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3 Days in Helsinki — Itinerary, Tips and Map

If you’re planning a visit to the capital of Finland, you are in for a treat. Helsinki has the conveniences of a bigger city with the ease of a smaller one. It weaves together urbanism and nature almost seamlessly. Helsinki is a vibrant city with lots to do, and yet it’s not overwhelming.


Three days is a perfect amount of time to spend in Helsinki — though you could certainly fill more time if you had it. Three days is enough time to get a feel for the city and see many of its top attractions. With that amount of time, you can squeeze it into a long weekend or pair it with another Nordic city to fill out a longer holiday.

In this post, we will guide you through the best of Helsinki in three days. This itinerary goes beyond the basics, packing in a ton of tips, notes and extra things to do if you have more time. We’ve also included a detailed map, which includes everything that’s mentioned. Best of all, this itinerary will work well any time of year. (But don’t worry, we’ve added notes about seasonal activities, too.)

Keep reading to learn exactly how to fill three great days in Helsinki, Finland.

Tips for Using This Itinerary

This itinerary is best used as a template. It is a great example of how much you can fit into your trip, what attractions work well together, and how to structure your days. However, it may require some small adjustments to accommodate your specific needs and travel schedule. For example, you might need to switch the order of the days or tailor the activities to your individual preferences or pace.

Here are some things to consider when applying this itinerary to your personal trip.

  • Season. This itinerary works well anytime of year, but the season will impact things like opening hours, transit schedules and crowds. That may effect how long things take, and how to fit them into your day.
  • Weather. All three days call for time outdoors, but some have more indoor activities than others. The city sites are great on a clear day for the best photos. Likewise, Suomenlinna is best on a dry day, since you’ll be outside the most. Plan to do museums and shopping during any rainy or snowy blocks.
  • Day of the week. Many of the attractions listed here are closed or have limited hours on certain days of the week. For example, the market is closed on Sunday and many of the museums are closed on Mondays.
  • Travel history. This itinerary is perfect for first-time visitors. It covers all of the basics and top attractions that you won’t want to miss. If you’ve been to Helsinki before, you might have already seen a few of these things and might need to swap some attractions out.
  • Kids. Helsinki in general is very family friendly. Kids will enjoy nearly everything we’ve listed in this itinerary. However, if you’re traveling with kids, you might also want to seek out some kid-specific activities. We mention a few ideas throughout this post.
  • Time estimates. The suggested times in this itinerary tend to err on the quicker side, and include transit time. If you prefer a slower travel pace, you might not be able to fit in everything we’ve listed. Likewise, if you’re a quicker traveler, we’ve also peppered in even more ideas to squeeze in.
  • Arrival & departure days. This itinerary fills 3 full days. If you’re staying for 4 nights, you might have extra time on your arrival and departure day. In this case, you can either add even more to your schedule, or shift things around so your days aren’t quite as packed.

Note: The hours and costs referenced in this post are accurate as of publication, but are meant as a guideline. Be sure to verify open hours and schedules directly with the source before your visit.

Itinerary at a Glance

Here’s a high-level look at this 3-day itinerary. Keep reading for more information, details and tips about each attraction listed here, plus recommendations for even more to do.

Day 1 — City Sites

  • 9 – 10 AM: Coffee and breakfast
  • 10 – 11 AM: Esplanade and Senate Square
  • 11 AM – 12 PM: Bank of Finland Museum*
  • 12 – 12:30 PM: Helsinki Cathedral*
  • 12:30 – 2 PM: Markets and Lunch*
  • 2 – 2:30 PM: Uspenski Cathedral*
  • 2:30 – 4:30 PM: City Museum
  • 4:30 – 6 PM: Kluuvi shops and walking streets
  • 6 PM & beyond: Dinner and nightlife

*These locations have specific opening hours that vary by day. Be sure to review the opening hours during your specific visit.

Day 2 — Suomenlinna & Allas Sea Pool

  • 9 – 10 AM: Coffee and breakfast
  • 10 AM – 11 AM: Ferry to Suomenlinna*
  • 11 AM – 3 PM: Explore Suomenlinna (lunch on the island)
  • 3 – 4 PM: Ferry back to mainland Helsinki*
  • 4 – 6 PM: Allas Sea Pool
  • 6 PM & beyond: Dinner and nightlife

*The trip itself is short, but departures are not always immediate. Be sure sure to check ferry schedule during your visit.

Day 3 — Neighborhoods & Museums

  • 9 – 10 AM: Coffee & Breakfast
  • 10 AM – 12:30 PM: Explore Punavuori & beyond
  • 12:30 – 1:30 PM: Lunch
  • 1:30 – 6 PM: Museum + Nearby Activity (3 options)
  • 6 PM & beyond: Dinner and nightlife

Day 1 — City Sites

Kick off your visit to Helsinki with a tour of the city’s most iconic sites. Everything on today’s plan’s is relatively close together, so you shouldn’t need to rely too heavily on alternative transportation. The area is also dense with shops and restaurants, so you can easily take a break and fill in any downtime as you see fit.

