Landmarks Tour of Helsinki, Helsinki (Self Guided)

As the capital of Finland and one of the major cities of Scandinavia, Helsinki has a great and interesting history. The city is full of sculptures and monuments dedicated to some of the most important people and events in its history. This self-guided tour will help you visit some of Helsinki's greatest landmarks.
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Landmarks Tour of Helsinki Map

Guide Name: Landmarks Tour of Helsinki
Guide Location: Finland » Helsinki (See other walking tours in Helsinki)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.6 km
Author: naomi
1
Kaisaniemi Park

1) Kaisaniemi Park (must see)

This famous place is also located in the central part of town, in the Kluvi region. It is an extremely popular place among locals. If you are looking to get outside for a bit, you will want to check it out, as it is full of some of the most beautiful plants in Helsinki. In fact, the first greenhouse was established here in 1889 and is still around today.

Besides the botanical aspects, the park has a soccer pitch and as well as places to play tennis and basketball. In the center is a public memorial called the “Freemason's Grave.” It is the oldest such memorial of its kind in the city. Near the main entrance of the park is another quite beautiful statue called Convolvulus, which is a piece about a young girl out to play.

Several popular music events are held here each year: the World Village concert and the Tuska Open Air metal festival. A May Day event is also held in the park each spring.

Tip:
Nice restaurants inside for seafood and many ice-cream stalls for kids.
The University Botanical Garden is an especially nice spot for a stroll.
Don't miss the beautiful views of Eira harbor as an added bonus!
2
Senaatintori (Senate Square)

2) Senaatintori (Senate Square) (must see)

Located in the center of the city, Helsinki's Senate Square contains numerous examples of Carl Ludvig Engel's architecture. The Palace of the Council of State was completed on the eastern side of Senate Square in 1822. The main university building, on the opposite side of Senate Square, was constructed in 1832.

A statue of Emperor Alexander II is located in the center of the square. The statue, erected in 1894, was built to commemorate his re-establishment of the Diet of Finland in 1863, as well as his initiation of several reforms that increased Finland's autonomy from Russia. The statue is of Alexander on a pedestal surrounded by figures representing law, culture and the peasants.

Today, Senate Square is one of Helsinki's main tourist attractions. Various cultural events, ranging from concerts to snow building contests to controversial snowboarding activities, have been held here.

Why You Should Visit:
You'll definitely be amazed at the tourism potentials of this square.
Beautiful in all seasons and a great place to get the feel of Helsinki.

Tip:
Be sure to climb the staircase leading to the church for great views of the whole environment, including the sea.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Kauppatori (Market Square)

3) Kauppatori (Market Square) (must see)

The Market Square is centrally located in Helsinki and is very famous among locals and travelers alike. If you take a trip down to the market on the famous Esplanadi Street, the location is on the east end, very close to the Baltic Sea. There is a ferry here that you can take to Suomenlinna, as well as some of the other small islands in the area.

If you take a trip to the market, be prepared to find some of the best fresh food in town. There are also lots of really good souvenir shops and you will want to try some of the cafes that are associated with this place. A must try is the Finnish “lihapiirakksa,” which is a kind of pastry filled with meat. Keep an eye out for the seagulls though – they have a nasty habit of flying down to grab goodies out of the hands of innocent bystanders.

The busiest time of year to visit is during October when the herring market, which the locals call the “silakkamarkkinat”, begins. On the first Friday of every month, you also get a chance to see the old American cars on display here – a popular event among local car collectors.

Why You Should Visit:
Fun place to get a taste of Finland and try something you haven't eaten before.

Tip:
Do not leave without trying the "neulamuikut" (deep fried whitefish), which is usually served with potatoes and garlic sauce.
If you visit when the season for wild berries & mushrooms starts, stop by to stock on some fresh wonderful cloudberries or chanterelles.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm; Sat: 8am-4pm; Sun (summer only): 10am-5pm
4
Havis Amanda

