Helsinki is a compact city and with the beautiful setting on the Baltic Sea and the historic architecture, it’s ideal to explore by foot – at least in the summer time! I was fortunate enough to have gorgeous summer weather and walked all over town! Even if you only have a few hours to spend in Helsinki, you should go for a walk and get a first impression of the city!
You can start your tour at the Central Train Station, not only the transportation hub for the city, but an impressive building on its own. Leaving the station, turn right and walk up to Mannerheimvagan – you will see the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary art with its stunning glass facade. In front of the museum is the statue of Mannerheim, demanded and paid for by Finnish citizens… Across the street you will see the Parliament House – it was under renovation during my visit and fully covered! A little further up the street is the National Museum, opened in 1916! Once you return to the central train station, you will see the Ateneum, the Finnish National Gallery, across from the station. It was also under renovation… Walking past the Ateneum to the East will bring you to one of the top sights of this walk, the white Helsinki Cathedral on Senate Square. It’s an imposing building at the top of a long and wide staircase from the square! Next to the Cathedral, you’ll find the Helsinki University building on one side and Government Palace on the other. In the center of the square is a statue of Alexander II, the Russian Emperor. Walk down the alley across the square from the cathedral and take a peek into the quirky Helsinki City museum – it’s free and tells the history of Helsinki through some of its inhabitants over the centuries. At the foot of the alley, you will reach the market on the harbor! It’s a busy place and you can find lots of fruits, vegetables, meats and fish for sale! Along the street are the city hall, the Swedish embassy and the presidential palace. If you continue up the hill, you’ll see the Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral with its red-brick walls and onion domes. Heading back to the harbor, you can continue your tour of Helsinki by boat, relax on one of the benches in the park leading away from the harbor, go on a shopping spree along Aleksandersgatan or check out one of the many museums in Helsinki! This walk will take you 1-2 hours, depending on how leisurely you take it and gives you plenty of photo opportunities of the great buildings in the city. You can also stop, sit back and relax to watch the people of Helsinki on their way or just enjoying what the city has to offer.