Tip! This schedule does require a bit of time outdoors, so be sure to dress for the elements. If you’re visiting in the winter months, all of these locations have (free!) coat racks where you can leave your bulky outer layers.

Coffee & Breakfast (9 – 10 AM)

Fuel up for the day with a good breakfast. Many hotels in Helsinki offer a complimentary breakfast, so take advantage of that if you can. If your hotel doesn’t include breakfast, though, don’t worry. Most of the city’s best cafes and coffee shops have great breakfast options.

Speaking of coffee, Helsinki has a great coffee scene. I had a long list of coffee shops to try, and only got to a handful. One great pick for coffee and breakfast in Helsinki is Robert’s Coffee. Robert’s Coffee is a chain, but a Finland-based one.

There are several Robert’s Coffee locations around Helsinki. For this schedule, check out their location on the northeast corner of the Esplanade (here). It also happens to be one of their most beautiful locations, with gorgeous vaulted ceilings and plenty of seating. The cinnamon latte was wonderful and not too sweet. The cinnamon bun (I went hard on cinnamon) was also amazing, but they also had a variety of regional specialities if you wanted something more local.

Tip! When you find lists of restaurants or coffee shops (like this one!), save them as favorites in Google Maps. While you’re out and about during your trip, you can check your map at any time to see what spots are nearby.

Esplanade & Senate Square (10 – 11 AM)

Many of the indoor, tourist attractions in Helsinki don’t open until later in the day. That leaves you with a pretty chill morning to fill strolling the town. There are two great spots to fill the next hour or so of your day.

First is the Esplanade. This picturesque, tree-lined park spans four city blocks through the heart of Helsinki. It’s a beautiful park any time of the year, but it really shines in the summer and Christmas season. There are several shops and restaurants in the buildings around the park, too. If you have time, be sure to walk both street-side, and through the center of the park.

Check it out! If you’re crafty (or want to try be), be sure to check out Taito Shop, just south of the Esplanade. It’s the cutest little yarn shop. They have a wide selection of yarn, but also patterns, other craft supplies, and even some souvenir things.

Next, head over to Senate Square.

Tip! From the northeast corner of the Esplanade, walk east until you get to Sofiankatu. Turn left and take this street north to Senate Square for the best view of the cathedral on your way to Senate Square.

Senate Square is a large, open square in front of Helsinki Cathedral. There’s a monument in the center and it’s surrounded by some lovely, neoclassical buildings.

The square itself is not particularly interesting or happening. There’s no seating, so it’s not a place where people are hanging out for very long. It’s mostly just a space — with nice views! — that you’ll cut through on your way to get somewhere else. It’s worth seeing, it just won’t likely take a whole lot of time.

Visiting at Christmastime? If you’re visiting during the holidays, I take back everything I said about Senate Square. During the month of December, Senate Square is the site of the Christmas Market and is not to be missed!

Got more time? If you finish the Esplanade and Senate Square before the Bank of Finland Museum opens, pop into the The National Library of Finland. It’s free to enter and has a beautiful interior. It opens at 9 AM Monday through Friday, and is closed on weekends.

Bank of Finland Museum (11 AM – 12 PM)

  • Hours: Monday: Closed / Tuesday through Friday: 11 AM – 5 PM / Saturday & Sunday: 11 AM – 4 PM
  • Cost: Free!
  • Website: Here

The Bank of Finland Museum is located right around the corner from Senate Square. It’s a pretty small museum, with three main rooms. It walks through the history of money in general, as well as the currency, banking systems and governing bodies that influenced (the land that is now) Finland throughout the course of history.

All of the posted material is in both Finnish and English. The interactive exhibits are also dual-language, but if the activity started in Finnish, it was hard to figure out how to navigate to the home page to change it English.

The material is a bit dense, but it’s broken up with a handful of interactive exhibits. The third and final room is the most hands-on. Here you can explore the physical composition of Euro bills, including different ways to tell if they’re counterfeit.

Helsinki Cathedral (12 – 12:30 PM)

  • Hours: It’s complicated. Hours vary by day and by season, but it usually opens at 9 AM Monday through Saturday and 11 AM on Sundays. Visit the website to confirm the exact schedule.
  • Cost: €5 – €8, but sometimes the fee is voluntary and sometimes it’s free. Again, verify the pricing for your specific visit time on the website.
  • Website: Here

Helsinki Cathedral is an icon of the city. It was built in the early 1800s, shortly after Helsinki was named capital of Finland. It changed its name from St. Nicholas’s Church to Helsinki Cathedral after Finland officially declared independence from the Russian Empire in 1917.

The church sits atop a hill, visible from many points around the city. From the outside, it’s most notable features are its imposing domes and columns. From the inside, it’s known for its cross shape and intricate pipe organ.

