It is easy to overlook the capital of Finland as a destination when planning a weekend trip with family or friends. What can you really do in Helsinki? Exciting shopping, sauna, rooftop pool and great architecture are just some of the city’s major attractions. Here are 5 reasons why you should visit Helsinki.

Aleksanterinkatu in Helsinki.
Aleksanterinkatu: The famous shopping street in Helsinki offers several designer and chain stores. Photo: Helsinki Marketing

Helsinki is a small, beautiful and exotic city where you can experience most of the attractions on foot. Jump on tram lines 2 or 3, known as the tourist lines, and take your own sightseeing tour around the city without getting tired feet.

Easy to get around: Public transport in the city is very easy to use, cheap and takes you almost anywhere in the city. We recommend buying a City Pass in the mobile app for HSL, which gives you unlimited travel by tram, bus, subway and ferry for 48 hours for 13.50 € or for 24 hours for 9.00 €. If you plan on seeing most of Helsinki’s attractions during a single weekend, it’s worth getting The Helsinki card, which will allow you to get free access to museums and sights in the area.

1. Sauna, pool and cocktails on top of the city

Pool on the roof: Jump in the heated pool overlooking the city at Clarion Hotel Helsinki.

How does a morning swim with a view out over the city sound? At the top of Clarion Hotel® Helsinki and 78 metres above ground level you will find a heated pool all year round. From the pool you can see not only the whole city, but also down the building. The floor of the outer edge of the pool is made of glass. Do you dare walk out and look down? After a swim on the city’s roof you can relax in the saunas, where you also have a wonderful view of Helsinki. End the evening at the hotel’s Sky Room with DJ’s, fresh cocktails and good atmosphere.

Wine and dine: have dinner at The Social Bar & Bistro

View of the city: Cocktails, music, good atmosphere AND amazing views? Yes – you really must visit the Sky Room.

Roof terrace: Watch the sunset from the roof terrace at Clarion Hotel Helsinki.

2. The best shopping in Helsinki

Shopping in the streets, at malls or at outlets. Here from Marimekko’s design outlet. Photo: Jussi Hellsten

If you are fond of shopping then you will be delighted with the opportunities in Helsinki. The city has several shopping centres, shops and markets that can satisfy all your shopping needs. Aleksanterinkatu and Esplanadis are considered to be the best shopping streets, where you will find designer and chain stores like Zara, H & M, Samsøe & Samsøe, Tiger of Sweden and Mango.

For the shopaholic: If you are going shopping first, you should visit the Stockmann warehouse. Choose from 120 shops, spread out over 6 floors. If you take your passport, you can collect a tourist discount card from Visitor Service that gives you a 10% discount on all regular items you buy at the centre for one day.

For the design enthusiast: In the design district, located in the centre of Helsinki, you will find everything from design and antique shops, clothing stores, museums, art galleries and restaurants. If you are fond of design, the Punavuori, Kaartinkaupunki, Kamppi and Ullanlinna areas are the places to go. Here you will find both lesser-known design products and established brands such as Marimekko and Iittala. Buying souvenirs with Moomin trolls on them is also obligatory if you go to Helsinki!

3. See the unique and beautiful architecture in Helsinki

The Helsinki cathedral. Photo: Stephanie Owusu/Strawberry

Senate Square and Helsinki Cathedral: The well-known Helsinki Cathedral is the crowning jewel of the Senate Square / Senaatinori. Fun Fact: The Senate Square and the Cathedral have featured in several Hollywood movies, where it has played the role of the Russian city of St. Petersburg. Take a trip to the Kamppi Chapel and don’t forget to bring your camera. The architectural masterpiece has a unique, bent and soft shape, constructed in wood.

Temppeliaukio – ”Rock Church”: The half underground church is carved out of a mountain and is one of Helsinki’s main tourist attractions. Inside you will find a sumptuous, modern interior with a copper wire roof. You really must actually see it for yourself. Note that the Rock Church has varying opening hours for visitors, so check them in advance.

Löyly: A modern design sauna located on the pier overlooking the sea. The Finnish sauna experience at Löyly is topped off with a swim in the ocean, whatever the season, and then, afterwards, dining on good food and fine drink in the restaurant. Pack your swimwear and come on along!

The Temple Square church has 180 vertical window panes that let in the sunlight and provide an easy and airy mood. Photo: Helsinki Marketing

Kamppi Chapel: Take a break from Helsinki’s busy city centre and relax in this unique chapel. Photo: Stephanie Owusu/Strawberry

Löyly: Three separate sauna rooms that can seat up to 600 people. Photo: Pekka Keranen

4. Have a drink on the SpåraKOFF pub-tram

For those who want a little special twist on the transport, we can recommend a trip to the historic SpåraKOFF pub-tram. During summer, the tram runs past the city’s main sights with bartenders, tourists and locals aboard. Have a drink and enjoy the view of Helsinki!

5.Sing your heart out in Helsinki

When you google "Karaoke Helsinki", you’ll get 3.85 million hits in just 0.45 sekunder. So yes, the Finns enjoy more than just working up a sweat in a hot sauna! Many of the bars are open until late and have a great choice of both English and Finnish songs for you to try.

Wallis Karaoke Bar in HelsinkiWallis Karaoke Bar in Helsinki.

Read more: 10 groovy karaoke bars in Helsinki.

Where to stay in Helsinki

In 2019, we welcomed 10 new hotels in Helsinki to our hotel family! View all our hotels in Finland here.

Play board games, pinball, relax and enjoy refreshing drinks in the Living Room at Clarion Hotel Helsinki. Photo: Stephanie Owusu/Strawberry

Centrally located: Clarion Hotel® Helsinki is a beautiful and modern hotel, completely new from 2016. The hotel has a relaxation area with sauna, rooftop pool, fitness room and restaurant The Social Bar & Bistro. The Sky Room is located at the top of the hotel and is a popular venue for both hotel guests and locals.

Clarion Hotel® Helsinki: Very near Helsinki’s city centre, shops and nightlife.

Near the airport: However, if you want to stay close to the airport, Clarion Hotel® Aviapolis is located in the new Aviapolis district, two miles from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. This hotel is also brand new from 2016, with a restaurant and relaxation area – with sauna, of course.

Clarion Hotel® Aviapolis: The hotel near the airport has 258 beautiful rooms. How about booking the Junior Suite on the photo?

Stay at the exclusive boutique hotel: If you are looking for exclusivity, boutique and design, you will find Hotel F6 just off the famous Esplanade Park the ideal place. The hotel has 66 uniquely designed hotel rooms with the most beautiful beds, and in the morning the breakfast is cooked right in front of you in the open kitchen.

Hotel F6: The boutique hotel F6 has nice hotel rooms, but also a well-known bar named after the hotel’s own French Bulldog, Runar.

Are you ready to book your next Helsinki weekend? See all of our hotels in the Finnish capital.

Learn more

Helsinki’s best – restaurants, bars and saunas. Get an overview here!

Popular vegetarian restaurants in Helsinki.