Backpacking in Finland: Top 8 Sights in Helsinki

Arrival in Helsinki, Finland.

Arrival in Helsinki, Finland.

Most people arrive into Finland first to the capital city Helsinki, which is well connected by rail, boat and plane to other countries. Personally I arrived from Tallinn in Estonia, by ferry and it was time for a crazy reunion with Sofia and Karoliina – two Finnish girls who I partied with in Sydney, Australia back in 2009. As well as the reunion in Jarvenpaa, I also toured the capital city, Helsinki and the UNESCO island of Suomenlinna.

Helsinki Finland

Helsinki Finland

First up these are my personal 8 favourite sights in Helsinki the capital city. I based myself in a dorm room in the massive Eurohostel Helsinki and backpacked all of these sights on foot. Please note that I will cover the island of Suomenlinna separately and haven’t put it on this list for that reason.

Backpacking in Finland - Top Sights in Helsinki

Backpacking in Finland – Top Sights in Helsinki

1. Helsinki Olympic Stadium
I admit I was a little bit confused. Snow was everywhere, the temperature was -3 degrees so when I heard the Olympic Stadium and Centre was nearby I stupidly assumed this was for the Winter Olympics. A red herring my friends.

The Olympic Stadium for the Summer Olympics in Helsinki

The Olympic Stadium for the Summer Olympics in Helsinki

Helsinki has never hosted the Winter Olympics, but it has hosted the Summer Olympics, which it did in 1952.

2. Finnish Parliament
Finland is a nation where even the local people joke about how little work they actually do. But some political stuff does happen and it takes place in the Finnish Parliament House.

Parliament House in Helsinki, Finland

Parliament House in Helsinki, Finland

3. Temppeliaukio
Churches are pretty in Finland and the three I’m putting on this list are all amazingly different from each other. Temppeliaukio Church is easily the best one to visit. It’s hidden away down a side street and is built into rocks. Inside it’s just incredible.

Inside Tuomiokirkko, Helsinki, Finland

Inside Temppeliaukio, Helsinki, Finland

Thanks to Michael who pointed out that the original name I put for this church was Tuomiokirkko which is actually the name of another church in the city – in my uselessness I must have looked at the T at the start and o at the end and assumed it to be the same church!

Inside Tuomiokirkko, Helsinki, Finland with Sofia

Inside Temppeliaukio, Helsinki, Finland with Sofia

Outside Tuomiokirkko, Helsinki, Finland

Outside Temppeliaukio, Helsinki, Finland

4. Kauppatori (Market Square)
Down by the seafront is a market. Apparently, or so I heard this is famous and busy. That must be in the Spring and Summer months as when I passed there was just a few stalls selling fish and a few empty hot dog kiosks.

Kauppatori (Market Square)

Kauppatori (Market Square)

5. Uspenski Cathedral
This is one of the most touristy sights in Helsinki and if you’re staying in the Eurohostel, you’ll walk past it on route to the city centre.

At Uspenski Cathedral.

At Uspenski Cathedral.

6. Senate Square and Cathedral
This is the most famous and visited square in the city and with four elaborate buildings around it it’s easy to come here and admire. You can get inside the white Cathedral.

Senate Square and Cathedral

Senate Square and Cathedral

Senate Square and Cathedral

Senate Square and Cathedral

7. Finnair Stadium
Finland’s National football stadium is here in the capital city and walkable too – in fact it’s just behind the Olympic Stadium. My team, Northern Ireland will play here later in the year.

Outside the football stadium in Helsinki

Outside the football stadium in Helsinki

8. Kallio District
Some cities have quirky off the wall districts and Kallio is one of the places to check out in Helsinki. Thanks to Sonja, the sister of my backpacking friend Sofia I got to spend a night in Kallio as well and will write a separate post about the bars of Helsinki at some point.

A night out in Kallio

A night out in Kallio

As well as these cool things, Helsinki has some absolutely inspiring museums, cool bars and also I did the day trip across to Suomenlinna island, which is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. I hope to write about those experiences separately. I spent quite a bit of time in my hostel room in Helsinki too as it was the day my hard drive and computer failed hence why I didn’t explore Helsinki the way I should have done but I still loved it and recommend these 8 things.

Finnish workers statue in Helsinki

Finnish workers statue in Helsinki

Here are my videos from Helsinki:

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
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5 Responses to Backpacking in Finland: Top 8 Sights in Helsinki

  1. Michael says:

    Will we not be playing in the Olympic stadium? That stadium your photographed at is the smaller one only holds 11k.

    Loved the market was a nice spot, I used the viking boat getting to tallinn and came back on the speed boat so I arrived in the middle of the market, dying with a hangover and a scarf/fox was hanging from one of the stalls, scared the shit out of me lol.
    No bridge of love on your list, disappointing Jonny all those locks to show peoples undying love for each other. Woulda been one of my highlights the amount of times i crossed it going to the eurohostel (note the sarcasim).

    BTW whats the location for the Tuomiokirkko you have above, when i stick it into google maps it brings up the big cathedral.

  2. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Michael,

    I met a guy from a local team and he took the photo of me by that football stadium and in English told me that was where the match will be. Ironically the Olympic stadium is just to my left in the same photo!! I actually have his email and he said any time I am back in Helsinki we can go and watch the team he owns!

    Didn’t even see any “bridge of love” to be honest!!

    That church is a special hidden one – perhaps I’ve got the names wrong (will edit it if so) but I took them from my Finnish friends and stuck them in my notebook – you need to find it. I was using the Finnish name – in English it’s this one – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temppeliaukio_Church . It’s built directly into solid rock.

    No foxes around either!

    Safe travels, Jonny

  3. Michael says:

    You probably crossed the bridge beside the “love bridge” its beside Uspenski, you probably crossed one of the lower bridges memory serves me correctly there was 3 in a row, lower one bringing you into the market.
    Cant see the game being played at the small stadium (well i hope not) they have played a few friendly fixtures but never a full at that ground. But you never know.

    Actually walked past the church before so know where it is, i didnt realise what it was lol was more interested in some of the buildings along that road reminded me a bit of posh ends of london. Good work that gives me something to do to take me away from Helsinki bars for an hour.

    I will try and hunt down a picture of the fox scarves, freaky looking things.

  4. Jonny Blair says:

    I’ll try and type up a post on the bars in Helsinki at some point. Safe travels. Jonny

  5. Pingback: Suomi Sauna and Naked Snow Diving in Jarvenpaa, Finland - Don't Stop Living

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