It was our second day in Helsinki, the White City of the North and a day to visit some landmarks and enjoy nature, with the first day being so nice as it was exploring a bit of the city and Suomenlinna, the sea fortress. Our stay in Forenom Aparthotel has been more than comfortable with our first experience of a ‘no reception’ check in. Certainly a great idea post covid-19 where travelers might find it a safer option to gain a contact less entry into their rooms.
We got up very early for our coffee and then to get our breakfast ready. With all amenities available in our room we soon had a hot breakfast ready. And our second round of coffee.
The best way to start your day at Helsinki is to reach Senate Square. The Senate Square and its surroundings form a unique display of Neoclassical architecture. The square is dominated by four buildings designed by Carl Ludvig Engel (1778-1840): Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland. A statue of Alexander II (1894) stands in the middle of the Senate Square.
Helsinki Cathedral is arguably Finland’s most famous and photographed building. It is the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral of the Diocese of Helsinki, located in the neighborhood of Kruununhaka at the Senate Square. The church was originally built from 1830–1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia.
The Presidential Palace is one of the three official residences of the President of the Republic of Finland. The Presidential Palace served as the official residence of all the Presidents of Finland up to 1993, except those who preferred quieter locations. The Palace contains private apartments and reception rooms for the President and the Office of the President, which includes offices for the Secretary General, the Special Counsel to the President and the Master of the Household. The Palace’s State rooms are used by the President for official functions and receptions.
The Government Palace is the executive office building of the Council of State of Finland. overlooking the Senate Square. The Government Palace houses the Prime Minister’s Office, the Office of the Chancellor of Justice and most departments of the Ministry of Finance. Its former name is the Senate House.
We are now at the National Library of Finland which is not just a library, but also a cultural destination where exhibitions and cultural events take place. The Library’s main building was designed by architect C.L. Engel in 1836 and was built in 1840-45. The main building of the National Library of Finland is one of the most renowned landmarks of the early 19th century Empire architecture and is also significant among the public libraries of its time. The annex is called the Rotunda and was designed by architect Gustaf Nystrom and built in 1902-06.
The best part of Helsinki is that if you really love to explore, you can casually walk through most of the happening center of town. But you wish to take it a little easy you could combine your strolls with public transport, which is included in your 24, 48 & 72 hours transport ticket or if you have purchased a Helsinki Card. We took another small walk, this time to Uspenski Cathedral .
The Uspenski Cathedral is the largest orthodox church in Western Europe. With its golden cupolas and redbrick facade, the church is one of the clearest symbols of the Russian impact on Finnish history. It was completed in 1868 and lies in the Katajanokka district of Helsinki.
It was now our turn to avail a transport after quite a bit of walking around. Whenever in Europe, we make it a point to use the hop-on-hop-off buses at least for a day to get a complete feel of the city.
When I am traveling, I love to interact with people around and quite often land up making many new friends when I return after my holiday. And here were my two new friends. The guy in red, Marcelo turned out to be a global citizen. Born in Rio, father from Italy & mother from Portugal, brought up in London and now works in Finland. What touched my heart was his comment…I am in the business of sharing happiness & your smile makes my day. For me golden words really as their smile showed. Come let’s go around a bit.
The Helsinki City Museum is the world’s only museum focusing on Helsinki. It is located in the oldest quarters of the city, at the corner of the Senate Square. It is a museum of everyday life, offering new perspectives to the history of the city with heart-warming detail. You’ll also find a museum shop and café/wine bar El Fant in the building. It was lunch time and we decided to have a quick stop at the Helsinki Sky Wheel before proceeding towards Market Square.
We are now at Market Square. Located at the South Harbor at one end of the Esplanade Park, the Market Square (Kauppatori in Finnish) is Helsinki’s most international and famous market. The booths here sell traditional market foods and treats, as well as handicrafts and souvenirs. There are also heated café tents where you can comfortably have a steaming hot coffee even on the coldest days in winter. Time for us to settle down for some sea food and coffee.
A trip to Helsinki is never complete unless you experience the beauty of nature and the Helsinki Archipelagos. And so it’s time now for a boat ride through the canals & then on to the Baltic Sea. Come enjoy this photo journey here with us.
Back to Market Square it was time to wander through the Design District. The Design District spans several downtown neighborhoods that include Punavuori, Kaartinkaupunki, Kruunuhaka, Kamppi & Ullanlinna and is a fantastic blueprint for exploring the city as Helsinki has long been recognized as a city of design.
Design can be found everywhere in Helsinki. Helsinki has even been designated a UNESCO City of Design and it is the only city in the world that has an appointed Chief Design Officer. Here you can discover classic creations by Finland’s most famous designers and the intriguing concepts of up-and-coming designers.
You can even explore the area by participating in a guided Design Walk. Or you can pick up a Design District Helsinki map and follow the trail. The well-curated selection of more than 200 boutiques, ateliers, museums, galleries and cafes, as well as internationally recognizable design labels, will make you fall in love with Finnish design if you haven’t already. But for now come and experience a bit with us as we stroll around, join the shopping festivities, taste some specialties and visit some renowned designer showrooms.
Helsinki. Charmingly beautiful. And the gateway to a paradise called Scandinavia.
As we took A cruise on Baltic ⛴️ the next day for a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia before a trip in Finland to Turku..a wonder destination and discovering The magic of Loistokari 🏖️ on a dinner cruise to this uninhabited island from there, you could click on to enjoy these stories right here. And in case you are planning your next holiday to Scandinavia, do check out Scandinavia…a travelogue.
If you have enjoyed being with us in Helsinki, PIN it for later!