One of my secrets to seeing as many places as possible is to try and get a longer layoverwhen you book your flight. This way you can knock out more than one place at the cost of one flight. When we were looking for our flight to Poland this summer (ps - you have to check out our blog posts about WYD, Zakopane and Warsawa for all the deets!) I found a flight that had a 24hr layover in Helsinki, Finland both ways. So I thought - why not?! I've never been to any of the Nordic countries so I didn't know what to expect. And I definitely didn't think I would fall in love with this adorable city. There's so much to love about this city and country so I figured I could share my top 15 reasons.
1. Ports - The city is located on the edge of Finland right on the Baltic Sea. In Helsinki you can sense the proximity of the sea everywhere, as the city has over a hundred kilometres of shoreline and around 300 islands in its archipelago. Maritime attractions are a must in the summertime!
3. Style - If i had to describe Helsinki in one work it would be "stylish". Finland’s world-renowned modern design heritage can be seen everywhere in Helsinki. We stayed at the Klaus K Hotel right in the center of the city. The designs and interiors were amazing - even my dad was amazed and loved it!
4. Daylight - One of the best things about summer in Helsinki is the long days. You have so much time on our hands to enjoy every bit of the city. One of the locals told us that there are 2/3 days during the middle of the summer in the northern part of the country where the sun does not set at all - how crazy is that!
5. Blueberries - Blueberries all day every day! Finland has an abundance of blueberries so of course the Finnish make almost everything out of them! We had delicious blueberry ice cream. There are all sorts of pastries, to chocolate and even just straight up blueberry juice! Soo much blueberry goodness everywhere!
6. Seafood - Being a port city, in Helsinki you can get the most delicious and fresh seafood you can imagine. If you love seafood as much as I do, this is definitely the city for you!
7. The Locals - Helsinki’s locals are extremely open and hospitable, and most speak English fluently, so don’t be afraid to ask us for advice. When we were taking the train to the airport, we originally had one the wrong the directions. Luckily one of the locals gladly helped us and point us in the right direction.
8. Transportation - Although it is a treat to see the city on foot, Helsinki is also very well connected via the tram system. Not only are the trams very efficient and every, they are also very charming and make navigating the city a breeze!
9. Serenity - One thing that definitely struck out at me was the quietness of the city. Surprisingly, Helsinki is not very heavily populated. The roads are not extremely busy and the streets are not crowded.
10. Coffee - The Finnish loove their coffee, and they make it almost as good as the Italians! It's probably due to the long and cold winters they have to endure, but be sure to step into a coffee shop - you won't be disappointed!
11. Market Square - In the heart of the city and right on the Baltic sea is the central market square. Here you can find vendors who sell everything from delicious Finnish food, flowers to had crafted souvenirs. I definitely purchased some gorgeous sweaters and socks. They also sell a clothing with beautiful food. Talk about a full day of shopping!
12. Spas & Saunas - Being the capital of Finland, it should be no surprise that Helsinki has some great public saunas. There’s no better way to get to the heart of the Finnish identity! Unfortunately we did not get a chance to visit them but it's on my list for the next time for sure!
13. Architecture - The At Nouveau buildings are the highlight of the architecture of Helsinki including the grand Central Station and the imposing Kallio Cathedral. Be sure to also check out the Capital hill along with the Uspenski Cathedral - some pictures below. You can definitely see all the changing architectural styles of the past centuries.
14. Bicycles - I absolutely love and applaud cities that offer public bicycle rentals. I'm happy to see that more and more city across the world are offering this. Cycling is a great way of getting around the city and getting a taste of the local life.
15. Nature - Finland has the most water bodies and forestland of all European countries. This is definitely evident in Helsinki. There are parks everywhere!