Is Helsinki Worth Visiting? Thoughts on Finland’s Capital

Is Helsinki Worth Visiting? Thoughts on Finland’s Capital

So, you looked online and found affordable tickets to Helsinki. But you are wondering if the Finnish capital city is truly worth your time. Congrats, you have come to the right place! I will be happy to answer that for you because I spent three days in Helsinki with my child.

Helsinki in March, Allas Sea Pools in Background
Helsinki in March, Allas Sea Pools in Background

I will be honest, Helsinki wasn’t a part of my plan. I actually flew to India from Germany with Finnair. Considering my travel addiction, I couldn’t help but find a way to break my journey in Helsinki with a long layover – just because I wanted to visit a new country. (Long layovers are possible, and I have done this before with Turkey too!)

Planning a last-minute trip to Helsinki and not sure about what to book? I will help you, here are my super quick handpicked suggestions:

The canal cruise and the day trip to Nuuksio National Park were both sold out in my case because I waited till a week before my trip to book. 

Here are the hotels that you should consider booking:

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, stands as a testament to the country’s rich history, vibrant culture, and innovative spirit. From its days under Swedish and Russian rule to its current status as a modern European city, Helsinki offers a captivating blend of old-world charm and contemporary allure.

Let’s go over the specifics and the experiences that make Helsinki a great place to visit. I will also mention some drawbacks of visiting Helsinki – so that you can make an informed decision.

Water / Ice Around

Helsinki Cityscape with Frozen Sea all around, Helsinki Cathedral in the background
Helsinki Cityscape with Frozen Sea all around, Helsinki Cathedral in the background via Unsplash

Helsinki’s geography is quite unique. Nicknamed “The Daughter of the Baltic” or “The Pearl of the Baltic”, Helsinki is spread out over a peninsula and a whopping 315 islands. So there’s the sea all around and the time we visited, it was all frozen and the resulting landscape was strangely beautiful.

Helsinki city center itself is located on a southern peninsula called Helsinginniemi (“Cape of Helsinki”), which juts out into the Gulf of Finland. Interestingly, this southern peninsula is rarely referred to by its actual name and is often called Vironniemi (“Cape of Estonia”).

Helsinki City Center

My Child enjoying the area near Helsinki Market Square
My Child enjoying the area near Helsinki Market Square

Helsinki city center is a vibrant and walkable district that offers a variety of attractions for visitors. The major highlights of the city are right here and that’s why it is the perfect spot to start your Helsinki itinerary.

It is easy to reach Helsinki city center with tram lines 4 & 5, just get off at Tove Janssons Park station and start from there. You can also get on tram line 5H. If you are taking the metro, then get off at the “University of Helsinki” station.

Helsinki City Center with SkyWheel in the background
Helsinki City Center with SkyWheel in the background

All the city’s sights that are worth seeing are within walking distance from each other. Because I was here with my 5-year-old, I didn’t expect to see everything but I was surprised that we covered most of the things in our small walk in the city center.

If you decide to ride the SkyWheel (the giant Ferris Wheel), know that it is totally worth it. It moves slowly and you will see a lot of famous landmarks from up above and get an interesting bird eye view. We loved it!

Tram passing by the Helsinki Cathedral
Tram passing by the Helsinki Cathedral via Unsplash

There’s the Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki Cathedral, Senate Square, Market Square, SkyWheel Helsinki, Esplanade Park, Helsinki City Museum, the lovely Aleksanterinkatu Street, and Old Market Hall. The super popular Allas Sea Pools are also right here.

Walk around and enjoy the vibe of Helsinki in this area. You can get something to eat at Fazer Café Kluuvikatu or Market Square. You can easily spend a day here if you also include the SkyWheel and Allas Sea Pools. Consider enjoying the rooftop cafe and bar with a view at Allas Sea Pools.

If you visiting Helsinki in winter, then the Senate Square right here is the location for the Christmas Market.

