6 Best Day Trips from Helsinki For Outdoor and Culture Lovers + How To Get There

There’s so much more to see around Helsinki, Finland than just the Finnish capital. The national parks, the islands, the cute old towns, the fortress, and even the places across the borders. Don’t miss out and explore Finland and beyond with the top suggestions for day trips from Helsinki.

best day trips from Helsinki

Helsinki is quite a small city, and even though there is a lot to do in Helsinki in winter and any other season, you might want to wander even further. For those having 3 days in Helsinki or more and looking to go beyond the city walls, the Finnish capital city offers opportunities for travels within Finland region as well as to other places in Europe. It takes only a few hours to land in a different world. Whether you an outdoor lover or you prefer to dig into the culture of the region there are several Helsinki day trips that you can take.

Helsinki day trips table of content:

  1. Suomenlinna
  2. Vallisaari Island
  3. Nuuksio National Park
  4. Porvoo
  5. Tallinn, Estonia
  6. St.Petersburg, Russia

The best day trips from Helsinki

Jemima from All Other Colours Travel Blog shared with us her five suggestions for the best short trips from Helsinki. I also added one more trip for a day or two to the nearby city in Russia. Have a look at the list and go exploring!

Although Helsinki has lots to offer for visitors, it is always interesting to explore other areas. Here are six suggestions for Helsinki day trips. You can choose more outdoorsy activities to explore the unique Finnish nature and culture or visit exciting cities nearby.

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Outdoor Helsinki market, what to do in Helsinki in winter Finland

 

1. Suomenlinna

The Suomenlinna island fortress in the middle of Finnish archipelago is a must trip from Helsinki. The island is a World Heritage Site – full of 18th-century military architecture, history and culture. It’s a very popular place to visit – also among locals, and especially during the summer. However, it is an exciting and beautiful attraction all year round. Did you know that it is also one of the districts in Helsinki, and there are 800 residents?

If you are visiting Suomenlinna during the summer, I suggest a traditional local experience: pack a picnic with you. Get some Finnish sweet or savoury pastries from a bakery. I recommend trying cinnamon rolls (korvapuusti) from Kanniston Leipomo – they have several bakery shops around the city. Their cinnamon buns have been voted for the best in Helsinki, and are indeed very big and delicious! Don’t forget buying fresh berries from the Market Square before heading to the boat. There is a small grocery shop in Suomenlinna, so you can also buy snacks from there. Please note that open fires and barbeques are not permitted in the area.

In Suomenlinna, you can walk around the island, marvel the beautiful nature and interesting military architecture. There are also restaurants, cafés and museums to try. For special seasonal events and activities, check the Suomenlinna website for accurate information. Moreover, the island makes one of the best day trips from Helsinki in winter with all the colourful houses covered with snow and the dramatic looking sea.

How to get to Suomenlinna?

Suomenlinna is easy to access in around 15-20 minutes by boat from Helsinki centre. The public ferry departs from the east side of the Market Square (Kauppatori). It’s part of the city transport network HSL, and all HSL tickets are accepted. Single-tickets (2,90 €) can be bought from the machines near the departure point, or via HSL app (2,20 €). Check ferry timetables from HSL journey planner. In the summer season (May-September), there is also private waterbus connection by JT-Line – however, it costs more than the public ferry. If you wish to visit other islands such as Vallisaari or Lonna, the waterbus might be the best option. You also have a chance to take the combined 5-hour tour of Helsinki and Suomenlinna and get informative insights from a local guide.

Abandoned submarine, Suomenlinna island
Abandoned submarine, Suomenlinna island in winter
Best day trips from Helsinki - Suomenlinna island
Suomenlinna island in the summer
Colourful houses, Suomenlinna fort islands what to do in Helsinki in winter, Finland
Colourful houses, Suomenlinna island

2. Vallisaari Island

The islands of Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari are a fantastic destination to visit. Just 20 minutes by boat from Helsinki Market Square, you will reach this national park area that was open to public only 2016. Their range of flora and fauna is winder than anywhere else in the metropolitan area. Earlier the islands used to be in military use, and they have an interesting history.