4) Havis Amanda

Havis Amanda is a nude female statue that was sculpted by Ville Vallgren (1855-1940) in 1906 in Paris. It was not erected at its present Market Square location in Kaartinkaupunki until 1908. It is cast in bronze, and the fountain in which it resides is made of granite. Havis Amanda is a mermaid who stands on seaweed as she rises from the water with four fish spouting water at her feet. She is surrounded by four sea lions and is depicted leaning backwards as if to say goodbye to her element. Vallgren's intention was to symbolize the rebirth of Helsinki. Vallgren himself called the work simply Merenneito, or The Mermaid in English, but it quickly started to earn nicknames. The Finland-Swedish newspapers dubbed it Havis Amanda and the Finnish Haaviston Manta or simply Manta. Every year on Vappu, Manta serves as a center for the celebrations. Students of the local universities put a cap on the statue in an elaborate ceremony. For many it is a "must see" event.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Esplanadi

5) Esplanadi (must see)

Esplanadi was laid out by Engel in 1812 and consists of two broad parallel streets separated by a green area. The two streets are lined with restaurants and classy boutiques that stock a range of products from internationally-known brands to local merchandise. The green area between the streets is often home to different fairs, as well as the open Christmas market in the winter. You'll also find public restrooms, a bandstand, a nice diner, and lots of benches to chill out on. If you are looking for a place to enjoy the true colors of Helsinki, then Esplanadi is the place to be.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful open space in the middle of the city, great for sitting on the grass and people watching, or bringing food and having a picnic.

Tip:
Be sure to take in the architecture on both sides – the old buildings are splendid.
6
Three Smiths Statue

6) Three Smiths Statue

The Three Smiths Statue is a sculpture by Felix Nylund, located in Three Smiths Square at the intersection of Aleksanterinkatu and Mannerheimintie. This realistic statue, unveiled in 1932, depicts three smiths hammering on an anvil. The smiths are naked. The statue was donated to the city of Helsinki by the Pro Helsingfors foundation, which had acquired it with the help of a monetary donation from the businessman Julius Tallberg. Tallberg's commerce house is situated at the northern end of Three Smiths Square. The statue was damaged in a bombing during the Continuation War in 1944. Marks of the damage can still be seen at the base of the statue, and the anvil has a hole in it caused by bomb shrapnel. The Three Smiths Statue is a popular meeting place, and the Green League has often located their election campaign quarters next to it. A Peruvian street music orchestra often performs in the area during the summer.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Temppeliaukio Rock Church

7) Temppeliaukio Rock Church (must see)

The Temppeliaukio Church is one of the largest and most important Lutheran Churches in the city of Helsinki. Opened in 1969, it is actually a very young church. The local congregation had started plans for the building all the way back in the 1930s, but the issues faced by the nation in the Second World War caused them to be put on hold. The original design was also changed by the Suomalainen brothers, and the church ended up much smaller.

This house of worship has a beautiful sanctuary, which sports an organ with 43 stops. There are no bells in the church, so to get the same effect; a recording of bell music is played outside every Sunday. The coolest thing, however, is that the whole church was built underground, inside a massive block of granite.

The ceiling has a glazed dome, which allows a lot of very beautiful light into the building. The ceiling is also made completely of copper wire. The acoustics here are wonderful; therefore, the place is often used as a venue for concerts.

Why You Should Visit:
Helsinki's architectural wonder; the mix of concrete, granite, coupled with color and copper everywhere (including the roof) make for an inspiring view.

Tip:
Try to see if there are any concerts and enjoy the great acoustics.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
8
Sibelius Monument

8) Sibelius Monument (must see)

The Sibelius Monument is one of the most beautiful and yet controversial pieces of artwork in Finland. It was designed in tribute to Jean Sibelius, a famous Finnish Composer, and is located in the park in Helsinki that also bears his name, standing just outside the Bank of Finland.

The artwork was revealed to the local community in 1967, and almost immediately started a debate. The issue was that this piece was the first public abstract monument ever built in the whole country. Many people could not understand the purpose of such work. So, to appease some of these voices, an effigy of the famous Finn was also added.

The long steel pipes that make up the piece were designed to create a replication of the music that was written by the famous musician. It is made up of 600 pipes that are fashioned in wave-like sound patterns. The monument is quite large, measuring 8.5 by 10.5 by 6.5 meters, and weighs over 24 tons. If you happen to do any tours on your stay in Helsinki, you will no doubt pass by this place. It is so famous that you can find replicas in New York and Paris, France.

Why You Should Visit:
Interesting from every angle!

Tip:
How much you enjoy this probably depends on when you decide to visit. With the sun setting and casting interesting light across the sculpture and nearby lake, it's a good place to stop for a few minutes.
9
Helsinki Olympic Stadium

9) Helsinki Olympic Stadium (must see)

Editor's note: The stadium is closed since March 2016 for renovation works and scheduled for reopening in 2019.

