Top 5 things to do in one day in Helsinki

Helsinki was always on my bucket list but I never knew it would come to me as such a big surprise! My husband planned an adventurous trip with EuroTrip Adventures to Finnish Lapland in the month of January (well the trip was all about the snow sports) and Helsinki was obviously the nearest and most importantly the affordable airport to commence our journey in this winter wonderland. Since, it was our base station, we just had a day to spend there and like my all other destinations, I made the best use of this day. Here is my one day itinerary Helsinki including recommendations for eating joints.

One day itinerary Helsinki
One day itinerary Helsinki_ splendid welcome to the city

One day itinerary Helsinki

My Stay

I stayed in an Airbnb apartment very close to the Kamppi, which is the next stop from main train station. Kamppi is a modern shopping center and the bus terminal, that houses popular brand stores, eating joints, recreational services and supermarkets under one roof. The train Station was just 10 mins by walking, which means we always had an easy access to main part of the city with the best of eating out options.

Read how I managed to stay here for just 5 Euros a night.

Let’s begin the exploration- wait! First let’s eat!

We started with a warm and a good breakfast/brunch at Karl Fazer Cafe. It was really cold outside, although thankfully not snowing and a warmer ambience like that was much needed. Situated very close to the railway station, it was an ideal choice to start the day on a good note. After an elaborate breakfast (no kidding- I literally could not stop myself! It was so good!), we headed to our first site to explore.

Recommended: Their buffet option or try some cakes, pastries and cheesecakes.

One day itinerary Helsinki
Karl Fazer cafe in Helsinki

Helsinki Cathedral

Clad in a white curtain of purity and integrity, this Roman Catholic Cathedral was a sight in itself. Few steps up the steep stairway (or steeper maybe) and one can capture the glimpse of the city drenched in snow and elegance.

January afternoon and even the Senate square, the square adjoining the cathedral, was calm and yet charming. The red horse cart added that perfect varied colour to my picture.

One day itinerary Helsinki
Helsinki Cathedral- clad in purity of sanctity
One day itinerary Helsinki
The Senate Square in Helsinki

Uspenski Cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral was an epitome of grace, dignity and culture. Built in 19th century, it is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary).

Words are really not enough to describe the ingenuity of this cathedral. The dome shines bright as one can see it from the various corners of the road approaching the cathedral. An enchanting beauty that it is, the cathedral still maintain its reign of simplicity and serenity.

One day itinerary Helsinki
Uspenki Cathedral- where beauty is redefined

Suomenlinna Island

The walk to Market Square is hardly few meters from Uspenski Cathedral. Being a cold day in January, the market square was dull and lifeless. Although the turtles were pretty impressive!

One day itinerary Helsinki
Market Square Helsinki and impeccable love for turtles

Adding laurels to my one day itinerary Helsinki, it was imperative to include Suomenlinna Island. The cruise to the Suomenlinna Island departs from the market square and it takes 40 minutes to reach the island. The cost was just 5 Euros return per person and the tickets can be purchased from the vending machines. Considering an expensive city that Helsinki is, 5 Euros seemed like peanuts. 

Suomenlinna is a World Heritage Site popularly known as ‘Castle of Finland’. The fortification started in 18th century by the Swedish Parliament who were in constant wars with Russia. By 20th century, the fortress became a part of Finland and reflected its independence.

One day itinerary Helsinki
Suomenlinna Island in summer and in winter

Come by January, and the island replicates the vision of an apocalyptic world. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, possibly the kingdom beyond the wall, the kingdom of the dead. Most of the places were closed including restaurants and museums. Just the Suomenlinna Museum was open that were also selling coffee- a respite to survive the chill outside. I am sure the island must be more lively and entertaining during summers.

One day itinerary Helsinki
The apocalyptic version of Suomenlinna Island

Temppeliaukio Church

My one day itinerary Helsinki would have remained incomplete if I had not included this church. After coming back to the market square, we decided to walk to the Temppeliaukio Church. On the way, we also saw the Ateneum, Parliament House and Helsinki Railway Square.

Temppeliaukio Church, a Lutheran Church, crafted in a huge rock is itself a wonder to bewilder. Calm, peaceful and quiescent as it was, it still had a motionless harmony. The church resonated how unusual things around us could be so beautiful and if you have true faith, can be worshipped. There is an entry ticket of 3 Euros per adult to visit the church.

