Finland: Visiting Helsinki And Beyond

Finland: Visiting Helsinki And Beyond

Written By: Claire Bear

Just having come back from Finland for a two week holiday, I still cannot get out all of the activities out of my mind -- I went over the Christmas holiday and was mesmerized from the moment I stepped off my plane. Like many other Scandinavian countries in the winter, there was snow everywhere – a true winter wonderland! I am already planning a return trip during the summer months to see all of the lush greenery and outdoor destinations that I didn’t have a chance to see my first time.

I spent a good portion of my trip exploring Helsinki before I navigated to the outskirts and explored some of winter landscape that stretched beyond the city limits. I thought I would put together a small guide on visiting Helsinki and sharing some of the things that I went to do during my holiday. Like many other countries, one trip to Finland is just not enough to get a true understanding of the beauty and tranquility that the untouched surroundings offer. Since it was my first trip to the country, I decided to spend most the time in the city getting to know locals and seeing what culture was like -- next time I’ll be venturing out more into the wilderness to appreciate the serene nature throughout the rest of the country.

EXPLORING HELSINKI

As I started to explore the city, I realized that there was quite a variety of cuisine and culture featured throughout. While many of the attractions and festivals take place in Finland during the summer months, I was still able to appreciate everyday life and points of interest even though I visited over the holidays. Another good thing about visiting during the winter is that attractions are less crowded so you get more of an idea what the city is like without all the tourists.

As soon as I arrived to Helsinki from the airport I put my bags in the hotel and then just stepped out onto the street and started to explore. The town is beautiful and full of architecture interest so it was really easy to stroll around and just taken all of the surroundings. I visited the Temppeliaukio Church, which had gorgeous copper roofing and expansive ceilings -- truly mesmerizing once you stepped inside. You can visit this church for free, so it’s perfect if you are on a budget or have limited time.

After visiting the church, I stepped into a café where I was able to enjoy one of the specialties which was herring and rye bread. Many of the food options are sourced from farms and fisheries, so I definitely had to try some of farmhouse cheeses which were exquisite and quite a treat. I spent the rest of my first day in Helsinki just walking around and taking pictures -- I had a small tour book with me so as I walked along I could get an idea of some of the history and culture behind many of the public works of art or attractions as I came upon them.

The next day the weather was gloomy and cold so I used it as an opportunity to visit one of the museums, the Finnish National Gallery. There are so many stunning landscape paintings within the Gallery and you can easily visit different aspects of the museum if you’re short on time. Escaping into the Gallery while it was starting to snow was just so perfect and I really soaked up the entire atmosphere.

VISITING A FINNISH SAUNA

While I was there, I happened to talk to one of the gallery docents and they recommended that I visit one of the saunas, which I understand are very central to life in Finland. The docent recommended that I go to the Yrjönkadun Uimahalli, which sits in a stunning 1920s Art Deco building.

While many of us in North America consider a trip to a sauna as one of those luxurious treatments we get during a day spa, in Finland it’s much more of a part of daily life -- which I can completely get on board with! One of the visitors at the sauna were very kind and gave me a short introduction to what I can expect at the sauna -- the water was beautifully fragrant with rose leaves and oil, which just created a spectacular experience. After that day, I spent as much time as I could soaking up the ambience at the sauna before my trip home.

Even though I did not have a very set itinerary to visiting Helsinki, I got in many of the cultural staples of this beautiful country and I cannot wait to go back!

Related Links
Countries: Finland
Cities: Helsinki
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