Helsinki attractions of Interest to Children
The Theatre Museum
Kaapelitehdas (Cable factory), Tallberginkatu 1 G.
Exhibitions open: Tue–Sun 12–19, Mon closed.
Exhibitions devoted to Finnish theatre and magic. Children can also borrow the costumes and wear them in their own stage productions.
Finnish Museum of Natural History
Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13. Open: Mon-Fri 9-17. Sat-Sun 11-16.
Finnish and foreign mammals, birds and fishes in natural environments. The Zoological Museum, part of the Finnish Museum of Natural History, has by far the largest animal collection, containing about 8 million items. Every year the collections increase by tens of thousands of specimens. Special children’s events and exhibits
Dance Theatre Hurjaruuth
Kaapelitehdas (Cable factory)
Tallberginkatu 1 A.
A dynamic dance theatre company – founded in 1981. Hurjaruuth has its own studio at Cable factory.
(Green Apple) Puppet Theatre
Eläintarhan huvila 7,
09-701 2483, 09-712 818, Fax 09-712 818.
Finland’s oldest professional puppet theatre. telephone for times and performances.
tel. 169 5969
Special admission rates for children, families, seniors.
May-Sept. daily 10-8;Oct.-Feb. daily 10-4;March, April: daily 10-6..
Korkeasaari is an island, which you can reach by water bus from Hakaniemi and the Market Square in May-September or across the bridge at any time of the year.
Take bus 16 to Kulosaari and walk just over a mile. During the summer season, there is a special “zoo bus”, which runs from Kulosaari right to the gate of Korkeasaari.
The zoo on the island of Korkeasaari is mainly inhabited by northern species of animals, but it also has the “mini rain forest” Amazonia and Feline House, with creatures from warmer climates than Finland
Korkeasaari, when it opened in 1884, was the first park in Helsinki where anyone, regardless of rank or wealth, was welcome. With the sea all around, it also offered more freedom and open spaces than the parks in the city.
Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Open Tue 9.00 – 17.00Wed – Sun 10 – 22Mon closed
Admission: charged; children under 18 free.
As an architectural creation, Kiasma is exciting. Its creator Steven Holl envisioned it as a structure of intersecting arcs, which would dovetail with the urban structure of the city as well as with the natural environment of the park landscape surrounding Töölönlahti Bay.
The Arctic light was one of Holl’s main sources of inspiration. The light enters the Kiasma building from different sides and at a variety of angles. As the planet rotates and the hours pass, there is constant variation in the influx of light and the effect it creates.
Children have their own center in Kiasma.. There is also a workshop, where courses are arranged. In Kiasma’s philosophy, works of art can be interpreted in more than one correct way, and exploration is encouraged.
Heureka, Finnish Science Centre
Tiedepuisto 1, Tikkurila town centre, Vantaa
There is a good commuter train service between Helsinki and Tikkurila station, which is close to Heureka.
Small children are well provided for. There are special rides for them and a separate area called Satulaakso (“Fairy Tale Valley”) with a children’s theater.
Heureka Science Centre
The exhibitions at the Heureka Science Centre are designed for the “hands-on” visitor participation.. The whole idea is to touch things, move them and find out how they work. The basic exhibition presents science from a somewhat different than usual angle. Heureka is entertaining and informative for the whole family. There are frequent changing exhibitions on many subjects. The Verne Theatre presents movies on science-related themes.
Linnanmäki Amusement Park
Open from the beginning of May to the end of August.
The cliffs of Linnanmäki have been a popular playground for many generations of Helsinki children. Now the amusement park has a museum dedicated to toys and games. It is open all year round.
The Linnanmäki amusement park is a favorite with children and adults alike. The fun begins at the end of April and continues in full swing until the beginning of September. When Linnanmäki opens its gates, everyone in Helsinki knows that summer has arrived!
Water slides, gaming arcade, roller coaster, the Octopus, the Space Shot, the Enterprise, the Rainbow and the Flying Carpet are a few of the favorites.
Linnanmäki has its own theatre, the Peacock, which produces a new revue every summer. Finnish celebrities, current phenomena and, of course, politicians become the subjects of merciless satire
Hundreds of Finnish and international artistes perform on the outdoor stage at Linnanmäki each season: pop singers, acrobats, dancers, magicians and jugglers.