One day itinerary Helsinki
Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki

Sibelius monument

A cherry to the perfect day- we ended the exploration with Sibelius Monument in the Sibelius park. Music gets its new definition with a series of 600 hollow steel pipes arranged in an abtract manner. A dedication to music and Sibelius, this structure designed by Finnish artist Eila Hiltunen titled Passio Musicae, is also a recognized winner.

One day itinerary Helsinki
Sibelius Monument in Helsinki
One day itinerary Helsinki
Sibelius Monument in Helsinki

For dinner and drinks:

One of the best cocktail places that we tried was A21 Decades, which was again very close to the train station. Concept drinks with a calm and warm ambience, after a long tiring day, was welcoming. Maithai, a Thai restaurant, very close to A21 Decades, served us an ideal Thai cuisine that we were craving for.

There is also a restaurant called ZETOR serving authentic finnish cuisine, right in the street front of the railway station.

One day itinerary Helsinki
A21 Decades- the story unfolds

Insider tips:

  1. Download the easy free transportation app called HSL Mobiililippu for cheaper local transportation tickets.
  2. Few of the local cuisines to try in Finland are Karjalanpiirakka (a rye flour crust filled with potatoes, rice or carrots), Kalakukko (crust filled with fish) and Leipäjuusto (finnish squeaky cheese bread)
  3. Few drinks to try would include Lonkero (sweet alcoholic beverage) and Salmiakki (dark shot).
  4. Try their dessert wine. It is smooth, pleasant and just the best choice I ever made.
  5. The Kamppi Center has an array of cheap eating options including Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Thai and many others.
  6. Alcohol is not widely available in supermarkets (except mild beer). Alko are dedicated alcohol retailers spread across the city.

 

Please let me know in my comments section if you really enjoyed this one day itinerary Helsinki. For a more freshly updated travel album, visit Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook page.

40 comments

  1. Great tips for how to spend a day in a great city. I’ve only been during summer and would love to visit during winter. It looks so lovely and romantic in snow.

  2. Helsinki is such a beautiful city and you have shared just the perfect tips on what to do in this city. I haven’t visited Helsinki before so I’ll be saving your tips for when I do. 🙂

  3. Helsinki Cathedral! I’d love to see the Roman Catholic that is a old cherished sight. And especially get to ride the red horse cart…Helsinki is beautiful all in all!

  4. Can I just say I am so impressed that you managed to stay in the air bnb for only 5 euros a night? What a bargain!! I would absolutely love to see Helsinki cathedral as its a beautiful example of architecture.

  5. Who knew there were so many fun things to do in Helsinki? Admittedly, I couldn’t help but smile at the cute turtles. Why do they have them there? Do they represent something unique? If my husband and I are ever lucky enough to visit, you can bet we’ll be visiting the Uspenski Cathedral! I’m such a sucker for cool churches. xx

  6. Wow! This is truly a wonderful place, to be honest this is the first time I’ve read review ad itinerary for this city. This broaden my idea about the place – thank you.

  7. Wow, I have never known Helsinki as a travel place. Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Island seems a dream visit to me. Tough the Island seems deserted due to extreme cold, it still gives photographers a lovely chance to be close to amazing landscapes.

  8. I’d go there for the architecture alone, so amazing! I love the history! And now you’ve made me hungry for pastries , dang it! ha! (those are my weakness along side ice cream ; )

  9. Lovely tips! I rarely read travel guides and tips about Helsinki and your guide is truly helpful. Using Airbnb in Helsinki is cheaper than hotel, right?

    1. Yes it is. You can also find many of them near the main train station making it easier to travel anywhere in Helsinki 🙂

  10. Oh I’ve always wanted to visit Finland, the country looks just incredible. I love how gorgeous the architecture is everywhere especially those amazing cathedrals. Thank you for including recommendations on transportation, eats and drinks.

  11. Oooo Helsinki is on my to visit list – I love Scandanavia, they seem to have a very chilled laid back attitude! It looks chilly though! Thanks for the tips, Lonkero sounds delicious (and dessert wine!!)

  12. It looks like you had an amazing time, even if it was just for one day. I do love the cathedral, and the turtles do look pretty good. The church is also quite beautiful.

  13. Helsinki looks like such an amazing and adventurous place but I must say, I would have to visit during the summer. That looks way too cold! Lol. All of your stops were unique in their own rights but I’m really intrigued by the Sibelius Monument! That is absolutely stunning! I hope to visit one day!

  14. I have never even heard of Helsinki before but it looks like a truly amazing place. Thank you for showing me through your time there.

  15. I’m not much of a traveller but when I see posts like this it really makes me feel like I’m missing out! The Sibelius Monument looks amazing, I’d love to see it for myself one day

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