Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is charming Baltic Sea cruise port of call that boasts its very own archipelago and is beautifully surrounded by the water. A vibrant seaside city with a laid back lifestyle, Helsinki is packed full of exciting attractions, with 330 islands that provide the perfect set up for beach days, walks and more.
Retaining a nautical atmosphere has always been a key feature of this city and this is still the case thanks to many sailing events that take place throughout the year. Helsinki is a tremendous city and a fabulous destination to visit when cruising the Baltics.
The climate in Helsinki varies dramatically between the months and the majority of cruise lines take advantage of the summer festivities. Helsinki experiences a plunge into darkness and an extremely cold period during the winter months so as you can imagine when summer arrives and the sun does begin to shine, the locals make the most of it and celebrate the warmth with outdoor events throughout the city. Just a few of the iconic events include the Coming of Spring, Midsummer, the Helsinki Festival, and the Annual Night of the Arts.
A huge attraction to Helsinki for a cruise port of call is that it is a wonderfully compact city meaning getting around is very easy. The city was once described as ‘a pocket-sized metropolis’ and this certainly applies to the historical centre. It is simple to navigate around and fairly short walking distances between the main city highlights and attractions. Alternatively, there is the option of the tram to get around, a convenient method of travel allowing you to soak up the views and enjoy the magnificent array of colour, especially as you pass by the flower market at the harbour front.
A strong Soviet architectural influence is still present in Helsinki, with the Uspenski Cathedral being a prime example of this; a sensational structure resembling an onion shaped design that was based on Odessa’s cathedral. When visiting Helsinki, it is also definitely worth taking in the traditional Finnish structures including the superb North Harbour and Senate Square.
Senate Square is what many believe to be the focal point of the city, boasting a stunning array of architectural design including the dramatic Lutheran Cathedral of St Nicholas and a collection of impressive 19th century neo-classical buildings. When taking an excursion with your cruise operator, this is often the first stop along the way and leads nicely into the Uspenski Cathedral and North Harbour, the station point of the famous icebreaker fleet.
Perhaps the most striking example of Finnish architecture in this city has to be the ever impressive Temppeliaukio, otherwise known as The Rock Church. This tremendous attraction is a wonderfully unique creation that has been carved out of solid rock to form a remarkable structure, distinctly topped with a copper dome. The journey here is also a pleasurable experience as along the way you will pass by the Presidential Palace as well as the vibrant Market Square and the home of the foreign embassies; Kaivopuisto Park.
Other fascinating sightseeing opportunities include the Sibelius Monument, which was constructed and dedicated to pay homage to the musical visionary Jean Sibelius. Sports lovers will also relish a visit to see the Olympic Stadium, host to the Olympic Games in 1952 and still a striking attraction. The Opera House is a beautiful building to explore whilst Parliament buildings and the National Museum are always worth capturing for their striking stature.
Perhaps sample the local cuisine or even enjoy afternoon tea in a traditional Finnish home. There’s even the opportunity to experience the year round winter wonderland at Unique Lapland Winter World, located just outside of the city centre. Here you will be kitted out with thermal clothing before entering the cool temperatures to see the snow hotel and its individual igloos, admire the wondrous ice carvings and even have fun in the snow whilst the sun remains shining outside. You can even try your hand at tobogganing and kick sledging whilst the opportunity to meet artic husky dogs is always a treat. Finish the day off with a visit to the Ice Bar and Restaurant.