Helsinki, Finland, does not have an ancient city center with medieval buildings like many of its neighbors. However, being a more modern city, it has stunning and elegant 19th century Neo-classical architecture and is sure to please. It is also fairly compact and pleasant to walk, especially in the summertime. The architectural center of Helsinki is, without doubt, Senate Square, with its beautiful, white Lutheran Cathedral as its focus. There are numerous museums which are geared around someone or some aspect of Finland’s past.
There are other sights on some of the nearby islands which can be accessed via ferry from Market Square. The most important of these are the Suomenlinna Fortress, whose fortifications were erected to protect the maritime approach to Helsinki. Another worthwhile attraction is the Seurasaari Open Air Museum, which contains about 100 authentically furnished buildings, characterizing the history of Finland.
1. Saunas are an important part of Finnish culture and should be sampled while in the area.
2. For an interesting excursion, drive (or take a train or bus) west about 160 kilometers (100 miles) to the city of Turku, Finland’s oldest city (1229) and its former capital. Be sure to see its Cathedral which contains the tombs of many influential Scandinavians, and its Castle, which dates to the 13th century. There are also numerous museums for those so-inclined.