Here are some impressions of Helsinki where I had a wonderful time! I managed to cover my entire stay with couchsurfing and it worked like a spell. All of my hosts were amazing and even took the time to do some sightseeing or share a meal together.
Senate Square is probably the most well-known and photographed spot in town. Busloads of tourists stop there at any given hour to admire the impressive architecture. Unfortunately, half of the cathedral was covered up but I still enjoyed sitting on the stairs in front of it to take a short break from walking.
I stumbled across the Sanoma Media building by sheer accident and was pleasantly surprised by the design of it. The inside had an intriguing metal framework but I was most impressed by its small photo gallery featuring political images from around the world. Absolutely stunning!
Besides, I thought it was quite remarkable that there were comfortable sitting booths and benches as well as cushioned stairs for visitors to rest and work.
If I had to choose a favorite building in Helsinki, I would go with the Chapel of Silence. Located in the busy area of Kamppi, it provides an oasis of silence. The idea of the architect was that people could just sneak inside on their way to/from work and enjoy five minutes of soothing silence. And it works!
The Church of the Rock (Temppeliaukion kirkko) is another tourist hot spot. It gets very crowded as soon as a bus unloads its tourists but it is possible to find a less crowded time slot in between. When I entered, I overheard a tourguide telling her group that she ‘really loves this church because it is always so calming when you are inside’…yeah, it would have been if there weren’t so many people inside, trying to take pictures of everything!
After a few minutes, the crowd thinned and I began to agree with the tourguide. The architecture is amazing, both inside and outside (again, outside was under construction and completely covered up). Truly unbelievable how well the church molds into the rock it was built into…
One afternoon I met up with my couchsurfing host to visit the island of Seurasaari, also called the squirrel island. There is an open air museum showcasing traditional houses, but it is also fun just to escape the busy city and watch all the squirrels!
One of my top recommendations is to relax by the sea, there are beautiful parks in the South of Helsinki next to the sea where you could have a picknick or by some ice-cream. A great money-saver too! The view is amazing and I personally love to watch the sea, especially if there are clouds in the sky.
Another favorite is the former military base of Suomenlinna, a sea fortress on an island just a 15-minute ferry ride away from Helsinki. The ticket can be bought at ticket machines or is already included in your normal public transport ticket. Since the ferry departs from the market square, you can easily stock up on some cinnamon rolls prior to departure 😉 Definitely go to the far end of the island, I suddenly found myself in Hobbitland. Behind the hills, there is a sheltered bay with large, flat rocks that was the most picturesque picknick-spot where I devoured my cinnamon roll…the simple pleasures in life are the best.