Museums and Other Attractions
Ateneumin Taidemuseo (Ateneum Museum of Finnish Art)
Tel. +358 (0)9-173-361
Tues.-Fri. 9am-6pm (also Wed.-Thurs. 6pm-8pm) Sat., Sun. 11am-5pm. Mon. closed
Tram 2,3,4,6; all buses to Rautatientori Square
is the principal gallery and covers Finnish and international art from the 19th century. It is housed in a handsome 19th century building.
Senaatintori (Senate Square)
Tram 3B, 3T, 1,2,4,7
Site of many summer festivals and events
The harmony of the three buildings flanking Senaatintori exemplifies neoclassical architecture. The architecture is in the Russian Imperial style which was encouraged by Tsar Alexander I in his bid to make Helsinki a stylistically eastern capital after it was annexed by Russia from Sweden in 1809. The asquare and its major buildings were designed by German architect Carl Ludvig Engel.
On the square’s west side is one of the main buildings of Helsingin Yliopisto (Helsinki University); on the east side is the pale yellow Valtionneuvosto (Council of State), completed in 1822. At the lower end of the square, stores and restaurants now occupy former merchants’ homes.
Grand Casino Helsinki (Casino Ray)
Tel. +358 (0)9 680 800
Opens 12pm – 4am
Casino is a combination of modern and traditional, casino games, entertainment and culinary delicacies. Casino is a world of experiences – Welcome!
Finlandiatalo (Finlandia Hall)
This white, winged concert hall was one of architectAlvar Aalto’s last creations. It is especially impressive on foggy days or at night. Guided tour.
Tel: +358 (0)9 402-4246
Guided ours are offered. InfoShop open June-Aug., weekdays 9am-4pm, weekends noon-4pm for inquiries and tickets.
Concerts are usually held in the evening.
Gallen-Kallelantie 27, Tarvaspää
Tel: +358 (0)9 541-3388.
Take Tram 4 from in front of the Sokos department store on Mannerheimintie. From the Munkkiniemi stop transfer to Bus 33, or walk the 1 mile through the woods to the Estate.
May-Aug: Mon.-Thurs. 10-8, Fri.-Sun. 10-5; Sept -May, Tues.-Sat. 10-4, Sun. 10-5.
Six miles northwest of Helsinki on the edge of the sea is the estate of the Finnish Romantic painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela (which the artist designed himself). Gallen-Kallela lived there from its completion in 1913 until his death in 1931. Inside, the open rooms of the painter’s former work spaces make the perfect exhibition hall for his paintings.
Helsingin Kaupunginmuseo (Helsinki City Museum)
Tel: +358 (0)9 169-3933
Mon-Fri 9-5; Sat.,Sun. 11-5
Headquartered in the ‘street museum” of Sofiankantu, the City Museum has branches throughout the city, including the nearby Sederhom House. The main museum has an informative exhibit on the history of Helsinki. The “Street Museum” portrays changing styles of street architecture. Start at the harbor end and walk on the cobbled streets past the artifacts. The walk begins in the 800’s and ends in the 1930’s.
Linja-autosema. Hvitträskintie 166, Luoma, Kirkkonummi,
Tel. +358 (0)9 4050 9630
Bus 166 from Helsinki’s main bus station (45 min. ride).
Apr-Oct: Mon-Sun 11am-6pm; Nov-Mar: Tue-Sun 11am-5pm, Mon closed
On the northwest edge of the Espoo area, 25 miles west of Helsinki, is the studio home of architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren, and Eliel Saarinen. In an idyllic position at the top of a wooded slope, the property dates back to the turn of the century, and has been converted into a museum. The main house is constructed in the national Art Nouveau style, with its rustic detail and paintings by Akseli Gallen-Kallela. Saarinen lived here, and his grave is nearby.
Exhibitions are arranged in summer. There is a delightful sauna beside the lake and the whole area is a ruggedly-beautiful nature park.
Kaivopuisto (Well Park)
South of Puistok. on the water.