Historical Landmarks & Architectural Marvels

Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki City Centre with my kid
Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki City Centre with my kid

If you enjoy exploring historical places and architectural marvels, then Helsinki will keep you busy. The city has enough iconic landmarks such as the Helsinki Cathedral, Senate Square, Sibelius Monument, and the Uspenski Cathedral, which showcases exquisite neoclassical and Orthodox architectural styles.

Don’t miss the chance to wander through Helsinki’s charming residential areas, where neoclassical buildings intertwine with modern design.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki, Finland
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki, Finland

What’s more, you can also embark on a journey to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here one can delve into centuries of Finnish military history while soaking in breathtaking views of the Baltic Sea. I talk more about this in my Helsinki with Kids post.

Finnish Saunas

Finland is famous for its sauna culture, and Helsinki is no exception. Visitors can experience the traditional Finnish sauna at public saunas like Löyly or Kotiharjun Sauna for a truly authentic cultural experience.

Below are some free public saunas in Helsinki where visitors can enjoy the traditional Finnish sauna experience:

  1. Löyly Public Sauna: While Löyly has a paid sauna section, it also has a free section where visitors can access the sauna experience without charge. Located near the waterfront in the Hernesaari district, Löyly is a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
  2. Kotiharjun Sauna: Kotiharjun Sauna is one of the few remaining traditional wood-fired public saunas in Helsinki. It has separate sauna sessions for men and women, and while there’s a fee for the sauna, on certain occasions, they offer free entry, typically on Saturdays for a couple of hours.
  3. Kulttuurisauna: Kulttuurisauna is a modern urban sauna located near the waterfront in the Merihaka district. While there’s usually an entry fee, they occasionally offer free sauna sessions as part of special events or promotions.
  4. Sompasauna: Sompasauna is a unique community-run public sauna located in the Sompasaari district. It operates on a donation basis, so while entry is technically free, visitors are encouraged to contribute to its upkeep if they can.

Consider visiting the Allas Sea Pools right by the water with an amazing view and warm saltwater pool.

Culture & Culinary Experiences

Helsinki Market Square
Helsinki Market Square

If you like experiencing new cultures and food, then Helsinki is an amazing place to find something for you. Immerse yourself in Finnish art, history, and culture at institutions like the Ateneum Art Museum, the National Museum of Finland, and the Design Museum. Discover the stories behind Finland’s fascinating past and its contributions to the world of design and art.

Foodies would love Helsinki’s vibrant Market Square for the Local Cuisine. No, it isn’t as elaborate as something in Asia but still you would enjoy indulging your taste buds. Sample local delicacies, fresh produce, and traditional Finnish treats. Don’t miss the chance to try hearty Finnish dishes like salmon soup, reindeer meat, and Karelian pastries.

Cafe Regatta in Helsinki
Cafe Regatta in Helsinki

Experience Helsinki’s thriving coffee culture by visiting cozy coffee shops scattered throughout the city. Whether you prefer a trendy café in the city center or a quaint spot tucked away in a residential neighborhood, Helsinki offers a perfect blend of caffeine and ambiance.

My favorite one was Cafe Regatta, which is a cozy waterfront coffee house with a lovely atmosphere.

As the sun sets, Helsinki’s nightlife comes to life, offering some options for entertainment and socializing. From chic cocktail bars to speakeasy-style clubs, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Finland’s capital.

Head to Trillby & Chadwick for amazing cocktails and an elegant vibe, Liberty or Death for a Speakeasy style experience, St. George Bar for an old-world charm, Sling In for a laid-back evening, and industrial-chic bar – Chapter for a stylish experience.

Green Spaces

Inside Lenin Park in Helsinki
Inside Lenin Park in Helsinki

Helsinki boasts an abundance of green spaces which are green only when the city isn’t under snow – so in summer months. We visited in March and all the parks were covered with snow. We didn’t mind because it gave us a Winter Wonderland feeling.

