Helsinki – Two

Helsinki is a joy to explore on foot. This walking tour starts near the South Harbour. You are about to experience a delightful combination of museums, theaters and music plus bustling markets and quiet shorelines. Even if you visit just for the day, you will soon sense why Helsinki has been ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world.

Share this

1 Havis Amanda Fountain in Helsinki, Finland

This exquisite Havis Amanda fountain is the centerpiece between Market Square to the east and the entrance to Esplande Park to the west. The statue by Ville Wallgren portrays a mermaid standing on a pedestal of seaweed. Surrounding her on the red granite pool designed by Eliel Saarinen are four sea lions. Take note of the yellow Neoclassical building on the left. Below the clock is a tourist information center. Pohjoisesplanadi 19 was designed by Pehr Granstedt in 1816.

Kauppatori, 00130 Helsinki, Finland

2 Mermaid Statue Named Havis Amanda in Helsinki, Finland

When Finnish sculptor Carl Wilhelm Vallgren created this 16.5 foot statue in 1906, he named her The Mermaid. She represented the rebirth of Helsinki emerging from the sea. It is now commonly called Havis Amanda. This Art Nouveau ensemble includes four fish spraying water which, according to legend, enhances male potency. Merenneito received extensive criticism from women when The Mermaid was unveiled in 1908. Today, the bronze is widely accepted as one of the city’s iconic artworks.

Kauppatori, 00130 Helsinki, Finland

3 Esplanade Park Promenade in Helsinki, Finland

People are enjoying a warm spring day strolling along the tree-lined promenade in Esplanade Park. The inner-city greenspace was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel and opened in 1912. The walkway is tucked between two avenues: Pohjoisesplanadi on the north and Eteläesplanadi on the south. During the summer months, “Espa” is a popular setting for concerts, special events, family picnics or just a walk in the park.

Esplanadi Pohjoisesplanadi, 00101 Helsinki, Finland

4 J. L. Runeberg Memorial in Esplande Park in Helsinki, Finland

Johan Ludwig Runeberg was a 19th century Finnish poet. He also authored the country’s national anthem. This monument in Esplanade Park was cast in bronze by his son, Walter Runeberg. When the 26 foot statue was unveiled in 1885, an estimated 20,000 people attended the ceremony. The figure below holding a laurel wreath is the Maiden of Finland. Around the marble pedestal is a flowerbed which is replanted three times a year.

Esplanadi Pohjoisesplanadi, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
60.167495, 24.947882

5 Hotel Kämp in Helsinki, Finland

Hotel Kämp is a Helsinki landmark. The hotel has been the epicenter for the social elite, business and political meetings and special occasions since 1887. It was immediately considered a premier property when founder Carl Kämp instructed architect Theodor Höijer to incorporate special amenities like the country’s first elevator. Hotel Kämp still has old world charms with five-star service. Sure, the room rates tend to be high. However, you will be delighted to find a rubber duck waiting for you in the tub.

Helsinki Pohjoisesplanadi 29, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

6 Louis Vuitton Store in Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki offers several options for shopaholics. One of the favored districts is a street named Pohjoiseplanadi, also called Nora Esplanaden. The boulevard runs parallel to Esplande Park. Here you can window shop at upscale stores such as Louis Vuitton or explore boutiques featuring famous Finnish brands like Aarikka, Arabia and Marimekko. Make sure you also visit Galleria Esplanad shopping center.

Pohjoisesplanadi 100, 00101 Helsinki, Finland

7 Stockmann Department Store in Helsinki, Finland

There are approximately 1.4 million people in the metropolitan area of Helsinki. Yet, the Stockmann department store claims to have 17 million customers. That may begin to explain the retailer’s importance not only in Finland but also in the neighboring Nordic countries. This store, which was built in the Kluuvi neighborhood in 1930, has over a half million square feet of space filled with many premiere brands. If you can’t find what you are looking for at Stockmann, then you probably don’t need it.

Aleksanterinkatu 52, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

8 Central Railway Station in Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki Central Railway Station was built in 1919 in the heart of the Vironniemi District, the city’s commercial center. The terminal’s 19 platforms are the hub for trains, commuter rails and the Rautatientori Metro. Approximately 200,000 passengers walk through the front door of Helsinki C every day.

Helsingin päärautatieasema Kaivokatu 1, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

9 Stone Men Statues at Entry of Central Railway Station in Helsinki, Finland

These are two of four massive granite statues flanking the entrance of Helsinki Central Railway Station. The “Stone Men” hold spherical lanterns that are lit at night. They are the work of a Finnish sculptor named Emil Wikström. He was a prolific and influential sculptor of monuments throughout Finland during the first half of the 20th century. Many of his works were inspired by local mythology and heritage.

Helsingin päärautatieasema Kaivokatu 1, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

10 Clock Tower of the Central Railway Station in Helsinki, Finland

If you enjoy architecture, you soon sense something special about Helsinki. About 600 of their buildings were constructed during the late 19th century and early 20th century in a form of Art Nouveau named Jugend. It evolved into a unique Finish style called National Romantic. Most of these structures were built with massive blocks of Finish granite. This gorgeous clock tower at the east entry to the Helsinki Central Railway Station was part of this trend. Eliel Saarinen, the architect, originally proposed a National Romantic design. When he was forced to change, he created a new direction with stunning results. This style is now known as the Late-Jugend period.

