9 Best Things to Do in Helsinki Finland

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I visited Helsinki in the starkness of February. Fortunately I’m Canadian so I know cold.

As an urban traveler so the weather doesn’t affect my travels because the best things to do in Helsinki are going to be indoors!

With Iceland is becoming a hot destination and so many of the best restaurants in the world coming from Scandinavia, more travelers are exploring Finland.


Helsinki is a vibrant city with a dedication to arts, culture and architecture. I loved my time here wandering the streets and popping in and out of shops to eat.

But it also has such a unique identity.

Nestled between Sweden and Russia, you’ll find influences from both countries because of its history. While Finland is a nordic country it is not part of Scandinavia.

Finnish people have a different genetic identity and language that is separate to those in Scandinavian countries.

Although this fact is up for a heated debate as many Finns believe that the country is Scandinavian while others do not.

Things to Do in Helsinki

Helsinki is a centre for design and architecture, Check out the nine best things to do in Helsinki. The other eight might surprise you.

Learn About its History

Not surprisingly Finland has been occupied by inhabitants since the Ice Age ended.

The Swedish King Gustav established Helsinki, which is on the Baltic Sea as a trading town.

He wanted it to be more successful of its neighbouring city of Tallinn Estonia.

It wasn’t until the Russian occupation after the Finnish War with Sweden that Helsinki was designated as the new Finnish capital.

Finland eventually gained its independence in 1918 and fought against the Russians in World War 2 with an army on skis.

Even as a Canadian I did not know about ski warfare in the world wars.

Looking at Architecture in Helsinki Finland

Revel in its architecture

Finland is one of the best winter destinations in Europe with rather mild weather it’s still beautiful to walk around.

You can see this in its architecture as Russia’s best architects arrived to build some of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Finland gained its independence after the Finnish Civil War in 1918.

Unfortunately Helsinki was also bombed by the Soviet Union during the Winter War of 1939-1940 but quickly revitalized by hosting the Olympics in 1950 and continuing to focus on design and architecture.

The heart of Helsinki’s city center designed by Carl Ludvig Engel in the nineteenth century was the Senate Square. 

Here are some of Helsinki’s most important buildings like the bold, white structure of the Helsinki Cathedral with its large green dome on a hill.

More recent buildings have explored architectural styles including Functionalism, such as the Glass Palace.

The grand railway terminal is one of the best examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the region, although the statues at the front of the building are often gently mocked by some visitor.

Kampoo Center is home for those looking for contemporary architecture and street art.

Eating traditional food like reindeer in Helsinki.

Eat Reindeer and Other Traditional Finnish Food

Truth be told locals don’t really eat reindeer anymore as it’s so expensive.

When I visited I didn’t care, I wanted to eat reindeer and I ate it many times.

But I also ate so many other fantastic dishes that I had never had before.

Check out this comprehensive guide to traditional Finnish food.