We had just two days to explore Helsinki, which we did using the public transport systems. The train from the airport got us to the main station downtown, and the rest we did by trolley and foot. A one day trolley pass was approximately $8.
A farmer’s market near our hotel and next to the trolley stop:
Good friend Jani suggested we check out the new library. It was great advice and I think one of the highlights of our sightseeing agenda. It opened in December of last year and is truly beautiful and functional, something the Scandinavians are quite good at.
Teresa finds a book she likes:
Starting at our hotel we took the trolley to the main station from where you can see the library. You could easily spend many hours here, with it’s multiple levels, coffee shops and cafe. It was a hub of local activity, where we saw families with small children, students, tourists, and every other category you can think of. After touring the library we walked to the Church of the Rock, a very popular tourist sight.
Along the way, standing on the sidewalk viewing our map and street signs, we had two separate people stop to ask if we needed help. This was a consistent theme throughout our stay in Finland. You don’t even need to ask for help. People will stop and offer it because they are genuinely nice, friendly people.
The Church of the Rock is the Temppeliaukio Church, a Lutheran church designed by Timo and Tumo Suomalainen and built right into the rock. It opened in 1969. I thought it was beautiful, but as we walked in, I heard another tourist describe it as “hideous.” I suppose it is all in the eye of the beholder. We happened to be there at noon, when the pastor gives a sermon in English. His sermon started with “Today we take a breath and walk, not run.” That was apropos for this trip, as we are taking our time, relaxing, and not running.
After viewing the church, another trolley ride and we were in Sibelius park. Again, the trolley passengers saw our maps and asked where we were going. Three local passengers debated our best trolley stop for Sibelius Park. One woman, although carrying bags of groceries, had us follow her off the trolley and took us a few blocks to make sure we were going in the correct direction.
Back nearer to downtown and the waterfront, we enjoyed a great lunch at a restaurant on the park just off the Market Square, kauppatori.
Our lunch spot, Kappeli:
The salmon soup:
There was no end to the good places to eat. The Market Hall was filled with small food kiosks, reminding me of markets we have seen in Spain.
Our last stop for our first full day was The Design Museum, which looks at the roots of Finnish design. It ended up being a bit different than expected, but interesting. I learned that Princess Leia’s jewelry was designed by a Finnish man, Björn Weckström. Who knew?
Our second day was spent walking around Katajanokka, a neighborhood known for its Art Nouveau architecture, the waterfront area, and again had lunch near the park. We were lucky with warm sunny days. The public transportation system is cheap, clean and easy.
We needed more time, but this was a good start. I would like to see more of the Finnish countryside and lakes.
Two days – well, it is absolutely too short time to explore Helsinki or not visit a charming Porvoo, which only one hour by bus from Helsinki. I admired Your photo skills – You are excellent photographer!
You wrote this: “ I would like to see more of the Finnish countryside and lakes.” The idea is great. My country offers specialties, which are unique in the whole world. I mention here only few: Can You imagine the meet of Saunas on wheels, or seeing mid-night sun when cruising on some of our lakes? Our wooden churches on country side offers wonders which are nearly unique in the world: Poor-man statues. Of course, I have many posts presenting them. In winter You could take a reindeer ride at the Arctic Circle or participate Yourself in a reindeer race, which is free for everybody! Also, visiting world’s biggest snow castle is an experience.
Well, these were some thoughts about my Finland.
Happy and safe travels!
Thank you. All good suggestions. I have also heard of reindeer skiing. Thank you for your ideas. Yes, two days was too short.
I agree with Sartenada regarding your photography skills! I particularly enjoy the photos of the architectural details you capture. Also glad to hear that the locals were both kind and helpful – makes the journey more enjoyable and memorable!
Thank You Rich. Enjoy your time in Sweden