Helsinki is the lively capital of Finland, an oasis of culture, unusual architecture and history. The harbour is at the heart of Helsinki, with panoramic views of the Baltic Sea acting as a stunning backdrop to its quirky cityscape. When arriving by sea, visitors can expect stunning scenery that promises to be just the beginning of a memorable time in the Scandinavian city.
Helsinki is a fantastic tourist destination as there is plenty to explore, from its historic cathedrals, to its many museums and delightful garden spaces. The city is proud of the local arts scene, especially its tradition of innovative design and architecture, including a new Design District. For the gourmet traveller, there are many excellent restaurants and eateries that offer a wide range of food to tickle the tastebuds. Helsinki’s enviable seaside location means it has a pulsing waterfront area, with plenty of restaurants and cafés where you can enjoy the view and soak up the sun.
With so much on offer, it is no surprise that Helsinki is a popular cruise port that attracts many visitors each year, particularly in the warmer summer months.
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Helsinki has many ports that are used by international cruise ships. Most of these ports are within a convenient distance from the city centre and easily reached by public transport.
On the western side of the city there are three ports, which are all within a 10–15 minute drive from the city centre. To the east, the Katajanokka district has two ports within 10 minutes of the centre. Finally, the South Harbour is home to Olympia Quay and Pakkahuone Quay, which are an easy 10-minute walk from the city centre.
The city of Helsinki has done its best to make sure tourists have an easy and enjoyable visit, so you can expect well-equipped ports with excellent transport links. At Katajanokka, the ports have only a tourist information point, restrooms and a tram link, while the other ports contain more amenities.
- Money exchange/ATM
- Luggage lockers
- Kiosks, restaurants and cafés.
How to Get Around
Helsinki is a very walkable city once you are in the centre, which is marked by the Market Square. However, there is also an excellent tram system as well as a tourist ‘hop-on hop-off’ bus that will get you to all the major sights. Taking a tram is one of the best ways to get around Helsinki, as the city offers a 1-day transport ticket that allows unlimited travel on public transport. There are also plenty of taxis that offer reasonable rates. A base fare usually starts at around €5 and increases on a kilometre basis.
Travel times from Market Square:
- It is a 5 minute journey to Senate Square
- It is a 10 minute journey to the Design Museum/District
- It is a 22 minute journey to the National Museum of Finland.
- It is a 2 minute journey to Senate Square
- It is a 5 minute journey to the Design Museum/District
- It is a 7 minute journey to the National Museum of Finland.
- Currency – The official currency of Finland is the euro (€). There are currency exchanges in the tourist centre and many ATMs in the city.
- Time Zone – Helsinki utilises Eastern European Time (EET), which is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Helsinki switches to Daylight Saving Time (DST) at the end of March, setting the clocks forward 1 hour. Daylight savings concludes in October.
- Weather – Due to its northern location, Helsinki has an intermediate climate. The summers can be warm and pleasant; July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 17 degrees Celsius. The winters are quite cold; the coldest month is February, which has an average temperature of -6 degrees Celsius.
- Market Square – Right at the heart of Helsinki is Market Square, which is lined with shops that sell fresh produce, flowers, seafood and great souvenirs. There are also plenty of cafés for you to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of these lively markets. The markets are open Monday to Saturday from 6:30am into the evening. They are also open on Sunday from 9am–4pm.
- Suomenlinna Fortress – Only a 15-minute ferry trip from Market Square is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Suomenlinna Fortress. The 250-year-old fortress is one of Finland’s most popular tourist attractions and has many fascinating museums to explore as well as its fantastic ramparts.
- Design District – It’s worth paying a visit to the Design District, set up by a local initiative in 2005 to gather together local creative businesses. Wander through the 25 streets that form the district, including fashion retailers, museums and art galleries, along with design and antique shops.