The Play Area with Musical Instruments near Sibelius Monument
The Play Area with Musical Instruments near Sibelius Monument

These green spaces include the sprawling Central Park and the picturesque Botanical Gardens, offering serene retreats amidst the bustling cityscape. Take a leisurely stroll, have a picnic, or simply unwind in these verdant oases.

One of the best play areas that we visited was near the Sibelius Monument and we were told that it is new. This spot had musical instruments that one could play.

Helsinki is Family Friendly

Play Area inside Helsinki Airport
Play Area inside Helsinki Airport

If you have seen my pictures on Instagram or have read my post about traveling to Helsinki with a kid, then you already know about this city’s family friendliness.

It starts right from Helsinki Airport where there are nice play areas, mama-baby toilets (with a small WC for toddlers), and free-to-use strollers among other things. If you get on public transport in Helsinki, children under 7 ride for free. Also, if the child is under 6 and is in a stroller, then one parent (not both) gets to ride for free too.

Sea Life Helsinki
Sea Life Helsinki

This isn’t all but the entire city has so many family-friendly attractions, parks, and things to do to ensure that your little travelers will have a good time.

Good Spot to Start Your Finland Trip

So who doesn’t have Northern Lights on their wishlist? Guess what, you can experience the magic of aurora borealis in Finland’s Lapland and that makes Helsinki a perfect starting point so that you can rest here for a day or so before moving north.

Moreover, you can also do small day trips from Helsinki. Venture beyond the city limits and embark on day trips to explore Finland’s pristine natural beauty. Visit Nuuksio National Park for hiking, Suomenlinna Fortress for historical insights, or the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum for a glimpse into traditional Finnish life.

I wanted to book a day trip to Nuuksio National Park but I waited till a week before my trip and I was shocked to see that it was sold out for the entire month. Also the same for a sightseeing canal tour on a boat.

Simple Public Transport

Inside a Tram with Helsinki HSL Card
Inside a Tram with Helsinki HSL Card

When you arrive in Helsinki, you can download the HSL app on your phone and buy day tickets based on the zones. I bought a 3-day ticket for zones A, B, C, and D. There isn’t much price difference in including more zones, and this way you can be sure that you won’t have to buy a separate ticket if you already didn’t include the zone.

If for some reason you aren’t able to buy from the HSL app, you can just head to one of the many kiosks with the “HSL” logo and buy a card at the counter.

Helsinki’s public transportation includes trams, metro, buses, and ferries. Together they make it very easy to navigate the city. I ended up using just trams and buses.

Now the HSL Card is just for public transport but if you are looking for a card that has it all, then get a Helsinki Card for not only convenient access to public transit but also discounts on attractions.

Happy People

Did you know that Finland has been awarded as the happiest place on earth year after year for the 7th time in a row? We all know that happiness is infectious and when you meet the happiest people, you will come back happier to your country. So, if that isn’t a valid reason for visiting Helsinki, I don’t know what is.

Drawbacks of Visiting Helsinki

Helsinki is a good destination but it isn’t the best destination in Europe. I will share some of the drawbacks you should consider before booking your trip, starting from the most obvious ones:

Cold and Extreme Weather

Sledge Ride on Frozen Seurasaarenselkä
Sledge Ride on Frozen Seurasaarenselkä

Due to its location, Helsinki is cold even in the summer months (usually). Some may hate it and others will love that the sun is visible almost around the clock from June to July.

In the North of Finland, you can also witness the Midnight Sun – a fascinating natural phenomenon inside the Arctic Circle where the sun doesn’t set beneath the horizon from May to August. It can be a bit confusing if you aren’t used to it.

If you are a winter person then it makes sense to visit Helsinki during Christmas time and fall in love with this city. But be prepared for very short days in winter. The sun rises around 9:00 am and sets around 3:30 pm. This can be a bit of a bummer if you’re hoping to do a lot of sightseeing outdoors.

