Helsinki for a Day
July 23, 2009 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Headed to Finland for work in late August. I am staying two extra nights in Helsinki. What should I see?

A work trip has me in Finland for a week in late August. I've extended my trip an extra two nights (a Friday and Saturday) since there is little chance I'll make it back to Finland any time soon. I booked a pension close to downtown Helsinki and plan on returning the rental before I get there, so I'll be on foot.

This question has a few ideas, but since I'll be there only a short time, what is the absolute top of the heap? Any great places to eat?

Also, any tips to getting to the airport early on Sunday morning? Is a cab the best bet?
posted by chiefthe to Travel & Transportation around Helsinki, Finland (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I visited Helsinki in August a couple years ago and went to a Rapujuhlat party. If at all possible I would recommend getting invited to one, for me it was an amazing experience, naked drunken sauna and all.

Other than that, a day trip to Suomenlinna island was quite nice.
posted by skintension at 7:04 AM on July 23, 2009

William K is a classy bar with good beer selection.
posted by breadfruit at 7:07 AM on July 23, 2009

Best answer: If you're looking for good food, the best place to check is which lists the restaurants and, importantly, the opening hours. Places in Helsinki can have idiosyncratic hours, especially in summer.

For my money, Atelje Finne is the best place in town. They serve contemporary Finnish food with a good wine list and I've never been disappointed. Bali Hai is also quite good for a casual meal (and cheaper than Atelje). If you want to try a classic 1950s Finnish restaurant, Kolme Kruunua does great plates of both meatballs and herring. All the guidebooks will tell you that Seahorse is the classic (and it's also quite good) but Kolme Kruuna, at this point, feels more local.

As the linked question suggests, cakes at the Fazer cafe are pretty good and it's a convenient place to get gifts to take home. Cafe Ekberg on Bulevardi is also pretty good for a casual lunch. Having a drink at the Torni is pretty nice for the view, but the "American Bar" in the base of the Torni hotel has better drinks IMO.

Things to do:

Both the Korkesaari Zoo and Suomenlinna are nice half-day trips and visiting either will require you to take a ferry and give you a chance to see a bit of the coast. Watch out for the seagulls at Kauppatori though!

If you want a typical experience, go to the grocery store and buy yourself some picnic supplies and head to the nearest park. Enjoy.

Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art often has good shows and is housed in a nice building by American architect Steven Holl. From there you can walk north along Tölö bay to see Finlandia Hall, and further north the Olympic Stadium, both designed by Alvar Aalto, the most famous Finnish architect.

One of the tram lines runs in a loop which acts as a sort of low budget tour of the city. If you're bored...


The ">615 bus goes to/from the train station (Rautatientori) and Vantaa airport (Lentoasema) and costs a couple euros. ">Finnair also operates a bus to/from the airport. A cab from the center to the airport will cost you between 30-40 euros and they are generally very clean and reliable.

The city center is relatively small, so you can get around easily on foot if the weather is nice. Otherwise, tram and bus schedules, as well as route planning, can be found on the YTV site.
posted by bryanboyer at 10:47 AM on July 23, 2009

I second Suomenlinna and I really enjoyed the art deco swimming hall called Yrjönkatu (so long as you are ok with a bit of nudity). We did the whole cabin / robe / sauna / beer thing and it was fabulous. There are separate days/times for men and women.
posted by AnnaRat at 6:30 PM on July 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the help!

I enjoyed Soumenlinna, the Contemporary Art museum and there was a great Surrealist exhibit at the Helsinki City Museum.

Kolme Kruuna was pretty great food-wise, but it was a tough place to eat alone.

The Finnish National Museum can be skipped---at Soumenlinna I got a pretty good sense of the history in a much nicer setting.
posted by chiefthe at 7:17 PM on October 9, 2009

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