A Day in Helsinki

When we visited Finland during this European trip, my friend and I ended up the Finnish journey in the Capital before our ferry for Tallinn. We parked the car on the free parking next to Hietaniemi beach.


Next to this, the conservatory Laulupuut is offering free concerts from student every hour from 12 to 16 so we went to see if we could listen to something.

Morning and Lunch

We started the day

At the tourist centre where we got a map of the city centre as well as an idea of the best attractions that could be experienced in a day. The tourist centre is located right next to the central station where you can admire those massive statues designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1914. Architect Eliel Saarinen and his son Eero were said to be time travellers from the future with an interest in transport because their transport buildings are adrift in time, built years earlier than seems possible based on their appearance. “Helsinki Central’s most famous feature is its main entrance, which has a huge arched window (one of the features that would become emblematic of later American Art Deco stations). The entrance is flanked by Helsinki Central’s most iconic feature: four huge statues, two on each side, each of which hold globe-shaped lamps.

The central station is is beside the central library Oodi, a massive modern building where we entered freely and walked around. Oodi is a striking building with its glass and steel structures and wooden facade, its design a combination of traditional and contemporary flavours. The energy-efficient library is an impressive calling card for Finnish architecture. ALA Architects is responsible for the architectural planning and YIT is the building contractor.

Unfortunately the rooms was full when we arrived so we kept on walking towards the harbour and went for lunch into the Old Market Hall. The Old Market Hall  is Finland’s oldest indoor market serving some traditional treats and has served its customers since 1889. Merchants sell all sorts of cheese, fish, shellfish, vegetable, fruit and cakes to spices, coffee and tea.  To be completely fair, apart from the lovely architecture and the location, I felt like the shops and restaurants inside were too touristic oriented and not as authentic as I had hoped for.

In the afternoon

Once back outside, we walked towards the market tents located on the harbour and bought some souvenirs before heading towards the Ouspenski Cathedral, claimed to be the largest orthodox church in Western Europe. This is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary) and  has been designed by the Russian architect Aleksey Gornostayev. Used in construction of the cathedral, 700 000 bricks were brought over in barges from the Bomarsund Fortress that had been demolished in the Crimean War!

The building is majestic inside and out. and is really worth the look, also because it’s right next to the historical centre of the city. We wandered down the small streets towards Helsinki’s Cathedral and Senaatintori square in front of it.

The Heart of the City

Senaatintori has been the central public space in Helsinki since the 17th century. Though its location has remained the same, Senaatintori has taken several different forms since it was first designed, transforming alongside the country’s changing ideas about social and civic life. Senaatintori’s contemporary form was designed in the early 19th century, when Tsar Alexander II moved the capital of Finland from Turku to Helsinki, to demonstrate the new Russian regime in Finland. Architect Carl Ludvig Engel adapted the square’s design to represent the four powers of the state, as conceived at the time: the senate, the church, education, and commerce. Each of these state powers was assigned a side of the square, and a Government Palace, Lutheran Cathedral, university, and merchant houses were built. Today the institutions occupying the square are still symbolic of the powers of the state defined over two centuries ago; the Government Palace is now the site of the Palace of the Council State, the National Library of Finland has taken the place of the old university, the merchant houses have been taken down to make room for an open-air bazaar and city offices, while the Lutheran Cathedral remains unchanged.

Kept exploring…

After that we walked back towards the central station where I bought a vegan Thai noodles dish from a food truck which was absolutely delicious.

We headed towards Kamppi chapel which is a immense wood structure next to the station with a complete sound proof room to get away from the city centre craziness.

Right next to that is Lasipalatsin Aukio, an artistic playground on top of a museum. The goal was to create a unique place for meeting, for spending time, and for urban events. The art museum’s gently curved domes mark out various scales for diverse activities in the Square. These hill-like shapes are mostly sloped so as to allow people to walk over them. They serve as grandstands, stages or platforms for spending time freely.

The happiest I am is when I’m travelling.

We then walked to visit the Temppeliaukion, the underground church. That day, the entrance was free and the piano player was practicing which gave a magical and spiritual atmosphere to the place. The interior was excavated and built directly out of solid rock and is bathed in natural light which enters through the skylight surrounding the center copper dome. 

In the evening

We were starting to get a little cold

And headed for a warm chocolate and some pastries at Regata, a coffee place next to the water with outdoor fire places to enjoy some grilled sausages or marshmallows.

Right next to there is an outdoor art installation called Sibelius Monument that we went to check out before diner.

We headed for diner at The Cock, a delicious restaurant in the centre where we had booked a table.

The décor and the food were very tasty and we really enjoyed treating ourselves.

We finished our evening with a drink at the karaoke place right next to the restaurant before heading towards the ferry terminal for our journey towards Tallinn, Estonia.