• Spike

Helsinki - Finland

I have a fondness for the Nordic countries, and Finland was an enjoyable place to visit as any of the others I've visited. I was only fortunate enough to visit the capital Helsinki, but I would love to actually go out and explore the nature that Finland has to offer at a later date.

To put it simply, I had a blast in Finland, more so due to the nightlife. I don't think many British people visit Helsinki, at least not on the same scale as other European cities. So many people I met were very inquisitive and welcoming. I met some very interesting people in Helsinki, including a couple who were married after meeting down the aisle for the first time for Finnish version of "Married at First Sight".

What to see

Helsinki Cathedral

I visited the cathedral in the late afternoon, and was surprised by the lack of people around the area. It was like a scene from the movie "28 Days Later", no tourists and no locals. There aren't a huge amount of beautiful buildings in Helsinki, so this obviously stood out from the other architecture nearby.

The neoclassical style church is probably the most famous landmark in the city. It costs €7 if you want to go inside, but I think that's a little pricey for what's inside. It's nowhere near as impressive as some of the interiors of Russian cathedrals and churches. Still, you'll no doubt come across this building whilst in Helsinki, and it's quite pretty from the outside.


Sibelius Monument

As the name suggests, you'll find this monument in Sibelius Park. The park is a little further north of the centre, but easily accessible by bus or tram. The sculpture appears to be large musical pipes and by the side you'll see the face of Sibelius. If you don't know who Sibelius is, don't worry I didn't either. He was a Finnish composer and violinist, you may recongise his Symphonies "Finlandia" and "Karelia Suite".


Temppeliaukio Church

Known as the Church of the Rock, this church was built directly into solid rock. It's quite impressive inside, not only because of the rock surrounding you, but also the natural light that pours in through the skylight, illuminating the interior. Due to the good acoustics inside, the church is often used as a concert venue. It's only €3 to enter, which in my opinion is worth it compared to the outrageous €7 for Helsinki Cathedral.


Suomenlinna

A World Heritage Site, Suomenlinna is a must whilst in Helsinki! A fortress spread over several islands to the south of Helsinki, it's easily accessible by ferry from Kauppatori.

It's great fun to explore the fortress, as there are caves and tunnels you can get lost in, just make sure you have a torch as I almost fell through ice whilst in the darkness. You can walk around the fortress, or explore other parts of the island. There are restaurants, shops and even a hotel if you want to stay the night. This was probably my favourite thing to do whilst in Helsinki, but I am one for exploring ruins and dark passageways.



Hotel Katajanokka

Hotels are not cheap in Helsinki, so I decided to pay for a nice hotel with and added extra. This hotel used to be a prison. The cells have been converted into comfortable hotel rooms, but walking along the corridors you can see how it would have looked as a prison. The metal stairs and metal plates and cups at the breakfast table remind you of what this building used to be.


Moomin Shop

As a child I grew up with "The Moomins" on TV. The Moomins were created by the Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson, and as a result are still as popular in Finland as ever. You'll see Moomin merchandise in all of the souvenir shops, but if you want to choose from the best selection of goods, then visit The Moomin shop. It's located in The Forum Shopping Centre, situated in the heart of the city. They sell books, toys, clothes and all other types of items. If you don't have the time to fit this in, there is also a Moomin Shop at the airport, but I don't think they stock quite as much there.


Steam Helsinki

If you like steampunk, or just want to visit a slightly different type of bar, this is the bar for you. The bar is decorated with all sorts of steampunk type furniture and props, including a blimp. The have a good range of cocktails, and a huge selection of gins on offer. I visited both nights while I was in Helsinki, and was lucky enough to visit during "Lindy Hop Night", which was awesome! I didn't have the guts or know any moves to join in, but I wish I could have. People were throwing each other around the dance floor, it looked like great fun! If I lived in Helsinki I think this would be something I would learn and attend each week.

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