It’s a lovely church, but if I’m honest, it’s not spectacular. If you’ve been to a a church in Europe before, you might not be impressed. Definitely stop by to see the outside, and go inside if you catch it during a fee period. Otherwise, I wouldn’t say it’s a must do.

Tip! Even if you don’t go inside, be sure to climb to the top of the stairs in front of the cathedral for great views!

Visiting in the summer? From June to August, you can also visit the crypt below the cathedral. It’s free to enter and there’s even a cafe inside. You can get to the crypt via an elevator from inside the church or from the entrance on the north side of the church.

Market Square, Old Market Hall & Lunch (12:30 – 2 PM)

  • Market Square Hours: Hours vary based on season, weather, and booth. It’s usually open in some form daily from 6:30 AM – 4 PM, but it’s most bustling between 9 AM – 3 PM.
  • Old Market Hall Hours: Monday through Saturday: 8 AM – 6 PM (Closed Sundays)

A few blocks south of Helsinki Cathedral is the waterfront and Port of Helsinki. This is a vibrant and beautiful part of Helsinki that you won’t want to miss. You’ll probably pass through this area throughout your visit in Helsinki, but it’s also worth spending some deliberate time here.

Start at Market Square. This is the the public square across from the Presidential Palace, that spans the waterfront between the Esplanade and the Ferris wheel.

Note: Market Square is confusingly listed on Google Maps in English as “Free Walking Tours Helsinki.” For locational purposes, don’t worry, this is the right spot.

Market Square has a daily, open-air market. The market runs all year, but the number of booths varies by season. You will always find local specialties, like salmon soup and reindeer sausages, as well as handicrafts and souvenirs. In the winter months some of the food stalls are heated, and in the summer you’ll find a wide variety of fresh produce.

Visiting in October? Be sure to visit Market Square for the annual Helsinki Baltic Herring Market. The market has been held since 1743! You can of course buy Herring, but it’s grown to be a broader celebration of the region’s food and culture.

The outdoor market can be a good place to grab lunch or a snack, but don’t worry if nothing hits you. Just around the corner from Market Square is the Old Market Hall, or Vanha Kauppahalli. You’ll be able to spot this building’s iconic stripes from Market Square.

The Old Market Hall is an indoor food hall. Inside, you’ll find a variety of vendors and restaurants serving up everything from prepared meals to packaged goods to souvenirs. Most of the food vendors have a small amount of seating, ranging from a few stools to full table service. You can find a list of the current vendors here.

Tip! The Old Market Hall can get really crowded on Saturdays and during lunch time. If you want to eat here, avoid busy meal times or just be prepared to possibly wait to be seated.

Note: Don’t forget, the Old Market Hall is closed on Sundays.

Uspenski Cathedral (2 – 2:30 PM)

  • Hours: Tuesday through Friday: 9:30 AM – 4 PM / Saturday: 10 AM – 3 PM / Sunday: 12 – 3 PM (Closed to visitors on Sundays)
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: Here

If you’ve been to Market Square, you’ve seen the green-topped Uspenski Cathedral looming above the port. The church was built in mid-1800s with bricks from a Baltic Sea fort that was demolished during the Crimean War. The church was always and is still today the main cathedral of the Finnish Orthodox Church.

The inside of this church is much more intricate than Helsinki Cathedral, and it’s free to enter. For that reason, it’s worth making the hike up the stairs to visit the inside of the church. If it’s open, that is. The downside to this church is that the visiting hours are much more limited, so it can be hard to time.

Need a coffee? Behind the cathedral at ground level, there’s a cafe called Johan & Nyström. It’s a beautiful cafe with lots of seating, great views, and better coffee. It’s perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Have more time? If you are ahead of schedule, take a spin on the SkyWheel. It’s not the tallest city Ferris wheel, but it does give you some great views. (However, the windows in the cars are tinted blue, so you won’t get the best photos.) Tickets are pricy for what it is, but you do get to go around 4ish times.

City Museum (2:30 – 4:30 PM)

  • Hours: Monday through Friday: 11 AM – 7 PM / Saturday & Sunday: 11 AM – 5 PM
  • Cost: Free!
  • Website: Here

Back in the direction of Senate Square is the Helsinki City Museum. The museum is pretty small, but very well done. It tells the story of Helsinki, and how the city has grown and changed throughout its history. There’s a shop, cafe and seating area on the main level, as well as a small lounge space on the top floor.

The museum comprises 4ish floors (I say ish, because there is literally a floor 3.5 on the map), but really has two main floors of exhibits. There is some cool objects, photographs and models throughout the exhibit, plus some interactive elements.

For the kids! The City Museum has a separate area targeted towards kids, called Children’s Town. This two-floor space has tons of great rooms for children to learn through play. It’s really engaging, super fun, and totally free. Enter from the main City Museum entrance and turn right to get to the Children’s Town area.

