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Exploring the Helsinki region’s hidden gems
3 minute read
Two people walking by the Baltic sea in urban Helsinki

Credits:: Harri Tarvainen

The capital of Finland is a bustling hub of vibrant culture, good eats and spectacular nature

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, boasts unique architecture, rich culture and intriguing attractions. While sights like the Central City Library Oodi and the Ateneum Art Museum should be part of every travel itinerary, here are five hidden gems you shouldn’t miss.

Young people enjoying their time in a sunny Helsinki
Helsinki Market Square and the Torikorttelit area are full of restaurants and bars to enjoy during Finland’s long summer nights.
Credits: Lauri Rotko / Visit Helsinki

Get off-grid at innovative Majamaja

While many know of the beauty of Helsinki’s surrounding archipelago, few are aware of this unique way to experience it. Majamaja Helsinki Experience offers visitors the chance to enjoy an off-grid living experience just outside the city. Launched in 2019 by Finnish architect Pekka Littow, Majamaja is based around premium architecture and resource-optimised wooden buildings, combined with patented off-grid technology for green energy production and water purification. Stay there, and you’ll wake up to the peaceful sounds of seabirds, the rise of the pulsating sea and a gently whispering breeze. At night, Majamaja offers the perfect mix of coastal nature, peace and quiet and harmonious design.

an aerial view of a modern off grid hut
the interior of a modern off grid hut

Enjoy a Michelin-starred meal at Inari

Inari, located in the centre of Helsinki, is an intimate seven-table restaurant offering diners a spectacular Michelin-starred experience. The innovative fifteen-course menu, which combines Finnish cuisine with Asian influence, is the brainchild of Head Chef Kim Mikkola. Mikkola and his team focus on guests with the best, locally-sourced ingredients and finest imported spices and strive to deliver complex, seasonally-inspired flavours. Mikkola previously worked at Copenhagen’s Noma, where he earned his first Michelin star at age 31. His current restaurant, Inari, is named after the town in Lapland, but also invokes the goddess of Shintoism, a major religion in Japan.

Visit the Paavola oak tree in Lohja

Located just 60 km from Helsinki, Lohja boasts a quaint vintage, lovely cafés and a slower pace of life surrounded by Finland’s natural beauty. Nature trails near town offer 15 checkpoints with plenty of information on the surrounding scenery and breathtaking woods full of oak, lime, and hazel trees. You’ll also encounter a massive oak tree, Paavolan Tammi, which has a circumference of 668 cm and stands approximately 12 metres high. The tree is protected by the Nature Conservation Act, and it’s quite an impressive sight! Please remember to stay on the marked paths to protect this old tree giant.

a massive oak tree in a Finnish forest
Credits: Marjaana Tasala

See world-class performance art at the Baltic Circle Festival

The Baltic Circle Festival is an international contemporary art festival that’s held annually during November in Helsinki. Happening in theatres, urban venues and at some of the city’s most spectacular sites, this festival is a way to immerse yourself in the cutting-edge, contemporary culture Helsinki is known for. Acting as a platform for the development of new forms of expression, the festival’s themes often focus on local and global environmental and government issues, and the performances don’t shy away from the shocking or controversial. Attend the Baltic Circle Festival to experience the brave, colourful and visionary vibe of Helsinki.

a man squatting on a concrete obstacle
Credits: : Nick Tulinen
A performance on process during the Baltic Circle Festival in Helsinki

Hop on the metro or a bicycle and head to Eastern Helsinki

Helsinki city centre offers plenty of ways to fill your time. But one of its hidden gems is actually located some 10 kilometres east. Itä-Helsinki, or Eastern Helsinki, is an area full of colourful culture, cheap eats and fantastic secondhand shops. At Itäkeskus, the main shopping centre, and its neighbour, Puhos, you can buy produce from around the world in Alanya Market, feast on falafel and pita kebabs for less than three euros, and find vintage Finnish design items at Fida secondhand store. In the midst of it all, Cultural Centre Stoa offers peace and quiet and a great selection of local and international newspapers and books. The Helsinki metro runs to Itäkeskus daily and trips take less than 15 minutes. During the warmer months, you can also take a city bike. The ride from the centre to the east is fast, smooth and full of lovely sights!

Visit HSL site to utilize the journey planner.

a cyclist waits for a metro at a metro station
Credits: Jussi Hellstén