One would be hard pressed to find an attraction in Helsinki that means more to the Finnish people than the Olympic Stadium. The country began participating in the Games even before they had been declared an independent nation (circa 1917). In 1927, a commission was formed to begin the process to bring the Summer Games to Helsinki one day. As such, the Stadium Foundation was formed.

The physical complex itself was finished in 1938 and was formally inaugurated in June of that year. The 15th Olympic Games were held here in July and August of 1952 with great success: over 800,000 people visited the stadium.

Since that time, the Stadium has undergone eight distinct changes and major renovation work at the stadium started in the spring of 2016. The stadium will be closed during the construction and will reopen in 2019. During the renovation, all the spectator stands will be covered with canopies and the field area and the tracks will be renewed. It will also offer extended restaurant areas and more indoor sports venues.
10
Kulttuuritalo

10) Kulttuuritalo

Kulttuuritalo, or The House of Culture in English, is a building in Alppila, Helsinki. The building was designed by Alvar Aalto and is considered to be one of his most notable works. The building combines a concert hall, an office building and a lecture-theater block that connects the two. The House of Culture was originally built for the Finnish Communist Party. Famous artists who have played in the venue include: Jimi Hendrix in 1967, Eric Clapton in 1967 and 1969, Led Zeppelin in 1970, Frank Zappa in 1974, Queen in 1974, AC/DC in 1977, Tina Turner in 1982, Metallica in 1984, Hanoi Rocks in 1985, Iron Maiden in 1995 and Lady GaGa in 2009. The building was owned by the communists until the 1990s. Today it is owned by government-owned Senate Properties. The Finnish Council of State granted the building protected status in 1989.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Helsinki City Theater

11) Helsinki City Theater

The Helsinki City Theater was founded after the 1964 merger of Helsinki's two oldest theaters, the Labor Theater and the Popular Theater. The present theater building was designed by architect Timo Penttili. The theater presents plays by local and foreign artists and aims to promote young actors, producers and play-writers. In 2000 the Pieni Suomi Children's Theater became part of the City Theater. Its purpose is to provide great experiences for the entire family: children, parents and grandparents. Helsinki City Theater Dance Company is the country's only permanent professional dance troupe.

Walking Tours in Helsinki, Finland

Create Your Own Walk in Helsinki

Create Your Own Walk in Helsinki

Creating your own self-guided walk in Helsinki is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Tour of Helsinki's Ullanlinna District

Tour of Helsinki's Ullanlinna District

Ullanlinna is a district in the south part of Helsinki. The name of the district comes from the town fortifications that were standing in this place during the 1700s. During the 19th century the residential wooden houses were replaced by stone buildings, mainly designed in the Jugendstil style. This tour will show you the most interesting places of this area.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Tour of Helsinki's Seurasaari District

Tour of Helsinki's Seurasaari District

Seurasaari is a district in Helsinki that is located on an island. The island is home to the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum. The museum provides an overview of life in the Finnish countryside by showcasing houses from different parts of the country. This tour will show you some of the most interesting buildings in Seurasaari.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Helsinki without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Helsinki, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Architecture Tour of Helsinki

Architecture Tour of Helsinki

There are many examples of great architecture in Helsinki. The predominant styles are Art Nouveau (Jugend in Finnish) and Neo-Clasical. Much of the city's architecture has social and cultural significance, particularly buildings such as the Academic Bookshop, Finlandia Hall, Helsinki Central Railway Station and Erottaja Fire Station. This tour presents some of the most beautiful buildings of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Nightlife Tour of Helsinki

Nightlife Tour of Helsinki

Most of Helsinki's nightlife is concentrated in the center of the city around the main train station. Almost all the establishments are a mix of bar, disco and concert venue. Finnish people are great lovers of live performances. No matter what band or artist is playing, they always enjoy the show. So, take this tour to experience the vibrant nightlife of Helsinki.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Helsinki, the capital and the largest city of Finland, is a multi-faceted place unique in many ways with much to offer to any visitor. While the greater Helsinki comprises peninsulas and large bays, the city center is very symmetrical with well-organized streets and straight boulevards. On this orientation walk you can visit some of Helsinki's not-to-be-missed attractions.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Helsinki for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Helsinki has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Helsinki, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.