Last updated on May 11th, 2023

Helsinki Cathedral, Senate Square

Helsinki Cathedral, Senate Square, © Can Stock / scanrail

Visit Helsinki – Old Town Walking Tour

You can start your own Old Town Walking Tour from the Central Train Station when you visit Helsinki. The Ateneum Art Museum is across the street from the train station. It holds the country’s largest collection of classical paintings & sculpture. The Ateneum Art Museum is part of the Finnish National Gallery. From the Ateneum, walk north to the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden. Then head south past the Orthodox Church to the Helsinki Cathedral.

Market Square at Night, Visit Helsinki

Market Square, © Can Stock / scanrail

Visit Helsinki Cathedral

The Helsinki Cathedral is also called the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral and the White Cathedral. Carl Ludvig Engel designed the church and the Senate Square in front of the Helsinki Cathedral. A statue of Russian Emperor Alexander II occupies the center of Senate Square. The Government Palace also faces Senate Square. The Helsinki University Museum is between the Government Palace and the Helsinki Cathedral. Finish off your visit to Senate Square by wandering along the popular shopping district on Aleksanterinkatu Street.

Uspenski Cathedral, Visit Helsinki

Uspenski Cathedral, © Can Stock / laks

Visit Helsinki – Market Square

The next stop on your Old Town Walking Tour is Kauppatori Market Square, which is just a block south of Senate Square. The Helsinki City Museum and City Hall are opposite Market Square. The Havis Amanda Statue and the Tsarina’s Stone Monument are in Market Square among the vendor stalls. The Tsarina’s Stone has a globe with a double-headed eagle at the top. The Esplanadi Park and Boulevard begins at the western edge of the square.

Katajanokka District near Market Square, Visit Helsinki

Katajanokka District, © Can Stock / scanrail

You can take a short ferry ride to the Helsinki Korkeasaari Zoo or the Suomenlinna Sveaborg Fortress on Suomenlinna Island from Market Square too. Enjoy the islands near Market Square on these sightseeing boats. Finish off your Old Town Walking Tour by heading east past the Presidential Palace to Uspenski Cathedral or SkyWheel Helsinki.

Ride a Tram

Take the #2 and #3 trams on a round trip ride from the stop beside the central train station. You will get to see the rest of the city on a short trip that’s very inexpensive when you ride the tram.

Visit Helsinki – Hotels

  • Clarion Hotel Helsinki
  • Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel
  • Hotel Kämp
Helsinki Waterway, Finland

Helsinki Waterway, © Can Stock / scanrail

Visit Helsinki – More Cultural Venues

The area immediately west of the Central Train Station is home to several more cultural venues. The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art is operated by the Finnish National Gallery. The statue of Marshal Carl Gustaf Mannerheimn is in front of the Kiasma Musem. It commemorates the first president of Finland.  Beside the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art is the Finnish Parliament. The National Museum of Finland, Finlandia Hall auditorium and the Finnish National Opera are nearby. From Finlandia Hall you can bicycle to West Harbor on the Baana Corridor, which is an old rail line. You can also see the Temppeliaukio (Rock) Church in this area west of the Central Train Station.

Baltic Island near Helsinki

Baltic Island, © Can Stock / alan64

Visit Helsinki – More Sights

  • Olympic Stadium and Tower – site of the 1952 Summer Games.  See the statue of Finnish runner, Paavo Nurmi.
  • Linnanmäki Amusement Park
  • Sibelius Monument – commemorating composer Jean Sibelius.
  • Seurasaari Open-Air Museum
  • Dance in the light of a bonfire on April 30th at Walpurgis Night.
Suomenlinna Island, Sveaborg Fortress, Visit Helsinki

Suomenlinna Sveaborg Fortress, © Can Stock / Alexrom

Get to Helsinki

You can get to Helsinki through Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL), which is about a half hour north of the downtown area. Rail transport is available from the airport to Helsinki Central Station in the heart of the Old Town. You can buy one way tickets and day passes with a credit card or the HSL app. Americans have had trouble in 2023 registering their phone number for the app, but visitors will do just fine with credit cards instead. Cabs and buses are easy to catch at the airport too. The impressive Helsinki Central Railway Station (Rautatieasema) links Helsinki to St Petersburg, Moscow and the rest of Finland.

Cruises and Ferry Cruises to Helsinki

The Helsinki cruise ship terminal is about 15 minutes from the central downtown attractions. Helsinki has become a standard port of call on major Scandinavian ocean cruises. You can also cruise to nearby cities on the Selja Line or the Viking Line (not Viking Cruises). The Selja Line operates between Stockholm, Tallinn and Helsinki. The Selja Line is like a high end ferry. You can bring your car, book an overnight stateroom and enjoy restaurant dining. It’s like a mini cruise.

The Viking Line offers a similar high end ferry service between Stockholm, Helsinki or Tallinn, plus archipelago cruises. You can bring a car on the Viking Line, book an overnight stateroom and enjoy their restaurants too.

The Eckero Line offers passenger only service between Helsinki and Tallinn. The trip takes just over 2 hours.

Helsinki White Cathedral

Helsinki (White) Cathedral, © Can Stock / chaoss

Helsinki Weather

The Helsinki weather is influenced by the Black Sea and the city’s northern latitude. The summer months are popular for tourism and the best time to visit Helsinki. Average highs of 68 F (20 C) can be expected from June – August. High temperatures from December through March are just below freezing.

Visit Helsinki – Background

Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. About one million people live there. Helsinki is on the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. Urban Helsinki includes the municipalities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. The city was founded in 1550 by King Gustav I of Sweden. Csar Alexander I of Russia is responsible for promoting its importance as the capital.