With its seafront location, striking architecture, and thriving arts scene, Helsinki is one of the coolest Nordic cities. The Finnish capital is a port of call on northern Europe and Baltic cruises, and provides a starting point for trips north to Lapland. Highlights of the city range from the grand ‘Rock Church’ to island fortresses and bustling food markets. Guided tours of Helsinki offer travelers insight into Finnish culture, design, and cuisine, and avoid language hassles when dealing with transportation. For those wanting to explore further, boat cruises run around the city’s canals and the islands of the Helsinki archipelago, while regular ferries shuttle day-trippers to Tallinn in Estonia.
From the 19th-century Helsinki Cathedral to the Kamppi ‘Chapel of Silence,’ Helsinki has no shortage of magnificent churches. The Temppeliaukio Church—or ‘Rock Church’—is the most unusual, carved out of solid rock and capped with a dramatic copper dome. Visitors can attend a service or simply admire the unique architecture from both inside and out. A daytime visit is recommended to fully appreciate the effect of natural light on the interior.
Clients craving flexibility should consider this hop-on hop-off bus experience. It includes a choice of a 24- or 48-hour pass, and makes 18 stops around the city, including Temppeliaukio Church, Senate Square, and the cruise port.
Ideal for time-crunched visitors, this tour maximizes time with airport pickup, flexible departure times, a comprehensive city tour, and a choice of airport or hotel drop-off.
This tour covers more ground than a walking tour, with plenty of stops and photo opportunities at landmarks like the Olympic Stadium, Töölö Bay, Temppeliaukio, and Finlandia Hall.
Learn more about Temppeliaukio Church tour options here.
The navigational heart of the city, Helsinki’s Market Square is buzzing with life at all times of day and night. The square looks out over the harbor, making it a popular stop on walking tours, while ferries to the islands leave from the waterfront. The star attraction is the Old Market Hall, which hosts the city’s oldest and most popular food market (daily except Sundays), selling everything from fruits and vegetables to fresh seafood and delicious street food.
Food-lovers should consider this tour, which focuses on Finland’s cuisine and culinary heritage. Clients will enjoy tastings of regional specialties like reindeer meat, cloudberry jam, and candies.
This bus tour lets travelers explore at their own pace, following a route that covers all the top attractions and providing on-board commentary.
For clients needing little more attention, this comprehensive introduction to Helsinki is limited to a group size of 10 people, meaning more personal attention from the guide.
See more Market Square tour options here.
Standing watch over Helsinki’s southern coast, the island of Suomenlinna is best known for its imposing sea fortress. The 18th-century Suomenlinna Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and reachable only by boat—a scenic 15-minute cruise from the mainland. On arrival, guided walking tours take in highlights such as the Dry Dock, the Church Park, and the Great Courtyard. There are also six museums to explore including the Suomenlinna Museum, the Military Manege, and the submarine Vesikko.
Your clients can enjoy a personalized experience on this private tour, which includes a round-trip ferry to the island and plenty of time to explore the fortress.
Clients comfortable traveling on their own should consider the Helsinki Card. Available for 24, 48 or 72 hours, it includes ferries and admission to Suomenlinna Fortress, letting visitors explore at their own pace.
Ideal for visitors that want to see Suomenlinna Fortress without heading ashore, this cruise affords fantastic views of Helsinki’s islands and waterfront landmarks from the water.
See more Suomenlinna tour options here.
Just an hour north of Helsinki, the traditional town of Porvoo is one of the oldest in Finland. The atmospheric town offers ample photo opportunities with its remarkably preserved medieval Old Town, brightly painted wooden houses, and scenic riverfront. Although buses do run to Porvoo, the quickest and most convenient way to visit is as part of a guided day trip from Helsinki. Most tours include a walking tour of the town’s historic monuments.
Ideal for those on a budget or short on time, this walking tour of Porvoo Old Town includes round-trip coach transportation and is limited to a group size of 10 people.
For the best of both worlds, clients may want to consider this bus tour that combines Helsinki’s top attractions with a visit to Porvoo. It includes all transportation, plus hotel pickup.
Some clients prefer a little time on their own, and this private tour allows them to explore Porvoo both with and without a guide. It includes hotel pickup and round-trip transportation by private vehicle.
See more Porvoo tour options here.
Things to Know
When to Visit
Summer is the most popular time to visit, when the Midnight Sun means up to 20 hours of daylight—perfect for sightseeing. Winter temperatures can drop to 22 °F (-6 °C), but visitors can see dazzling illuminations and Christmas markets.
Many of the central sights are within walking distance, but there’s also an extensive public transport network. A Helsinki Card offers unlimited travel on the city’s public buses, trams, subway, and ferries.
Helsinki is one of Europe’s most expensive cities, but tipping is generally not expected. In restaurants, it’s customary to round up the bill, but most local establishments include the service charge in the bill.
Things to Bring
The coastal winds can be chilly even in summer, so dress in layers and bring something warm for the evening. Sunscreen is also a must—the proximity to the equator means UV rays are even stronger.
What the Locals Know
The Kallio neighbourhood is the best place to head after dark, with some of the city’s coolest bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and live music venues.