This itinerary gives the City Museum two full hours, which is generous. I think most people will make their way through this museum in about an hour. You can use the second hour to visit Children’s Town if you’re with kids, relax in the lounge, or maybe grab Finnish beer at Helsinki Bryggeri Brewhouse.

Explore & Shop in Kluuvi (4:30 – 6 PM)

Some of the best shopping and walking streets in Helsinki are in the Kluuvi neighborhood. Specifically, the area between the Esplanade, Senate Square, Helsinki Central Station and route E12.

This area has it all: shopping malls (Kämp Galleria, Citycenter Mall), department stores (Stockmann, Tokmanni), designer labels (Louis Vuitton), souvenir shops (Sauna Boutique, Kankurin Tupa), plenty of Finnish brands (marimekko, Balmuir, Nanso, Moomin) and so much more.

Even if you aren’t looking to do any serious shopping, this area is still worth walking through. It’s beautiful and vibrant, plus it’s chock-full of restaurants and cafes if you’re scoping out dinner options. Be sure to walk down Kluuvikatu and Keskuskatu streets, as well as Aleksanterinkatu, which also has great tram views.

Note: Most of the shops in this area are open 7 days a week until 6-8ish PM. However, they do tend to close earlier on Sundays (around 4-5 PM.)

Dinner & Nightlife (6 PM & beyond)

There are tons of great restaurant options in central Helsinki near Kluuvi and beyond. Roasberg is a cool vibe and a great pick for a drink and easy meal. Restaurant Pompier is a great fancier option across the Esplanade. We went with Pizzeria Via Tribunali, which is perfect for an easy family meal.

We personally are vegetarian and not foodies, plus we have a kid so we’re not so into nightlife. For dining recommendations, check out this Helsinki Restaurant Guide or this restaurant list. For nightlife, check out this guide or honestly, Instagram or TikTok for the most current info from the people actually going to clubs.

Day 2 — Day Trip to Suomenlinna

The Fortress of Suomenlinna is one of seven UNSECO World Heritage Sites in Finland. The sea fort was built gradually, starting in the mid-1700s. It was built by the Swedish — who at the time controlled present-day Helsinki — to protect their land from the Russian Empire.

Today, Suomenlinna is one of the most popular tourist sites in Helsinki. Visitors can explore the two main islands of the fortress, visiting different museums, historical buildings and remnants. There are several restaurants and shops on the island, as well as walking paths with beautiful views.

Depending on the season, you might spend anywhere from 2-4 hours on the actual island. When you factor in transit schedules, meals and the variable timing of it all, it’s best not to try to cram into a day with too many other plans. In this itinerary, we’ve paired it Allas Sea Pool, for a perfect balance of adventure and relaxation.

Note: You can visit Suomenlinna all year. However, some of the restaurants, museums and buildings are closed during the winter months. Also, the waterbus from the southern end of the island only runs in the summer.

Coffee & Breakfast (9 – 10 AM)

It’s a good idea to eat breakfast before you venture out to Suomenlinna. There are restaurants and cafes on the island, but depending on the season, they might not open until later in the day.

If you don’t want to eat at your hotel, but there are a few good options near the ferry terminal. One easy pick (on any day other than Sunday) is the Old Market Hall. There are a couple coffee shops inside that have pastries and breakfast items. Plus, the market tends to be pretty empty in the mornings.

Another popular option is Cafe Engle, over by Senate Square.

Visiting in the summer? Suomenlinna is a popular picnic destination during the summer months. If you’re in Helsinki during the warmer months, stop by the market to put together a nice picnic lunch before you head to the ferry.

Ferry to Suomenlinna (10 – 11 AM)

Most of the attractions on Suomenlinna open between 10 – 11 AM (depending on the season). There isn’t really a rush of crowds you need to beat, so you don’t need to stress about the exact timing or getting there early for anything.

The ferry to Suomenlinna is operated by HSL, which is the same public transit organization that runs the city buses, trams and trains. The ferry departs from Kauppatori, which is the ferry terminal adjacent to Market Square, across from the Presidential Palace. There is only one ferry line (19) that departs from this dock and it only goes to Suomenlinna, so you don’t have to worry about getting on the wrong boat.

Depending on the season, the ferry from Kauppaatori to Suomenlinna runs every 20 minutes to every hour. There is a digital sign at the terminal with upcoming ferry times, or you can check the ferry schedule in the HSL Journey Planner (online or in the app).

You can buy tickets for the ferry from kiosks at the terminal or on the HSL app. The route from Kauppaatori to Suomenlinna requires a ticket for Zones A and B. If you buy a ticket from the kiosk, it will be activated immediately and valid for 2 hours. If you buy a ticket in the app, make sure it is activated before you board the ferry. An active ticket will show up in the app with a colored, moving image.

