The city is situated on the north coast of the Gulf of Finland and faces the Baltic Sea. Your Helsinki vacation is guaranteed to be filled with picturesque sea-facing landscapes.
What makes the city stand apart from the rest is its intricately mixed architecture with Scandinavian, modernist, and Art nouveau styles. Other than that, the colorful seasons appear beautiful no matter the period you choose to go.
Helsinki can be easily explored on foot where you can experience joy in finding hidden gems. Several walking tours are conducted in the city, ranging from free, private, or self-guided tours. Not only will you get up close to various tourist attractions, but you can also closely observe Helsinki’s culture.
Here are six places you need to see during a Helsinki walking tour:
1. Helsinki’s Market Square
The market square is located in central Helsinki and is one of the best-known outdoor markets in Northern Europe. Travelers visiting the old town usually make their first stop here. It borders the vast Baltic Sea and occupies a 19th-century building.
This port area flourishes in commerce and has become a famous landmark of Helsinki.
You can instantly catch sight of Finnish stalls lined up with various things like fresh produce, souvenirs, and flowers. The marketplace is food-centric where you can enjoy a traditional hot coffee, fried fish, meat pies, and other treats while overlooking the sea.
There are often boats lined up that sell fresh seafood directly from the back of their boat itself. There is a year-round market hall that accommodates more vendors.
One thing to watch out for is the seagulls who will not shy away from plucking your food away.
2. Helsinki Cathedral
Helsinki Cathedral dates back to the 19th century and is considered to be an impressive building since its construction. The striking cathedral features neoclassical style architecture and grand Corinthian pillars.
It is located at the northern end of Senate square and can be spotted easily due to its white-washed building and five green domes. The interior is spacious with high ceilings and decorated in elegant golden-white color.
There are notable pieces inside the cathedral including an altar and pulpit, three statues of prominent protestors, and few artworks. Do keep an eye on the twelve apostles seen on top of the Cathedral’s rooftop.
During the summer, you can visit the free exhibitions at café Krypta which is situated inside the cathedral’s crypt.
3. Sibelius monument and park
Sibelius Park is a small city park that overlooks the sea. It is constructed in honor of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and is one of Helsinki’s major attractions.
This memorial park has a monument that was designed by Eila Hiltunen and had garnered much controversy due to its abstract nature. The original Sibelius monument is constructed using a collection of 600 steel pipes. It creates music when the breeze flows through the pipes.
After much complaints and debate, the traditional statue of Sibelius was added to keep up the original concept of the park.
4. Finnish National Musem of art
Ateneum or the Finnish National Museum of Art is located on the south side of the station square. The museum takes its name from the neoclassical building it occupies since the year 1887. The renowned Finnish academy of art is also part of the same building.
The Ateneum is home to Finnish art where you can find more than 20,000 national treasures. The collection dates back from the 19th century to the modern. Beloved masterpieces featuring the visual arts of various famed Finnish artists can be seen inside the museum. You can also find an art collection of international artists from around the world.
You can check out the museums’ official website as there are several days throughout the year when entry is free.
5. Senate Square
Since the 17th century, the Senate Square has been Helsinki’s main square. The surrounding of Senate Square forms a unique example of neoclassical architecture. It makes up the oldest part of central Helsinki and symbolizes its culture.
The buildings located on the four sides of the senate square represent the four powers of the state: senate, church, university, and commerce.
A statue of Tsar Alexander II stands in the middle of the square. You can find the main building of the University of Helsinki and the government palace here. The extensive area of the square allows for many outdoor concerts and other means of entertainment.
The staircase leading to the north side of the Cathedral is wide and often crowded with people. Senate Square is a great place to relax and admire the beautiful architecture of Helsinki.
6. Kamppi Chapel of Silence
In the heart of the commercial hub, Kamppi is the Chapel of Silence, an unusual curved structure. It is a wooden building, built to provide silence and peace from the bustling city.
The chapel does not look like the traditional chapels one typically comes across. Except for regular prayer meetings, there are no church activities held here. The only purpose of this unique building is to offer uninterpreted peace and escape.
The interior of the chapel is minimalistic yet calming. Kamppi chapel is tiny yet warm and has thick wooden walls to block out the noise coming from outside.
The architecture represents the innovation in various Scandinavian styles. Standing apart from the rest of the neighboring buildings, Kamppi chapel is hard to miss out on during your tour.
Helsinki is a beautiful city that has a lot to offer. Encompassing majestic architecture styles and art, the city is bound to impress anyone and everyone. Do check out the places listed above when you go on a walking tour in the city.
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