This article is about the most visited attractions of the Finnish capital. Besides taking a walk in the city center, there are few specific attractions you can not miss! These are the places that you will find in any travel guide, the must-see spots when visiting Helsinki.
The first one is the heart of the capital- the Helsinki Cathedral. It is a bright white symbol of the city, situated in the center and surrounded by historical buildings. Do not hesitate to wander around Senate Square and take a break on the stairs leading to the cathedral. Locals do that a lot. In the middle of the square, you can see a monument dedicated to Aleksander II. However, I find the statues surrounding him more interesting, the allegoric figures illustrating the Law, Labor, Peace, and Light.
The next place is just a short walk towards the seashore from the Helsinki Cathedral. I am talking about the Market Square, the liveliest and most scenic part of the city center. Besides the traditional culinary and handmade souvenirs, there are other interesting things around the square. The most noticeable is probably a SkyWheel, from where you can observe the city from 40 meters above the ground. Besides ordinary cabins and a VIP-cabin, there is also a usual Finnish detail: a sauna cabin! Booking the sauna cabin goes with a hidden jacuzzi on the shore so that you can take your time...and bath brooms.
Right next to the SkyWheel, you can find Allas Sea Pool. It is a bar, a restaurant, a concert place, and all that is crowned with outdoor pools. As you can figure out from the name, one of the pools has actual seawater, so the temperature of that pool depends on a season. Of course, there is also a usual warm pool nearby, so you can chill and warm your bones at once. Since we are in Finland, no pool goes without a sauna. The best part of the Allas Sea Pool is, of course, the view of the city center, especially in the evenings, when Helsinki is illuminated with lights, reflected in the sea. Even if you are not interested in visiting the Allas Sea Pool for a pool or bar experience, you can still come up to a terrace for the magnificent view.
One more place where you can continue from a Market Square is Suomenlinna. On my must-see places list, this would be a pick number one. Suomenlinna is a sea fortress covering few islands of Helsinki's archipelago. It is a stunning place where nature and history meet. You will find tunnels, museums and a scenic seashore for a picnic. Even spending just one day in Helsinki, I recommend going to Suomenlinna. You can make it a short 2 hours trip or spend a half-day there if you have more time on your itinerary.
One more spot to see, and a number two on my list, is the Temppeliaukio Rock Church. The name has nothing to do with the rock music, but with a big rock, that this church was excavated into. You can hardly recognize it as a church from the first sight; it rather looks like a cave inside a big rock. Besides having an unusual interior, the bare rock walls provide magical acoustics. So if you are in a town at the time when Temppeliaukio Rock Church holds any concert, try not to miss it. Believe me, it is worth the ticket price. The atmosphere inside the temple is very enchanting, and you can also go up a balcony area to have a better view. Temppeliaukio Church is easily reachable by foot from the city center.
The last, but not least, comes a place a bit further from the city center, but still a very famous attraction of Finnish capital, the Sibelius Monument. This one is located in Sibelius Park, a bit less than 3 kilometers from the center. The monuments are made of hundreds of pipes merged into a shape of a wave. I know it sounds weird, so you just have to see it. The best thing about this monument, in my opinion, is that you can walk right under it, or why not put your head inside one of the pipes for a cool wind sound effect. The face of a famous Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius, is also sculptured on the rock nearby.
I, personally, like the place, where the Sibelius Monument is situated. It is a beautiful park, right on the seashore, connected by walking trails to so many places. You can naturally find many people jogging or walking their dogs in this area. If you decide to walk there from the center, you can also pass a cemetery. It does not include any significant monuments, and it is a very simple and accurate place. But in the Christmas season, it is full of small lanterns and looks like a field of light, a very peaceful place to remember those who left us. If you are walking to Sibelius Monument in the summer, pack your swimming suit and visit a beach, that we call "Hietsu," it is gonna be on your way. Hietaranta beach is a popular summer destination, not so far from the city center, and a known volleyball place. If you are short on time, you can always hop on a tram finding your way to Sibelius Monument with public transport.
Being in this area, there is one more attraction to visit: a known Regatta cafe. It is right on the seashore, a few-minute walk from the monument. It is a small traditional red wooden house with cute design ideas. In Cafe Regatta, you can taste a local cinnamon bun, grill a sausage on an open fire and enjoy a beautiful sunset from the seashore. Don't forget to look around inside the cafe; you will get surprised by small details, like shoes hanging from the ceiling. In cafe Regatta, there is also a possibility to rent kayaks, sup-boards, or a rowing boat.
All the places I mentioned are easily visited in one day. Most of them, like Tuomiokirkko Church and Temppeliaukio Rock Church, the Market Square with all the cool places around it, are reachable by foot. You will have to take a 10-minute ferry ride from Market Square to visit stunning Suomenlinna, and you can walk around 3 kilometers or take a tram to find your way to the famous Sibelius Monument. If you decide to do that, don't forget to visit Cafe Regatta.
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