Unique Places in Helsinki

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Helsinki

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    Suomenlinna

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jul 9, 2014

    One of the enjoyable things to do when visiting Helsinki is taking a trip to the fortress island of Suomenlinna. Suomenlinna means Finnish Castle.

    Construction of the fortifications of Suomenlinna began in 1748 when Finland was still part of Sweden. It was built to defend the area from much feared Russian expansionism. Augustin Ehrensvärd drew up the plans for the site. He was strongly influenced by the ideas of Vauban, the most important military engineer at that time.

    On Suomenlinna there is a submarine called Vesikko which has been converted into a museum. This submarine was launched in May 1933 in Turku. It was one of the five submarines to serve in the Finnish Navy.

    Nowadays Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a lovely spot for a stroll or a picnic.

    In the eighties in the winter apparently the sea would freeze over and you could walk or drive all the way to Suomenlinna. I would not have been brave enough to try though I do remember walking across areas of frozen sea.

    Suomenlinna Suomenlinna. A young me inside the Vesikko
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    Day trip to Turku

    by IreneMcKay Written Jul 8, 2014

    Turku is Finland's oldest town and was at one time the capital of Finland. You can get here from Helsinki by bus or train. It will take about two hours one way. Turku has an impressive castle dating from the thirteenth century and a large Lutheran Cathedral. Turku is located on the Aura River and the Baltic Sea.

    Turku Castle Turku Theatre.
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    Take a Day Trip to Porvoo

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jul 8, 2014

    Porvoo is a beautiful town about 50 kilometers east of Helsinki. It is located on the River Porvoo. It is filled with lovely old wooden buildings. It has a wonderful cathedral and a picturesque town hall. There are buses to Porvoo from Helsinki's Central Bus Station approximately every 15-30 minutes. Tickets cost around 12 Euros one-way and the journey takes around an hour. Porvoo is Finland's second oldest city.

    Porvoo Porvoo Porvoo Porvoo Porvoo
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    Sculptures

    by IreneMcKay Written Jul 7, 2014

    There were some sculptures in Helsinki I liked.

    One was "The Boxers". This shows two boxers fighting. It was modelled by Uuno Pitkä and Armas Wilkman from the Jyryn-Nyrkkelijät boxing club. It was created by Johannes Haapasalo in 1930. Haapasalo was trained by Auguste Rodin.

    Another I liked is of a horse and her foal. It is called "Maternal Love". It was sculpted by Emil Cedercreutz. It dates from 1927.

    Then there is the lovely bear sculpture which sits at the entrance to the Finnish National Museum.

    The Bear The Boxers Suomenlinna
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    Seurasaari

    by IreneMcKay Written Jul 7, 2014

    Another enjoyable day trip is a cruise to the island of Seurasaari where you can visit the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum. This is a skansen type museum displaying old wooden buildings from all over Finland.

    Seurasaari
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    The Tsarina's Stone

    by IreneMcKay Written Jul 7, 2014

    The Tsarina’s Stone is Helsinki's oldest public monument. It was erected in 1835 in honour of a visit by Tsar Nikolai I and Tsarina Alexandra. The monument is topped by a globe and a double headed eagle which was one of the emblems of the Tsars of Russia. This monument was taken down in 1917 when Finland became independent, but was put back up in 1971. It is located in Helsinki's harbourside market place.

    The Tsarina's Stone
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    Pretty Porvoo!!"

    by starship Updated Jun 29, 2014

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    A beautiful drive of only 50km or about a half hour's drive from Helsinki took us to the charming, old town of Porvoo, also known as Borga in Swedish. Travel by horse cart from Helsinki to Porvoo used to take many hours and perhaps a whole day. Now it is an easy drive on the E-18 highway, or you can arrive by bus or even by water. Porvoo dates from at least the 14th century and is Finland's 2nd oldest town brimming with abundant charm. An important trading center since the Middle Ages, it is especially beloved by writers and artists. The unique wooden buildings, cobblestone streets, shops, restaurants and attractions are made even more appealing by their location next to the river which is extraordinarily beautiful and peaceful.

    We didn't really have enough time to explore this peaceful, little haven but I did manage to pickup some information at the Tourist Office and stop for some of the best candy I've ever had made right in Porvoo at Brunberg Oy Candy Shop. You also find of interest the many Porvoo history Museums, the Cathedral, the poet, J.L. Runeberg's home and several art galleries to keep you entertained in Porvoo. Walking tours of Porvoo are held daily Monday through Friday beginning from the Town Hall Square, last about 1 hour and cost 6 Euros. Children are free. Don't miss taking advantage of the gorgeous countryside for hiking, fishing and boating. All types of accommodations are available in Porvoo, including the Provoo Youth Hostel, hotels, bed & breakfast, and guesthouses.

