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10 Things to Do in Helsinki

26 June 2016
By Kimberly Enger

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With a backdrop of more than 300 islands, Helsinki’s setting on the Baltic Sea is unique. While you’re at ICANN56, make time to explore the sights of Helsinki. Appreciate its natural beauty while you take in its architectural, historical and cultural offerings.

1. Visit Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square. Carl Ludwig Engle designed the four Neoclassical buildings that dominate the square: Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland.

2. Uspenski Cathedral is the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe. The red brick edifice combines Eastern and Western styles. The interior reflects both Byzantine and Italian influences.

3. The unique architecture of the Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church) makes it one of the most important structures in Finland. Completed in 1969, the church was excavated from the natural bedrock.

4. Lined with cafes and restaurants, the Esplanade Park is popular with locals and tourists. The Market Square is located on the harbor at the beginning of the Esplanade, and sells market foods, handicrafts and souvenirs.

5. If you’re interested in art, visit the Finnish National Gallery, which comprises three separate museums: the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, the Ateneum Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. The collections include Finnish and foreign works from the 1300s to the present.

6. The Seurasaari Open-Air Museum on Seurasaari Island presents traditional Finnish life and culture in a natural setting. Its manors, farmsteads and cottages were moved to the island from all over Finland. The museum hosts a number of midsummer activities.

7. Suomenlinna is a fortress built on an island off the coast of Helsinki. Begun in 1748, Suomenlinna’s history spans the Swedish, Russian and independent eras. In 1991, Suomenlinna was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

8. Finland is known for its minimalistic, functional and clean design. Helsinki’s Design District is perfect for shopping or for just appreciating Finland’s design culture.

9. Escape to the Helsinki Islands. From the Market Square, you can catch a ferry to one of the many nearby islands, or take a Helsinki Archipelago sightseeing cruise.

10. Enjoy Helsinki’s saunas. A place to cleanse and relax, the sauna is a central aspect of Finnish culture. Saunas are part of Finnish holiday rituals, and have even figured in business and political negotiations. 


Kimberly Enger