For those who are seeking a warm destination, consider Portugal or Italy or Croatia instead. Or just fly somewhere in Asia, South America, or Africa.

Helsinki is Expensive

Helsinki is known for being one of the most expensive cities in Europe. You may find that accommodation, dining, and entertainment can be quite pricey compared to other destinations.

Limited Nightlife

While Helsinki has a growing nightlife scene, it may not be as lively or diverse as some other European capitals. Bars and clubs tend to close relatively early compared to cities like Berlin, Barcelona, or Budapest.

Practical Tips for Your Helsinki Adventure

Best Time to Visit: While Helsinki is enchanting year-round, the summer months (June to August) are particularly delightful, with longer days, warmer weather, and loads of outdoor events and festivals. I visited in March and some of the attractions like Linnanmäki Amusement Park were not yet open.

High Season Considerations: Keep in mind that the summer months are also the high tourist season, so be prepared for higher prices, especially for accommodation and tours. Alternatively, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn) for fewer crowds.

A few other destinations that you might want to consider visiting your small children are Amsterdam, Brussels, or Hamburg because there’s a lot to do.

Is Helsinki Worth Visiting?

In conclusion, Helsinki is a one-of-a-kind destination and isn’t for everyone. Many will love it and have the best time here but others might just hate it because of the extreme weather.

Nonetheless, the city is prepared to handle cold weather with saunas, cozy interiors, heated rooms, and ice skating rinks, and gives off a total winter wonderland vibe for a memorable experience.

Helsinki with Kids: What to do with Children in Helsinki

Helsinki with Kids: What to do with Children in Helsinki

When someone talks about traveling to Finland, most people think of Lapland, sleigh rides in the snow, Santa, and the Nothern Lights. Not many think of the Finnish capital city – Helsinki.

Confession time: Helsini wasn’t ever on my travel wish list, but I ended up having so much fun here when I visited with my 5-year-old girl.

Even though we visited in March with zero to minus degrees and frozen sea, we still had loads to do because Helsinki is definitely a children’s town.

Guess what, if you have to visit the Arctic Lapland region, then you will most likely have to spend a day or so in Helsinki because that’s where you will fly to from your country. We actually spent 3 days here in March 2024.

Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki City Centre with my kid
Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki City Centre with my kid

I wanted to visit the Lapland to see the Nothern lights but decided against it. I feel that experiencing the Nothern Lights won’t be easy with small children because they would have to stay awake at night to see them. Instead, if you decide to visit Finland with children, then you should get them to experience the sled rides with Santa. After all, as per Visit Finland, Santa Claus has his official address in Finland.

Introducing Helsinki

Helsinki is the capital of Finland and occupies a peninsula in the Baltic Sea with islands around it.

If you see the map of Europe, you will notice that Finland is between Sweden and Russia. The country also shares its border with Norway in the North. Finland is known for its arctic wilderness, ski resorts, and National Parks but Helsinki is very different.

Overall, Finland has been ranked as the Happiest Countries in the World for seven years in a row and has obviously some of the happiest people on earth. Happiness is contagious and when you meet the Finnish people, you will come back happier.

Helsinki is a lovely city with beautiful parks, green spaces, and many play areas where you and your child can enjoy the day.

Helsinki Public Transportation

Tram in Helsinki
Tram in Helsinki

Helsinki has an amazing network of trams, buses, and ferries. One of the best things about traveling with children in Helsinki is that public transportation is free if the children are less than 7 years of age.

Moreover, if you are traveling with a kid who is small enough to move around in a stroller, then you as a parent don’t need a ticket too because you get a free entry. But in the case of two parents, at least one needs a ticket. In this case, the child can’t be older than 6 years of age.

My daughter is 5 but she moves around on her own without a stroller (and I prefer it like this), so I bought a Helsinki HSL Card which can be used on public transport as per the zones. I bought one for Zones A, B and C.

