City Hopping | Hurry around Helsinki with me!

Architecture in Helsinki

Did you catch my last post? After two days in Copenhagen, we had a sea day before arriving in the Finnish capital, Helsinki.

We didn't have a pre-booked excursion this time around and decided to wing it. Luckily, there was transportation to get us into the city and we decided on seeing the sites via the Hop On Hop Off Bus – always a good way to see everything, when time is not on your side.

We paid €30 per person for the bus and once we left the cruise terminal, got off at the next stop – the flea market (Hietalahti). Little did I know it was actually food hall, so arriving just after 11am wasn't the best of ideas. While there were so many street food vendors and some of the smells were incredible, it was far too early for lunch. I wish we could have gone back as there was a really lovely Vietnamese place and the €5 spring rolls were calling my name. We had a quick look around and left for the next point of interest – also doing a large percentage of the route on foot.

A Neo-Classical style church, surrounded by bare trees

We saw the neoclassical Old Church situated in Old Church Park, not far from Bulevardi. Walking past lots of buildings, including the Art Museum and a shopping district, we decided to take the long walk to Sibelius.

Sculpture made from stainless steel tubes, in honour of Jean Sibelius

This is a monument dedicated to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. And it's completely made from stainless steel, with tubes of all different sizes. When the wind picks up, it makes a noise. The surrounding area was so peaceful, a great place to sit and watch the world go by. There was also a small beach and regatta club nearby, as well as a café and small ice cream kiosk.

I wanted to see the Olympic Stadium – centre of the action when Helsinki hosted the 1952 Olympic Games, although it has been renovated several times since then. At the entrance, there was even a statue dedicated to Paavo Nurmi – known as the ‘Flying Finn’. He was an athlete that won nine gold and three silver medals in his 12 events at the Olympics (between 1920 and 1928), also setting 22 different world records. Opposite the Olympic Stadium was a football stadium and I have to say, it wasn't all that impressive.

Aiming to re-join the bus for the final stretch of the tour, we got a bit lost close to the Sea Life Centre and a theme park called Linnanmaki and ended up stumbling across the Winter Garden. This giant 19th century greenhouse is a Botanical Garden, and the exterior was stunning. We sat on a bench on the front lawn and waited for the bus to arrive. By this time, my feet were aching. I have since found that entry to the Winter Garden is free, so a bit disappointed we didn't have a quick look inside.

Domed cathedral building in Senate Square, Helsinki

Staying on the bus on our return to the port, there was just enough time to snap the iconic cathedral in Senate Square – built during the Russian ruling, and as a tribute to Nicholas I. There was also the presidential palace at the opposite end of the square, and we later saw the Uspenski Cathedral, the final landmark of note – and fairly iconic too.

I know you might be thinking what didn't we do? Well, there were a few stops and attractions that we missed, notably:

  • Sky Wheel Helsinki
  • Open Air Market at Market Square
  • Kaivopuisto Park and Observatory Hill
  • Rock Church

We were back on board the ship before 5:30pm, giving us a few hours before our dinner reservation at 8:30. With just an overnight at sea – next stop: Tallinn.

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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