Five ways to discover the summer in Helsinki | Finnair United States
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Five ways to discover the summer in Helsinki

During the summer months, Helsinki is in full bloom. The summer in the north might be short and sweet, but still packed with events, local delicacies and happy people. The green areas are full of people picnicking and enjoying life, and the beaches by the Baltic Sea invite you to make most of the sea views and long summer days with lots of daylight.

When days start getting longer and longer, Helsinki comes to life. We listed five different ways to discover the capital of Finland and make the most of your summer visit.

1. Events for all

Countless events take place in Helsinki during the warmer months. On first of May, Helsinki residents from kids to the elderly gather in Kaivopuisto park or the surrounding areas to celebrate vappu and have the biggest picnic of the year. You’ll spot people wearing their white graduation hats or colourful outfits with crazy sunglasses, kids (or adults alike) with balloons and everyone in a great mood.

On 12 June on Helsinki Day, you can join the celebrations of Helsinki’s birthday and attend a wide range of events free-of-charge organised around the city, including musical performances, performing arts, guided tours, and so on. The famous urban music and arts festival Flow Festival takes place in early August, and throughout the summer you can see Finnish artists perform in a unique setting by the sea at Allas Sea Pool.

Midsummer, or juhannus, is one of the most beloved holidays in Finland, when most Finns flee to their summer cottages with friends and family. The longest days of the year are cherished with summer food, midsummer spells, sauna, bonfires and other traditions. While Helsinki might feel empty during this weekend, you can experience the magic of the Finnish Midsummer on Seurasaari Island Open-Air Museum’s Midsummer event.

The Night of the Arts, taiteiden yö, will kick off the Helsinki Festival on 15.8.2024. During the Helsinki Festival, you can see many interesting art performances, such as classical and world music, theatre, dance, circus and visual arts along with a range of urban events. The festival aims to make art accessible for all.

If you’re into running, a great option to get to know Helsinki is to join the Helsinki Running Day in May or BMW Helsinki Marathon in August. A fun running event, Midnight Run Helsinki is held in September, when the nights start getting darker.

2. Local treats to savour

An essential way to discover a new city is to get to know its food scene. Start by heading to Helsinki Market Square by the sea, where you can get Finnish berries, fruits, vegetables and mushrooms, depending on the season. Taste the very sweet Finnish strawberries, or on a colder day, take a seat in a heated tent to enjoy a hot cup of coffee with a freshly baked cinnamon bun. You’ll be sure to find Finnish delicacies, such as salmon soup, Karelian pies or meat pies at the Market Square.

During the summer months, Helsinki is also filled with ice cream kiosks. Choose your favourite flavour in a cone or cup – but be aware of the hungry seagulls who also love ice cream. You’ll find plenty options to choose from, for instance, Helsingin Jäätelötehdas, Helsinki Ice Cream Factory, has manufactured its delicious ice cream for over 100 years, since 1922.

Many local restaurants, bars and cafes extend their seating outside, so you can eat outside on a sunny day. Menus are filled with fresh summer flavours, and if you choose one of the island restaurants, you can complete your culinary experience with a beautiful sea view. For instance, take a 5-minute ferry ride from Merisatamanranta to Skiffer Liuskaluoto to try their special flat pizzas, or head to the cosy and cute red cottage Cafe Regatta in Töölö neighbourhood to try their delicacies.

3. Plenty of parks and beaches

After the long winter months, Helsinki residents love to spend as much time outside as possible. Follow their lead and have a picnic in one of the many green areas of Helsinki. Esplanade Park in the heart of Helsinki is perhaps the most popular choice, which makes it also a perfect location to do some people watching and enjoy the warm summer rays.

Being a seaside city, there are of course many great beaches in Helsinki to relax on during the hottest of summer days, and plenty of islands to visit to breathe in the fresh sea breeze. You can take a ferry to many of the islands, walk to some of them over a bridge, or hop on a cruise to discover maritime Helsinki. Make sure not to miss the true cultural treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, to which you can take a ferry from the Market Square.

Of course, a visit to Helsinki is not complete without trying out one of the many public saunas of the city. It’s also an easy way to warm up after a cooling dip in the Baltic Sea!

4. Other sights & summer places

Helsinki has beautiful architecture to admire in the different neighborhoods from Neoclassical symmetry to Art Nouveau charm and contemporary elegance. Perhaps the most iconic building of the Finnish capital is the Helsinki Cathedral completed in 1852 that you can visit at the Senate Square. Another very special sight to see is the Temppeliaukio Church, or the “Rock Church”, carved into solid rock. If you’re in luck, you might also spot a wedding taking place on a summer Saturday.

A place for great fun and endless excitement is Linnanmäki Amusement Park. Located in the Alppila quarter of Helsinki, Linnanmäki is the oldest and most popular amusement park in Finland opened in 1950. Take a ride on the iconic wooden roller coaster or take a quick peek of the Helsinki views from the heights of Raketti that shoots you in 60-metre height.

If you like animals, head to Korkeasaari Zoo, the island of animals where you can see over 150 animal species. Korkeasaari, established in 1889, is one of the oldest zoos in the world doing important work to protect the original habitats of various species and defend biodiversity and endangered species.

5. Souvenir shopping

If you want to bring home some souvenirs from your summer visit to Helsinki, see our guide to specialty shopping in Helsinki. The best place to find local handicrafts is the Helsinki Market Square, where you can find unique wooden items, art, woven wool socks and other special memories from your Helsinki trip.

Summer is also a great time to go treasure hunting at the local flea markets and second-hand stores. A great outside market Hietsun kirppis next to Hietalahti Market Hall is open during summer weekends, and the popular Relove second hand stores you can visit every day.

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