    Stop by the Tourist Office at 4 Rihkamakatu Street for information, calendars and maps. You won't be sorry you visited Porvoo. It really is a delight!

    A charming street scene of Porvoo The idyllic Porvoo River Tuomiokirkko, Porvoo Porvoo River & boathouses

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    Bodom lake

    by mindcrime Updated Aug 21, 2013

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    Probably the best moment for us in Helsinki was the evening we went for fishing at the Bodom lake!
    Bodom Lake(Bodominjärvi ) located at north suburbs of Espoo, 25km NW from Helsinki. Although there must be public transport a local friend took us there with his car.

    It was so relaxing looking at the beautiful landscape, having fun and of course eating the fishes afterwards right there next to the lake. It’s an ideal place for picnic. At the end we just waited for the sunset until we realized it was already midnight!...

    The lake is 3km in length and 1km in width, there’s a path next to the lake so you can walk a bit if you want to but also swim (the water seemed cold for us but locals didn’t have any problem), many people bring their tents and overnight there, we just stayed until midnight.

    For fishing you need a government licence (week, month or annual) and lake permission. hopefully we went there with a local so we didnt have to go through this.
    If you dont know anyone in Finland to help you send a message to VTer Akkipaa, check first his fishing tip here

    There’s a heavy metal band called Children of Bodom. They are from Espoo and named their band after the famous murders that took place in 1960 when four teenagers went to camp at the lake but three of them got murdered while they were sleeping.

    Bodom Lake fishing at Bodom Lake beach at Bodom Lake Bodom Lake
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    daytrip to Porvoo

    by mindcrime Written Aug 20, 2013

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    Porvoo is a small touristic town 50km east of Helsinki. We took the bus from Helsinki but you also go there by train or boat.

    From the bus station we walked uphill to the Old Town, visited the Cathedral and then down through the cobblestone streets we visited some small museums (Porvoo Museum and Holm house with the 6e combo ticket, there’s also a doll museum and some others) and then relaxed next to the river for a while.

    We went up the main bridge to take some pictures of the picturesque old red buildings and end up at a café next to the river for some beers. In general a nice easy half day trip from Helsinki, especially on a sunny summer day.

    Porvoo is Finland’s second oldest city after Turku. It was founded in 1346 by the Swedish king Magnus Eriksson, even today almost half of Porvoo population speaks Swedish and the cathedral is used by the evangelical Lutheran church of Finland and is the seat of the Diocese of Borga (Finland’s Swedish speaking diocese). The town got burnt by enemies twice, in 1508 by the Danes and in 1708 by the Russians. In 1721 Sweden lost Viborg from Russia and moved the episcopal seat in Porvoo. In 1808 Sweden cede Finland to Russia and in 1809 was singed in Porvoo the Diet of Finland when Czar Alexander guaranteed the inviolability of the Finnish constitution and Finland was declared an autonomous Grand Duchy. Most of the buildings we see today in Old Town date from 18th and 19th century. Porvoo became the birthplace of artists, the most popular are the sculptor Ville Vallgran (1855-1940) and the painter Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905), you can see works of them at Porvoo museum.

    red buildings at Porvoo Old Town in Porvoo river in Porvoo
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    Espoo Tapiola

    by mindcrime Written Aug 20, 2013

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    Ok, I have to admit that Espoo wasn’t high on our list. It is the second largest city in Finland with about 250,000 inhabitants located just west of Helsinki.

    Espoo was named after the river Espoo (espaa in Swedish language, meaning a river bordered by aspen). The oldest preserved building in Espoo is the cathedral that was built next to the river in late 15th century with the administrative center growing around the church.

    In early 20th century Espoo was just a rural municipality but grown rapidly after WWII with construction of new towns like Tapiola suburb. At that time Swedish speaking inhabitants were the majority but now it’s only 9% that speak Swedish language.

