Helsinki (population over 600,000) is the capital of Finland. Located in the country's deep south, on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland, it is situated right across the Gulf from Tallinn, while Saint Petersburg lies further east. Its history goes back to 1550 when Gustav I of Sweden established it as a trading town, while in the early 1800s Czar Alexander I of Russia gave it a boost by moving the Finnish capital here from Turku. The city was intended to be a kind of mini Saint Petersburg, and it shows.
In recent years a lot of the capitals of the Baltic states (Tallinn and Riga for instance) have received increasing numbers of tourists, and Scandinavia seems to have been a hot item for a while now, but the trend seems to have somewhat escaped Helsinki. And that is a shame because if you come at the right time of year (i.e. not winter) this place may pleasantly surprise you. Just like its Baltic neighbours, Helsinki can be considered a budget destination, the people are friendly and there are some really interesting sights.
The main two sights anyone needs to spot when going here are the Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress and Helsinki's historic city center. The former was one of the great fortresses built at the Baltic Sea and one of the largest fortresses in the world, established by the Swedish in hopes of protecting their territory from the Russians. It is a UNESCO site and is fun to explore for a few hours. Inside of it you will also find restaurants, cafés and theaters. The historic city center includes the iconic Lutheran Helsinki Cathedral standing on the Senate Square (which contrary to the comment we made earlier about coming here in summer, looks fantastic on a snowy winter day).
And there's much more of course. If you come here, you will also surely come to enjoy the city's café culture, it's hip nightlife and large selection of museums. [Review by travelindicator]
You can find the best hotel deals in Helsinki here.
- Helsinki is a city in Finland's region of Uusimaa. It has a population of 614,074, is situated at an altitude of 10ft and the best airport to fly into is HEL (Helsinki Vantaa, Helsinki)
- The currency used in Finland is the Euro (EUR)
Historical average maximum temperature per month (℉):
Historical average rainfall per month (inches):