Explore the new and unexpected in Helsinki

2 minute read

Credits: Jussi Hellstén

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 – from a helicopter tour to an underground rave.

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 2023, 2021'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 2023.

Credits: AdobeStock

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

Get a bird’s-eye view of Helsinki on a Citycopter tour

Helsinki Citycopter Tours offers exclusive air tours and private transportation across the city and beyond. Because the company understands the environmental impacts of air travel, they’re committed to making sustainability enhancements to minimize their impact, and they aim to be carbon-positive by the end of 2023 – the first helicopter service provider in Europe to do so. Citycopter also won Unique Service of the Year at the European Travel and Hospitality Awards in 2021. Its offerings include sunset flights, airport transfers and tours of surrounding areas like Porvoo, Lahti and Bengtskär.

Credits: Lauri Rotko / Helsinki Marketing

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

See also

Getting around in Helsinki city like a local

Discover Helsinki on foot, by bike or using public transportation. Learn more on Finland's official website.