This large, shady, path-filled park was once the site of a popular spa that drew people from St. Petersburg, Tallinn, and all of Scandinavia until its popularity faded during the Crimean War. All the spa structures were eventually destroyed except one, the Kaivohuone, which is now a popular restaurant. Across from the entrance of Kaivohuone, take Kaivohuoneenrinne through the park past an Empire-style villa built by Albert Edelfelt, father of the famous Finnish painter who bore the same name. Built in 1839, it is the oldest preserved villa in the park.
Kauppatori (Market Square)
Eteläranta and Pohjoisespl.
Mon-Fri 6.30am-6pm, Sat 6.30am-4pm; May 9-September 26 also on Sun 9am-4pm.
Located on the South Harbour at the end of the Esplanade Park. At this well known Helsinki market, open year-round, wooden stands with orange and gold awnings welcome tourists and locals alike who come to shop, browse, or sit and enjoy coffee and conversation. You can buy a fresh perch, a bouquet of flowers, or a fur pelt or hat. In summer the fruit and vegetable stalls are supplemented by an evening arts and crafts market.
Luonnontieteellinen Museo (Natural History Museum)
Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13
Tel: +358 (0)9 191-28800
Mondays: closed. Tuesday-Friday: 9-17 (9 am – 5 pm), Saturday-Sunday: 11-16 (11 am – 4 pm)
Bus 16,23,21v; tram 4,10
The museum is guarded by a bronze elk, just one of many animals in the museum’s vast collection. The mammal hall is one of the best in Europe, a series of tableaux showing Finnish wildlife in their native habitats.
Nykytaiteen museo Kiasma (Museum of Contemporary Art)
Bus 16, 13, 21v; tram 4,10
Tel: +358 (0)9 1733-6501.
Check the website for opening hours.
Praised for the boldness of its curved steel shell, the bold postmodern design is the creation of American architect, Stephen Holl. This striking museum opened in 1998 and displays a wealth of Finnish and foreign art from the 1960s to the present.
Sederholmin Talo (Sederholm House)
Tel: +358 (0)9 169-3625
Daily 11-5 (June-Aug.) Wed-Sun. 11-5, rest of the year.
Tram 3B, 3T, 1, 4
This is said to be the oldest house in Helsinki. Its one time owner, Johan Sederholm, was an 18th century Finnish businessman who rose from poverty to great wealth and distinction.
Seurasaaren Ulkomuseo (Seurasaari Open Air Museum)
a 40 minute walk from the opera house or take Bus 24 from city center.
There are guided tours in English at 11:30 and 3:30.
Tel: +358 (0)9 4050-9660 in summer; Tel: +358 (0)9 4050-9574 in winter.
15.5.-31.5. Mon-Fri 9am – 3pm, Sat-Sun 11am – 5pm; 1.6.-31.8. Mon-Sun 11am – 5pm, Wed until 7pm; 1.9.-15.9. Mon-Fri 9am – 3pm, Sat-Sun 11am – 5pm.
Located on an island about 2 miles northwest of the city center, the Seurasaari Outdoor Museum was founded in 1909 to preserve rural Finnish architecture. Its vintage farmhouses and barns were brought to Seurasaari from all over Finland; many are rough-hewn log buildings dating from the 17th century. All exhibits are marked by signposts along the trails. There are nearly 100 marvelous buildings to explore including a manor house, traditional farmhouses and a church, some dating from the 17th century. . Seurasaari Island is connected to land by a pedestrian bridge, and is easily reached from central Helsinki.
The Sibelius-Monumentti (Sibelius Monument)
West of Mechelinin.
The monument, by itself, is worth the walk to this lakeside park. What could be a better tribute to Finland’s great composer than this soaring silver sculpture of organ pipes.
Suomen Kansallismuseo (National Museum of Finland)
Tel: +358 (0)9 4050 9470
Tues.-Wed. 11-8; Thurs.-Sun. 11-6.
Eliel Saarinen and his partners blend characteristics of Finnish medieval churches and castles with elements of Art Nouveau in this example of the National Romantic style, which recently reopened after renovations. The museum’s archaeological, cultural, and ethnological collections explore Finnish life from prehistoric times to the present.
University of Helsinki Botanical Gardens
Kaisaniemi, Unioninkatu 44
The Botanical Gardens are open Tue-Sun 11 – 17. The outdoor gardens are open 7 – 8 daily May-Sept.; 7 – 6 during the rest of the year.
