Choose from 53 Fun Things to Do in Finland
- Bring a picnic or enjoy a meal at one of Suomenlinna’s 11 onsite restaurants.
- Access to the island is free of charge, but each museum has its own entrance fee.
- Most roads on the islands are cobblestone, which can make it difficult to maneuver a wheelchair or stroller.
- Dogs are allowed on the island but must be kept on-leash, away from beaches and playgrounds.
The skyline of Helsinki is dominated by Tuomiokirkko, or the Helsinki Lutheran Cathedral. The green domes, white building and zinc rooftop statues of the twelve apostles of the magnificent Lutheran church stand tall and proud looking over the city to the sea. Built between 1830 and 1852, it replaced a smaller 18th century church, and was originally called St. Nicholas' Church in homage to the Tsar of Russia, Grand Duke Nicholas I. After Finnish independence from Russia 1917, the church was renamed and in 1959 it became a cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran denomination.
Designed by a German architect Carl Ludwig Engel who laid out the whole of Senate Square, the exterior is Neo-Classical with columns and statues and in comparison, inside seems rather plain. The design was later altered by Ernst Lohrmann who added the zinc apostles and a few extra small domes. There is room for 1,300 worshipers and an altarpiece flanked by angels. The suitably atmospheric crypt is now a cafe. The church is in regular use for services and also weddings.
Trams 1,2, 3B and 3T will take you to Senate Square where the church is located. Or it is an easy walk, and easily visible, from anywhere in central Helsinki.
Ranua is only 50 miles (80 km) or one hour by bus from Rovaniemi, the main town in Lapland.
Rovaniementie 29, Ranua 97700, Finland
The impressive National Museum of Finland (or Suomen Kansallismuseo) looks a bit like a Gothic church with its stonework and tower. Built in 1916 and extensively renovated in 2000, the museum's rooms cover different periods of Finnish history. The Treasure Trove has coins, silver, weaponry, medals and jewelery. The Prehistory of Finland is a large, permanent exhibition of prehistory and archaeological finds. A Land and its People shows life in Finland before industrialization. The Realm covers the history of Finland in the 13th - 17th centuries when it was under Swedish rule and an independent duchy of the Russian empire. The permanent exhibition, "Suomi Finland 1900", explores 20th-century Finland and was opened in April 2012. There are also changing displays of church relics, ethnography and cultural exhibitions.
The superb frescoes on the ceiling arches (by Akseli Gallen-Kallela) depict scenes from the epic Kalevala, including one of the hero Väinämöinen plunging a stake into the giant pike. You can visit the cafeteria at the end of your day to rest and absorb what you've learned about the history of Finland.
The museum is only a 10-minute walk from the central railway station, and the bus terminal at Kamppi. Or catch tram 7A/7B, 4T or 10. Free entry on Fridays 4pm - 6pm.
- Visitors are welcome to watch plenary sessions from the gallery, although they are conducted in Finnish and no translations are provided.
- Free Wi-Fi is available at the visitor center.
- Strict security checks are in place for anyone entering the government buildings.
- The Parliament House is fully wheelchair accessible.
Finlandia Hall (or Finlandiatalo) is Helsinki's concert and congress hall. It is also an architecture masterpiece by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898 - 1976) who was sometimes referred to as the Father of Modernism. In Helsinki, Aalto wanted to realize the major plan for a grand square and avenue flanked by cultural buildings, including the Parliament Building, first thought of by Eliel Saarinen in 1917 when Finland became independent of Russia. He drew plans for a grand center to Helsinki in 1961 and modified them in 1964 and 1971; you could say the city was a lifelong project of his.
Finlandia Hall was designed in 1962 and built between 1967 and 1972. The congress wing followed in 1973 - 75. For Aalto it was a major part of realizing his grand plan. The building shows many of his ongoing concerns - few right angles, design around existing trees on the site, the use of Italian marble and Finnish granite. The building is worth visiting but you can only do so on a guided tour, held on irregular days in the afternoons - check the website for dates.
Trams 4, 7 and 10 go to Finlandia Hall, get off at the stop for the National Museum.
- Some shore excursions include round-trip transportation for destinations further afield, but the center of Helsinki is walkable from the South Terminal.
- The Baltic Sea separates Helsinki from Tallinn, Estonia, which is easily accessible and well worth a visit if time allows.
- The medieval town of Porvoo is about an hour's drive outside of Helsinki proper; tours to this historic village will provide round-trip transportation and a chance to learn about Finland's seagoing past.
- Rock Church is a must-see for architecture lovers and first-time visitors to Helsinki.
- The building often hosts classical concerns, as it’s raw rock walls provide wonderful acoustics.
- The church's entrance is on street level, making it easily accessible for wheelchair users.
Leading Finnish artists in the permanent collection include Nina Roos, Susanne Gottberg, Jussi Nivi and the homoerotic illustrator Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland. Some of the international artists represented are Nan Goldin, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman. In addition to its impressive collection of visual art, the Kiasma regularly presents performance art, dance, music and films. Innovative and engaging, the Kiasma is not only a world-class museum but also a laboratory for artistic experimentation and expression.
The focus is definitely on the Finnish penchant for the offbeat. The cafe and beer terrace are also very popular in summer.