Helsingin päärautatieasema Kaivokatu 1, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

11 Railway Square in Helsinki, Finland

Winters in Helsinki are not exceptionally cold. The average high temperature hovers around 30°F. Nor are they exceptionally snowy: the average accumulation is about 28 inches. But at the winter solstice, Finns have less than six hours of daylight, made gloomier by frequent cloudy conditions. Perhaps this is why the locals flock to the skating rink that floods Rautatientori. During the other months, Railway Square serves as an auxiliary bus station.

Railway Square Rautatientori, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

12 Aleksis Kivi Statue in Helsinki, Finland

Aleksis Kivi was a 19th century author. His promising career was cut short when he died in 1872 at the age of 32. He was most respected for his plays. His only novel called “Seven Brothers” was heavily criticized for an unsavory portrayal of Finns when published in 1870. Since then, however, Seitsemän Veljestä has been acclaimed as perhaps the first, if not the most important novel written in the Finnish language. This bronze statue of the author sitting on a pedestal was created by Wäinö Aaltonen. The tribute was erected in front of the Finnish National Theater in 1939.

Läntinen Teatterikuja 1, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

13 Finnish National Theater in Helsinki, Finland

This National Romantic style building features a Finnish granite façade, cooper dome and flanking towers. When the theater was constructed in 1902, it gave a permanent home to a touring company of professional actors. The ensemble was established in 1872. Suomen Kansallisteatteri has been expanded a few times during its history. The Finnish National Theater now includes four stages, a studio and a night club.

Läntinen Teatterikuja 1, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

14 Kiasma Museum in Helsinki, Finland

Eight years after the Finnish National Gallery was established in 1990, they moved their collection of contemporary art into this building known as Kiasma Museum. The name is derived from the architect, Steven Holl. He called his design “Chiasma.” The Museum of Contemporary Art has about 8,500 works. Most were created by Finnish artists since 1960.

Mannerheiminaukio 2, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

15 Carl Mannerheim Equestrian Statue in Helsinki, Finland

Baron Carl Mannerheim was Finland’s major military leader from 1918 through World War II when he then became the country’s president. He is credited with helping Finland secure their independence from Russia. Mannerheim also established order during the subsequent civil war and protected his countrymen from a potential fall to the Soviet Union. As a result, he is often called the father of modern Finland. This 38 foot equestrian monument was sculpted in bronze by Aimo Tukainen and erected in 1960. It is located on Mannerheim Street, named after this national hero.

Mannerheiminaukio 2, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

16 Museum of Natural History in Helsinki, Finland

It is not every day you see two giraffes hanging off a balcony and a giant moose hiding behind the hedges. They welcome you to the former Zoological Museum. After an extensive renovation in 2007, this became the Museum of Natural History. Their collection includes millions of insects plus zoological, geological and botanical specimens. This building was initially a Russian gymnasium when construction ended in 1913. Ten years later, it was acquired by the University of Helsinki. They manage the museum and the research institute inside named Naturhistoriska Museet.

Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

17 Helsinki Music Center in Helsinki, Finland

Lovers of classical music appreciate the acoustics inside Helsinki Music Center. Pedestrians like how the copper and glass windows reflect the surrounding green space. Achieving this balance was difficult for architect Marko Kivistö because he did not want to compete against the various architectural styles in the Töölö neighborhood. His answer was to build most of the concert hall underground. Helsingin Musiikkitalo is the home of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.

Musiikkitalo Töölönlahdenkatu, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

18 National Museum of Finland in Helsinki, Finland

The impressive tower and granite façade of the National Museum of Finland gives it the appearance of a castle from the Middle Ages. This National Romanticism design by three architects – Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen – is perfect for what you will find inside. The museum has exhibits tracing Finland’s history from pre-historic ages until modern times. It opened in the Töölö neighborhood in 1916.

Mannerheimintie 34, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

19 Finlandia Hall Conference Center in Helsinki, Finland

Finlandia Hall has been Helsinki’s major conference center since 1971. On the building’s eastern side is an awesome view of Töölönlahti Bay. This western, marble façade faces Mannerheim Street where many of the city’s cultural venues are located. This facility by architect Alvar Aalto features numerous rooms including a 1,700 seat auditorium. Finlandia Hall annually hosts countless meetings, events and concerts.

Mannerheimintie 13e, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

20 Urho Kekkonen Memorial in Helsinki, Finland

These four bronze hands suspended on 26 foot poles were erected in 2000 on the centennial of Urho Kekkonen’s birth. This politician was the Speaker of the Parliament, the Minister of Justice and the Interior, the Prime Minister five times and the longest serving President of the Republic of Finland from 1956 until 1981. The memorial in Hakasalmi Park was created by Pekka Jylhä.

