 1970s as well as with over a million of photos. In Children’s Town kids can play, draw, try on costumes, go to school in an old-fashioned classroom and visit a granny’s house from the 1970s just to name a few.
2. Discover Suomenlinna Sea Fortresses
A Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world, Suomenlinna is built on six islands in Helsinki Archipelago just a short ferry ride from Helsinki Market Square. Suomenlinna is a residential area of the city, a popular picnic spot among locals as well as a thrilling sea fortress with military fortifications and structures, plenty of history and wild nature. Suomenlinna makes a perfect day trip from Helsinki. Free entrance, HSL ferry ticket 5 € return (free with HSL travel card).
3. Appreciate a moment of peace and quiet at Kamppi Chapel of Silence
This peaceful, award-winning round space, Kamppi Chapel of Silence (Kampin Kappeli), is a tranquil timber paradise in the corner of Narinkkatori Square in Kamppi – one of Helsinki’s liveliest places, and provides a little slice of heavenly silence away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
4. Admire colourful Art Nouveau architecture on Huvilakatu Street
This characterful street, Huvilakatu, in the residential area of Eira, is a true architectural jewel of Helsinki. With pastel coloured houses, topped with pointy towers and decorative balconies Huvilakatu is one of the most attractive and Instagrammable streets in Helsinki.
5. Escape to the tropics of Helsinki Winter Garden
The summery oasis of exotic plants with barbels splashing in the pools, Helsinki Winter Garden (Talvipuutarha), is a delightful place to explore all year round. In the indoor garden you can enjoy a picnic under palm trees in lush picturesque settings. During the summer months you get to admire the beauty of the outdoor rose garden.
6. Browse the stalls at Helsinki Market Square
This open-air market, Helsinki Market Square (Kauppatori), located by the water at the end of Esplanade Park, is one of Helsinki’s most bustling spots during the summer months. Browsing the stalls selling fresh fish, fruit, veggies, berries and other Finnish treats is a perfect way to get a touch of local delicacies.
7. Take a sightseeing stroll around Töölönlahti Bay
The peaceful urban park area around Töölönlahti Bay is a true oasis in Helsinki city centre. A 3,5 km long paved pathway runs around Töölönlahti Bay and provides stunning views over the shimmering blue waters with swans and geese gliding around. Helsinki’s famous landmarks such as Helsinki Music Centre, Finlandia Hall, Opera House and Olympic Stadium are all located by Töölönlahti Bay.
8. Step into another world on Lammassaari Island
Lammassaari Island (Sheep Island) is a quiet island oasis just a short bus or tram ride from Helsinki city centre. This green island getaway can only be reached via duckboards built over swamps. Here it instantly feels that you are in another world surrounded by a sea of golden reeds in the middle of nowhere. As a bonus you get to meet sheep here! More about my adventures on Lammassaari Island here.
9. Enjoy hot steams in Sompasauna
Sompasauna, a small public sauna maintained by a group of volunteers is open for everyone to enjoy hot steams and a swim in the sea free of charge. Sompasauna is located on the southern tip of the redevelopment area of Kalasatama and might not survive here for long. Go before it is too late!
10. Find the Essence of Finnish Design at Iittala & Arabia Design Centre and Museum
This recently opened Iittala & Arabia Design Centre in the former Arabia ceramic factory brings tableware and glassware bestsellers, classics and limited edition pieces by both brands under one roof. The new Design Museum on the 9th floor of the building displays history of Finnish ceramic art and glass design. Full post on my visit to Iittala & Arabia Design Centre here.
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