1 June 2019

Helsinki and Turku Travel Guide

Travel from Airport:

FinnAir City Bus
after Baggage Claim go out to ‘platform 10’ of the Bus Station and they are every 20 minutes, you can buy tickets on the bus


Crowne Plaza
Mannerheimintie 50
http://www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/us/en/helsinki/helmh/hoteldetail with the FinnAir Bus stopping outside, and trams into town every few minutes, this is an ideal location with a view of the lake, and very handy for the Finlandia Hall, National Museum and the Rock Church. The Club Lounge provides free breakfast and pre-dinner drinks & snacks if you book a Club room.

Radisson Blu Seaside Hotel
Ruoholahdenranta 3
one of three Radisson hotels in the city, not central but an easy tram ride from the centre and has many nice shops and restaurants to pass as you stroll into town; good breakfast buffet, and the rooms on higher floors have balconies

Getting About:

Helsinki Card
available from Tourist Information at the airport, the railway station, or the Bureau at Pohjoisesplanadi
free travel, free entry to museums, free Audio City Tour by boat (summer only) or bus
on bus, boat, tram or metro, hold the card in front of the green cross on the validation machines

Day Ticket
If you don't need all the museums, just to get about, the day ticket is great value, starting at €8 for one day, but then only €4 for each additional consecutive day. Get them from metro ticket machines and other machines at bigger tram stops, for immediate use, or buy in advance from Stockmann and Tourist Info outlets.

Trams 2, 3, 7, 8 and 10
Tram 10: from the Design Museum in the south to the Aalto houses in the north
Tram 8: from the Cable Factory in the west to the Arabia works in the east (also served by tram 6)
Trams 2 & 3: travel in a figure-of-eight around town in opposite directions, from the Olympic Stadium in the north to Kaivopuisto Park in the south

the easiest Metro system in the world, it only has one line
use it to scoot across town or head east to Itäkeskus shopping centre in the east

City Tour by Bus
free with a Helsinki Card, this has a commentary (not live) and is an alternative to taking the trams if you want to see and find out more about lots of sights in 1 trip. Leaves from the Esplanade opposite Tourist Information.


Ravintola Sea Horse
Kapteeninkatu 11
traditional Finnish food in an atmospheric restaurant, with friendly service. The fish and the steak are both internationally renowned

Ateljee Bar, 14th Floor, Sokos Hotel Torni
Yrjonkatu 26/Kalevankatu 5
fantastic views from this small and pricey bar at the top of one of the tallest towers on the west side of Mannerheimintie, you might have to fight for a seat but the decadence is worth it

Café Ursula
Ehrenstromintie 3, Kaivopuisto Park
lunches, sandwiches, pastries; view across to islands while being divebombed by hungry birds (summer only)

Urho Kekkosen katu 1
A great Greek restaurant on the outside of the Kamppi shopping centre, walk round to the north side of the block

Il Siciliano
Aleksanterinkatu 36
A great Italian restaurant on the main street from the Cathedral to Stockmann


There are three fantasic Market Halls around town, each with a food market or flea market outside it in the summer.
Old Market Hall and Market Square, by the Town Hall near the Cathedral: delicatessen and cafes, with some clothes and homewares, also a good Marimekko outlet
Hakaniemi Market Hall on the east side of town, take a tram – lots of antiques inside and food stalls outside
Hietalahti Market Hall on the west side of town – nice cafes and bakeries inside, with a car boot sale Finnish-style on the square

Aleksanterinkatu 52
Helsinki’s largest department store, great sandwich & deli on ground floor

Fazer (pronounced Fatser) is the Finnish choclate brand. They have cafes all over Helsinki, but the best one to visit is on Kluuvikatu 3, as it has a massive chocolate shop inside, with big discounts on bars and boxes, either to take home as presents, or just for yourself. Half the price of the airport duty free!

out-of-town shopping centre, on the Metro line, the same big names as in the city

Design District
overview of Finnish design, covering 4 areas of town, use the Design District Map to find shops of interest

Helsinki Secondhand
Korkeavuorenkatu 5 
an amazing warehouse on a suburban street, with furniture, glassware (Including vintage Iittala) and random souvenirs, definitely worth a browse

Design Brands:

Artek (furniture)

Iittala (glass)

Arabia (ceramics)
Factory Store, Iittala Outlet Store, and Arabia Design Museum
Arabia Center, Hämeentie 135
tram 6 eastwards and get off when tram turns right onto Arabiankatu (if you stay on until the final loop, climb the stairs on the west side of the plaza and turn left into the back door of the Arabia complex)

Marimekko (fabrics)

