A metropolis information to Helsinki, Finland

See & do

Allas Sea Pool: This literal hotspot has taken Finland’s obsession with sauna out of the forest and housed it in a prime location by the harbor. Visitors can take a dip in three outdoor pools (one of which uses unheated Baltic Sea water) after sweating in three sauna rooms. The uninitiated and the unconvinced will be relieved to hear that contrary to feverish rumors from overseas, swimsuits are mandatory in mixed saunas.

Design Museum: The Finnish instinct for invention is examined at this institution in Kaartinkaupunki through exhibits such as the Nokia cell phone boom of the 2000s, the video game Angry Birds, Eero Aarnio’s legendary Bubble Chairs and the genius of the architect and designer Alvar Aalto.

Central Library Oodi: Perhaps the most dramatic of the city’s recent architectural additions, the Oodi Central Library arrived in late 2018, a sinuous vision made of glass and wood. It’s not just a temple of the written word – it contains over 100,000 books – there’s an innovative robotic book delivery system and potted trees between the shelves, plus a movie theater and a bustling cafe.

Kiasma:: The cool companion to the library on Kansalaistori Square, Helsinki’s museum of contemporary art, indulges in the works of Finnish visionaries such as Aarne Jamsa, Raimo Kanerva, Torger Enckell and Ismo Kajander, as well as in the miracles of artists from all over Europe.

Amos Rex: This stylish gallery opened in 2018 and hosts temporary art exhibitions. However, it is just as much an exhibition as everything else it shows, as it has been conspicuously incorporated into the Lasipalatsi (“Glass Palace”), an office building from the 1930s on the main street, Mannerheimintie. Don’t forget your camera to snap up the futuristic, bulging concrete domes behind, which have skylights that illuminate the underground galleries.

Helsinki Cathedral: There is no shortage of photogenic churches in the Finnish capital, but the Lutheran Cathedral is undoubtedly the most beautiful, rising above the center in a haze of neoclassical columns and onion domes that would not be out of place in St. Petersburg.

Suomenlinna:: This fortress, which spans eight islands three miles from the sea, testifies to Helsinki’s history of submission. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Suomnelinna was built by Swedes in 1748, at a time when (present-day) Finland was ruled by Stockholm. It has since been a symbol of national pride and a popular picnic spot for Helsinkians. Ferries leave regularly from the market square.

Skywheel: This Ferris wheel at the harbor has a distinct Finnish touch: One of its gondolas is a sauna. Obviously.

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