Helsinki: The White City of the North

Helsinki Airport Directory (HEL)
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Helsinki, the capital of Finland and the centre of Finland’s education, research, business and culture, is where urban culture meets coastal nature. The easy-going lifestyle of Nordic and the friendly locals make it easy for you to embrace the northern city. It is renowned for its neoclassical architecture, characterised by buildings adorned with white facades and columns. The buildings throughout the city are made of marble, granite and other coloured materials reflecting elegance and sophistication, symbolising Helsinki’s cultural identity and historical environment. This architectural style was inspired by classical Greek and Roman designs. It gained popularity in the 19th century when Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire.

Read news - Opening frontiers to Nordic beauty: IndiGo announces new codeshare connections to Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo with Turkish Airlines

The city is home to numerous museums, theatres and galleries. The Finnish National Museum, the Ateneeum Art Museum and the Design Museum are among some of the renowned cultural institutions showcasing art, history and design. Travellers planning to visit the destination are up for a treat, for they will be mesmerised by its sea-facing landscape, world-famous designs, diverse architectures and mouth-watering Nordic cuisine. Make your journey extra special with IndiGo’s spacious and comfortable seating. The codeshare partnership with Turkish Airlines has led it to provide excellent service.

Best time to visit: It is between May and September when it is considered the best time to visit Helsinki. The weather will be mild, and most travellers will visit this place during this period. But you can expect to experience little rainfall during these months. July will have a maximum temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. 

Since the city has a continental climate, it has hot summers and frigid temperatures. In Helsinki, the average annual temperature is 7 degrees Celsius. July and August here are known to be the hottest months. The yearly rainfall is going to be from August to September. Considering all factors, June is the best time to visit. However, if you are on a tight budget, September and October months will be ideal for you as you will experience little crowd. But a lot of attractions will remain closed during this period. 

Each season has its unique appeal, and the best time to visit depends on your preferences. If you prefer milder weather and a lively atmosphere, summer is ideal. Visiting during the colder months can be rewarding if you enjoy winter activities and festive charm. According to your preferences, you can plan your flights to Helsinki with IndiGo, which offers multiple flight options in a codeshare partnership with Turkish Airlines.

How to reach?

Helsinki, Finland's capital, is well connected and accessible through various modes of transportation. Here are all the details on different ways to reach Helsinki:

By Air: Helsinki-Ventaa Airport (HEL) has consistently ranked as one of the best airports in the world. They offer 350 flights daily, including direct flights to 140 destinations and 25 direct flights to China weekly. IndiGo is one of the best travel options that can give you a hassle-free and efficient travelling experience with its codeshare partnership. It is located 18 km from downtown Helsinki. It is well connected to major cities worldwide. You can reach the city centre by bus, taxi or an efficient train connection called the “I” train from the airport.

By Train: The central railway Station of Helsinki, located in Kluuvi, is the city's commercial centre.It sees approximately 20,000 passengers on a daily basis. It is not just a starting point for all trains in the local VR commuter rail network but also the origin station for many long-distance trains in Finland. It also hosts the Rautatientori metro station, the busiest station of the Helsinki Metro. International trains like the Allegro connect Helsinki with St. Petersburg (Russia).

By Bus: Helsinki has long-distance bus terminals, such as the Kamppi Bus terminal, with services connecting the city to various destinations within Finland and neighbouring countries. It is located centrally and can be reached easily by metro. Intercity buses are a cost-effective option for travel between cities. Buses like 415/415N and 615 operate between the airport and the city centre. You will require an ABC ticket to get to and from the airport, which you can easily purchase from HSL machines, HSL mobile app or sales points like R-kiosk.

By Water: Helsinki receives daily ferries from Sweden, Germany and Estonia. It is also connected by ship to Poland. The shipping lines servicing Helsinki have ships that can also carry ferry cars. The harbours of the city are also connected well with Messukeskus and the Helsinki city Centre. Helsinki is also a popular stop for cruise ships in the Baltic Sea. Cruise ships dock at the West Harbour, South Harbour or Katajanokka terminal. During their stopover, passengers can explore the city.

By Road: Helsinki is accessible by road, and the city is well-connected to the Finnish highway network. If you travel within Finland or from neighbouring countries, you can rent a car or use your vehicle. The E18, E12 and E75 are known to be the main routes that connect to Helsinki.

Getting Around: Helsinki offers a well-developed and efficient public transportation system, making it easy for visitors to explore the city. It has a well-received network of tram, bus, metro, and ferry services. Cycling is known to be a popular transport, especially in the months of summer. You will find dedicated bike lanes on all the major routes. They have 750 km of bike paths. Using public transport is the most popular way of getting around Helsinki. Central Helsinki can be explored easily on foot since the most significant sights like the National Library of Finland, Senate Square, Karl Fazer Cafe, Design Museum and Roch Church are within walking distance.