There are two marked trails: the Alexander Tour (3 km) and the Kuninkaansaari Island Tour (2.5 km). You should stay on the trails because beyond them are dangerous structures; also the environment is very sensitive. Suomenlinna is very near Vallisaari, and you can see it from many spots.

In the islands, you will find water points, dry toilets and picnic tables. During summer, there is also a café and some guided tours. No winter maintenance. Before visiting, please read the rules and regulations that apply to the area.

How to get to Vallisaari Island?

There is a waterbus connection to Vallisaari Island during the summer period May-September. Check timetables and information: JT-line and Aavalines. Waterbuses departure from Market Square. With JT-Line, it is also possible to combine visiting other islands, such as Lonna and Suomenlinna to one “island-hopping” ticket.

Best day trips from Helsinki - Vallisaari island in Finland
Vallisaari island
Best day trips from Helsinki - Vallisaari island
Vallisaari island

3. Nuuksio National Park

You might easily think that to experience typical Finnish scenery with wild woods and pretty lakes, you would need to head further from Helsinki than you actually do. The Nuuksio National Park is located in the neighbouring cities of Espoo, Kirkkonummi and Vihti and can be reached quite easily by public transportation from Helsinki. It makes for one of the best nature day trips from Helsinki.

There are several marked trails and nature trails, varying from easy to difficult (1.5-17km). Some of the trails are suitable for biking or horse riding. The landscape is very typical to upland Finland; green forests and blue lakes and ponds. You can also explore the woods beyond the trails; berry- and mushroom picking is also permitted. The area is well-kept, and there are dry toilets, water points, campfire places and cooking shelters. The trails and routes are clearly marked.

For a truly Finnish experience, I recommend packing a good lunch: sandwiches, Finnish pastries such as cinnamon buns and Karelian pies and fruits. And naturally sausages and corns for BBQ; making a campfire is the highlight of a forest hiking trip! Don’t forget to bring some coffee, hot chocolate or warm juice if you are there during the cold season. You can sit by the pretty ponds and marvel the beautiful nature while enjoying your campfire barbeque.

Most of Nuuksio’s marked trails are not being maintained in the winter. However, it is possible to go there in the winter. At least the easiest trails should be doable in the winter, too. Just be cautious for ice/slippery parts and wear enough warm clothing. You can also walk on the ponds (just make sure that the ice is strong enough). For information about services, read more here.

How to get to Nuuksio National Park?

The starting point called Haukkalampi, Espoo (Haukkalammentie 32) can be reached by taking a local train from Helsinki to Leppävaara, Espoo. From Leppävaara station, take the bus number 238 or 242 towards Siikaniemi. The stop is called Kolmoislammentie, and from there you will walk around 2,5 km to Haukkalampi. You will need a regional ticket between Helsinki – Espoo. For more information about transportation, check here. For planning your journey with local public transportation, use the HSL planner. Prefer to take an organized tour to Nuuksio with a professional biologist guide? You can book the tour here.

Nuuksio National Park Finland, day trips Helsinki

4. Porvoo

Porvoo is a city around 50 km east of Helsinki. It is a very popular place to visit – also for Finns. The city has a very idyllic old town with wooden houses and cobblestone streets. Porvoo is the second oldest town in Finland – it became a town already in 1380, and many houses originate from the 18th and 19th century.

Wander around the picturesque Old Town and visit the cute shops and pretty cafés. If you are interested in culture, you could visit Finland’s national poet J. L. Runeberg’s home – which is also the oldest home museum in Finland, one of the many art galleries or Postimäki Outdoor Museum, where you can see how the craftsmen lived in the 19th century.

For outdoor activities, visiting the National Urban Park is a must. It extends approximately 10 km south from Old Porvoo and 8 km east. There are many interesting routes – you can find suggestions with maps here. Canoeing the Porvoo River or the nearby archipelago is also very popular, and you can try stand-up paddleboarding! For renting equipment, check Porvoon Kajakki ja Sup vuokraamo.

