The city sits on the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland and overlooks the Baltic Sea. Your Helsinki vacation will undoubtedly feature picturesque sea-facing landscapes.
The intricately mixed architecture with Scandinavian, modernist, and Art Nouveau styles is what sets the city apart from the rest. Other than that, the colourful seasons appear beautiful no matter what period you choose to visit.
You can easily explore Helsinki on foot and experience joy in finding hidden gems. The city offers several walking tours, ranging from free to 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. Travellers 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 in 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 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 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 has been considered an impressive building since its construction. The striking cathedral features neoclassical-style architecture and grand Corinthian pillars.
The white-washed building with five green domes easily stands out at the northern end of Senate Square. The interior is spacious with high ceilings and decorated in an elegant golden-white colour.
There are notable pieces inside the cathedral, including an altar and pulpit, three statues of prominent protestors, and a few artworks. 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 was constructed in honour of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and is one of Helsinki’s major attractions.
Eila Hiltunen designed a monument in this memorial park that has garnered much controversy due to its abstract nature. They constructed the original Sibelius monument using a collection of 600 steel pipes. It creates music when the breeze flows through the pipes.
After much complaint 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 has occupied since 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 present. You can see beloved masterpieces featuring the visual arts of various famed Finnish artists inside the museum, and also find an art collection by international artists from around the world.
You can check out the museum’s 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 area of Senate Square forms a unique example of neoclassical architecture. It makes up the oldest part of central Helsinki and symbolises its culture.
The buildings located on the four sides of the Senate Square represent the four powers of the state: the 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. There are no church activities held here except for regular prayer meetings. 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 it has thick wooden walls to block out the noise coming from outside.
The architecture represents innovation in various Scandinavian styles. Standing apart from the rest of the neighbouring 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 architectural styles and art, the city is bound to impress anyone and everyone. Check out the places listed above when you go on a walking tour of the city.
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