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Helsinki is the capital of Finland. Today, Helsinki pulls off the trick of being something of an international metropolis while still retaining a small-town feel. The best time to visit is in summer, when Finns peel off their overcoats and flock to outdoor bars and cafes to enjoy the sunshine.
All international and domestic flights land at the compact, modern and airy Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport (HEL), which is located in Vantaa, 18 kilometers to the north of the central Helsinki. Note that in recent years the airport has become crowded, so expect delays when going through security, particularly during the Scandinavian summer holiday period. There are two adjacent terminals, connected by a short walkway:
T1: SAS, Blue1 and other Star Alliance airlines (except Turkish Airlines in T2).
T2: Finnair, OneWorld partners, KLM, Norwegian and most other airlines.
All long-distance trains throughout Finland and the Russian cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg terminate in the heart of the city at the Central Railway Station. This station also provides easy interchange to the metro and tram lines. All the trains except Allegro also stop at Pasila station, which is the last station before Central Railway Station. From Pasila you can change to tram and bus lines.
Expressways connect Helsinki to Turku to the west, Tampere and Lahti to the north, and to Porvoo and towards Saint Petersburg in the east.
Helsinki is well connected with ferry services to Tallinn (Estonia) and Stockholm (Sweden), and there are limited services to Travemünde & Rostock, Germany as well as Gdynia, Poland. Scheduled service to St. Petersburg (Russia) operates again since April 2010, and there are occasional winter/summer cruises.
Central Helsinki is rather compact and can be explored by foot by energetic visitors. A combination of walking and public transportation might be most convenient to cover the sights in Helsinki.
What to see
Surrounded by sea and a vast archipelago, Helsinki is at its best in the summer when the dialogue between the city and nature is at its fullest. Classical Helsinki's sights can be divided into an eclectic set of churches and a wide variety of museums.
If you have a short amount of time in Helsinki, you may wish to follow the recommended Helsinki itineraries, which begin at the Saarinen-designed Central Railway Station and move on to the Senate Square and the Lutheran Cathedral, the Uspenski Othrodox Cathedral, Market Square, and beyond.
If you see only one place in Helsinki in the summer, you could make it Suomenlinna. The "Gibraltar of the North" was once the greatest sea fortress in the Baltic, built by the Swedish in the mid-1700s at great expense to protect their eastern flank.
Today's Suomenlinna is still living in its own time with only old buildings, few cars, fewer than a thousand inhabitants and lots of old fortifications, catacombs and cast iron cannons. But it's not just a museum: the sprawling complex houses restaurants, cafes, theaters and museums, and is a very popular place for a picnic on a fine summer day, watching the vast passenger ferries drift by on their way to Estonia and St Petersburg.
A beautiful archipelago surrounds the Helsinki city center. In addition to the major islands listed below, there are scheduled services to many smaller islands, and you can also tour them by sightseeing cruise. Most of the cruises depart from the Western corner of the Market Square and last from one to several hours. Note most ferries and cruises operate only in the summer high season.
Seurasaari Open Air Museum. A pleasant little island to the north of the center, filled with walking trails and authentic old Finnish houses collected from all over the country.
Pihlajasaari. Few tourists find their way here, but this is a very popular summer spot for Helsinkians, with sandy beaches (including a mixed nude beach) and a restaurant dishing out cold beer and ciders.
Korkeasaari. An island in central Helsinki best known for Helsinki Zoo, with about 200 species of animals. Connected to the mainland by bridge (bus 16 from Central Railway Station), in summer you can also opt for a 15-min ferry ride from Hakaniemi and Market Square.
Vallisaari. An old fortress island next to Suomenlinna, opened to the public in May 2016. Visitors can explore the fortifications and nature. Access by ferry from Market Square.
Helsinki is an Olympic city, the host of the 1952 Olympic Games.
Olympic Stadium. Originally built for the Olympics of 1940 and renovated for the 2005 World Athletic Championships. Next to the stadium are soccer fields. There is Museum of Sport in the stadium building.
Olympic Tower. The stadium features 72m high tower (14 storeys) that offers a great view over the city. The tower will be closed from 2015 until year 2019, due to construction and modernisation work.
Vintage tram ride, Havis Amanda fountain at Market square. Enjoy a ride on a century-old tram! If the weather is warm, sit in the open trailer car. The driver takes you on a 20-minute loop tour around the city centre area. The service operates annually from mid-May to the end of August, Saturdays and Sundays only, with departures from the Market Square half-hourly between 10 and 5.
Markets in Helsinki
Most outdoor markets in Helsinki are open only in summer, but the market halls are open all year round. They are great places to taste Finnish delicacies.
Hakaniemi Market Hall
Hietalahti Market Hall, Hietalahdentori. Broad variety of fresh foods and preserved foods to take as souvenir.
Hietalahti Open Air Flea market. Next to Hietalahti Antique and Art Hall, this is the most popular flea market in Helsinki. Open year round, but busiest from May to August.
Market Square (Kauppatori). At the end of Esplanadi facing the sea, and just a block from the Lutheran Cathedral or the Uspenski Cathedral, this open-air market square is in the must-see zone for most visitors and sells fresh fish and produce from all over Finland.
Old Market Hall (Vanha kauppahalli). Just south of Market Square, this renovated old brick building houses Finland's best collection of gourmet food boutiques.
May 18, 2016
April 22, 2016
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January 22, 2016
January 04, 2016
We hired an audi a3 for two weeks. we got excellent service from the staff at the counter at the airport. as amatter of fact we got a hybrid car and did not know where to buy cng and nor was it mentioned to us that the car would be such. as a result we got an extremely fuel efficient car and we were not expected to top up the cng gas. that was really a pleasant surprise!
December 26, 2015
Tried first time and the service was good, car was really good and definitely value for the money