Marimekko Outlet
Metro to Herttoniemi station and head south-east on Linnanrakentajantie, crossing the dual carriageway, taking a left at the Shell garage, and then bearing right after McDonalds, the outlet is at the next crossroads


an island fortress dating from 1748, boats leave from the Market Square (Helsinki Card and daily travel tickets valid on boat)
on the islands are kiosks and cafés, shops and old buildings, craft workshops and  galleries

Changing of the Guard
Each Friday at 12.30pm, from Senate Square via Esplanade to Kasarmi Square

Helsinki City Museum
Worker Housing (near the Amusement Park)
Sederholm (near the Lutheran Cathedral)
Hakasalmi Villa (next to Finlandia Hall)
Burgher’s House (near the Russian Cathedral)
Tram Museum (Toolonkatu 51)

Olympic Stadium
site of the 1952 (postponed from 1940) Olympics, with a Sports Museum and lots of Olympic memorabilia from the last 100 years. Tower (72m) with lift and fantastic views.

Cable Factory
Tallberginkatu 1
take tram 8 westwards to the end of the line, turn left and walk towards the industrial buildings
Finnish Museum of Photography
Hotel and Restaurant Museum
Academic Bookshop, Esplanade
see Alvar Aalto’s original doors, doorhandles, balcony, fittings and furniture in the Bookshop café (free toilets if you need that sort of thing)

Design Museum
Korkeavuorenkatu 23
and back-to-back with it:
Museum of Finnish Architecture
Kasarmikatu 24

Kaivokatu 2

Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
Mannerheiminaukio 2

Korjaamo Culture Factory
Toolonkatu 51
Tram Museum, bar, book and DVD shop with extraordinary range of rare releases

Lutheran Cathedral
the white Cathedral which can be seen from many places in Helsinki, pure and clean inside

Russian Cathedral
get a walking leaflet from Tourist Information and explore the history of this small island with many old buildings with amazing names

Temppeliaukio (Church in the Rock)
cut inside a huge chunk of granite, with an amazing low-domed roof, the light and space inside this church are like no other. Avoid the coach parties and you will be rewarded with a peaceful experience. Opening hours vary but 10am is the usual start.

Narinkka Square at Kamppi
the exhibition space about architecture and city planning in Helsinki, with special exhibitions, lots of helpful experts and a small café

Finlandia Hall
Mannerheimintie 13e
Designed by the great Alvar Aalto, this concert venue and now conference centre is worth a visit for the interiors and furnishings, all the original designs. You really need to go on a tour, which happen infrequently, so check the website.

Kamppi Chapel
Simonkatu 7
A new structure in the centre of town, a place of peace and reflection, worth a visit whether religious or not.

Turku is Finland's oldest city, once its capital, with a wealth of history to visit. It is an easy train ride from Helsinki. We did a day trip 8am-10am train out, 6pm-8pm train back, costing around €30 per person return, if you buy a fortnight in advance on https://www.vr.fi/cs/vr/en/frontpage

Come out of the station, and crossing the dual carriageway, go six blocks south (away from the station) and two blocks west. 
You'll see a car park and group of older buildings, these are the Tourist Information and Turku Design Now buildings.
Aurakatu 2

You can buy a Turku Card, but unless you plan to visit literally everything, it's easier to just pick and choose from the recommendations below.

Turku Art Museum €8 open 11-7
At the top of a steep hill near the station, this has changing exhibitions inside a Finnish chateau

Aboa Vetus and Ars Nova €8 open 11-7
On the river near the Cathedral, an innovative gallery mixing modern art and the actual medieval ruins of Turku's 14th century Convent Quarter

Cathedral and Museum €2 open 9-6
Dating back to the 13th century, this is one of Finland's most important and recognisable churches

Sibelius Museum €3 open 11-4
More of a music museum, this celebrates Finland's famous composer, as well as having displays of musical instruments, and archive material of Turku's musical past

Other museums are open in the summer.

Saluhall open 8-6
Eerikinkatu 16
A great example of a Finnish market hall, with food shops, cafes, and a vintage shop selling antique stationery.

Library open 9-8
Linnankatu 2
A mixture of old and new, the 2007 extension is well worth a visit. And it is so busy! If only British libraries had this sort of enthusiasm.

Castle €9 open 10-6
It's a long way from the station, so unless you are there for a couple of days, you may not make it. If you think you'll have time to get round it, bus 1 from the Market Square goes straight to the castle.

City Ferry "Fori"
As Turku doesn't have bridges all the way along the river, this free ferry runs continuously in daytime, summer and winter, and has done for over 100 years! Walk along the river until you are halfway between the castle and the cathedral (search for Kakolanpuisto) and you'll see it there!

1 comment:

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