Mannerheimintie 36, 00101 Helsinki, Finland

21 Töölönlahti Bay in Helsinki, Finland

Hesperia Park is part of a large public greenspace surrounding Töölönlahti Bay. Since the mid-1980s, it has provided walking and bicycle paths encircling the shoreline. On the other side of the bay you can see a 105 foot Ferris wheel named Rinkeli. The attraction is one of 45 rides featured at Linnanmäki. The amusement park opened in 1950.

Hesperiaparken Mannerheimintie 15, 00101 Helsinki, Finland

22 Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, Finland

Opera was not considered a cultural priority in Helsinki until the formation of the Domestic Opera in 1911. It was renamed three years later. In 1956, the music company was given the current name of Finish National Opera. Suomen Kansallisooppera moved into this building along Töölönlahti Bay in 1993. The opera house has two auditoriums for performances of opera and ballet.

Helsinginkatu 58, 00250 Helsinki, Finland

23 Olympic Stadium Tower in Helsinki, Finland

This Olympic stadium was built in the Functionalistic style in 1938 with the intent of hosting the 1940 Summer Games. However, the events were cancelled after the outbreak of World War II. Subsequently, in the summer of 1952, 850,000 spectators attended the XVth Olympic Games at Helsingfors Olympiastadion. The stadium, still the country’s largest, is now home field for the Finland National Football Team, other events and a youth hostel. The observation deck on top of the 235 foot tower provides amazing views of Helsinki.

Paavo Nurmen tie 1, 00250 Helsinki, Finland

24 Church of the Rock’s Dome in Helsinki, Finland

Barely elevated above this rock wall is the green copper dome of Temppeliaukio Church. Planning for this Lutheran church began in the 1930s. The project was halted because of World War II. After a second design was submitted nearly 30 years later, those plans were scaled back significantly. The results? Temppeliaukion Kirkko was carved out of solid bedrock. Similar to a bunker, it is mostly underground. Since Temppeliaukio Church opened in 1969, it earned the nickname Church of the Rock.

Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

25 Church of the Rock Interior in Helsinki, Finland

The interior of the Church of the Rock is an architectural oddity. Above the nave is a massive copper dome resembling a Chinese wok. The skylight along the edges bathes the Temppeliaukio Church with natural light. The walls are exposed stone, giving the appearance of a fresh excavation site. And the altar is an ice-age crevice. Perhaps most surprising about this design by the Suomalainen brothers are the wonderful acoustics. This is a great venue for concerts. The Church of the Rock is a curious treat to behold!

Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

26 Mechelininkatu Pedestrian Walkway in Helsinki, Finland

This pedestrian walkway runs parallel to a major avenue on the west side of Helsinki ending at the West Harbour. Mechelininkatu is named after Leo Mechelin. He was politician and senator who helped champion Finland’s independence from Russia. He also was the co-founder of the Finnish Rubber Works. When Mechelin was chairman from 1898 until 1914, he moved the company’s focus toward hydro power generation. From those humble beginnings grew the Nokia Corporation. The telecommunications giant is now Finland’s largest company.

Länsilinkki 00180 Helsinki, Finland

27 Hietalahti Market Hall in Helsinki, Finland

It is more rewarding to follow the locals than a tour bus when visiting a foreign city. If you heed this advice in Helsinki, you will be delighted to discover Hietalahti Market Hall at Lönnrotinkatu 34. Inside Kauppahalli Saluhall, which was built in 1903, you will find family-run stalls filled with fresh seafood, meats and produce. During the summer, you can enjoy the outdoor café and spend some time and perhaps money at the flea market out front in Red Square.

Lönnrotinkatu 34, 00180 Helsinki, Finland

28 Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Finland

On the eastern boarder of Hietalahti Square is the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. Degrees are primarily offered in technology, healthcare and social sciences with additional programs for business and culture. Metropolia has 15 campuses for 16,000 students. Metropolia’s main building is this 1870 Renaissance structure designed by Frans Sjöström.

Bulevardi 31, 00180 Helsinki, Finland

29 Mikael Agricola Church Tower in Helsinki, Finland

Mikael Agricolan Kirkko was built in 1935 and is located in the heavily-populated neighborhood of Punavuori or the Red Mountain district. The most interesting feature of the Mikael Agricola Church is this 318 foot tower. The 98 foot copper spire can be lowered into the base. The church’s design by Lars Sonck is called Functionalism. This architectural style was developed in Finland during the 1920s and became popular in the Nordic countries during the 1930s. The concept is based on simplicity of form.

Tehtaankatu 23, 00150 Helsinki, Finland

30 German Church Tower in Helsinki, Finland

Of the 625,000 people who live in the city of Helsinki, 79% speak Finnish and 5.7% speak Swedish. Those whose native language is German are a minority with less than .3%. However, this latter community is served by the Deutsche Kirche built in the Kaartinkaupunki neighborhood in 1864. Although it is considered to be part of the Finnish Church, Saksalainen Kirkko has been affiliated with the Evangelical Church in Germany since 1959. The German Church is a popular venue for weddings.

Bernhardinkatu 4, 00130 Helsinki, Finland