Explore the unexpected in Helsinki

2 minute read

Credits: Jussi Hellsten

Capture the city’s unconventional spirit

Helsinki and its surrounding areas are hotspots of innovation. It seems like every other day there’s a new concept or space popping up nearby. Here are a few unconventional activities that capture the spirit of ever-evolving Helsinki.

Experience Art, Film and Food – all in one spot

Located in the vibrant heart of Helsinki’s Kamppi district, the recently reopened Lasipalatsikortteli (“Glass Palace Quarter”) has become a unique hub for culture, design, art, film, and cuisine. Blending historical charm with contemporary facilities, the area seamlessly merges Helsinki’s past and present. The iconic Lasipalatsi (“Glass Palace”), considered one of the most notable functionalist buildings in Helsinki, and the transformed Kulttuurikasarmi (“Culture Barracks”), a former military barracks complex, invite you to discover a range of cultural activities, culinary adventures, and shopping opportunities. The iconic Lasipalatsi Square, one of Helsinki’s architectural gems, ties together all activities of the block, offering a perfect spot to rest, play, and capture artistic photos. And a peek through one of the round glass windows might even grant you a little glimpse of one of Helsinki’s must-see museums, the iconic Amos Rex!

Credits : Karoliina Bärlund / Helsinki Partners
Credits: Tuomas Uusiheimo

Discover nature at your doorstep

While Helsinki is known for its bustling urban life, it is also a haven for nature lovers. Whether you’re into lush forests, serene lakes, or the vast open sea – Helsinki’s proximity to nature ensures that there’s something for everyone!

Go for a stroll through Helsinki’s Keskuspuisto (literally translating to “Central Park”), the city’s largest forested green space, just a stone’s throw away from the city centre. Or embark on a ferry adventure to explore one of the 300 picturesque islands dotting the Helsinki Archipelago, where the vast Baltic Sea mesmerizes with its beauty. For those seeking a hiking adventure, the national parks of Sipoonkorppi and Nuuksio offer perfect destinations, easily reachable from the city centre via public transport.

But Helsinki’s outdoor destinations don’t stop here: plenty of other nature gems in and around the city await, many of which also offer great accessible routes. Get ready to embrace nature right at your doorstep!

Credits: Julia Kivelä

Stop by the Kallio district for some good eats

Helsinki’s bustling Kallio district might have roots in the city’s working middle class, but it’s undergone big changes in recent years. Long connected to the centre by just one bridge (Pitkäsilta or “Long Bridge”), transportation to the area has improved, and Kallio is now known for its delicious food and vibrant nightlife, particularly after-hours and on weekends. Small bistros, such as the Parisian-inspired Harju8 restaurant, and neighbourhood vinoteca, bakery and café Way Kallio, are wonderful options for keeping a late night going. Harju8 even has its own underground dance club on certain nights, while Way Kallio holds pizza pop-up nights. You can also try Wino, a restaurant and natural wine bar located near Karhupuisto Park, where you’ll find fantastic vino and fine-dining quality bistro food. Booking a table is a good idea, as this popular establishment fills up quickly!

Credits: Jussi Hellstén

Dance your way into the wee hours

Helsinki is well-known for its innovative art, culture and architecture, so it’s no surprise that underneath the city’s surface, a unique subculture is on the rise. And while techno music and underground dance parties are nothing new for Helsinki, what is notable is the vast number and variety of these events. During the warmer months, you’ll regularly find Helsinkians partying on beaches, islands and parks late at night. Popular spots include the island of Mustikkamaa, the area surrounding the old Laakso hospital, and the tiny islet of Morsian. While information about these parties typically travels by mouth or via the popular Yodel mobile app, everyone is welcome to join the fun. Pro tip: one way to get in-the-know is to ask a local about jatkot, or afterparties, nearby.

Credits: Julia Kivelä

Revel in the adrenaline rush of HELride

Every August, the area around Suvilahti, close to Sörnäinen, explodes with energy and action when HELride comes to town! This event is organised and hosted by local skateboarders (with help from city officials), who also run grassroots events, educational initiatives and things like skate schools, film premieres, DIY building workshops, and local competitions, and create new skate parks. Be sure to take a bike tour around the grounds of Suvilahti if you’re visiting Helsinki, particularly when HELride hits town. This is Helsinki’s summer subculture scene at its best.

Credits : Olli Oilinki
Credits: Aku Pöllänen

Cruise over to the Helsinki Biennial

The Helsinki Biennial is an international art fair that brings outstanding contemporary art to the Helsinki archipelago. While the next event isn't happening until 2025, 2023's open-air installations were a big hit with attendees. Time magazine even postulated that Finland, an oft-recognised environmental leader, could become an emerging hotspot for art as well. You can access the island of Vallisaari by ferry from several points on the mainland or by private boat. The JT-Line-operated ferry option from Hakaniemi even offers the chance to engage in a bit of island-hopping along the way, as the boat stops in Hakaniemi, Kruunuvuorenranta, Vasikkasaari, Vallisaari and Lonna during the summer months. Please note that people who use wheelchairs or rolling walkers might want to bring an assistant when travelling to Vallisaari. The next Helsinki Biennial takes place in 2025.

Credits: Julia Kivelä

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