Helsinki Finland

Helsinki is not only the capital of Finland, but it is also the country’s largest city. Situated on Finland’s southern coast, it is almost entirely surrounded by water and offers easy access to some of the islands in the Finnish archipelago. Helsinki Finland is a very prosperous city with a high standard of living, and it is noted for having the world’s highest literacy rate. Those who travel to Helsinki will likely notice how proud Helsinkians are of their city, and it’s not hard to understand why. There’s plenty to see and do in Helsinki Finland, and after exploring the city and its sights by day, visitors can interest themselves in some vibrant Helsinki nightlife, which is livelier than ever. There has arguably never been a better time to travel to Helsinki, and you’ll want to spend at least a few days here if you can.

Founded in 1550 as part of Sweden, Helsinki Finland would linger for centuries as nothing more than a small coastal town. In 1812, the city assumed the role of capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland after the Finnish War. Between 1809 and 1917, the city and the rest of modern-day Finland fell under Russian control, and it was during this period that Helsinki really began to grow, not only in size, but also in importance. Sweden had long recognized the threat that Russia posed before it annexed Finland to the growing adversary, and as such, it built the island fortress of Soumenlinna. Today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fortress of Soumenlinna is spread over seven islands and is a top Helsinki Finland attraction. Work started on the fortress in 1748, making it one of the oldest surviving structures in the city, and for those who fancy picnics, it offers a most ideal setting that is worth taking advantage of.

Should you travel to Helsinki in the summertime, which is the peak season, taking a cruise through the Finnish archipelago is recommended. Tourists can also visit the fortress of Soumenlinna or see what other nearby islands have to offer by taking a short ride on a ferryboat or water taxi. Back in the city proper, Helsinki tours of the walking variety are a joy regardless of the season, and since the city center is relatively compact, you can see and do a lot when going by foot. Though its interior is closed to visitors in October, the Helsinki Cathedral is a popular stop on most Helsinki tours. Even if you visit Helsinki in October and can’t get inside the cathedral for a look, you are bound to appreciate its attractive exterior nonetheless. Built between 1830 and 1852, this neoclassical structure looms on the Helsinki skyline and is a major symbol of the city. Like many other Finland cathedrals, admission to the Helsinki Cathedral is free, and like the fortress of Soumenlinna, it is one of the top Helsinki attractions. Another cathedral in Helsinki that you will want to add to the itinerary is the Uspenski Cathedral. Completed in 1868, it overlooks the city from its elevated perch on the Katajanokka peninsula. It is interesting to note the predominantly Russian look of the building, which gives testament to the era in Finnish history when Russia ruled the land.

Guided Helsinki tours are worth considering for those who want to get inside knowledge on the city’s best sights, though you are encouraged to also explore on your own if you have time to spare. In addition to the Helsinki Cathedral, most guided Helsinki tours will also include attractions like the Presidential Palace, the Helsinki Opera House, and the Sibelius Monument, which honors the country’s most highly-revered composer. Helsinki tours can see you cruising about the harbor, walking in the small, yet lively heart of the city, or taking in the views from the open-air top of a double-decker bus, among other options. Should you prefer to access Helsinki’s top attractions on your own, it’s a good idea to first arm yourself with a Helsinki city guide. These guides are available at most hotels, and in addition to listing top attractions, they also key visitors in to other things such as good restaurants and fun Helsinki festivals.

In recent years, many foreign chefs have moved into Helsinki, so in addition to enjoying traditional Finnish food while in the nation’s capital, you’ll also be able to savor international delights. As for Helsinki festivals, none is bigger than the aptly-named Helsinki Festival, which takes place in late August and early September. The largest cultural festival in Finland, the Helsinki Festival focuses primarily on the arts, with theatrical, musical, and cinematic performances among the highlights. Don’t fret if you can’t make it for the Helsinki Festival, as there are a number of interesting Helsinki festivals, events, and concerts that take place throughout the year. Also, since the second-largest Finnish city of Espoo borders Helsinki to the west, Helsinki visitors will run into no shortage of accommodations and attractions in the region.

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