With a population of about 620,000 Helsinki has the feel of an international city while retaining a small-town vibe at the same time. Like its Nordic neighbours to the west, Helsinki is an expensive place to visit – hostels are roughly 30-35 euros a night and meals less than 6 euros are REALLY hard to come by. As a result, travellers visiting from Tallinn, Estonia (a quick 2 to 3.5 hour ferry) can initially be put-off by the capital of Finland.
While I only stayed in Helsinki for 2 days – again, it’s REALLY expensive! – I grew quite fond of this quiet, well-maintained capital city. There aren’t a lot of major tourist attractions to check-out so it’s best to just cruise around the city, enjoying how nice everything is!
- Helsinki is located directly on the Gulf of Finland, 80km north of Tallinn, Estonia.
- As I mentioned before, the ferry to and from Tallinn takes about 2 – 3.5 hours depending on which one you choose.
- The cost ranges from about 25 -50 Euros (!) each way. There are three different ferry lines, each offering their own times and schedules. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to find a promotion for 18 Euros, making this trip slightly more feasible…
- The term ferry doesn’t really do this boat justice. It’s more of a 10-floor party cruise-ship that includes a disco room, karaoke section, fully stocked bar and pretty much anything you could possibly need if you’re getting drunk. Which everyone is..
- By the end of my 3.5 hour mini vacation I was one of only a handful of sober people among the 500+ passengers. It was 2:30pm..
- SO… if you have the chance to take the longer ferry on a Saturday afternoon- DO NOT MISS OUT. The Finns are the best and this people watching experience was one of a kind!
Now, back to the actual city of Helsinki.
- Above, the Helsinki Cathedral is the most impressive building in the city. It was built from 1830-1852 to honour the Russian Tsar, Nicolas l. (Finland, like pretty much all of the surrounding area, was under Russian control at the time)
Here are some other pictures of charming Helsinki:
- The following turtles can be found throughout the city. Instead of standard cinder blocks preventing cars from entering a sidewalk, the Finns have placed turtles in the way. Brilliant!
When talking to other travellers about Helsinki, the reviews are quite mixed. Despite a lack of traditional tourist sites, I found the capital of Finland to be an extremely nice place that would be a great city to live in.
While I wouldn’t classify Helsinki as a MUST visit, it is definitely more than worthwhile to check out for a few days – if your funds can hold up ; ). Between the awesome people, its location on the water and a general attractiveness to the city, Helsinki should be added to every itinerary. I personally look forward to seeing the rest of this beautiful country at some point!