Hei (“Hello” in Finnish)! Finland is a beautiful Nordic country located on the Baltic Sea. It is not Scandinavian, but has similar culture, cuisine, climate, and language. Fun Fact: The region of Scandanvia consists of Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Helsinki is located on the Gulf of Finland, which is one of the only bodies of water in the world that completely freezes over every winter! Despite the freezing temperatures, many visitors are attracted to Finland during the winter months to view the Northern Lights. My family and I visited in August and still found there to be a lot to do. Here are some of my suggestions if you ever find yourself in Helsinki:
- Do a Hop On Hop Off bus tour- Helsinki is very spread out, making it hard to walk to all of the attractions. This narrated bus tour teaches you about the city as you drive through it and allows you to get off at as many of the 18 stops as you want. Tickets are roughly 25 Euro a person and the buses do a continuous loop, so you can sightsee at your own pace!
- Visit the Temppeliaukio Church- Also known as the famous “Rock Church”, this Lutheran church was constructed in 1968 with solid rock as its main material. The rock provides excellent acoustics so concerts are frequently held here. The atmosphere of the church is very serene and the architecture is very unique.
- Shop in Market Square- A central square in Helsinki where vendors sell their homemade goods and produce. Even if you aren’t in the mood to buy anything, definitely stroll through here to check out the local goods!
- Take a photo in Senate Square– The main attraction in this square is the Helsinki Cathedral. This square is the oldest part of the city and was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel.
- Learn about Finnish history at the National Museum of Finland- Open Tuesday-Sunday year around, this museum has many exhibits depicting the history of Finland from the time of the Stone Age through the present day. Tickets range from 9-12 Euro. Pro-tip: The House of Parliament is located right next door… check it out!
- Go to a cafe for lunch- Try some traditional Finnish food at a local cafe. My family and I ate at Cafe Engel. It is located right in Senate Square and has a back courtyard. This was one of our FAVORITE meals of the trip- I had one of the best salads I’ve ever had!
That’s all for Finland (my 30th country!!)… my next post will be about Stockholm, Sweden and the following one about my time in Norway. Stay tuned as I wrap up my Scandinavian series!