In my opinion, Helsinki is truly a hidden gem when it comes to photography. Although it happens to be the most populous city in the country (and also the capital), its proximity to nature makes it an excellent destination for both travelers who prefer the outdoors as well as those who prefer a metropolitan lifestyle. With trendy restaurants, unique yet impressive architecture, and the friendliest locals you’ll ever meet, I highly recommend putting Helsinki at the top of your bucket list. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting my favorite Nordic city soon, make sure to keep reading to discover the most photo-worthy spots in Helsinki, Finland!
You can’t exactly leave “the most colorful street in Helsinki” off a photo list, can you? Huvilakatu translates to “villa street”, and as can be imagined, these candy-colored castles don’t come cheap. However, with a little bit of investigating, I did find out that some of these homes are on Air B&B! So, if you’re interested, you could stay in one of these famous villas during your trip. As far as planning a time to visit, I recommend stopping by the Design Museum first and then taking the short walk from there to Huvilakatu. I loved learning a little about the history of design and then seeing Art Nouveau come to life in the form of these vibrant homes!
Address: Huvilakatu, 00150 Helsinki
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
Once a Swedish fortification against Russian expansionism, Suomenlinna now serves as a popular (and inhabited) UNESCO World Heritage site. No matter the time of year that you visit Helsinki, this island is 100% worth a visit. Phoebe and I found our day trip to Suomenlinna to be a sweet escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. To arrive at the island from downtown Helsinki, all you have to do is take a short ferry ride from Market Square. Once there, hit the ground on this easily-walkable island to discover its museums, colorful cabins, and beautiful landscapes. We gave ourselves plenty of time to explore Suomenlinna, and I would urge you to plan on spending at least three hours there to see everything.
For up-to-date information on arriving at Suomenlinna by ferry, click here.
Address for Market Square: Eteläranta, 00170 Helsinki
For the best hot chocolate and cinnamon buns in Helsinki, look no further than Café Regatta. This adorable cabin-turned-café is a hotspot for photos due to its quaint charm. Although it only has space for a few tables, the inside of this hut reminded me of Cracker Barrel as it’s filled with all sorts of antique items. Café Regatta is located right next to the sea and is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. We witnessed a special surprise during our visit– the body of water next to the café was completely frozen, and many locals were crossing it on foot! This activity is normal when the water freezes for a certain period and is considered safe to cross. So, in summary, you might even be able to grab a hot chocolate and then proceed to “walk on water”. Isn’t that a genuinely Finnish winter experience?
Address: Merikannontie 8, 00260 Helsinki
Solo Sokos Hotel Torni
After a long day of exploring Helsinki, you may want to sit back, relax, and enjoy a typical Finnish cocktail. If this sounds like you, you can’t miss the view from Solo Sokos Hotel Torni. To reach the hotel’s rooftop bar, you’ll have to take the hotel elevator to the top floor and then walk up a short spiral staircase. In the winter, Ateljée Bar is the perfect escape from the cold! Yes, the drinks may be a bit pricey (alcohol is expensive in Finland in general), but the free panoramic view of the city skyline in unbeatable.
Ateljée Bar’s hours are the following (I recommend dropping by for sunset!):
Mon – Thu 14.00–01.00
Address: Yrjönkatu 26, 00100 Helsinki
I found Uspenski Cathedral to be the most beautiful church in Helsinki, with its commanding presence on a hillside near Market Square. This cathedral is an exciting example of Russian Architecture, being home to the Eastern Orthodox Church in the capital. If you have a moment to step inside after snapping your photo, I recommend doing so (it’s free, after all!).
Address: Kanavakatu 1, 00160 Helsinki
Kuuma Café is undoubtedly a hotspot for all Helsinki hipsters as well as those looking to take the perfect foodie photo. Apart from their delicious coffee, Kuuma serves an all-day breakfast, with one of their most popular options being avocado toast. We stopped by this café to escape the cold weather for a bit, and it was the perfect resting spot! With plenty of seating room, I recommend grabbing a cup of coffee here after a long day of exploring the city. However, keep in mind that this locale is closed on Mondays.
Address: Albertinkatu 6, 00150 Helsinki
Allas Sea Pool
My most unforgettable moment in Helsinki was experiencing a Finnish sauna for the first time. In Finnish culture, mental and physical relaxation is highly valued, thus leading to the significant presence of saunas in the country. I chose to visit the Allas Sea Pool when I had the chance because I found it to have the most alluring location: next to the ocean and Market Square. Between the contrast of the water and the cityscape, this sea pool is an excellent spot for a photo!
For those of you who haven’t had the chance to experience a Finnish sauna before, here’s how the process works at Allas. First, you’ll pay to enter and be given a towel. Then, you’ll go to the changing room (separate for men and women), place your belongings in a locker, and put on your bathing suit. From there, you’ll alternate between the hot sauna room and the cold pool outside. If you’re feeling courageous, you can even go into the ice pool. This back-and-forth change between the temperatures provides various health benefits, such as boosting your circulation. After leaving, I felt warm, awake (like I had just had a cup of coffee!), and rejuvenated. Remember that it’s essential to drink plenty of water before and after the sauna!
Address: Katajanokanlaituri 2a, 00160 Helsinki
Helsinki Cathedral is a Finnish Lutheran church that can be found in Senate Square. One of the most recognizable buildings in the city, this cathedral was originally built between 1830-1852. Nowadays, it’s still used for both religious services as well as events such as weddings. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this towering white building covered in snow! Take a moment to check out the other structures making up Senate Square, including the Government Palace, the University of Helsinki, and Sederholm House.
Address: Unioninkatu 29, 00170 Helsinki
This article was sponsored by My Helsinki, who graciously invited me to spend a week in their city. Nonetheless, all opinions are my own.
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