Inside a Tram with Helsinki HSL Card
Inside a Tram with Helsinki HSL Card

You can buy the Helsinki HSL Card from Helsinki Airport or the Ticket Machines. I bought mine from a kiosk at the airport.

I didn’t buy the Helsinki Card because I wasn’t going to visit all the attractions, so it wasn’t going to be worth the price for me. But if you plan to visit 3 or more attractions, then you should consider buying this card.

What to Do in Helsinki with Kids

Skywheel Helsinki

Skywheel Helsinki
Skywheel Helsinki

Let me talk about the attraction that my 5-year-old loved the most. It is the Skywheel Helsinki, and it gives an amazing bird eye’s view of the lovely city.

It is like a massive Ferris wheel that moves at a very slow pace, so it isn’t scary for most children. The ride lasts for around 10-12 minutes so it feels worth its cost. You can pre-order Skywheel tickets here.

Skywheel is in the center of Helsinki and can be seen from a distance because of its massive size. The best time to ride it is definitely at sunset time but we were back at our hotel in the evening.

Inside Skywheel Helsinki
Inside Skywheel Helsinki

In my experience, the Skywheel is the perfect starting point for exploring Helsinki with kids because it is in the center of Helsinki, so is close to many other points of interest like the Allas Sea Pools, Senate Square, Market Square, and Uspenski Cathedral.

Market Square and Around

Helsinki Market Square
Helsinki Market Square

In my experience, small children don’t enjoy markets but I found Helsinkli’s Market Square to be a great place to hang out with my little girl. It was because of its proximity to the sea that she enjoyed this spot. Also, she had the opportunity to climb on the platform behind the market square to pretend she was the captain of a ship.

My Child enjoying the area near Helsinki Market Square
My Child enjoying the area near Helsinki Market Square

We did a quick round of the market, which is an open-air market. My daughter bought ear warmers for herself that she loved. There were plenty of food stalls selling sausages, soups, fried fish, fried calamari, and coffee.

Keisarinnankivi or the Stone of the Empress near the market square
Keisarinnankivi or the Stone of the Empress near the market square

The market square was lit up with cute fairy lights and with a backdrop of frozen sea and the Skywheel, it looked picture perfect. I could only imagine how nice it would look after the sunset.

Right at the Helsinki Market Square is also Keisarinnankivi, which means the stone of the empress and is the oldest public monument in Helsinki.

Sea Life Helsinki

Sea Life Helsinki
Sea Life Helsinki

Sea Life Helsinki is the perfect place to go with children on a cold or rainy day because it is indoors. It is a massive aquarium with many kinds of fish and sea creatures. My daughter enjoyed her time and we ended up being here for more than two hours.

I had bought my Sealife tickets on GetYourGuide, and so can you. This way you can ensure you have a slot during the busier months.

We saw clownfish (Nemo), sharks, electric eels, turtles, octopuses, seahorses, and many more creatures. We even participated in an interactive sting ray feeding session which was in English and Finnish.

Inside Sea Life Helsinki
Inside Sea Life Helsinki

All of the exhibits had loads of information about the sea creatures that one could read. So if you’re looking for an educational experience in Helsinki for your kid, this is it.

Sea Life also had a small indoor play area with a pirate treasure box and boat where my daughter played for a while and I took a break and sat on one of the nearby recliners. The entire area also had free WiFi, so it was perfect.

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Linnanmäki Amusement Park

Linnanmäki amusement park is right next to Sea Life and has rollercoasters, rides, a monorail, and a tower that offers panoramic views. It also has a funfair kind of game area. It is Finland’s largest amusement park.

Linnanmäki Amusement park in winter
Linnanmäki Amusement park in winter

Of course, like any amusement park, Linnanmäki also has multiple food options for children and grown-ups.

If you are traveling to Helsinki with multiple children in the summer months, this would be a perfect place to bring them because it would appeal to children of all ages. Older children can ride rollercoasters and small children can enjoy fun rides, this way they would be busy for many hours.

