Answers from Our Experts (2)
Helsinki is a modern city: it's quite unique in its style of architecture, small, easily navigable on foot or tram and surprising in the number of hidden gems you'll discover along the way.
1. You can almost hear it chiming through what looks like organ pipes — the tune of Finlandia. The metal sculpture in honour of Jean Sibelius stands in all it's breath-taking glory in the eponymous park, which is a photographer's fantasy! Pop over the road to Café Regatta for refreshments. This overstuffed little wooden house is filled with smells of cinnamon buns and coffee and the sausage barbecue is lit, even in the winter.
2. The bright idea of architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen to hew a church out of the ubiquitous primary rock won them the contract to build the Tempelliaukio Church (Church in the Rock). Hidden under the stone mound, it reveals an inner sanctum with a copper ceiling, original rock walls and windows that let in the light.
3. Meander a little further, and you will find the Chapel of Silence, one of the Helsinki World Design Capital 2012 projects. Uniquely wrapped in wood, it stands like a cocoon on the Narinka Square. Find a little respite from the maddening crowds and drink in the solitude.
4. Design is an unrivaled passion of Finland, and there's a museum dedicated to showing it off. You'll find everything from Marimekko to Ivana Helsinki to Arabia, old and new, at the Design Museum. Just around the corner is the Museum of Architeture with models and photographs of structures by icons such as Eriel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto. For the here and now of Finnish creativity, the Design Forum is the place to buy your contemporary piece.
5. The fortress island of Suomenlinna, a Unesco World Heritage site, is a mere ferry ride away. It abounds with bastions, museums, handicraft and art shops, restaurants and it even has a brewery of its own.
The must see attractions are easily seen in a day.
After the breakfast head to the "white and red churches" aka Helsinki Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko) and Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral near to the president's castle.
Then have a lunch on Esplanade park near by. After that walk all the way to the Kaivopuisto park, where you can stop for an ice cold beer or ice cream.
Have a afternoon picnic on an island alled Suomenlinna (Maritime Fortress is a splendid UNESCO World Heritage Site). You can by food for the picnic at the Old Market Hall which is where the ferries to the island leave.
For the dinner come back to the city central. My favourite dining place is Brasserie Kämp on Esplanade park. Better yet: stay at the Hotel Kämp!