As you approach Helsinki on your cruise itinerary make sure your camera is ready to roll. The Finnish port has always been enormously popular on Baltic cruises with nearly 300 cruise ships and up to 400 000 cruise passengers visiting every year.
Without realising it, this may be the only time that you are close to the Arctic Circle than you have ever been.
At the Port of Helsinki, the South Harbour is the terminal utilised for cruise ships and contains four quays. The modern terminal does have a tourist information booth at the pier plus money exchange services and an ATM.
Some cruise lines offer frequent shuttles directly into the capital for a fee. Tram 2 is another option and takes approximately 10 minutes to reach the city. Those who love to walk can do so on foot in about half an hour.
THE HELSINKI FEEL
Helsinki is a very efficient and pleasant city with great energy without being chaotic.
It has a great blend of contemporary history and with only 2 hours of darkness in the summer, just imagine how much sightseeing you can do in one day! Once on land, you will find Helsinki to be a very efficient and pleasant city with great energy without being chaotic.
Helsinki offers over 70 museums to choose from and many beautiful parks offer peace and relaxation during the warm summer months.
Whether by foot or tram or bike, the key sights are easily accessible. It’s definitely worth purchasing the Helsinki Card which allows unlimited transportation within the capital.
Upon arrival in the capital you may think to yourself, what a casual city with everyone shouting “Hey” as a greeting. Whether you walk into a museum or on a tram, this may be the only word you hear. But ‘hey’ is actually the Finnish word ‘Hei’ for hello. Language barriers are not a problem because most people speak English in the city.
PLACES OF INTEREST
The ‘Church in the Rock’ or Temppeliaukio Church is often used as a concert hall because of its superb acoustics. The church was erected into solid rock with its altarpiece created by an ice-age crevice. The copper lined dome is impressive and it is best to visit before noon when the sunlight spreads through the entire interior.
The National Museum of Finland contains a historical systematic study of the Finnish people and those who inhabited Finland. Many prehistoric archaeological finds and artefacts from medieval times to the 19th century are housed within.
Three independent museums are a part of the government sponsored Finnish National Gallery. A vast variety of art can fill up the day at any one of them. For 19th and early 20th century’s Finnish art, the Anteneum Art Museum is the one to choose. Ultra modernists will be pleased with Le Kiasma. The Museum of Contemporary Art’s building itself speaks out to what is contained inside.
14th to 19th century European art and furniture are housed at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum (Museum of Foreign Art).
The Finns are known to be lovers of the sauna. For an authentic Finnish sauna, you do not have to enter a fancy spa. The city boasts 5 public ones available to all so take advantage. Your pores will thank you for the visit!
Children are not left out of this family friendly city. They can enjoy several different activities such as the Lego Show family theme park, the nearby Serena Water Amusement Park or if they have a quest for knowledge, the Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre.
Though it may not be as famous or historically celebrated as other European cities, Helsinki contains many natural and man-made places of interest.
Written by Veronica Shine