The famous capital for the young, innovative, and hip citizens of Finland, Helsinki, is small in comparison to other big cities in Europe, but despite that, it can easily be discovered by foot or by its effective public transport system. In this neighborhood guide to Helsinki, I will highlight some of the best places to visit in the city that can spark some interest and as well as places that are a bit off the beaten path.
Although Helsinki is considered an underrated city in Europe, there’s still no denying that the city boasts its own charm that will certainly make your visit to the districts and neighborhoods worthwhile.
There are about 59 neighborhoods and 34 districts in Helsinki, and all have its own charm and personality. Therefore, it absolutely depends on what you want that will determine where you must go. Since there are 59 neighborhoods, I will only highlight those that are close to the city, where you’ll most likely want to spend most of your time as most of the things to do in Helsinki are located close to the center.
With that said, I do encourage anyone who visits Helsinki also to visit Espoo and Porvoo when they get a chance. You’ll find vast nature and fantastic architecture outside of Helsinki, too, that may interest you.
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A Neighborhood Guide to Helsinki, Finland
Kamppi is located in the heart of the city of Helsinki, and you’ll find most shopping centers and restaurants. Close by; you’ll find the railway station and some museums that might strike an interest in you. Also, if you want to go to Espoo or Porvoo, the bus station that heads North is underneath Kamppi’s shopping center.
For the young locals, Kallio is probably the place they would love to score an apartment for its laid-back atmosphere and an amazing range of bars, restaurants, and cafes. This former working-class neighborhood rose to popularity for all communities for its cheap rents, which attracted artists, musicians, and students that created the city to what it is now.
If you are into chill bars that sell craft beers and small fusion style restaurants, then Kallio is your bet. You can get around this neighborhood by hopping on tram 3.
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Just after the Parliament building, the neighborhood of Töölö welcomes you and is most notable for its beautiful park named after Finland’s famous composer, Jean Sibelius, where you’ll find a monument dedicated to him, which attracts tourists from around the world.
Apart from the lovely nature that encompasses Töölö, you’ll also find some of the best Finnish restaurants in the area and as well some interesting landmarks such as the Opera House, The Olympics Stadium, and the Finlandia Hall.
Sörnäinen and Kalasatama
Located on the North-East side of Helsinki, you’ll stumble upon Sörnäinen, an industrial district of Helsinki, where you’ll find interesting architectures, design, and record shops.
Kalasatama, on the other hand, is located just beside Sörnäinen facing the waterfront and is famous for two things: Teurastamo, a former slaughterhouse turn culinary and party hub spot and Sompasauna – a wood-burning, self-service public sauna just by the lake.
Both neighborhoods are extremely popular in summer, where youngsters gathered around the area listening to good music and eating good food.
The design district of Helsinki comprises of Punavuori, Eira, and Ullanlinna. Located in the downtown part of Helsinki, you’ll find nature, sea, and as well most Embassies are also located here. You’ll also find old factories turned into creatives spaces, cafes, and restaurants, which you can check out while you’re in the hood. Tons of points of interest!
Apart from all of these, the houses and villas in these areas are also stunning in architecture and are well preserved, so keep your heads up! Overall, if you plan to go on foot, make sure you do it in these neighborhoods as most of the areas are so beautiful, especially in summer.
Also, there’s a huge famous park overlooking the sea which you can rest when you get tired, and it is called Kaivopustio. It is in Ullanlinna, and it is one of the oldest parks in Helsinki.
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Famous for its prison turned hotel called Hotel Katajanokka is not the only reason why you must visit this neighborhood (although it is pretty cool). You’ll also find the port to Suomenlinna, the fortress island, in this neighborhood, and as well some famous churches notably, the Uspenski Cathedral. You can also say hello to the President as his residential area is located in Katajanokka, as well.
Apart from all these, just a few steps from the port, you’ll get to see the ever so famous “big white church,” formally known as Tuomion Kirkko. Also, there are some fantastic fine dining restaurants in the area you must not miss if you’re into Finnish food!