4. Helsinki Design MuseumIf there’s one thing the Scandinavians are famous for, it’s beautiful modern design, and the Helsinki Design Museum provides an in-depth overview of how Finnish design has evolved over the years. The exhibition includes examples of Finnish furniture, clothes, ceramics and glassware from the past 100 years or so, and what’s striking is just how revolutionary the simple, smooth lines of the modern Finnish style were in comparison to the more ornate, traditional designs that came before. After a visit to the museum, it’s all too easy to get carried away and find yourself buying hideously expensive new chairs from the famous Artek store just down the road. You have been warned.*Opening times:** (Sept to May) Closed Mon, Tues 11am – 8pm, Wed to Sun 11am – 6pm; (June to Aug) Mon to Sun 11am – 6pmLocation: Helsinki Design District, Korkeavuorenkatu 23Price: Adults €10, Concessions €5-8 7. Take a culinary tour on Restaurant DayThe first Restaurant Day happened on 21 May 2011. Antti Tuomola, Olli Sirén and Timo Santala, frustrated with the bureaucracy involved in setting up a restaurant, instead decided to create pop-up restaurants for one day only and encouraged others to do the same. The first Restaurant Day featured 45 pop-up restaurants, but since then the idea has exploded, and an estimated 1,000,000 customers have now been served in Helsinki and other cities that have taken up the idea. Helpfully, the Finnish authorities tend to turn a blind eye to the flouting of the bureaucratic rules that would normally prohibit this sort of thing, and instead actively promote the Restaurant Days, which take place four times a year. If you can time your visit for one of these celebrations, you might find yourself eating tapas from the back of a bike, or tucking into freshly baked bagels in someone’s living room. Find out the next dates on the website, or plan your city break for the third Saturday of May, when there’s an especially big food carnival every year to celebrate Restaurant Day’s birthday.8. Senate SquareSenate Square is one of the oldest parts of the city, and this huge piazza is home to a checklist of the most important buildings so it’s a great place to start exploring if you’re just on a short break in Helsinki. Among them are the University of Helsinki, the Government Palace and Helsinki Cathedral, the latter topping the square like an enormous white wedding cake. In the centre is a statue of Czar Alexander II, which became a site of protest during the reign of Nicholas II in the early twentieth century. In response to Nicholas’s attempted ‘Russification’ of Finland, locals protested by laying flowers at the foot of Alexander – the czar who re-established the Diet of Finland in 1863. Senate Square also plays host to concerts and various events throughout the year. 3. See Finnish Art NouveauHelsinki is a thoroughly pleasant city to walk around thanks to its clean, uncrowded streets, but chiefly because it’s packed full of beautiful buildings. Much of the city (around 600 buildings) and pretty much all of the Katajanokka district was built in the Art Nouveau style in the early twentieth century. But Finnish Art Nouveau differs in that buildings tend to be almost fortress-like, yet in pastel colours and with splashes of surprising and intricate decoration – a sculpted balcony here, or an ornate door there. Take a stroll around Katajanokka and keep your eyes peeled for these wonderful architectural flourishes. How to get to HelsinkiThere are direct flights to Helsinki from UK airports like Manchester, and 9 different non-stop routes operate from London everyday in under 3 hours flight-time. Finnair and British Airways run the service from Heathrow, while low-cost airline Norwegian Air flies from Gatwick.Helsinki Vantaa Airport is located 20km from the city centre, with a direct rail connection, public buses and hotel shuttles from nearby airport hotels like Holiday Inn Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and Best Western Airport Hotel Pilotti.Start planning your trip now! Here’s the first step to finding the cheapest flights to Helsinki:ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map 5. Hotel KatajanokkaHotel Katajanokka makes for an unlikely place to stay and is a Helsinki attraction in its own right – until 2002 it was a prison. Then Best Western took over the building and knocked the cells together – each of the resulting hotel rooms was originally two to three cells. But otherwise the prison décor remains, so rooms have enormous metal doors and the gantry that was once patrolled by prison guards is now stalked by holidaying families. The enormously thick walls certainly keep the cold and noise out and give you a snug, protected feeling (mostly because you have a key to get out, unlike the previous residents). 