For Easter 2016, I took a few extra days off work and booked flights to Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland with a layover in Helsinki. I had a few hours between flights to and from Lapland so we must have spent 8 hours exploring the Finnish capital in the end. I can’t believe I was so close to the giant that is Russia, one boat ride and we could have been in St Petersburg.
We bought return tickets for the Finnair bus which leaves from the airport (23 euros return) and drops you by the train station. Really reliable, easy and fast.
My Helsinki highlights
- Suomenlinna, the fortress island charged with history. I’m sure it’s even better in Summer with a picnic
- The Market Halls, pretty buildings with great food stalls
- Temppeliaukion Kirkko, the rock church
- Uspenskin Katedraali, a red-brick cathedral featuring the onion-topped domes, found in Russian orthodox churches
Eat in Helsinki
We haven’t many opportunities to eat in Helsinki but we had a great experience sampling fish soup or the Finnish equivalent of a good bouillabaisse, in one of the Market Halls.
We decided to eat at Soppakeittiö and were not disappointed. The soup warmed us and got us ready to brave the cold Finnish weather.
For a warm drink in a beautiful setting, head to Cafe Regatta. We opted for a nice cinnamon bun and chocolate (with whipped cream) but you can also buy sausages and grill them over the open fire.
See in Helsinki
For our first time in Helsinki we decided to walk along a route that takes in all the monuments. You need at least three hours and some good legs.
We started at the Market Square surrounded by grandiose buildings from the 19th century, walked to the Uspenski cathedral (closed because of Easter) and finally reached Senate Square with its main feature the famous Tuomiokirkko. From there, we walked back to market square to wander on Esplanade Park, with its luxury shops on each side. We turned right on Mannerheimintie, the main artery of the city. On each side, you can see Parliament House, the Musiikkitalo and Finalandia-Talo (concert halls). A few blocks away, we went to visit the modern church built from solid rock Temppeliaukion Kirkko. We went back on Mannerheimintie and saw the Opera. We then turned left to reach the Sibelius Monument and rewarded ourselves with warm drink and pastry at the very picturesque Cafe Regatta, magical place for a sunset.
I have dedicated a whole article for our lappish adventures where I’ll explain everything we did from husky safari to aurora spotting and even ice swimming!