As long as you have an active ticket, you do not need to do anything with the card reader or show your ticket to anyone when you board. (The card readers activate paper tickets, which is important for riders using transit cards or ticket packs.) You will only need to display your ticket if a conductor or inspector ask you to. If you do not have an active ticket, you will receive a fine (€100 plus the ticket cost.)

The ferry ride to Suomenlinna takes about 15 minutes. There is outdoor seating with great views or climate-controlled seating indoors.

Tip! You will need cellular data or wifi to purchase a ticket in the HSL app. If you don’t have international cell data, buy your ticket in advance while you’re on wifi at your hotel. Just be sure to set the validity start time to be 15-30 minutes prior to your planned ferry departure.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress (11 AM – 3 PM)

  • Hours: The island is open 24/7, but the hours of each facility vary by date and season. Check here for the exact hours for each location by date.
  • Cost: Entrance to the island is free. There is a separate charge to enter each museum, and for anything else you choose to purchase.

Suomenlinna is a former island sea fort that once protected Sweden (prior to Finland’s independence) from the Russian Empire. You can see some of the old fort structures, such as the Bastion, dry dock and barracks. There are some newer facilities on the island as well, including a few museums, restaurants and shops.

The amount of things to see and do at Suomenlinna sounds overwhelming at first. To make things easier, there is a well-established route called the Blue Route. There are directional signs at most intersections, and there will always be one sign in blue that will guide you along this route. You can view an interactive map here, which includes the Blue Route and all the other sites on the island.

In full, the Suomenlinna Blue Route is about 1 mile, point to point, and takes about 20 minutes to walk. There are stops along the way though, including two museums which are open all year. Realistically, the full experience takes 2-3 hours, depending how much you stop for.

Note: Both museums on the island are pretty small and have paid admission. Suomenlinna Museum goes into the fort’s history and takes about 30 minutes. The Military Museum explores the history, role and weaponry of the Finnish Military. The later is spread out over two buildings, and takes closer to 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Visiting with kids? The second building of the military museum is the most fun for kids. They can get behind the controls of a real fighter jet, try on uniforms and helmets, and crawl into forts and bunks.

Tip! Just past Pipers Park on the southern half of the island, the path splits. The Blue Route continues down the center of the island, and another path (marked by artillery cannons) follows the water. The waterfront path is much more interesting and far more beautiful. It’s a bit more rugged, but it felt safe enough with our 3-year-old. Just be careful in the snow/ice, which can be slick.

During the summer months, more facilities are open so you might want to stay later. For example, the toy museum, brewery and several restaurants are only open in the summer. Some of these spots are further off the Blue Line, so it can take much longer to see it all.

There is a good chance you will need to eat a meal at Suomenlinna. There are several cafes and restaurants, which operate on different hours and capacities over the year. If you’re following the timeline in this itinerary, Suomenlinna Centre Cafe is a well-timed option that’s open all year.

Note: The Blue Route is point-to-point, not a loop. If you’re visiting in the winter, there is only one ferry stop at the north end of the island. If you walk the full Blue Route, you will need to walk it all the way back to get to the ferry. During the summer months, the waterbus stops by King’s Gate, so you don’t need to back track.

Return Ferry to Mainland Helsinki (3 – 4 PM)

Once you’re done exploring Suomenlinna, you can take the ferry back to the mainland. The return journey is basically the same as the trip there, just in reverse.

Tip! Buy your return ferry ticket using the free wifi at Suomenlinna Centre Cafe on your way to the ferry terminal. A single ride ticket is valid for 2 hours and you set the start of the validity period. You can also check the ferry schedule in the app while you’re there.

The ferry departs from the same place it arrived. There is only one ferry stop and one ferry line, so again, you won’t need to worry about getting on the right one. There are ticket kiosks at the ferry terminal at Suomenlinna, if you didn’t already buy your ticket in advance.

The return ferry ride also takes about 15 minutes, and arrives back at Kauppatori near Market Square.

Visiting in the summer? From May through September, there is a waterbus that runs from King’s Gate on the southern end of the island. This is a great option if you don’t walk to walk the mile back to the ferry terminal. Do note that the waterbus is not operated by HSL! The waterbus is run by FRS Finland, and requires a separate ticket which you can buy online or onboard.

Relax at Allas Sea Pool

  • Hours: Monday through Friday: 6:30 AM – 9 PM / Saturday & Sunday: 8 AM – 9 PM
  • Cost: €18-22
  • Website: Here

Saunas are at the heart of Finnish culture, and have been for thousands of years. So much so that there is 1 sauna for every 2.5 people in Finland. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that there’s a sauna at your hotel, and maybe even in your actual hotel room. If you go to Finland, it’s basically required that you use a sauna at least once.

The other half of the sauna experience is the arctic swimming. It’s common to go back and forth between the hot sauna and ice cold water. This hot-to-cold routine has all sorts of health benefit claims, ranging from improved circulation and muscle repair to weight loss and increased energy.

