It pains me that some of my friends and even my own mother struggled to find enough things to do in just one day in Helsinki. If only they’d asked me; I’ve been to Finland’s capital thrice (four times now, as of December 2017) and it has a special place in my heart. As my itinerary below will show, 4 days in Helsinki is enough to take in the city sights, as well as those sights just beyond the city limits and even an international border.
What I love about Helsinki is the ease with which one can navigate the city on foot. For the visitor who has seen all the must-sees (the two major cathedrals, the rock church, Suomenlinna, the railway station and the Sibelius monument). a relaxing walk among the city’s early modern architecture can be very enjoyable. There are other routes on the internet that cover other bays and parks; mine follows the coast of the south harbour (Eteläsatama).
There was a time when I did not travel the world the way I do now – on a solo trip, planned independently and on a lean budget.
My adolescence did not involve hopping from one country to another, long stints as an exchange student or anything that set me apart from other kids in Singapore. Travel meant occasional family trips to Australia and one-off school visits to China and Thailand.
All of them were organised by the adults or guides who were paid to make the arrangements, and the people at our destinations spoke or wanted to practise languages that I understood. I never read up on the places beforehand or felt the need to do so.
That changed in 2006, and this is how the travel bug bit me. [Read on]
The island fortress of Suomenlinna lies off the coast of Helsinki. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by the Swedes, who call it Sveaborg, in the mid-1700s, then used by the Russians in the 19th century until Finland’s independence. Much of the military architecture which earned the site its heritage status is still present today.
The residents of Helsinki celebrate their city and the beginning of summer annually with Helsinki Day, even if the weather is unpredictable. Just the week before, people were basking in the 30-degree heat, but when I was in town sunshine alternated with rain and even hail. Still, that can’t dampen the spirits of people who endure long dark winters.
A myriad of activities was lined up for the whole week, but 12 June is always the highlight. You can view the full list of specials here, including free admission to public swimming pools and a Yurk-style sauna, and I picked a few that suited my packed schedule. [Read on]