Sadly Linnanmäki Amusement Park wasn’t open when we visited, because it opens at the end of April each year and partially closes at the end of August. It remains open only on the weekends through the month of September, and October. The park closes at the end of October. It is a good idea to check the park calendar before you go.

Sibelius Monument & Play Area Around

Sibelius Monument in Helsinki with a kid
Sibelius Monument in Helsinki with a kid

Children don’t necessarily enjoy monuments but if there’s one they would like to see is surely this. Sibelius Monument is a sight to behold for children and grown-ups alike. It is made with 600+ steel pipes and looks like something that’s out of an alien movie.

It is good to know that the Sibelius Monument was made in the 1960s in respect of Jean Sibelius, a renowned Finnish musical composer, and the structure has a wave-like shape that represents music.

Walk around the Sibelius Monument, climb on the rocks, and see how the steel pipes look from many different angles. In our case, the entire area around the Sibelius Monument was covered with snow and it looked spectacular.

The Play Area with Musical Instruments near Sibelius Monument
The Play Area with Musical Instruments near Sibelius Monument

There are many play areas around the Sibelius Monument, and loved the newly built one with musical instruments. It said “Music made for the great outdoors”.

Cafe Regatta

Cafe Regatta is an adorable children-friendly cafe that’s near Sibelius Monument. I actually read about it on one of the travel guides and I saw the photos and realized that it is one of those places that I wouldn’t want to miss.

Cafe Regatta in Helsinki
Cafe Regatta in Helsinki

It is a red brick seaside cafe with a quaint atmosphere. It is known for its legendary hot chocolate with whipped cream on top – a perfect drink for cold days.

There is outdoor seating with fire pits where you can barbeque sausages that you buy from here. We actually sat inside because my little girl loved the cute window-side sitting area inside.

Hot Chocolate in Cafe Regatta in Helsinki
Hot Chocolate in Cafe Regatta in Helsinki

We ordered hot chocolate, croissants with Nutella, cinnamon buns, and coffee. I tried their salmon rice cake which was really good so I ordered another one.

It is worth noting that they didn’t have specialty coffees in Cafe Regatta – so no cappuccino or espresso but basic black coffee or milk coffee. I was pretty happy with my black coffee.

Honestly, even though Regatta Cafe had a handful of things, for us it was perfect. The cinnamon buns were super delicious and we ended up ordering everything twice.

Ice Skating or Ice Sledge Ride in Winter

Sledge Ride on Frozen Seurasaarenselkä
Sledge Ride on Frozen Seurasaarenselkä

Of course, summer has its perks but a winter wonderland like Finland is magical when the mercury dips below zero. Not just the Christmas Markets but you can enjoy activities specifically designed for enjoying frozen lakes or seas.

We visited Cafe Regatta at the end of the winter months so the Seurasaarenselkä waterfront area around was completely frozen and we were able to enjoy sledding on the frozen sea right outside the cafe. It was my little girl’s favorite experience here.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress

Take a short ferry ride to Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated on a cluster of islands just off the coast of Helsinki. Suomenlinna is an 18th-century inhabited sea fortress spread over eight islands not far from the city center of Helsinki.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki, Finland
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki, Finland via Unsplash

Kids can roam freely through the fortress tunnels, explore the picturesque surroundings, and enjoy a picnic overlooking the sea.

To reach the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, you need to get on the ferry from Market Square, opposite the Presidential Palace.

You can pre-book your Ferry Ride to Suomenlinna and a walking tour on GetYourGuide.

If you did buy the HSL card with all the zones, you don’t have to buy the ferry tickets. The ferry ride to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is serviced by HSL. The ride is for around 15 minutes and runs a few times every hour.

Suomenlinna Toy Museum

When you go to Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, don’t forget the Suomenlinna Toy Museum which is on the same island just 400 meters away from the fortress.

