With three days in Helsinki, there’s enough time to check off all the must-see sights, indulge in the local culture, and venture a bit farther afield. Make the most of money-saving passes and take time to sample Finnish cuisine, visit the many museums, and explore the coast. Here’s how to spend three memorable days in Helsinki.
Day 1: City Sights and Nightlife
A hop-on hop-off bus tour is a great way to discover Helsinki and get your bearings in the city. Jump off to admire the Sibelius Monument, check out the Temppeliaukio (Rock Church), and browse the stalls of the Hietalahti Flea Market at your leisure. For a view of the city, visit the Olympic Stadium and climb the Olympic Tower, or walk along the coastal cliffs of the Kaivopuisto Park.
At lunchtime, hop off at the Market Square and pick up some tasty street food from the lively waterfront market. A short walk away is Senate Square, where you’ll find some of Helsinki’s most impressive buildings, including the Government Palace, Helsinki Cathedral, and the University of Helsinki.
In the evening, head to the atmospheric Kallio neighborhood, home to a wide selection of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs open into the wee hours.
Day 2: Museums and Monuments
Set sail on a sightseeing cruise around the Helsinki archipelago and admire the city and its many islands from the water. The highlight of the archipelago is the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Suomenlinna Fortress, which dates back to the 18th century and lies across six islands. Leave yourself plenty of time to explore the fortress and stroll through its many museums, the most interesting of which are the Suomenlinna Museum and the Military Museum.
Devote the rest of the afternoon to discovering Helsinki’s museums, which offer something for every interest. History enthusiasts can delve into Finland’s past at the National Museum or Helsinki City Museum, while art lovers won’t want to miss the Ateneum and the Kiasma contemporary art museum. Other notable collections include those at the Design Museum, the Finnish Museum of Photography, and the Museum of Finnish Architecture.
Day 3: Day Trip Within Finland or Beyond
Less than an hour from Helsinki, the medieval town of Porvoo is a popular choice for a day trip, especially over the holiday season when it hosts a festive Christmas market. Take a half- or full-day tour and spend time browsing the shops, wandering around the historic fishing port, and photographing the colorful buildings.
Alternatively, visit the former capital city of Turku, with its striking medieval castle, or Espoo, Finland’s 2nd-largest city and the starting point for hikes in Nuuksio National Park. Adventurous travelers can even ride the ferry across the Baltic to Tallinn, Estonia, and spend the day exploring the UNESCO-listed city.