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Places to visit

Helsinki is dotted with outstanding museums and architectural gems. The city is also titled the ‘Pearl of the Baltic Sea’, near loads of pristine nature and pretty islands. Here are the suggestions of top destinations that are worthy of visiting for people travelling to this city:

  • Temppeliaukio Rock Church: Located at the heart of Helsinki, Temppeliaukio Rock Church is one of the top attractions. The church hall here is covered with a dome lined with copper and is supported on the rock walls reinforced by concrete beams. The interior walls of this church are made up of rubble and rugged rock. This is an ideal sight for those who wish to visit unique churches. The best time to visit this place is in the morning when the sunlight lights up the church's interior. It also has excellent acoustics and is frequently used as a concert venue.
  • Kamppi Chapel: When life goes too hectic, head to Kamppi Chapel. It is a great place when you are seeking a moment of solitude. It is also popularly known as the Chapel of Silence. Sponsored by the city’s Social Service Department and Helsinki parishes, this ecumenical chapel is the best place to calm down. This wooden building is designed very innovatively to resemble the shape of an oval serving dish.
  • Suomenlinna Sea Fortress: Located just off the coast of Helsinki, on a group of six islands, it was built in the mid-18th century when Finland was a part of the Kingdom of Sweden. It was initially named Sveabord in Swedish, meaning “fortress of Svea”. It was constructed to protect against Russian expansion in the Baltic Sea. It has served various military roles under Russian, Swedish and Finnish rule over the years. Submarine Vesikko is a unique attraction on the islands. The islands offer beautiful sea views, and visitors can enjoy picturesque walks along the fortress walls, exploring the lush green areas.
  • Seurasaari Open-air Museum: This open-air museum gives you an excellent way of learning about the ways Finlands used to live in the years gone by. It was opened in 1909 but was closed during the winter months. The best way to enjoy this location is by bringing your picnic lunch as you explore the surroundings. It is the largest museum in Finland that comes with guides dressed in costumes demonstrating daily life activities.
  • Kiasma Museum: The museum certainly lives up to its name which showcases the best Finnish contemporary art. It is located near the parliament in downtown Helsinki, part of Finland’s National Gallery. You will be finding works of over 4000 artists in rectangular rooms.
  • Esplanadi Park: A popular green space in the heart of Helsinki, Esplanade Park is perfect for a stroll, live performances and outdoor events. It has several sculptures and statues, including the famous “Havis Amanda” fountain. The place is also surrounded by popular cafes and restaurants, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely meal, coffee, or ice cream while enjoying the scenic surroundings. It has a well-maintained flowerbed that showcases a variety of blooms throughout the season. It serves as a tranquil retreat for both residents and tourists, providing an opportunity to read, unwind, or just appreciate the natural surroundings. The park’s connection to cultural levels, public art installations and live performances contribute to its dynamic atmosphere.

Places to eat

The combination of flavours offered in Helsinki is unimaginable. The city offers a diverse culinary scene with a mix of traditional Finnish flavours, international cuisine, and innovative dining experiences. Here are a few recommended places to eat in Helsinki:

  • Savotta: Savotta offers an authentic Finnish dining experience in a rustic, log cabin-inspired setting. The menu features traditional Finnish dishes with a modern twist, emphasising local ingredients and flavours. The ambience and cuisine of the restaurant make it a great place to explore Finnish culinary traditions.
  • Baskeri & Basso: It is referred to as BasBas by the locals. You are in for a delicious treat if you get a table at this culinary gem restaurant. Their pasta dish is most recommended. Do not miss it. Also, the garlicky, creamy and perfectly cooked tagliolini was good. They change dishes seasonally, but if you visit the place during the spring, the white asparagus with a horseradish beurre blanc is highly recommendable.
  • Ravintola Olo: This Michelin-starred restaurant is famous for its innovative Nordic cuisine. The chefs at Olo create dishes that highlight the region’s seasonal and local ingredients, delivering a unique and refined dining experience. The restaurant offers both tasting menus and à la carte options. They use the best northern ingredients to create unforgettable taste sensations and combinations in the kitchen.
  • Sandro: Sandro brings a taste of the Middle East and North Africa to Helsinki. It is known for its colourful and vibrant interior. It offers a diverse menu with flavourful dishes like kebabs, tagines and mezze. The relaxed atmosphere and exotic flavours make it a popular choice for those seeking something different.