Suomenlinna Toy Museum
Suomenlinna Toy Museum via Unsplash

The Soumenlinna Toy Museum has toys from the time before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some of the toys date back to the 1830s. This private collection of toys is from Finland, so they showcase the life and culture of the country.

The entry price for Suomenlinna Toy Museum is 7 € for adults and 3 € for children.

Allas Sea Pools

Allas Sea Pools in Helsinki
Allas Sea Pools in Helsinki

Allas Sea Pool is an interesting swimming area with multiple pools that most children would love. You can find an open-air warm pool with 27°C water, a seawater pool, and a children’s pool. It also has a sauna but I wouldn’t take my kid there. You can rent towels, slippers, and a bathrobe here if you forget to carry them. But I recommend you carry your own to save money.

Open all year round and also till late, Allas Sea Pool is actually an amazing place to experience sunset in Helsinki and see the beauty as the sky darkens and the soft lights glow. There’s also a rooftop bar with amazing views.

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The Allas Sea Pools are in the heart of Helsinki and are easy to reach with public transport. It is right next to Skywheel, the giant Ferris wheel.

Helsinki in March, Allas Sea Pools in Background
Helsinki in March, Allas Sea Pools in Background

Actually, my daughter really wanted to go but I decided not to take her because she was already sneezing and I didn’t want her to get a temperature shock in an outdoor pool with the frozen sea around. Honestly, I really wanted to go too and I would come back to Helsinki just to spend half a day at Allas Sea Pool.

Helsinki Zoo

Helsinki Zoo, situated on the picturesque island of Korkeasaari, is a beloved attraction for both locals and visitors to Finland’s capital city. Founded in 1889, Helsinki Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world and is dedicated to promoting wildlife conservation, education, and research.

Spanning over 22 hectares of lush natural landscapes, Helsinki Zoo is home to over 150 animal species from around the globe. Visitors have the opportunity to observe a diverse array of creatures, including polar bears, snow leopards, lynxes, reindeer, and exotic birds.

One of the zoo’s most notable features is its commitment to providing spacious and naturalistic habitats for its animal residents. Through carefully designed enclosures and enrichment programs, Helsinki Zoo strives to ensure the well-being and welfare of its inhabitants while also offering visitors a glimpse into their natural behaviors and habitats.

In addition to animal exhibits, Helsinki Zoo offers a range of educational programs, guided tours, and special events for visitors of all ages. From children’s workshops to guided animal feedings, there are plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning and exploration.

For those looking to enjoy a leisurely day out in nature, Helsinki Zoo’s scenic location on Korkeasaari Island provides the perfect backdrop for a family picnic or a relaxing stroll along wooded pathways and coastal trails. The zoo is easily accessible by ferry from the city center, making it a convenient and memorable destination for visitors of all ages.

Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a fun day out with the family, Helsinki Zoo offers an unforgettable experience filled with adventure, discovery, and conservation. Plan your visit today and embark on a journey to explore the wonders of the animal kingdom in the heart of Finland’s capital.

Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre

Spark your child’s curiosity with a visit to the Helsinki Science Center, where interactive exhibits and workshops explore themes ranging from technology to the natural world.

Heureka offers a dynamic and interactive environment where children can explore, discover, and learn through hands-on experiences. This science museum sparks curiosity in children by presenting scientific concepts in a fun and engaging manner. From interactive exhibits to immersive demonstrations, every corner of Heureka is designed to captivate young minds and inspire a lifelong love for learning.

At Heureka, children don’t just observe – they actively participate in the learning process. Whether they’re conducting experiments in the laboratory, exploring the wonders of space in the planetarium, or unraveling the mysteries of the human body in the biology zone, kids are encouraged to touch, play, and experiment to deepen their understanding of science.

While experiencing the interactive exhibits, children are encouraged to ask questions, make observations, and draw conclusions. There are plenty of fun permanent exhibitions and seasonal temporary exhibitions that you can enjoy. You might just end up spending a whole day here.

