One can easily do Helsinki within 24 hours.
Twelve hours. That’s what it took for Helsinki to capture my attention, dare my intrigue be jolted by harbor strolls and dining in a dreamy glasshouse. Tucked within a Scandinavian pocket while overshadowed by its adventurous brother named Lapland, Helsinki exudes its own charm with an attitude of national pride beneath staunch influences of Russian architecture and linguistic roots. There should be more to this list, hence I cannot wait for the next series of twelve hours in this friendly yet surprisingly undetected capital.
SEE: Helsinki Cathedral
Unioninkatu 29, 00170 Helsinki, Finland
Situated in Senate Square, this Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral was constructed once Helsinki was designated as the capital of Finland. Also known as St. Nicholas Church, the Helsinki Cathedral was meant to honor Russian Tsar Nicholas I who was also the Grand Duke of Finland. Today, this is one of the most popular landmarks in the city.
SEE: Senate Square
Senate Square. Helsinki, Finland.
While you’re admiring the Helsinki Cathedral, turn around and take in the grandiosity of Senate Square – a plaza symbolizing Finland’s political, spiritual and financial center. It is enveloped by the cathedral, University of Helsinki, the Government Palace, and the oldest building in Helsinki: Sederholm House.
SEE: Sibelius Monument
Sibeliuksen puisto, Mechelininkatu, 00250 Helsinki, Finland
Made with 600+ hollow steel pipes welded into a sound wave form, the Sibelius Monument was meant to capture the music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, who rose to fame for helping Finland define its national identity as it was fighting for its independence from Russia. The abstract monument was controversial at the time since Sibelius created little music for organs which is what the 24 tonnes artwork appears to symbolize.
SEE: Temppeliaukio Church
Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Probably one of the most beautiful and unique churches I’ve ever seen in my entire life, Temppeliaukio Church, or the Rock Church was excavated and built out of an actual rock with natural skylight directly illuminating the interior church, through its copper dome. Due to its natural habitat, this Lutheran church is an ideal venue for acoustic music concerts.
Eteläesplanadi 1, 00130 Helsinki, Finland
Inside the glasshouse of Kappeli is a 150-year history as an artistic meeting place for poets and musicians. Today, it remains as one of the central and sophisticated hotspots in Helsinki for a fabulous afternoon tea or a tasty dinner. Of course, I got to try a bit of raw reindeer here. It was a gamey plate of Christmas, to say the least.
DRINK: Roberts Coffee
Pohjoisesplanadi 19, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Right across the street from Kappeli is the delightful Robert’s Coffee, started by the Finnish coffee connoisseur Robert Paulig who became Helsinki’s very first micro coffee roaster in 1987. Since his family has been running and expanding the business for six generations, a rest stop at this café is a lovely treat from Finland’s harsh winter.
SEE: Uspenski Cathedral
Kanavakatu 1, 00160 Helsinki, Finland
The main Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Helsinki is also the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe, the Uspenski Cathedral sits on a hillside overlooking the city. Designed by the Russian architect Aleksey Gornostayev, this cathedral was meant to exemplify Russia’s influence and power in Finnish history with its golden cupolas and redbrick exterior.