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Top sights in Helsinki

Helsinki is young city in comparison to other European capitals, dating back to the mid-16th century. But Finland's capital has plenty of sights and sounds to enjoy across the city. As it was part of Russia up to 1917, you'll find plenty of Russian inspired architecture in the city but you will also see innovative, modern architecture. The city covers 315 islands and a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland, which provides lot of stunning views.


A great place to try some traditional Finnish food or buy local arts and crafts is the market square of Kauppatori. Helsinki's most famous market is located on the South Harbour at the entrance to Esplanadi Park and with view across the Baltic Sea.

The market is open year round and has a heated café tent in winter. It's a great place to get your hands on some souvenirs, though you might do some comparison shopping around the city to find a cheaper deal. At Kauppatori you can buy anything from reindeer skins to wood carvings and taste a lihapiirakka or Finnish meat pasty. If you can't find what you are looking for outside, take a look inside the Old Market Hall set in the historic and beautiful, red and white bricked building.

Helsinki CathedralHelsinki Cathedral

Known as St. Nicholas Cathedral until 1917, Helsinki Cathedral towers over the city and is an especially impressive sight when the skies are blue. The church was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, who also designed Senate Square at the bottom of the steps of the cathedral.

This grand neoclassical cathedral with an iconic green dome was completed in 1852 and is the current main Lutheran church of the Helsinki Diocese. Zinc statues of the twelve Apostles guard the city from the roofline while the cathedral's café was once a crypt.

National Museum

The aim of the National Museum of Finland is to provide a sounding board for Finnish culture and the changes it has gone through and will go through. The building was built in the National Romantic Art Nouveau style and looks a little like a Gothic church with its heavy stonework and tall, square tower.

The museum has two permanent exhibitions, Prehistory and Story of Finland, as well as temporary exhibitions. The Prehistory exhibit takes a look at what life was like in Finland 10,000 years ago when it was first settled. While the Story of Finland explores Finland's more recent independent years and some of the country's national quirks.

SuomenlinnaSuomenlinna Sea Fortress

This UNESCO World Heritage site has helped to defend three different nations since the mid 18th century when it was built by the Swedes to bar Russian access to the Baltic. When it did fall into Russian hands in 1809, they enlarged and strengthened the fortifications. When Finland declared independence from Russia, they also claimed the fortified islands and renamed it Suomenlinna (Finnish Castle).

On the islands there are six kilometres of fortified walls, 100 cannons, numerous tunnels and lovely parks for a picnic. The sea fortress also has museums, guided tours, events, restaurants and cafés. And all of that just a 15 minute ferry ride from Kauppatori Market Square. All this means that the fortress is on all the sightseeing must-see lists.

Uspenki Cathedral

Europe's largest Eastern Orthodox cathedral overlooks Helsinki from the island of Katajanokka. The Uspenki Cathedral was built in the 1860s with red bricks, gold cupolas and 13 green onion domes which represent Christ and the 12 Apostles.

Inside this church, which is definitely worth visiting, you'll find icons, a lavish iconostasis with the Evangelists flanking panels depicting the Last Supper and the Ascension and gorgeous chandeliers, one of which is said to work miracles.

Linnanmäki Amusement ParkLinnanmäki Amusement Park

Ever since 1950 Linnanmäki Amusement Park has entertained the young and the young at heart. With oer 40 rides, many different games as well as restaurants and cafés is a great place for a day trip. The rides include several roller coasters, a 75-metre free-fall tower, a haunted house, a carousel and several rides for smaller children. But the most popular is the wooden roller coaster, which has been in the park since 1951.

The amusement park is owned by the Children's Day Foundation, which uses the park to raise funds for child welfare work. So far over 120 million euros have been donated to this cause, through the profits of the park. Located east of the Olympic Stadium, it ads a striking form against the Helsinki skyline, along with the nearby TV Tower.

Kiasma Museum

Helsinki's Contemporary Art Museum is located near Parliament in downtown Helsinki. The museum's mission is to server as a place for crossings and perspectives of the most varied kind by showcasing the best of Finnish contemporary art.

Kiasma is home to over 8000 works of art and approximately 100 new works are added each year. The museum's collection is part of the collections of the Finnish National Gallery and as such represents a significant element of Finnish cultural heritage.

Sibelius ParkSibelius Monument

This leafy, waterfront park is dedicated to famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The park is home to sculptures, a birch grove, a pond, fountain and plenty of benches and walking paths but the real sight to see here is the Sibelius Monument.

The monument, resembling organ pipes, is made of welded steel with over 600 pipes and with the bust of the composer on one side. As the wind blows through the pipes, the monument creates its own music.