Read more! If you’re interested in trying out this Nordic tradition, be sure to check out my first experience with an Ice Bath & Sauna in Tromsø, Norway.

A popular pick for a sauna and spa experience in Helsinki is Allas Sea Pool. It is located right off the main port, between Market Square the SkyWheel. Its central location and beautiful views make it tough to beat.

Allas Sea Pool has three outdoor pools. As the name suggests, there is in fact a sea pool, which is filled with seawater from nearby streams. The water in this pool is at the naturally occurring outdoor temperature (read: cold.) There is also a tap water pool, which is heated to 27°C (81°F) year round. During the summer months, there is a children’s pool, which is also tap water and heated.

Allas Sea Pool has three saunas on premise: one for men, one for women, and one mixed. Be sure to rinse off in the shower before you enter the sauna.

Note: You do not need a timed reservation or advance booking to visit Allas Sea Pool. All single tickets are sold on arrival at the entrance.

Visiting with kids? Kids are allowed in the saunas, large pool all year, and children’s pool during the summer. There is a discounted rate for children 3-12, and children 2 and under are free.

Dinner & Nightlife (6 PM & beyond)

There are restaurants at Allas Sea Pool, which is definitely an option of you want to close out your day relaxing in the sauna and pool. Alternatively, you can freshen up at your hotel (or at the pool locker room) and head out for a meal elsewhere.

If you haven’t already enjoyed some traditional Finnish food, consider Restaurant Savotta, Restaurant Olo or Savoy. I will say, most of the well-rated, Finnish restaurants did skew toward fancy and expensive.

Again … We personally are vegetarian and not foodies, plus we have a kid so we’re not so into nightlife. For dining recommendations, check out this Helsinki Restaurant Guide or this restaurant list. For nightlife, check out this guide or honestly, Instagram or TikTok for the most current info from the people actually going to clubs.

Day 3 — Neighborhoods & Museums

The final day of this Helsinki itinerary can take you in a few different directions. While the first two day’s worth of activities were all pretty centrally located and fit together really nicely, the final day has a splattering of possibilities. Think of it as a choose your own adventure day.

The core of the plan is simple though: a neighborhood and a museum. Start your day off in Punavuori, and wander through the districts of Ullanlinna and Kaivopuisto if you’re up for it. Then head off to a museum of your choice (we have three options we recommend), followed by a nearby activity that will pair perfectly with it to cap off your afternoon.

Note: This itinerary includes museums, some of which are closed on certain days of the week. Be sure to check the opening hours for your specific travel day before you plan to visit a specific museum.

Tip! There’s a good chance that this day involves more public transportation than the other two. If you are going to take at least 4 trips on public transit, it is cheaper to buy a day pass. Buy a day pass in the app and it’s valid for 24 hours on all Helsinki HSL public transit.

Coffee & Breakfast (9 – 10 AM)

If you have breakfast included at your hotel, feel free to stick with that. However, it might also be a good day to try something new. This itinerary starts off by exploring a few different neighborhoods, and grabbing a coffee or a meal is a great way to start.

There are a few great options, and one of them is Kaffa Roastery. It’s a cozy little coffee shop with ample seating, a variety of pastries and a darn good selection of coffees, all roasted right here in Helsinki. For more of a meal, right next door to Kaffa is a place called Moko Market. It’s a home goods store and cafe in one.

Visiting in the summer? Pick up some goodies from Moko Market and then head to nearby Sinebrychoff Park for a breakfast picnic.

Explore Punavuori & Beyond (10 AM – 12:30 PM)

Punavuori is a vibrant, trendy-but-not-intimidating district southwest of downtown Helsinki. It’s known for its shops, cafes and design studios and showrooms. You could easily spend your morning leisurely exploring within the official bounds of the Punavuori district. However, the walking route makes a bit more sense of you blur the neighborhood lines a bit. This itinerary dips into the districts of Ullanlinna and Kaivopuisto, too.

I’m not one who can “explore” a neighborhood without some sort of plan. Here are a few anchors to help guide your walk. (Everything noted here is also listed in the map below.)

Start on the southwest side of Punavuori, near Kaffa Roastery. Walk east, past Mikael Agricola Church. It’s not a must-see church, but it’s worth walking by. You can go inside on weekdays from 9 AM – 2 PM. There’s also a really cute flower shop at the end of the park, just past the church.

A few blocks later, turn right (south) onto Huvilakatu. This is one of the most beautiful and colorful streets in Helsinki. It’s an Instagrammer’s dream, but anyone can appreciate the darling pastel homes all in a row. It’s a residential street, so always be respectful.

Read More! If you like these colorful houses, you will love Notting Hill in London!

To get right to the shopping portion, you can turn back around and head back north, past the church, and on to Fredrikinkatu. That’s where this itinerary will pick back up again here. But if you aren’t planning to shop for too long, the weather is nice, and you want to have a little outdoor adventure, continue on to Kaivopuisto.

