Discovering Helsinki, the capital of Finland

The city of Helsinki is both the largest city and the capital of Finland. Its population reaches more than 600,000 inhabitants (over 1.3 million in the greater area). Water is omnipresent and is one of the specificities of Helsinki and the surrounding region: the city was built on a peninsula surrounded by many islands. Helsinki is also a port city whose economy is based mainly on sea trade.

Helsinki was founded in 1550 by the king of Sweden, Gustave Vasa, as a competitor to Reval (Tallinn today), a city located on the other side of the Gulf of Finland. At that time, Helsinki was called "Helsingfors".
The city was burned down several times and occupied by the Russians, so the Swedes decided to fortify Helsinki and built a sea fortress for protection. Nevertheless, the Finnish territory was taken over by the Russian empire in 1809. Helsinki became the capital of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland which contributed to its important development. The country gained independence in 1917 and Helsinki maintained its status as capital.

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Your stay in Helsinki: architecture, cultural visits and discover the islands in the archipelago

A holiday in Helsinki is an occasion for you to discover a city with a rich historical heritage. Located in the heart of a beautiful natural environment, Helsinki is a tourist destination that will charm all who love architecture, culture and nature.

Begin your visit of Helsinki with a walk through the centre of the Finnish capital. The city centre still bears marks of the period when the Russian Empire occupied the city. For example, the architecture of the Senate Square mirrors the city of Saint Petersburg. German architect, Carl Ludwig Engel, designed the plans for the city.
Continue your visit to Market Square. It is the ideal place to stop for some tasty Finnish specialities. After that, you can see the Esplanade, considered to be the heart of the city and the quay from which tourist boats leave.
Helsinki has a very rich and diverse cultural heritage. Take advantage of your stay in Helsinki to learn more about the city's and country's history with a visit to the National Museum of Finland and the Suomenlinna fortress. Art-lovers will enjoy discovering collections at the Ateneum Museum and the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Seurasaari Open-Air Museum will allow you to enjoy nature while discovering typical old wooden buildings from different regions in Finland (house, farm, church, etc.).

Like all Finnish cities, Helsinki has found a balance between urban development and environmental conservation. There are many bike paths to make it easy to visit the city with transportation that respects the environment. There are also many boats available to visit the surrounding islands in the archipelago.

Are you travelling to Helsinki with children? The Linnanmäki amusement park will please both young and old! You may want to rent a car to explore Helsinki's surrounding area such as the old city of Porvoo and villa Hvittrask.

More information about Helsinki