9. Eat at SoppakeittioSoppakeittio, which has branches in all three of Helsinki’s market halls, makes arguably the best soup in Finland, if not further afield. The menu for this restaurant changes daily and usually offers just a couple of soups with bread, but they’re always exceptionally tasty, particularly the seafood varieties. Opening times: 11am – 5pm, except SundaysLocations: Hakaniemen kauppahalli, Hietalahden kauppahalli & Vanha kauppahalli (Old Market Hall)Price: Soups from €9 15. Take a trip to TallinnTallinn, the capital of Estonia, is only two-and-a-half hours away from Helsinki by ferry, and it’s easy to get there and back in a day. With its fairy-tale good looks, soaring church spires and medieval buildings, Tallinn makes for a fascinating contrast with the relatively modern buildings of Helsinki. You should have around four hours to explore (unless you opt to stay overnight), which is enough time to admire the colourful buildings of the old town and scamper up Toompea Hill for the view, then grab some dinner before you leave – try Sfäär for a modern contrast to the historic architecture. Read more about what to see and do in our travel guide to Tallinn. 10. Helsinki MarketsOnce you’ve had your soup, take some time to wander around the beautiful wooden stalls of the food markets – the recently refurbished Old Market Hall is probably the highlight, but the Hakaniemi and Hietalahti market halls are almost equally as charming. Round the corner from the Old Market Hall is Helsinki’s Market Square next to the harbour, which is where you’ll find some of the best souvenir and handicrafts shopping in the city.11. Temppeliaukio ChurchOtherwise known as the Rock Church for its unusual design built into, and out of the rockface, this unique building in the quiet Toolo neighbourhood was constructed in 1969 using existing rock as its walls and a copper dome as the roof. It’s not only a House of God, but an incredible concert venue; check for choral and classical shows during your visit.*Opening times:** According to weekly activities; tel. +358 (0)9 2340 5940 to hear the scheduleLocation: Lutherinkatu 3, TooloPrice: Adults €3, Under 18s free 6. Uspenski CathedralWant to see Helsinki from on high? Head to this Eastern Orthodox Church set on a hilltop overlooking the city, harbour and the Baltic Sea beyond. It’s a pretty sight itself, decked out in the ornate architectural style and capped with gold domes that give more than a hint of Finland’s past as a Russian outpost. Look inside to admire the richly decorated and colourful vaults, altars and cupolas, and Byzantine detailing, unlike anything you’ll see in Western Europe.Opening times: Mon to Fri 9:30am – 4pm, Sat & Sun 12pm – 3pm, closed on Mondays between Oct and AprilLocation: Pormestarinrinne 1, Katajanokka peninsulaPrice: Free 12. Seurasaari Open-Air MuseumOne of many islands that make up Helsinki’s archipelago, Seurasaari is a gorgeous oasis of green in the Baltic Sea. Though it’s a beautiful spot to explore on your own, visitors tend to come for the open-air museum dedicated to preserving traditional Finnish life, featuring farm and cottage buildings taken from all over the country, and demonstrating architectural styles spanning four centuries. *Opening times:** (15 to 31 May & 1 to 15 Sept) Mon to Fri 9am – 3pm, Sat & Sun 11am – 5pm. (June to Aug) Mon to Sun 11am – 5pmLocation: SeurasaariPrice: Adults (summer) €9, (May & Sept) €6. Children 7-17yrs €3 Search for flights to Helsinki1. Eat a reindeerReindeer have been a staple part of the traditional Finnish diet since time immemorial, along with fish, game and berries. And they’re delicious, too. In fact Finnish cuisine is delicious full stop, and the standard of food in restaurants across the city is top-notch… along with the prices. That said, it’s generally no more expensive to eat out here than in an upscale London restaurant; a particular recommendation is Ravintola Aino, which serves traditional Finnish food, including reindeer, with a modern twist. 14. AteneumThis elegant white building on Rautatientori Square houses part of the Finnish National Gallery’s collection of national and international art. The Ateneum is the best place to get a handle on the accomplished back catalogue of Finnish art, often overlooked in European art circles, with more than 4300 paintings and 750 sculptures, as well as special exhibitions on graphic artists, architects and designers.*Opening times:** Tue/Fri 10am – 6pm; Weds/Thurs 10am – 8pm, Sat/Sun 10am – 5pm; closed MondaysLocation: Rautatientori Square, Kaivokatu 2Price: Adults €15, Concessions €13, Under 18s free 2. Suomenlinna FortressSuomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that makes for a fun day trip. For a start, it’s a sea fortress, spread across five islands and only reachable by ferry (don’t worry, it’s only ten minutes from the city!). Construction on the fortress was begun in 1758 by the Swedes (who occupied Finland at the time) as a defence against the Russians. Nowadays, it’s a popular picnicking spot for Finns, as well as the location for a number of artists’ studios, an arts centre and even a theatre. Clambering around the canons, tunnels and fortifications is enormous fun for the young at heart…and did we mention that there’s a WWII submarine you can go inside? Guided walks are offered in English on Saturday and Sunday so it’s perfect for weekend breaks in Helsinki. See the website for opening times of individual museums. 13. Sibelius MonumentHelsinki’s unusual attractions continue, with this abstract sculpture dedicated to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, created in 1967. It’s worth a look to marvel at more than 600 steel pipes constructed in a light, organic form by artist Eila Hiltunen, mirroring the nearby trees in Sibelius Park.