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How to spend 24 hours in Helsinki

Finland’s young and vibrant capital on the seaside is the ideal city for a day trip. While one day certainly isn’t enough to see all of Helsinki, the city is full of marvellous tourist attractions, blending nature, art as well as history and culture together. Discover some of the capital's top attractions with our one day itinerary.

Choose your transport

Hop-on Hop-off Tours in Helsinki are the ideal way to get around the city when you don’t have much time. Accompanied by an extensive multilingual audio guide, you can either choose to take a full tour to see the best attractions of the city from the panorama bus or hop on and off on the stops that spark your interest. If you prefer exploring the city all by yourself, Helsinki is also equipped with an efficient and convenient public transport system and bike rental services.

Enjoy your morning coffee the Finnish way

Did you know that the Finns are the number one coffee drinkers in the world? They are big on coffee, consuming around 12kg per year per person! No wonder Helsinki is a heaven for coffee lovers. Instead of heading to chains, try out some of the local cafes, coffee shops and roasters around the city.

Go for a coffee at the picturesque Café Regatta and enjoy the sea view while feasting on one of their famous cinnamon buns with your Kahvi. For a Scandinavian minimalistic experience, visit Andante where different roasts meet selected pastries, combined with a Finnish vintage shopping experience and event space. Or combine your morning coffee with a yoga session at Roots, a fully plant-based café in the heart of Vallila and nurture your body with delicious salads.

Market hall

Market Square Kauppatori

This famous outdoor market is located directly at Helsinki’s harbour and the ideal spot to start exploring the city. To this day, the market square hosts some of Finland’s most popular events such as the Baltic Herring Market in October and has been the centre of trade in Helsinki for hundreds of years. At the central square, you’ll find charming booths selling a wide variety of goods ranging from freshly caught fish, coffee, local crafts as well as fruits and vegetables.

At the market hall, Kauppahalli, that opened its doors in 1889 you’ll find a large variety of bakeries, delis, cafes, cheese shops and chocolatiers as well as butchers and liquor shops. Don’t miss out on trying some of the local traditional foods such as salmon soup with rye bread, organic Finnish meat from local producers or the traditional donut-like munkkipossu. Alternatively, you can try tasty dishes from all over the world here, ranging from homemade American pastries to Japanese fusion kitchen. 


A visit to the military monument Suomenlinna via ferry is a must during a stay in Helsinki. The ferry departs directly from the Market Square. This impressive UNESCO World Heritage site goes way back and is an integral part of Finland’s history. Dating back to 1748, the former maritime fortress was used as a defence realm under three different countries, Finland, Sweden and Russia.

You not only get to enjoy the Baltic Sea from up close but also learn more about Finland’s history while exploring the island. Discover six kilometres of fortified walls, around 100 cannons as well as tunnels and parks in the area and complete the experience with a visit to the Suomenlinna Museum that walks you through more than 260 years of the fortresses’ history.  

Helsinki Senate Square & Helsinki Cathedral  

Helsinki CathedralWhen returning from Suomenlinna and close by to the Market Square, you can find the Helsinki Senate Square. The Helsinki Senate Square brings together religion, politics and science and its heart consists of the Helsinki Cathedral, the Tuomiokirkko, and a memorial for Alexander II., the Russian tsar who was especially famous for his affinity for Finland.  

The Helsinki Cathedral is one of the capital’s most important landmarks. The Neoclassical church’s interior is dominated by pristine white with only a few sprinkles of colour here and there, making the church a simple yet elegant attraction to explore.

National Museum of Finland Kansallismuseo

The National Museum in Helsinki is a true cultural treasure of the city, exhibiting the many facets of Finnish culture and how it developed over the centuries. Discover thousands of years of Finnish history from up close in two permanent and additional temporary exhibitions.  

The Prehistory exhibition takes you on a journey through time, back to life in Finland 10,000 years ago when the country was first settled, while the Story of Finland exhibition explores the country’s struggles for independence and Finnish culture. The museum is home to marvellous collections that describe the material culture of Finland with more than 138,000 objects to discover, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day and from regular household items to industrial objects.

Unwind at the sauna

Market Square and Outdoor SwimmingBesides their affinity for coffee, the Finns are also widely known for their love for saunas that are a huge part of their national identity. The sauna is a popular spot to meet friends and even hold business meetings. Across Helsinki, you will find countless saunas right in the middle of the city. Join the locals in their daily routine and pick one that suits your taste – from infrared to smoke saunas, jumping into an indoor pool or the sea afterwards.

One of the most iconic saunas in Helsinki is Löyly at the Market Square where you can opt to enjoy a traditional smoke sauna or a wood-burning sauna or even book a private sauna for a special treat. Afterwards, you can enjoy the magnificent view of the Baltic Sea and the Market Square while you take a dip into a swimming pool, directly into the sea or even an avanto, a hole in the ice for swimming in winter.