Admission charged for entry to greenhouses. There is no charge for admission to the outdoor garden areas.
The Botanical Gardens belonging to the University of Helsinki are in Kaisaniemi, a short walk from the Railway Station towards Hakaniemi. They consist of a large outdoor area surrounding the greenhouses, which have just reopened after a major renovation.
Kumpula Gardens (University of Helsinki)
City Conservatory (Helsinki City Winter Gardens)
Open: Mon-Sat 12 – 15 and Sun 12 – 16.
Meiramitie 1, Vantaa
Open in winter Mon-Fri 8 –7, Sat-Sun 9 –5; in summer Mon-Fri 8 –6 and Sat-Sun 9 -3
Suomenlinna (Finland’s Castle)
From June 1 to August 31, guided English-language tours leave from the ticket booth at Artillery Bay daily at 10:30, 1, and 2
Ferries leave at half hourly intervals from the Market Pier
(Ehrensvärd-society, Tel: +358 (0)9 6841850).
Tel: +358 (0)9 6841880 (tourist information).
The historic fortress is built on four interconnecting islands. There are several museums on Suomenlinna, including a main exhibition center, the Military Museum, the Coast Artillery Museum, and a doll and toy museum. There are also several art galleries, craft studios and restaurants. Exquisite gardens and acres of parkland make this a
perennially popular excursion from Helsinki.
Museums On Suomenlinna
Tel: +358 (0)9 668 880
Tel: +358 (0)9 668 154
Once the residence of the fortress commandant, the museum is named in honor of Augustin Ehrensvärd, under whose direction most of the fortifications were built.
Suomenlinna Doll and Toy Museum
Tel: +358 (0)9 668 417.
A private museum in an old Russian villa.
Tel: +358 (0)9 181 46238
250-ton coastal submarine used during the second world war.
Coastal Artillery Museum
Tel: +358 (0)9 1814 5295
300 years of coastal defense equipment
Tel: +358 (0)9 1814 5296
Heavy war material used by various services mainly in 1939-1945.
Temppeliaukio Kirkko (Temple Square Church)
Lutherinkatu 3, Tel: +358 (0)9 494-698.
Weekdays 10-8, Sat. 10-6, Sun. 12-1:45 and 3:15-5:45.
The church is built into solid rock, therefore, it is also known as the Church of the Rock. Topped with a copper dome, this modern Lutheran church is carved into the rock outcrops below and around it. The sun shines in from above, illuminating the stunning interior with its birch pews, modern pipe organ, and cavernous walls. Ecumenical and Lutheran services in various languages are held throughout the week.
Tuomiokirkko (Lutheran Cathedral of Finland)
Senate Square, Unioninkatu 29.
June-Aug., Mon.-Sat. 9–-6, Sun. 12-–6; Sept.-May, Mon.-Sat. 10–-6, Sun. 12-–6.
The steep steps and green domes of the church dominate Senaatintori. Completed in 1852, it is the work of famous architect Carl Ludvig Engel. Wander through the tasteful blue-gray interior, with its white moldings and the statues of German reformers Martin Luther and Philipp Melancthon, and the famous Finnish bishop Mikael Agricola. Concerts are frequently held inside the church. The crypt at the rear is the site of frequent historic and architectural exhibitions, and houses a little cafe in the summer.
Uspenskin Katedraali (Uspensky Cathedral)
Tel: +358 (0)9 634-267.
May-Sept., Mon. and Wed.-Fri. 9:30-4, Tues. 9:30-6, Sat. 10-4, Sun. noon-3; Oct.-Apr., Tues. and Thurs. 9-2, Wed. noon-6, Fri. noon-4, Sun. noon-3.
Perched on a small rocky cliff over the North Harbor in Katajanokka is the main cathedral of the Orthodox church in Finland. Its brilliant gold onion domes are its identifying features, but its imposing redbrick edifice, decorated by 19th-century Russian artists, is no less distinctive. The cathedral was built and dedicated in 1868 in the Byzantine-Slavonic style and remains the largest Orthodox church in Scandinavia.
Yrjönkatu (Public Swimming Pool)
Yrjönkatu 21 B; tel. 60 981
You can also visit the Finnish Sauna Society on Lauttasaari (tel. 678 677), where it is possible to try a traditional “smoke sauna”.
