Ever wondered what to do in Helsinki in winter and what are the top places to visit? Did you want to try traditional Finnish sauna, ice-swimming, walking on a frozen sea, visiting some unusual churches and monuments and tasting delicious Scandinavian cuisine? Check out what to do in the Finnish capital in winter!
The country of The Moomins (high five if you know them!) with the capital of a similar size to Oslo, is great for the weekend trip. Finland is well known for its winter activities and the magical Lapland. Even if you are going somewhere else in Finland, spending a couple of days in Helsinki is well worth it! Below are my recommendations on what to do in Helsinki in winter to make sure you have an amazing time in Finland.
What to do in Helsinki in winter? Spend a great weekend in Finland!
#1 Try traditional Finnish sauna and ice swimming
The saunas are a big part of a Finnish culture. With 5 million inhabitants in Finland, there are over 3 million saunas – averaging one per a household. Isn’t it crazy? Luckily, Helsinki also has some public saunas for you to try, so you don’t have to invite yourself to the people’s houses (although, that would be a great experience too :)).
However, since I was in Helsinki with Alex, we wanted to have more social experience and we decided to go for the newly established Löyly sauna, located by the coast. Löyly offers two sauna rooms heated by 7,000-kg stoves, lounge, terrace, restaurant, bar and, my favourite part, access to the frozen sea.
Cooling yourself down after the hot sauna is what Finnish people often do, so trying ice-swimming was a must for me.
It was an amazing and very refreshing experience to take a dip in the frozen sea and then quickly run back to the sauna to get the feeling in my body back, haha.
Just chilling (literally!) watching sunset in Helsinki 😅 ~ Have you ever tried ice-swimming? I had a chance during our recent trip to Finland. It was a very interesting experience 😄 First we were in the wood-heated sauna and then we jumped to the sea to cool ourselves down. You don’t have to guess that I run back inside as quick as possible 😂 ~ More, including the trendy must-visit sauna in Helsinki, the best places to see in a weekend, some more ice walking and travelling to the UNESCO fortress – on the blog now! Link in bio 👆 . . . #worlderingaround #visithelsinki #visitfinland #löyly #saunatime #helsinkilove #finnishsauna #iceswimming #wintersunset #femmetravel #outdoorlovers #girlaroundworld #outdoorwoman #adventurelover #adventuregirls #arcticadventures #globelletravels #girlsthatwander #shetravels #sheisnotlost #girlslovetravel #wearetravelgirls #femaletravelbloggers #travelphotographyoftheday #trynewthings #weekendtravel #helsinkibynight #myhelsinki #thisisfinland #ourfinland
#2 Travel through the frozen sea to the UNESCO fortress
Fortress of Suomenlinna is a sea fortress, located on a group of islands, located at the entrance to Helsinki harbour. It dates back to the 18th century and is a great example of European military architecture. The islands are so peaceful to walk around with cute cafes located in the colourful wooden houses. The ferry trip is very short as it lasts 15 min and costs 2,20 euro. The views from the boat are great and it’s worth taking it even just for those!
#3 Walk on water
In the low temperatures the water in the bay freezes, which makes it the perfect place for a Sunday stroll, cross-country skiing or unusual “walking on the water” experience. There is also a cute rust-red wooden cafe located just by the bayside – Regatta. It serves delicious cakes and coffee and offers the sausages to be grilled on the outside fire overlooking the bay.
#4 Visit Sibelius monument
Interestingly looking monument dedicated to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It’s located in the Sibelius park next to the frozen bay.
#5 Go to the church
Regardless if you are a frequent church visitor or not really, visiting a few of the Helsinki churches is an interesting experience.
A distinctive landmark in the city’s landscape, the Helsinki Cathedral became a well-recognized symbol of a city. Built on top of a small hill with the set of stairs leading to it, it towers above the surroundings. Its white walls and tall green domes can be spotted from far. Free entry.
Chapel of silence is made from wood and has an unusual shape of a cone (or a yogurt cup ;)). The interior is very simple and it’s meant to offer a moment of silence in one of the busiest areas of Finland. Free entry.
Temppeliaukio Church is built directly into the solid rock. It has a rounded shape and the light enters through the dome roof around the copper center. The church is one of the most popular places to visit in Helsinki and there are concerts organized in the venue. Entrance fee to the church is 3 euro.
#6 Try traditional Finnish food
Different types of fish and meat including reindeer or even a bear, arctic berries and wild mushroom in different combinations create unique flavours of Finnish cuisine. Sea buckthorn juice will give you a daily dose of vitamin C, you will find lingonberries in your Finnish vodka shot, eat hot Karelian pasty and have a dessert of spongy farm cheese in cinnamon sauce with sour cloudberry jam. Yum! Liquorice is also a popular flavour in the Finnish cuisine, but not everyone likes it. We went for dinner to Lappi and loved it, highly recommended!
#7 Visit Helsinki markets
Helsinki has several outdoor and indoor markets. We visited the ones next to the harbour, located close to the Market Square. The indoor one offers a nice warmth during the walk in the cold day and on the outdoor one you can find everything from home-made food to handmade souvenirs.
Where to stay in Helsinki?
The stay in Helsinki was a gift from my boyfriend to me, so uncommonly for us, we stayed in a luxury hotel, Lilia Roberts. If you want to treat yourself, that’s the place to do it. And their breakfast is amazing!
Other options to stay in Helsinki:
Would you like to visit Helsinki in winter? Do you have any other ideas of what to do in Helsinki in winter? Share in the comments!
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