Market Square and Helsinki Cathedral
Helsinki Cathedral is one of the most iconic building of the city. Bright white and on top of (huge) stairs, it looks incredible under the sun. We didn’t manage to get inside due to some refurbishment and a wedding take place but take some time off on the stairs for some people watching.
Upsenkin Orthodox Cathedral
I have to admit after gold burst of St Petersburg, even the ‘biggest orthodox church outside Russia’ seemed a bit small and simple. However, this church remains a great glimpse of Russian Churches with the golden decoration. We were lucky enough to enjoy a choir rehearsal inside, which adds up to the mystical of the place.
The Sibellus monument, in remembrance of the Finnish compositor Sibellus is located in a lovely park near the water. Very touristic, it is however worth a stop by if you get the chance.
Handmade souvenirs shops
Around the market square, you will find a multitude of little souvenirs shops some more original than other. Amongst the usual magnet and teddy bears souvenirs, some shop have great (but expensive) original souvenirs to take back home.
Harbour Food and Souvenir Market
Our favorite souvenir place remains however the market on the harbour. Here you will find both food to eat here or take away; souvenirs big (reindeers skins) or small (coasters, bracelets). Whatever you are looking for, you’ll definitely find it here!
I would definitely stopping by the tourist information near Helsinki Cathedral to pick up some thematic walks map around Helsinki (food, with kids, Design district and more). We choose the Design district and although it was pouring down we had a great time popping in and out of the lovely boutique shops. Jewellery, house accessories, clothes, everything was incredibly nice and original (still very expensive)!
Seurasaari Open Air Museum
This was definitely our favorite thing to do in Helsinki! Count an whole day if you want to visit everything and don’t forget your picnic as there are some great areas to sit down and admire the view. The Seurasaari Museum, located on an island, have some house from the past four centuries coming from all around Finland. Great with or without kids, free if you don’t want to enter the houses, otherwise a small fees must be paid at the entrance to be able to wander inside the buildings (worth it!).
We were very lucky to take part in a Viking re-enactment nearby, great atmosphere!
Suomenlinna Island is accessible by a shot boat ride from Helsinki Harbour. Great also to spend a day there, nice little artisans and tea shops.
This walk has some great view of the city from the top of the hill. Don’t hesitate to wander around, there are some nice restaurants on the water side.
One thing I really wanted to bring back from Finland was design fabric. Eurokangas is the best quality/price shop we have found. Don’t buy fabric in tourist shops it will cost you a fortune. At Eurokangas, the choice is immense (I have spent hours in there trust me!) and the prices are really affordable.
I am sure there is much more to do in Helsinki! We only stayed a couple of day and as the weather was great, we spend most of our time outside and didn’t have time to do any museums, maybe next time!