Northern City On The Sea: Helsinki

Finland’s capital on the Baltic, Helsinki enhances its traditional maritime culture with art, festivals and steam baths. Today it is enjoying the spectacular ‘White Nights’. Here are eight reasons why you should see this hospitable city.

Esplanade Park
This park in the city center is famous for its long boulevards reminiscent of Paris. Next to the park, which is always abuzz with fashion shows, folk dancing and street concerts, stand two magnificent structures: the Presidentinlinna (Presidential Palace) and Kaupungintalo (Town Hall). Jazz concerts take place daily on weekdays throughout July in this park adorned with pools and fountains.

Senate Square
The city’s old stone houses, like Sederholm House, rise at Senaatintori (Senate Square), which is surrounded by impressive neoclassical buildings. Designed by architect Carl Ludwig Engel in the mid-1800’s, the square exhibits typical examples of Baltic architecture. Helsinki Cathedral, Government House, Helsinki University and the National Library are some of the attractive buildings around the square.

Ateneum Art Museum
Constituting one section of the Finnish National Gallery, this museum plays host to the largest art collection in the country. Unfolding before visitors’ eyes the story of Finnish art from the 18th century right up to the 1960s, the museum organizes a variety of events as well. Open daily except Mondays at Kaivokatu 2.

Suomenlinna Island
You can catch a tour boat from the harbor to visit the world’s largest sea castle on a small island in the open waters off Helsinki. Built in 1748 for defense against Russian attacks, Soumenlina Castle is included on Unesco’s World Heritage List. The island for which the castle is named is a favorite with tourists for its cafes, restaurants and museum.

Finnish Sauna
Sauna is part and parcel of Finnish culture, and the city’s sauna tradition dates back two thousand years according to local sources. Saunas in Finland are at the same time places of recreation and social activity. And plunging into a lake (there is usually one in the vicinity) to cool off following a bath is an ancient tradition. We strongly recommend that you visit one of Helsinki’s many saunas.

Aquarium
If you are curious about the vibrant underwater world of this maritime city, then you must visit Sea Life Helsinki. As you stroll through its giant tunnels, you will see a host of aquatic creatures in different waters ranging from tropical seas to north pole habitats. Part of the European Sea Life Network, the aquarium is at Tivolitie 10. Entrance: 14.50 Euros.

Helsinki Festival
Helsinki hosts many exciting events in July when the sun shines twenty hours a day. This year’s summer schedule includes: Tuska Rock Festival July 2-4, Helsinki Youth Soccer Cup July 11-17, the Helsinki Marathon July 14, Flow Music Festival August 13-15, Night of the Arts August 27, Design Week August 26 - September 5, and Helsinki Festival August 20 - September 5.

How to get there
Turkish Airlines flies to Helsinki and back every day of the week. Departures are at 9:30 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. from Istanbul and at 1:55 p.m. and 2:40 p.m. from Helsinki.