• Suomenlinna sea fortress is only fifteen minutes away from the city centre. (c) Lauri Rotko

What to do in Helsinki in 6 hours

Here are a few tips on how to spend your day in Helsinki when you have six hours to spare.

Helsinki is a compact city where most sights and attractions are within walking distance and getting around town is easy.

1. Visit the main sights - and then some!

The city centre, especially around Senate Square, forms a unique and cohesive example of Neoclassical architecture.

Must see:

Helsinki is located by the sea and has many wonderful maritime attractions within a short distance from the city centre. You can for instance visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Suomenlinna by taking a ferry from the Market Square. During summertime it runs every 20 minutes and one-way takes around 15 minutes. The island itself is a great place to walk around. Spare at least 1,5 hours for the visit.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Suomenlinna is just a short ferry ride away from Helsinki city centre. (c) Jussi Hellsten/Visit Finland

Must see outside the historical centre:

2. Taste the local flavours

Finnish cuisine is based on fresh and natural ingredients that vary according to the season. The easiest way to enjoy the local flavours is to visit the lively market places and atmospheric market halls where you can taste berries, Karelian pasties or salmon soup!

Begin your day with a delicious breakfast. Places in the city centre that are open early in the morning:

  • Café Ekberg (Bulevardi 9), breakfast served Mon-Fri 7.30am-10.30am, Sat 8.30am-1.30pm, Sun 9am-1.30pm
  • Karl Fazer Café (Kluuvikatu 3), breakfast served Mon-Fri 7.30am-10.30am, brunch Sat 9am-2pm, Sun 10am-2pm
  • Café Köket (Aleksanterinkatu 28), breakfast served Mon-Fri 8am-10.30am, brunch Sat-Sun 10am-3pm
  • La Torrefazione (Aleksanterinkatu 50), breakfast served Mon-Fri 7.30am-10am, Sat brunch 9am-12noon, Sun 10-1pm.

You can taste tradtional Finnish delicacies such as Karelian pasties also in Helsinki. (c) Jussi Hellsten/Visit Helsinki

Lunch / dinner:
Helsinki has a large variety of restaurants to choose from. Try Finnish seasonal delicacies e.g. at participating HelsinkiMenu restaurants, dine in style at one of Helsinki's fine dining restaurants or discover food culture outside the city centre at the lively centre for food culture, Abattoir (Teurastamo) which is a tram ride away from the centre.

For more tips on restaurants according to each area, pick up the Hel Yeah! Food Helsinki brochure (including map) at the Tourist Information.

3. Buy design souvenirs to take home with you

Helsinki is an ideal city for purchasing designer goods and discovering fresh fashion! The main shopping streets in the city centre are Aleksanterinkatu and Esplanade along which you can find i.e. these Finnish design classics:

Helsinki is an ideal city for shopping designer goods and fashion such as Marimekko. (c) Jussi Hellsten/Visit Helsinki

To help you, we've also listed the best gifts to buy (in the price range of €10-30) from Helsinki – recommended by people who live in the city.

+ Good to know

It takes around one hour to reach the city centre from the Helsinki Airport. You can either take a train (40 min) or Finnair City Bus (30 min) to the Central Railway Station. Tip! Eliel Saarinen's Railway station is an attraction itself!

Updated 17/03/2016