The National Museum of Finland

The museum has permanent and temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibitions are divided into five different sections; The Prehistory of Finland, The Realm, A Land and Its People, The Treasure Troves and The Past Century. Each touches on different aspects of society, culture and time before and after industrialisation, plus much more.

Bear statue

From entering the 'Prehistory of Finland' room it is easy to work your way from the Ice Age to the 21st Century. There are many interesting archaeological artifacts, paintings, sculptures, jewellery, clothes and armour to keep you walking around the museum for ages.

It is located in a beautiful Jugendstil building which was finished in 1910 and inaugurated in 1916. This is not an old church although it was built to look like one. The location is quite central and within easy walking distance of many hotels. The National Museum building was designed by the Finnish architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen. The vaulted central hall leads to the various departments of the museum.

Featured on the vaults are frescoes by Akseli Gallen-Kallela from 1928 on themes from the Kalevala epic: Sammon taonta (The Forging of the Sampo), Sammon puolustus (The Defence of the Sampo), Ilmarinen kyntaa kyisen pellon (Ilmarinen Ploughs a Field of Vipers) and Iso hauki (The Great Pike). There is also a cafe in the museum. Opening hours: Closed Modays Tue-Wed: 11am-8pm Thurs-Sun: 11am-6pm. Take the Tram 4, and it is next to the Parliament Building, about 5 mins walk from the main railway station. I love the stone bears at the front steps.

Finnish Museum of Natural History

The Finnish Museum of Natural History University of Helsinki - Luonnontieteellinen museo

I like the life size moose statue in front of the Museum of natural history. It is its best known symbol. It is great fun for your children to stand next to it to pose for a photo. It has the largest zoological, geological and paleontological (dinosaurs and fossils) collection in Finland. It costs about 6 Euros to get in.

The address is Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13. In the Finnish Nature hall there are exhibits that explain the type and habitats of Scandinavian wild life with life size models. If you are travelling with children they will love the Finnish Nature hall and the dinosaurs of the next hall called the History of Life. The museum also has a cafe and a souvenir shop.

Parliament House of Finland

Helsinki Parliament

Near to the Finland National Museum is the impressive Parliament House of Finland. It is built in a neo classical style with a dash of early twentieth century modernism. In 1924 a competition was held to build a new Parliament House. The architectural firm of Borg-Siren-Aberg won.

The building was constructed 1926-1931 and was officially inaugurated on March 7, 1931. The building has five floors, connected by a white marble staircase. The stately Session Hall and the large Hall of State are the most important rooms. Guided tours are arranged Saturdays 11am and 12:30pm and Sundays 12pm and 1:30pm; in July and August also 2pm on weekdays. Tuesdays and Fridays you can watch the Parliament in session from the public balcony. It has been at the heart of some very important decisions for Finland.

Tipping In Helsinki

There is no tipping at bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels and Taxi fares as the high price you pay includes the service charge. You can leave extra if you want but the local Finns don't normally

Helsinki Nordic Zoo

There are about 135 islands in front of Helsinki. One of them is entirely transformed in to zoo and it is called Korkeasaari. It is very nice and just a boat trip away from the Fish market Kauppatori. If you have not seen any Reindeer on your trip around Finland at least you can see them at the zoo. You have to look hard for them as they are in with the deer in a woodland enclosure. They also have other Nordic animals like European bison, wild cats, lynxes, minks, Wolverine and brown bear.

You can take the Number 11 bus from Herttoniemi. Take the metro to get to Herttoniemi!. The 11 bus end stop is Mustikkamaa. This is where you get off where you then walk over a bridge and then you are on the island of Korkeasaari. It is much more fun to board a boat at the Market-Square and have lunch or tea/coffee with cake at the zoo restaurant. The waterbus leaves from Market Square and Hakaniemenranta in front of the Merihotelli. The boat ride is included in the ticket that in 2009 cost 12 Euros

Ateneum Art Museum

The Ateneumin Taidemuseo (Ateneum Art Msueum) was probably my favourite museum that I visited in Helsinki. The main artworks that were on exhibition when I was there (late July 2005) was that of Greta Hallfors-Sipila (b. 1899 - d. 1974) and Sulho Sipila (b. 1895 - d. 1949). Greta and Sulho had once been students of the Ateneum art school themselves. It was an excellent exhibition, and even though I had never heard of the artists before, I was able to learn a great deal about them through the information given in the exhibiton. It is well worth a visit for anyone more than averagely interested in art.

