In addition to its prestigious Education System, which is always ranked among the highest in the PISA results, Helsinki is one of the world´s best places to work and live according to several studies.
Tourists seem to be more drawn to the popular tourist spots of other Nordic cities rather than exploring the colourful landscapes of Finland. Nevertheless, we would like to point out some of the reasons why you should visit this wonderful city, which has stolen our hearts during our stays in our course Structured Educational Visit to Schools & Training Seminars in Finland.
From Northern lights to huge forests, Helsinki is a city full of colours. It does not matter when you visit, you will be fascinated by the vibrant reflection of nature. Even if you are in the city centre, it’s never more than a 10-minute walk to reach nature.
Outdoor life is a very important part of life for Finns. There are two national parks in the Helsinki metropolitan area: Nuuksio and Sipoonkorpi. Dozens of recreational forests, routes and areas also make the capital of Finland interesting for nature addicts. Moreover, the sea is crucial for people in Helsinki, which they call the Daughter of the Baltic Sea as the city is built in an archipelago and some of the most attractive things to see are located in small islands, like Suomelinna.
Discover Finnish cuisine
Although Finnish cuisine has never had a great reputation, you will be surprised to know that there are six restaurants in Helsinki rated with Michelin stars. Forget about pizza and burgers, you will only make the most of Finnish cuisine if you let yourself get deep into local dishes. Finns avoid ready-made dishes. Their diet is full of fresh and seasonal food.
Fish is the King when talking about Finnish cuisine. You can find herring and salmon in every market. Indeed, you should have a walk through some of Helsinki´s most popular markets and let yourself be advised by the locals to buy some seafood like Muikku (fried vendaces) or Kalakukko (seafood quiche but made in a rye bread crust).
In addition, there is a big coffee tradition. There are many cosy places in the city to enjoy a hot cup of coffee with a traditional cinnamon roll. You simply must make time to visit the busy and buzzing Café Regatta, it’s like walking into the pages of a fairytale.
Finland is the country with most saunas per habitant. There are more than 3 million saunas in Finland so almost every house in Helsinki has one. You will easily know what a private sauna looks like if you are staying in an apartment, nevertheless, you should also visit a public sauna while in Helsinki to get the real Finnish sauna experience. You will see locals relaxing or socialising there. It is funny that they don´t talk to strangers while waiting for the bus or in an elevator, but in the sauna they talk about everything.
They truly believe that sauna is good for everyone and everyone is welcome, it does not matter the status or the age. If you are invited by a local to a sauna, do not refuse unless you have a good reason, such an invitation is an honour.
Have you been in Helsinki before? Let us know about your favourite activities or spots there.