Getting around in Helsinki

2 minute read

Credits: Julia Kivelä

Discover the city like a local

Helsinki is easy to explore thanks to the compact size of the city and the many options for getting around. Here, we recommend the best transport for a few distinct neighbourhoods, but feel free to mix and match: Helsinki is perfect for traversing on your own terms.

Walk around the shoreline of Kaivopuisto

Credits: Mikko Huotari

Helsinki is easy to navigate on foot and you can cover a lot of ground in a day. All of Helsinki is great for walking but one of the best routes follows the coast and circles Helsinki’s oldest park, Kaivopuisto. On this route, you can see small islands, charming seaside cafes and some of the most beautiful art nouveau architecture in the city. Cafe Ursula, seafront restaurant Mattolaituri and delicious café Birgitta are all on your way for refuelling. 

How to get started? Head south from the Helsinki Market Square and follow the coastline until you reach Löyly, a modern Sauna wonder.

Credits: Nikolai Alin

Ride a city bike to the museums in gorgeous Munkkiniemi

From spring to autumn, renting a city bike is a great way to get around. Mild weather and great cycle paths make it easy to move around the city, or you can always venture on a longer ride to the outskirts. We recommend cycling to architect Alvar Aalto’s home museum, The Aalto House, located in Munkkiniemi, one of Helsinki’s most beautiful residential areas. Cycle via the Meilahti Villa area to enjoy sea views and the old wooden villas. From The Aalto House, continue to Kuusisaari island nearby to visit the Didrichsen Art Museum and its magical sculpture garden, located by the sea and guarded by old majestic pines. 

How to get started? Check the latest information on city bikes from HSL, the metropolitan area public transport provider.

Credits : Mikko Huotari
Credits: Didrichsen Art museum
Credits: Juho Kuva

Scoot your way to Kallio

City scooters have taken Helsinki by storm and you’re be hard pressed to miss them. Getting to Kallio, a neighbourhood with a diverse and entrepreneurial community, takes just a few minutes from the city centre. Hakaniemi Market Hall is a must-visit for food lovers looking for authentic Finnish pastries and salmon soup. Mop up a bowl with rye bread while people-watching. All around Kallio you’ll find trendy cafes, brunch spots and boutiques filled with interesting locals in exciting outfits. You’ll want to strike up conversation with your neighbour.

For a truly original urban sauna experience, head to Kotiharjun sauna – the only remaining wood-burning public sauna in Helsinki from the 1920’s. A great number of memorable Finns – from famous artists to local celebrities – have sat on the benches before you.

How to get started? Once you’ve found an eScooter, download its app and you’ll be good to go in no time.

When in the Kallio region, don’t miss a visit to Teurastamo. This old abattoir area is now full of bars and restaurants. The area comes alive in the summer.
Rye bread, or ‘ruisleipä,’ is a Finnish classic. Don’t hesitate to take a bite with lots of butter! You’ll find freshly baked rye bread in most market halls, including the one in Hakaniemi.
Credits: Elina Sirparanta

Take a ferry to one of the charming islands

Finland has the world’s largest archipelago, so it’s a must that you visit at least one of the scenic islands. Many of them are within a 20-minute ferry ride from the Market Square in Helsinki. Suomenlinna, the 18th-century sea fortress and World Heritage site, remains a favourite for its scenic walkways, cafes and restaurants. Lonna island, on the other hand, is tiny with a great restaurant, cosy and architecturally outstanding public sauna and astonishing sea views. Whichever island you chose to visit, find your sea legs and enjoy crashing through the waves on a ferry to reach it.

How to get started? Go to the Suomenlinna home page to find out the last on departures and prices.

The public sauna on Lonna Island combines authentic Finnish sauna culture with modern wooden architecture.

Go anywhere: Take a tram, subway or bus

The Helsinki metropolitan area is full of distinctive and interesting neighbourhoods. In the spring time, find your way to the Roihuvuori orchard when the cherry trees blossom. Navigate to the Otaniemi Aalto University campus area to see the work of Alvar Aalto’s and other renowned architects, like Reima and Raili Pietilä or Heikki and Kaija Sirén. Venture out to Koivusaari subway station and walk the shores of Lauttasaari, a quiet residential area on an island in western Helsinki. Go explore.

How to get started? HSL offers a neat route planner.

The cherry orchard in the Roihuvuori district of Helsinki is part of a garden inspired by Japan. The pink-blooming flowers fill the orchard every May.
Credits : Antti Harkio
Credits: Julia Kivelä

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