Tip! There’s another great cafe in this area called, Rams Roasters. If you need another coffee or want to try the best quiche of your life, this is a great option!

Optional Detour: Kaivopuisto

As you walk down the colorful Huvilakatu, you can see the waterfront in the distance. Follow the street and you’ll run right into a waterfront park. Follow the park left (east), and it opens open to Kaivopuisto, which is a bigger park with a big hill in the middle.

This large city park offers stunning views over the waterfront and nearby islands. It has several different walking paths, including up the small hill and around the waterfront. There’s a playground, a few art installations and landmarks, and even a few cafes. It’s just a lovely park with great views.

If you catch a sunny day with mild (or at least tolerable) weather, it’s worth visiting during any season. The detour through the park and back will add about 90 minutes to your morning.

Note: During the winter months, getting to the top of the hill can be tricky. The walkways aren’t fully cleared, and it can be slippery, icy, snowy and/or wet. Do be careful. But if it’s safe to do so and you’re up for it, venturing to the top is worth it. It was a highlight of our trip.

Back to Punavuori

Whether you’re coming straight from Huvilakatu or the walk around Kaivopuisto, this itinerary continues at Fredrikinkatu. This is the main shopping street at the heart of Punavuori. For the sake of directions, consider Roobertin Herkku candy shop as the start of this street. And while you’re at it, go ahead and pop inside and fill up a bag of Finnish candies.

Tip! I would pretty confidently argue that Tutti Frutti Sour, from the Finnish brand Fazer, are the best sour fruity candy ever. (I said what I said.) Not too chewy, good pucker, strong fruit flavor. That said, the 3-year-old seen here confirms the candy necklaces are also on point.

This shopping street is known for its vintage and thrift shops (like Relove Freda). There’s also a great stationary/gift shop (Papershop), a really cute toy shop (Zicco), tons of great cafes and coffee shops, and the list goes on. The street goes on for about a half mile, roughly ending at Kampintori square at Kansakoulukatu.

Note: Several of the shops along Fredrikinkatu are closed or have limited hours on Sundays. If you want to be sure you don’t miss anything, come on a different day, specifically a Saturday.

If you have time, walk to the end on one side of the street (ideally the west side), and then come back down the other side, ending at Iso Roobertinkatu. Iso Roobertinkatu is one of the most popular pedestrian shopping streets in Helsinki. Here you’ll find more shops and restaurants to explore.

Lunch Break (12:30 – 1:30 PM)

There are plenty of restaurants and cafes along Fredrikinkatu and Iso Roobertinkatu. Whenever you get hungry for lunch, there is sure to be a great option nearby. For great vegetarian options, consider Green Hippo or Fafa’s.

Have more time? If you finish shopping early or didn’t take the detour to Kaivopuisto, there’s a chance you wrap up quicker than this itinerary suggests. This is a great time to head to Sinebrychoff Park (accessible via stairs from the west end of Iso Roobertinkatu) and/or the Sinebrychoff Art Museum (closed on Mondays.)

Museum + Activity (1:30 – 6 PM)

Helsinki has several great museums, some of which we’ve already mentioned in this itinerary. After a long morning outside, it’s a great time to step inside for an afternoon at the museum.

There are a few different museums to consider, and they’re all scattered around town. Based on the museum you chose, you can pair that with another activity nearby to round out your day. Here are three great options for museums in Helsinki, plus a secondary activity nearby.

Visiting with kids? Heureka is an amazing science museum that is a perfect option for kids. The only downside is that it’s a bit of a hike from Punavuori (45 minutes via public transit) and it closes as early as 5 PM. It’s still worth doing, but you might want to cut your shopping short and leave Punavuori by 12 or 12:30 to make sure you have enough time at the museum.

Option 1: Finnish Museum of Natural History + Temppeliaukio Church

The Finnish Museum of Natural History offers an informative and engaging look at history through a nature lens. The museum has five permanent exhibits, which include: Finnish Nature, World Nature, The History of Life, The Story of the Bones and Change in the Air. It’s popular with adults and children alike, particularly the dinosaur section.

It’s a good size museum, but most people get through it in about 1.5 – 2.5 hours. Tickets are €19 for adults, €7 for children 7-17 and free for children 6 and under.

Old Pionear, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Temppeliaukio Church is a five minute walk from the museum. This unique church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Helsinki. The circular church is essentially underground, with walls made of rock, and an impressive copper domed roof.

The church only takes about 15 minutes to see. There is an €8 admission fee.

NOTE: The church closes at 4:50 PM and the museum closes at 5 PM. Fitting them both in is possible, but you will need to keep an eye on the time. The museum is also closed on Mondays.

Option 2: Helsinki Tram Museum + Sibelius Monument + Cafe Regatta

The Helsinki Tram Museum is a small exhibition that explores Helsinki’s transit history. There are two main rooms, with real life-size trams from eras past. You can climb onboard several of the trams, including one where you can pretend to drive the tram through a Helsinki of yesteryear. There’s also a small place space for kids and a gift shop.