It is housed in a handsome 19th century building. You can visit also late afternoon, because it is open till 8,00 pm. Its collection of paintings and sculptures consists of more than 4000 works by finnish artists, including the best-known finnish painter, Gallen-Kallela and over 650 foreign works of art. The international collection features works by such artists as Cezanne, Chagall, van Gogh, Gauguin, Munch, Rodin.Colliander and Toulouse-Lautrec. The artworks cover many different topics, from landscapes, to potraits and still life. The gallery is also a beautiful building to walk around, where you can enjoy the artworks in a relaxed atmosphere. Across from the Central railway station. Admission: Adults 6 Euros/ Children 4 Euros

Linnanmaki Amusement Park: Linnanmaki Theme Park

Linnanmaki Theme Park in Helsinki, now I thought.. this was going to be interesting and it was.... just for half the day. Well, thats all the time you need to cover this theme park. There are a total of 3 theme parks in the entire Finland and this is one of them. The other 2 are, Alandsparken and Santapark. Linnanmaki recorded more than a million visitors for the fifth summer in succession, the total figure for the summer 2003 season being 1,104,578.

All in all more than 46 million people have visited Linnanmaki since 1950. Linnanmaki Amusement Park was founded in 1950 by six Finnish child welfare organisations and each year the Amusement Park adds something new or makes improvements to spin, shake and toss its fun-loving visitors. My honest opinion? Yes, I did have some fun there eventhough it was a little chilly on the day we went there. And no, I did not throw up on any of the rides heheh. Ever in Finland and want some theme park action, make a trip here. Great for family fun too.

Pub crawls and cheaper beer

Go to Kallio, an area 15 min walk north east of the main train station, downtown Helsinki. Formerly a working class area - today inhabited by students, artists, workers and drunks. But most importantly: the bar density is the greatest in Helsinki and all of Finland. And those bars are CHEAP! Naturally, there are some 'upscale' bars aswell, but as a rule you can walk through happy hours from 9am forward and get beer for 2 Euros, (4-6 Euros for beer downtown). You'll find lots of youths there as 60% of the residents are between 20-24 years old. More than that, there isn't much to see in Kallio, except the bars.

But it is a very important part of Helsinki's recent history. It is foremostly the experience of going there - to see the part of Helsinki, normally not seen by tourists. If you see a tourist there, he is either lost, or then he saw this same site;)! I reckon that tourism is basically all about seeing the locals, not other tourists, in their daily routines. When bar hopping in Kallio, remember this, now this is very IMPORTANT: in cheap places it's customary to bring back your glass to the bar tender for a re-fill.

If you neglect this, you'll get thrown out in the "worst" places. Pub crawls in Kallio are becoming more and more (in)famous. There are websites dedicated to this, books written and it's getting common for downtown residents to go to Kallio as "tourists". But remember, Kallio is THE place to be yourself, what ever and who ever you are. And why not, everybody else sure are, and they don't give a damn about you unless you want them to!

Sightseeing tour on tram 3T/3B

A popular possibility to get an overview of Helsinki is to take a trip by tram 3T/3B. These lines serve a round tour along the main sights of Helsinki. The trip lasts about 1 hour and you can even get a free brochure about the sights along the tour at the Tourist Information Office. A single ticket for the tram can be bought for 2 Euro from the driver.

Outdoor terrace at the top of Hotel Torni and panoramic view

One of the best places for a scenic view over Helsinki's city centre and the harbour is the Ateljee Bar on the top floor of Hotel Torni. The hotel is a 14-storey building and one of the first skyscrapers in the city centre. The Ateljee Bar has both indoor and outdoor seatings. Hotel Torni is located at Yrjonkatu 26.

Kiasma - Contemporary Art Museum

In many lights Helsinki's new Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma is a place where art and the public encounter each other in many ways. In keeping with its name, derived from the Greek chiasma meaning crossing point, the museum is an international and interdisciplinary centre dedicated to visual expression. Already as an architectural creation, Kiasma is exciting and arouses expectations in anyone about to enter the building. Its creator Steven Holl envisaged it as a kind of node of intersecting arcs, which would dovetail the urban structure of the city with the natural environment of the park landscape surrounding Toolonlahti Bay.