For a tasty lunch or dinner, I recommend trying restaurant Zum Beispiel. It offers high-quality food in a relaxed atmosphere and is also a certified organic restaurant. Reservation is recommended and can be made online. For a coffee break, try for example Bar & Café Porvoon Paahtimo, which has its own roastery, or small, family-run Café Fanny. Don’t forget trying Runeberg’s cake – it is a traditional Finnish cake developed in Porvoo in the 19th century.

How to get to Porvoo?

Porvoo can be reached by a bus from Helsinki. There are several daily connections by different providers; tickets are typically around 5-9 euros one-way. The bus trip takes about 50-60 minutes. Check timetables and fares here. You can also book an organized tour to Porvoo with a professional guide.

Porvoo - day trips from Helsinki Finland

best day trips from Helsinki Finland - Porvoo

5. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, located around 80 km to the south of Helsinki. There are several daily ferry connections between Helsinki and Tallinn, which makes it easy to go for a Helsinki to Tallinn day trip. There are a lot of great things to do in Tallinn. The city was first established in the early medieval era and is actually the oldest capital in Northern Europe. Nowadays, Tallinn is a fascinating mix of both old and new – there are both trendy neighbourhoods and historical attractions and atmosphere.

The city centre of Tallinn is quite compact. On a day trip, it is easy to see the beautiful Old Town, which is one of the best preserved Hanseatic centres in the world. Visit some of the other main attractions – or focus on wandering around the pretty streets, dining or shopping. For the most popular photography spot, you should visit the Kohtuotsa viewing platform on the northern side of Toompea hill. You will have great panorama views over the roofs of Old Town, the modern city and the Gulf of Finland. During the summer, I recommend visiting St. Olav’s Church tower and observation area – the views are spectacular and well worthy of the 232 steps!

Tallinn has lots of great restaurants, eateries and cosy cafés – they are also much cheaper than in Helsinki. For lunch or dinner, I recommend trying Salt, which is a nice bistro-style restaurant. It mixes different cuisines with a local twist, and the food is of excellent quality.

How to get to Tallinn?

The Helsinki Tallinn ferry trip is around 2 hours one-way, depending on the ferry. The day cruise ticket prices start from about 12-15 euros return but in popular times can be around 30-50 euros. The slower, older ones are cheapest. For ferry routes, schedules and tickets, check the operators’ websites: Eckerö Line, Tallink and Viking Line.

For the organized tours, you can join the guided Tallinn full day tour from Helsinki by ferry. The tour includes the hotel pick up, ferry tickets and a guide. Book the tour here.

Tallinn sightseeing winter things to do in Tallinn in winter, Town Hall square

6. St.Petersburg, Russia

Ever wanted to visit Russia, but you didn’t want to go through the whole process of getting a visa? Good news, now, you can go on a day trip to St.Petersburg from Helsinki or Tallinn and take advantage of the 72-hour visa waiver. It works for all passengers arriving by ferry as a part of the organised excursion group. Check the exact visa rules before departing, as they can change at any time. From Helsinki, you can also travel to St. Petersburg by train, which takes 3,5 hours. St.Petersburg is a fantastic destination with its charming architecture, famous bridges and wonderful Hermitage museum.

best day tris from Helsinki - St. Petersburg

Where to stay in Helsinki?

There are several options for accommodation in Helsinki.

$$$ Luxury: Lilia Roberts. If you want to treat yourself, that’s the place to do it. The rooms are very unique, the hotel is full of art and their breakfast is just amazing! I really fell in love with their seabuckthorn juice, which gave me tons of energy to explore the city. Check prices and book here.

$$ Mid-range: EasyHomes Helsinki – good price for a studio apartments close to the city center. Check prices here.

$ Budget: CheapSleep Hostel Helsinki – the hostel accommodation, located only 3 km from the train station, it has good enough accommodation for the cheap price. Check prices here.


The post was written by Jemima from All the other Colours Travel Blog. Edited by me.

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Which one of the Helsinki day trips is your favourite? Do you know any others? Let me know in the comments!


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