The Helsinki Tram Museum is free to enter and takes about 30 minutes. (Budget one hour if you’re with a toddler who loves trains.) On its own, the tram museum is probably not worth going too far out of your way for. But when you combine it with the Sibelius Monument and Cafe Regatta, it makes for a perfect afternoon.

From the tram museum, it’s a 10 – 15 minute walk to the Sibelius Monument. The monument was built to honor Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, and is now an icon of the city itself.

Note: Sibelius Park — the park that the monument is in — was temporarily closed during our visit in February 2024. There was no way to cut through the park. If the park is fenced off, follow Rajasaarentie along the north end of the park, and then walk down the waterfront path to the monument and cafe.

Further south down the waterfront from Sibelius Monument is Cafe Regatta. Despite being pretty far off the beaten path, this adorable cafe has become immensely popular. The tiny cafe has a few seats inside, but with lines stretching far out the door, don’t plan on getting one. There is a good amount of seating outside though, complete with a fire pit and even a kids play area.

Cafe Regatta is a great place to end your day, anytime of year. The line can get pretty long though, so plan to spend at least an hour here.

Visiting in the winter? Don’t let the lack of outdoor seating deter you from visiting this cafe in the winter! Cozy up with a warm drink, sit by the far, and catch an early sunset. They also have this amazing sled/carousel that is free, open to the public, and a great time for kids!

Option 3: Art Museum Ateneum + Helsinki Central Library

One of the best art museums is Helsinki is Ateneum. It’s centrally located near Helsinki Central Station, and houses primarily Finnish works from the 19th century to today. Some of the museum’s most popular pieces are by Van Gogh, Rodin and Munch, plus ever changing special exhibits.

Standard admission for Ateneum is €20 and children under 18 are free. The museum is good, but small, and usually takes around 1 – 2 hours to see. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Note: Timed tickets are required, but usually don’t sell out. You can buy tickets online in advance or at the door as long as they’re available.

A few blocks away, around the west side of the train station, is the Helsinki Central Library Oodi. This is so much more than a library! In addition to endless books (which you can’t actually check out without a library card), the library has a 3D printer, fitness rooms, full kitchens, film screenings, sewing machines, recording studios and more.

WanderingTrad, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tip! Many of the special services (like the 3D printer and some of the game rooms) at the library require a reservation. You can make reservations online, and in most cases they are free! Be sure to plan in advance if you’re interested in these activities or spaces.

Some of the services require a library card, but there’s still plenty to see and do even without one. There is a cafe, kids play area, video games and an outdoor balcony in the warmer months, which is all open to the public.

Dinner & Nightlife (6 PM & beyond)

Depending on where the afternoon took you, your dinner and evening plans might look different. Grab a meal wherever you end up, or head back to your hotel and find something near there.

Again … We personally are vegetarian and not foodies, plus we have a kid so we’re not so into nightlife. For dining recommendations, check out this Helsinki Restaurant Guide or this restaurant list. For nightlife, check out this guide or honestly, Instagram or TikTok for the most current info from the people actually going to clubs.

3 Days in Helsinki — Map

The map below includes all of the locations referenced in this itinerary. Be sure to save this map so you can reference it later.

Helsinki Map

A few tips for using this map

  • To view the map in Google Maps, click the expand icon on the top right corner.
  • Use the check boxes to adjust your view by day.
  • Click the star icon to save the map to your Google account for later.
  • To access the map next time, open Google Maps > click the Saved tab > click Maps.

Getting Around Helsinki

Helsinki as a whole is quite large, comprising 300+ islands and 60 district areas. However, Downtown Helsinki, including the main tourist areas, is pretty compact and easy to navigate.

Much of the tourist center of Helsinki is walkable. The furthest distance between two attractions is rarely over a mile, and in most cases is just a few blocks. There are maintained sidewalks, streetlights with walking signals and several walking streets, which makes the downtown area very pedestrian friendly.

That said, the city also has a great public transportation system. The city has a broad network of buses, trains, trams, and even ferries. All of the public transportation is operated by HSL, which makes ticketing simple and streamlined.

Read more! To learn more about how to buy tickets and use public transportation in Helsinki, check out our detailed guide about How to Take Public Transit in Helsinki.

The main mode of transportation in Helsinki is the tram system. The trams run on street level and coexist with vehicle traffic. Trams hold more people and run a bit more frequently than buses, but are a bit slower than trains.

Speaking of trains, Helsinki has one underground Metro line. Its route is not particularly useful for most tourist transportation, though. More relevant to tourists is the Commuter Trains, including the train that runs from the Helsinki airport to the city center.

As a tourist, you can usually rely on public transportation to get around just about anywhere. You will not need a car to visit Helsinki.