Art that talks and is talked about; the Arctic light was one of Holl's main sources of inspiration. The light entering the Chiasma building does so in surprising ways from different sides and at a variety of angles. As the planet rotates and the hours pass, there is constant variation in the influx of light and the effect it creates.

The Kiasma personnel see their building as a meeting place, where different ideas, values and interpretations can be in dialogue. There is a nice cafe terrace that gets the sun on the summer afternoons. The art presented there dates from the 60s onwards. The term "contemporary art" itself is taken to include everything from words, pictures and movement to new media. The museum includes a theatre, where performances of experimental art are held.

Sotamuseo - Military Museum, Maurinka 1

The Permanent Exhibition of the Military Museum is located at Maurinkatu 1 in the Kruununhaka distric of Helsinki (about 1,5 km northeast from Central Railway Station) in the former barracs of the 1st Uusimaa Finnish Rifle Battalion built in 1883. In the exhibition visitors can familiarise themselves with the military history of Finland, from the periods when Sweden and Imperial Russia ruled Finland, through the struggle for independence and the wars of 1939-1945, down until the current period.

Weaponry, equipment, uniforms, medals, flags and art with military themes from the various periods are on display. Photographic and archive material and multimedia complement the artefacts. There are special exhibitions dedicated to different themes, too. The museum also has summer exhibition spaces on the Suomenlinna fortress island outside Helsinki.The submarine Vesikko and Manege exhibition are on Suomenlinna island

Kaisaniemen Puisto Park

Kaisaniemi Park, behind the National Theatre, is among the most beautiful parks in Helsinki and dates from the 1880s. It was named after Kaisa Wahllund, owner of a very popular cafe in the park. Students, fans of the park since the opening of the cafe, still cherish Kaisaniemi as their own. Early in the morning of May Day, the park fills up with students who, celebrate the day with song. The central landmark of the park is the small lake, and there are also several statues in a range of styles.

Right in front of the park is Esirippu, a memorial to actress and theatrical impresario Ida Aalberg designed by Raimo Utriainen. Near the main entrance stands Convolvulus, a 1931 sculpture of a young girl by Viktor Jansson. On a steep slope dotted with trees is Nuori hirvi, a realistic statue of a young elk, which blends quite nicely into its surroundings. The park extends all the way to the lovely boulevard on the banks of Kaisaniemi Bay and to the historical Pitkasilta bridge. The University Botanical Gardens are in the middle.

Kasvitieteellinen Puutarha - Helsinki University Botanical Gardens

The Helsinki University Botanical Gardens are a park within a park - an area of leafy trees, small footpaths and beautiful flowers and bushes. The garden's main entrance is on Kaisaniemenranta, a boulevard that follows Kaisaniemi Bay, which is lined with old Empire style wooden houses. It is also the home of Finland's greatest botanical collection. The gardens came to Helsinki when the university changed locations after the great fire of Turku.

The gorgeous greenhouses have been restored several times over the years, most extensively after the 1944 air raids. The gardens, designed by St. Petersburg architect Franz Falderman in the 1830s, are best known for their gorgeous C. L. Engel - designed main greenhouse, the central dome of which looms elegantly on the Kaisaniemi horizon. It is home to numerous tropical plants (cacti, orchids, royal water lily, cocoa), whereas the outdoor plants are from more temperate climates.

A few words in Finnish

hei hei (pronounced hey) = bye
Kiitos (pronounced keytoss) = thank you.
Sori = sorry! (informal)
anteeksi = excuse me (get someone's attention, or to get past)
kylla= yes
ei = no
Sori englantia = Sorry English

Signs you might see in Finland

Sisaankaynti = Entrance
Uloskaynti =Exit
Tyonna =Push
Veda =Pull
Hatauloskaynti =Emergency exit
Kaymalat = Toilets
Miehet = Gentlemen
Naiset = Ladies
Vapaa = Vacant
Varattu = Engaged
Epakunnossa = Out of order
Tupakointi kielletty = No smoking
Yksityinen = Private
Ei sisaankayntia = No entry

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