Helsinki Parks

Inside Lenin Park in Helsinki
Inside Lenin Park in Helsinki

Helsinki has many green spaces and public parks that you can enjoy with your kid. Honestly the time we visited, the parks were covered with snow and the experience was truly magical.

We walked through Lenin Park which was hilly and there were walking trails and a frozen pond. Lenin Park is also famous for its sunset views but we obviously couldn’t experience it.

You can also visit the Helsinki Central Park. With vast green spaces, playgrounds, and nature trails, it’s the perfect place for outdoor adventures with the whole family.

Bonus: What to do with Children at Helsinki Airport

Helsinki Airport has been thoughtfully designed keeping children in mind. I don’t think I have seen an airport that’s as kid-friendly as the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

Play Area inside Helsinki Airport
Play Area inside Helsinki Airport

Helsinki airport has two play areas – one is at Gate 16 and the other is at Gate 20. Both these Play Areas have cafes right there so you can quickly grab something to eat while your kid plays. You would still be able to see them from the cafe. What’s more, is that these play areas also have a place to sit for the parents and the information display screen right there too. Super thoughtful.

If you are a Christmas Enthusiast, you will be happy to know that the Helsinki Airport has an adorable Christmas Cabin that you can visit with your children.

Christmas Cabin inside Helsinki Airport
Christmas Cabin inside Helsinki Airport

Another amazing thing about Helsinki Airport is the availability of strollers. When you arrive at Helsinki Airport, you will see metallic strollers or trolleys where your little one can sit and you can also hang your bag on it. Now I have seen strollers for children at many airports but still, it is always a nice feeling to find these when you need them.

I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the toilet at the Helsinki airport because I found a booth that was specially designed for mother and child, with two WCs, two wash basins, and two hangers for clothes – and they were perfectly sized.

The baby toilet was super cute and small. As a mother who often travels with a 5-year-old, I hate tiny public toilets where I have to stand with my little girl. I always let her go first, and sometimes it isn’t easy holding my bladder as she takes her own time. So in that sense, I loved the idea of a mama and child toilet.

The mother and baby toilet wasn’t marked so if you go to the women’s toilet area, you have to open several cubicles till you find this one.

Where to Eat in Helsinki with Children

La Baguette Coffee Shop Helsinki
La Baguette Coffee Shop Helsinki

I found loads of Pizza places and cafes with chocolate waffles or pancakes – which are always a big hit with children.

We highly enjoyed La Baguette Coffee Shop near Sealife Helsinki where my little girl had the tastiest chocolate pancake and I had a sandwich with coffee. It was affordable, cozy, and felt like home.

Where to Stay in Helsinki with Children

Our room at CheapSleep Hostel
Our room at CheapSleep Hostel

Helsinki isn’t cheap but I found an affordable place for us to stay that was [perfect for us. We booked a private room in CheapSleep Hostel and had the best time there.

We had a nice spacial room with a bed and a desk. We had two windows and a nice view of the outside.

It was the first time that I was staying in a hostel with my child and I realized how perfect it was because of the common area, the games, the kitchen, and the social scene. We also had a memorable game night where we played UNO and my daughter had a lot of fun.

The view from our room at CheapSleep Hostel Helsinki
The view from our room at CheapSleep Hostel Helsinki

I’d like to mention that we had a shared toilet at CheapSleep Hostel but we didn’t have a problem with that because it was near the room and always clean.

The location was perfect because there was a direct bus to the airport from there. Also, there was a tram stop right outside the hostel. This was another reason why I had booked a room here.

Closing Thoughts

As someone who travels often with a kid, I’d like to mention that you should be prepared to travel slowly. Do yourself a favor and don’t include just only children-specific things to do in your Helsinki itinerary. Let them appreciate monuments (like the Sibelius Monument in this case) or culture at open-air markets. Create an itinerary with a good mix of things and not just museums and educational attractions.

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