Surrounded by freezing waters spattered with picturesque islands and islets, Finnish capital Helsinki is an ever more fashionable European destination. Wonder the sparkling streets and you’ll find plenty of vibrant modernism in the form of art noveau architecture and spacious cafes alongside tiny corners of carefully preserved Finnish heritage that can’t have changed in centuries.
Especially during the icy winters, Helsinki can be glacially cold, but during the summer its lively and welcoming, and begs you to explore exciting spots like the tightly packed islands of Suomenlinna, where you can picnic amongst the soaring ferns, and the happy natives still gather every evening to wave as the ferries glide through the narrow straight between the islands. Another essential offshore experience is eating at the unforgettably romantic island restaurants, towering amongst the rocks and serving magnificent locally caught seafood.
If you prefer something a bit more lively you should head for the city beer terraces which are more sophisticated than their German equivalent, and overwhelmingly dreamy amongst the outdoor heaters when the snow is falling all around you. Follow it up, if you can, with an atmospheric concert at Temppeliaukio, an underground church cut from the rock, and now a highly atmospheric auditorium.
Board the old steam train from Helsinki to the old trading town of Porvoo for a taste of the Finland of old and, in fact, Finland in general, which is largely very different to its capital, and you’ll find cobbled streets, wooden houses, roman influences and one of the country’s most spectacular village settings.
Back in the capital, you can tour the pubs by tram, check out the zoo or the sea life centre, or entertain the kids in the hectic water park. Come during Winter, and Helsinki will have you drifting around a seemingly deserted city of frosted streets, with plenty of hidden corners of warmth to track down amongst it all. Come in summer, though, and you’re in for a treat which is Helsinki’s warm, modern, and home to plenty of exciting outdoor draws and an intriguing downtown.
Vantaa is the fourth biggest city in Finland with a population of 200,000. Vantaa is located just next to Helsinki. Vantaa, Helsinki, Espoo and Kauniainen make up the Helsinki Metropolitan ar…