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.

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Overall, Finland has been ranked as the Happiest Countries in the World for seven years in a row and has 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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