Kotiharju in Kallio
Harjutorinkatu 1; Tel: +358 (0)9 753 1535
a public sauna (pronounced sa –ow-nuh)
For thousands of years, sauna has been an essential part of Finnish culture and tradition. Sauna is a place to get washed, relax, meditate, have meetings, make important decisions Until the mid-1900’s, it was also a place to give birth. It is estimated that in Finland, with five million people, there are one million saunas. Most Finns go to a sauna at least once a week.
A Finnish sauna is an insulated, heated (80-100 degrees Celsius) room where people (men and women separately, except within the family) gather naked to enjoy the warmth. There are usually wooden benches and a stove (heated with wood or electricity) in one corner of the room. Water is thrown on the hot stones of the stove for steam: löyly fills the room, makes the heat more intense, and stimulates perspiration. One can also lightly stroke oneself with a wet birch switch called vihta or vasta. If it gets too hot, one can cool down outside and then go back to löyly again. This might go on for hours while chatting or discussing business.
Neighborhoods Within Helsinki
- Eira Helsinki’s most fashionable area is bordered by parkland. Contains Helsinki’s best park: Kaviopuisto. Free concerts are offered there.
- Kallio contains the Museum of Worker Housing and is a short walk from Helsinki’s amusement park: Linnanmäki.
- Katajanokka across the bridge from Senate Square Site of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral
- Keskusta (City Center) contains Senate Square and other public buildings.
- Krunnunhaka (The Old City) Helsinki’s oldest district. Contains antique furniture, book and clothing shops and art galleries.
- Punavuori An upscale area beneath Töölö toward the end of the peninsula. Contains many fashionable galleries and boutiques as well as museums.
- Tervasaari (Tar Island) a little island connected to Kruununhaka by a man made isthmus. A beautiful park with University Botanical Gardens as a centerpiece. Ice hockey in winter.
- Töölö Bay located north of the train station and near Kallio. Contains the City Theater; Olympic Stadium, the Finnish National Opera House, Finlandia Hall, and the natural Science Museum. It is also the site of the ultra modern church cut into the cliffs, Temppelinaukion kirkko.
- Outlying Islands (connected by foot bridges to the mainland)
Suomenlinna (Finland’s Castle)
Seurasaari site of the Open Air Museum
Areas Around Helsinki
During the months of the midnight sun, coastal regions, including the Turku archipelago and Åland Islands, are a sailing and fishing paradise.
- Turku, Finland’s first capital, is the country’s oldest city. Fire has destroyed it several times over the centuries, but its biggest blow was the transfer of the capital to Helsinki in 1812. Today, Turku is a substantial city with fine attractions
- Luostarinmäki is the only surviving 18th-century area of medieval Turku
Here, in summer, artisans work inside the old wooden houses.
- Turku Cathedral is the national shrine of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland. It dates from the 13th century, and the museum here is open daily.
- Turku Castle, founded in 1280, is the most notable historic building in Finland. It houses an interesting museum, with many rooms decorated to evoke a specific decade or century. Situated on the southern coast of Finland, Turku is the most likely gateway to the country if you are coming from Sweden.
The Åland province, with its own flag and culture, comprises more than 6400 autonomous islands. Several dialects of Swedish are spoken, and few Ålanders speak Finnish. This beautiful island is perfect for bicycle tours, camping and cabin holidays, and for experiencing the islanders’ distinctive culture, expressed in folk dancing, Maypole decorating and small-town charm.
Regular ferries connect Åland to both Sweden and the Finnish mainland. Free transport is provided by inter-island ferries. Sund is accessible by bus and bicycle from the dock.
- Sund, at the eastern end of the main island, with its impressive Kastelholm Castle is the most interesting town on Åland . Of strategic importance during the 16th and 17th centuries, the castle’s exact age is not known, but it was mentioned in writings as early as 1388.
- Jan Karlsgården Museum This open-air museum is one of the best places in Finland to witness Midsummer festivities.
- Bomarsund Fortress, now in ruins, is a memorial to the time when Åland, together with the rest of Finland, was under Russian rule. The main fortress, finished in 1842, was large enough to house 2500 people.