Shopping places

  • Stockmann: Stockmann is a stunning, historic department store in the city. It is the most famous department store in Helsinki. Over the years, many people have found themselves marvelling at shop windows and clocks. It has 12 floors where you will find everything from branded clothes to exotic treats. The place also has restaurants, coffee shops, a pharmacy, a gym and beauty salons. You will get everything under one roof. It stays open from 10 am to 9 pm from Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, it remains open from 10 am to 7 pm.
  • Kamppi Shopping Centre: This is one of the largest shopping centres in the Nordic countries. It houses various shops, including electronics, fashion and home goods. The complex also features a bus terminal, a metro station and the Kamppi Chapel of Silence. They also have several beauty salons and a bowling alley. Commuting to this shopping centre is the easiest as the basement floor has a metro station, and you can also find a central bus station. 
  • Hietalahti Flea Market: This is a perfect place for anyone looking for a bargain. It takes place in Hietalahdentori, on the western edge of Punavuori. The flea market takes place every day. The market has about 150 vending stalls that sell everything from gently used clothing to antiques and true vintage gems. This renowned open-air market has become the ultimate destination for visitors and locals alike. Serious bargain hunters and collectors often recommend arriving early to get the best selection of items. Its lively atmosphere and the thrill of finding something special make it a worthy place to visit for those who enjoy exploring the offbeat, charming corners of a city.
  • Kiseleff House: Located at the corner of Senaatintori, it is a true heaven for design and fashion fans. It comes with several boutique shops by Finnish designers. It was initially known for local handicrafts, which has re-emerged as an ultra-chic bazaar showcasing contemporary Finnish designs and fashions.

Where to stay? 

  • Hotel Kamp: Located in Phjoisesplanadi, it is a historic luxury hotel. The hotel is known for its elegant rooms, fine dining at the Michelin-starred restaurant YUME and a central location near Senate Square.
  • Hotel Haven: Located close to the south harbour, the hotel is so stylish that it attracts celebrities like Kylie Minogue and Dalai Lama. It provides premium service combined with several homely touches. It has five different room categories for guests, but the best one is the Lux Sea view rooms with stunning harbour views. People who love fresh seafood and gourmet dining will surely want to indulge in a meal at the Havis Restaurant.
  • Hotel St. George: A luxury hotel housed in a historic building, Hotel St. George combines contemporary design with art and culture. It features elegant rooms, a spa and an on-site restaurant. Each of its 53 guestrooms is designed uniquely and has a wide range of excellent modern amenities and luxury fittings. Guests are served breakfast, lunch and dinner at the restaurant Andrea, which is furnished elegantly.
  • Clarion Hotel Helsinki: This hotel is located conveniently on the eighth floor of Helsinki’s airport. This is the best choice for business travellers who prefer to be surrounded by luxury. Celebrated designer Jaakko Puro has designed the guestroom, and it features several contemporary elements for those who love luxury like huge walk-in showers and ambient lighting control. Guests can also relax in a sauna after coming from a long flight.

More reasons to visit

  • The urban nature: One-third of Helsinki is filled with green space. The city is mixed with urban and cosmopolitan culture. It is also open to the sea and close to nature. The city boasts numerous parks and green areas that provide a respite from the urban hustle. Kaivopuisto, Esplanadi Park and Sinebrychoff Park are among the green spaces in the city where people can enjoy a picnic, relax or enjoy nature. It is a bike-friendly city with well-maintained bike lanes, making it easy for people to commute on foot and explore the city on two wheels.
  • Sauna culture: Finland is known for its sauna culture, and Helsinki is no exception. Experience the traditional Finnish sauna at places like Löyly, where you can enjoy a relaxing sauna session followed by a refreshing dip in the Baltic River. 
  • Design and architecture: Helsinki is renowned for its cutting-edge design and architecture. The city is home to the famous Design District, showcasing Finnish design in galleries, boutiques and museums. Architectural highlights include the contemporary Kamppi Chapel of Silence, the modern Kamppi Centre and the iconic Helsinki Central Railway Station.
  • Innovative culinary scene: Experience Helsinki’s diverse and evolving food scene. From traditional Finnish dishes to international cuisines, you can enjoy a range of culinary delights. Enjoy local dishes like reindeer, salmon and Karelian pastries. Explore the food markers, such as the Market Square and the Hakaniemi Market Hall and try the trendy restaurants and cafes of the city.

Visa and Immigration

Indians need a Schengen visa to visit Finland or any city in Finland. This is an entry point for people visiting temporarily, or for less than 90 days. Citizens of many countries, such as Canada, the United States, Australia, and most European countries, do not require a visa for short stays in the Schengen Area. However, they must ensure their passport is valid for at least three months beyond the intended departure date. To know more about how to apply for a Finland visa from India, visit our Finland visa guide.

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