    Although the metro line will arrive in Espoo the upcoming years we took bus 105 from Kamppi bus station in Helsinki. Espoo is a bit confusing with several different regional centers so we asked the driver to stop at TAPIOLAN KESKUS, we dropped off walked 100m up where there was a mall with some café and restaurants at ground floor so we stopped there for a coffee break and then walked 300m up again we to visit EMMA(Espoo Museum of Modern Art) that is located at WeeGee center (it includes other museums too). If you like churches you may want to check St.Herman Alaskan church in Tapiola. Except Tapiola you may want to visit Keilaniemi for Nokia, Otaniemi for Aalto University etc

    As expected we didn’t get excited with Espoo, a big city with ugly buildings that seems boring for the average tourist and hard to navigate without a car so you better have a strict plan of what you want to see. Ok it’s an important business town but who really cares when on holidays, the only things that really worth are the parks and lakes outside the residential Espoo, then you will really enjoy the area, you can take one of the walking trails in Nuuksio National park (bus 28 from Leppävaara for southern part or bus 85A from Espoo Centre to Kattila for the eastern or northern parts) or visit some of the lakes, we visited Bodom lake where we had great time going fishing etc

    park in Espoo EMMA museum at EMMA

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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    Espoo

    by IreneMcKay Written Jul 14, 2013

    Espoo is not actually in Helsinki. It's one of the towns next to it. I lived here at one time. There's not much to see in Espoo though it does have some nice scenery and sea inlets and a lovely old cathedral.

    Espoo Cathedral is a mediaeval stone church in Central Espoo. It dates from the 1480s. The church became a cathedral in 2004. There is a pretty graveyard around the cathedral. There are some interesting frescoes on the cathedral walls.

    Espoo Cathedral Espoo Cathedral. Typical wooden building on the Espoonjoki river. Espoo Roses Espoo Roses
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    Trains to/from Russia

    by HORSCHECK Updated Apr 12, 2013

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    Helsinki's Central Train Station is served by three trains from Russia per day. Two of them serve St. Petersburg (Sibelius, Repin) and an over-night train (Tolstoi) serves Moscow.

    The arrival or departure of these trains is an interesting event for people watching. Especially the Russian carriage attendants in their uniforms are well worth taking a photo.

    Repin train to St. Petersburg Repin train to St. Petersburg Russian train officer
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    Tähtitorninmäki (Observatory Hill)

    by annase Updated Feb 28, 2013

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    In the centre of the park, on top of the cliff stands an observatory. It was designed by C.L. Engel and built in 1833. The site, which is called Tähtitorninmäki (Observatory Hill) provides a panorama of the whole city and the surrounding archipelago. You can also see the Market Square, Katajanokka island and the Suomenlinna sea fortress.

    Nearby is also the memorial of A.E. Nordenskiöld who was the explorer who discovered the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This is not just some minor trade route we are talking about, but seriously could save a lot money in the future if this route becomes navigable for commercial shipping!!!

    When you climb up the hill from the direction of the Market Square, you'll come across the memorial to the Hapsburg shipwreck victims, designed by Gunnar Finne in 1939. Right next to the memorial is the German church. If you follow the path closest to the shore, you'll see the bronze Statue of the Shipwrecked, designed by Robert Stigell in 1897.

    A memorial of A.E. Nordenski��ld The observatory Stairs leading to the hill A view towards the market square A view towards the Katajanokka island
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    Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

    by brazwhazz Written Nov 10, 2012

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    Just west of the city centre is Seurasaari Island, home to one of Finland's better-known open air museums. Founded in 1909, it has a wide collection of traditional Finnish houses, manors and outbuildings. Considering the size of the island, you will likely get hungry, thirsty or maybe just tired after or during) your exploration of Seurasaari. Fortunately, you can stop at the island's appropriately-themed cafe, set up in a small shed, and enjoy some traditional Finnish pastries and drinks or, better yet, bring a picnic.

    The site is open year-round, but you must purchase a ticket if you want to go inside the buildings (the highlight of which is undoubtedly the Kahiluoto Manor, home to a wealthy family in the late 17th/early 18th century).

    Seurasaari itself is open all year round, but the museum buildings are only open in summer: daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from June to August, and Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of September. Located 4 km from the city centre, it can be reached with bus 24 (stops on Mannerheimintie and Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu).

    Kahiluoto Manor Karuna Church Windmill
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    Arabia factory

    by brazwhazz Updated Nov 10, 2012

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    Arabia is a Finnish porcelain company that has been established in Helsinki since 1873. The old factory is still operational today, and you can visit the Arabia Museum on the 9th floor of the building.

    As part of the Helsinki Design Museum, the Arabia Museum focuses on the evolution of porcelain design over the course of Arabia's history and presents a large collection of items covering all periods.

    To complete your journey through Finnish design, there is an Iittala outlet beside the elevators where you can shop for home products made by some famous Finnish brands such as Iittala, Fiskars, Arabia and Hackman. In notoriously expensive Finland, the prices here are hard to beat.

    From the city centre, take tram 6 or 8 and get off at "Arabia," which is the last stop. As soon as you get off, you will recognize the building a little further ahead. The Arabia Museum is open Wednesday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (In the summer, it is also open Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.) The Iittala outlet is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday form 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..

    Arabia factory building Disney-themed porcelain on display
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