48 Hours In Helsinki: The Ultimate Itinerary

Are you ready for a weekend trip to Helsinki? I hope so because I have put together the perfect weekend itinerary so you don’t have to! Finland’s beautiful capital city of Helsinki is a delight to visit, and a weekend is plenty of time to see the sights and experience Finnish culture.
Helsinki at night. Photo: Tapio Haaja | Unsplash

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Are you ready for a weekend trip to Helsinki? I hope so because I have put together the perfect weekend itinerary so you don’t have to! Finland’s beautiful capital city of Helsinki is a delight to visit, and a weekend is plenty of time to see the sights and experience Finnish culture!

Helsinki City, Photo: Julius Jansson | Unsplash

Day 1

Morning: Harbor And Markets

Once you get checked in to your hotel, freshen up, and put on your most comfy walking shoes. You are in for a fun day of activities.

Start the weekend off right by heading to Helsinki’s most famous Market Square at South Harbor. Once you get there, take a stroll through the traditional market and peruse the booths selling fresh produce, handicrafts, and more.

Before leaving the market, make a pit stop at the special heated orange tents for a delicious lunch.  There, you can enjoy a piping hot cup of coffee, a delicious cinnamon roll, and other traditional foods.

Finnish people frequent these because they are heated so even on the coldest winter days, the tent cafes are warm and cozy. Make the most of your experience and strike up a conversation with a local.

Helsinki Harbor. Photo: Inga Seliverstova | Pexels

Continue along to the harbor for beautiful seaside views. If you aren’t too scared of heights, you can even take a ride on the ferris wheel for views of the city from above.

Afternoon: Uspenski Cathedral

Grab a bite to eat and then it’s time for some sightseeing. The Uspenski Cathedral is a must-see landmark of the city. It is open until 7 pm so you will have plenty of time to admire the biggest Orthodox Cathedral in western Europe. 

Uspenski Cathedral. Photo: Juha K | Unsplash

The cathedral’s sheer size is impressive to behold. If time permits, it’s possible to go inside the cathedral free of charge. I highly recommend taking advantage of the free entrance so that you can behold the lavish decorations and impressive chandeliers of the Uspenski Cathedral. Keep in mind that your shoulders and knees should be covered if you are keen on exploring the inside.

Night: Finnish Sauna

Did you know that Finnish people invented the sauna and there are over three million saunas in Finland? That means no trip to Finland’s capital would be complete without a visit to a traditional Finnish sauna.

After a morning at the bustling Market Square,  a Finnish sauna is just what the doctor ordered. Some might require you to pre-book while others accept walk-ins. The popular Löyly sauna restaurant requires reservations and they last for a two-hour time span.

Two hours is plenty of time to spend in the two large saunas.  Both saunas have views of the sea and If that’s not enough, there is a large relaxation room where you can sit around a large wood-burning stove. After your time is up, grab dinner at Löyly’s delicious restaurant.

Löyly from the water. Photo: Ninara | Flickr

There is no shortage of activities for Helsinki nights. If you find yourself visiting during the winter, head to Helsinki’s Oulunkylä Sports Park. It’s located smack dab in the middle of the city so you experience the city’s lively atmosphere. The rink is open until 9 pm each night so it’s the perfect after-dinner activity. 

If you are interested in Helsinki’s music scene, there are a few clubs to check out. Ääniwalli is a popular club in the summer months because of the outdoor dance floor.

Kaiku is a well-known techno club. It is one of the coolest things to do while out on the town so even if techno music isn’t your thing, go check out the venue. It is located inside an old factory, and when in Finland, live like the Finish do right? 

Day 2

Morning: Canal Cruise

After a leisurely breakfast, head to Market Square once again but instead of shopping – go on a Canal Cruise. This tour is the perfect way to see a few of Helsinki’s noteworthy landmarks.

You will ride by the historic Suomenlinna Fortress which was built in the 1800s. This 90 excursion lasts about 90 minutes and costs €25 ( $24) and it is worth every penny.

Suomenlinna Fortress in the winter, Photo: Jaakko Kemppainen | Unsplash

Afternoon: National Museum And Soup

After disembarking, I recommend having lunch at one of the market square cafes. Order a  bowl of creamy salmon soup with rye bread – you won’t regret it!

Once you are well fed and re-energized, it’s time to visit the National Museum of Finland. Give yourself plenty of time and keep in mind that it closes at 6 pm.

There are permanent exhibitions that give visitors a glimpse into Finland’s history. You can soak it all in for just a €14 ($14) entrance fee.

Evening: Bar Hopping

You’re on vacation!! So why not go for a few after-dinner drinks? Helsinki has no shortage of unique bars and clubs. The Kallio district is a great place to visit at night. You can find craft beer and artsy bars with lively atmospheres.  If you can’t pick just one, then why not go bar hopping? 

Helsinki bar hopping. Photo: Vadim Morozov | Unsplash

If you want a little more out of your bar experience, I suggest A21 Helsinki Oy. It’s a one-of-a-kind bar where you can choose from hundreds of recipes and make your own cocktails. The best part is you get to sample some traditional Finnish drinks.

To Sum Up

Helsinki is an incredible city. If you find yourself in Europe, Helsinki is the perfect place to spend a weekend. Helsinki is a small city, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have big energy.

There is history and culture around every corner and no matter where you are in Helsinki, you are never far from the beautiful Baltic Sea. So, what are you waiting for? Book the flight. You already have an itinerary, now all you need is a ticket.


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