Helsinki is the capital and most populous city of Finland located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. It is a vibrant seaside city of beautiful islands and great green parks.
Since I only had one day in Helsinki, I tried to fit in as much as possible. I started the morning off by taking a ferry from Market Square to the Fortress of Suomenlinna. The literal translation of Suomenlinna in Finnish is Castle of Finland. It is a UNESECO World Heritage site and very picturesque location. The fortress was built during the Swedish era as a maritime fortress and a base for the Archipelago Fleet.
After catching the ferry back (departs every 20 minutes), I admired Uspenski Cathedral. This Eastern Orthodox cathedral is the main Orthodox Church in Helsinki. It was designed by the Russian architect Aleksey Gomostayev and was built after his death in 1862.
I then enjoyed strolling through Market Square. It sits right on the Baltic Sea and maintains a year-round ferry link to Suomenlinna and other nearby islands. From spring to autumn, the Market Square is bustling with activity with vendors selling fresh Finish food and souvenirs. There are also outdoor cafes at the square.
Just up the street is Helsinki Cathedral. This Neoclassical cathedral presiding over the Senate Square is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Helsinki. It is notable mainly for its green-colored dome and splendid architecture. The interior may seem quite plain but it is still worth visiting. Also in Senate Square is the University and Palace of the Council. Every day, precisely at 5:49 PM, you can hear a sound installation called Sound of the Senate Square, which plays carillon music, traveling from one building to another.
I enjoy walking in cities versus taking public transportation, so I just walked down the streets of Helsinki. I stopped at Fazer Cafe, which is located in the mall across from Helsinki Central Railway Station. I needed a small pastry and smoothie to hold me over until lunch time.
I continued walking and passed Helsinki Parliament House. I think it is a beautiful building.
I then took a stroll along Toolonlahti Bay. This is a great park to walk around. Here, you can also find Finlandia Hall, a congress and event venue in the center of Helsinki.
About a 20-minute walk from the bay is the Sibelius Monument by Mila Hiltunen, which was dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The monument is located at the Sibelius Park.
If you are still looking for something quick to eat or drink, I recommend going to Regatta, which is a cute cafe very close to the monument and located on the sea.
Walking back toward the center city, I went to Rock Church. Temppeliaukio Church is a Luthern church, designed by architects and brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969. It is called Rock Church because it is built directly into solid rock. It is worth the small admission price to enter.
Next, I went to Kamppi Center, a shopping complex in the center of Helsinki. This is a convenient place to grab lunch. In the Narinkka Square, you will notice the Kamppi Chapel. It is also known as the “Chapel of Silence” since it is intended to be a place to calm down and have a moment of silence in one of the busiest areas in Finland.
This ended by time in Finland since I had to get back on the cruise ship. However, if you have more time, I also recommend visiting Well Park, Observatory Hill, and Old Market Hall.