Skip to Content


Helsinki. Photo: Tapio Haaja

Time allowing, we encourage guests to explore Helsinki and its leisure activities. Helsinki is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. A city of contrasts; peace and pulse, city and nature, light summers and dark winters. The cornerstones of sustainable development in Helsinki are the city's carbon neutrality goal and equality in urban planning.

Things to see & do in Helsinki

Nature is all around: the sea, recreational areas, forests, and over 300 islands. City biking and walking are recommended. Travelling by public transport in Helsinki is easy and affordable. HSL tickets are valid on all buses, commuter trains, trams, metro and the Suomenlinna ferry.

Info on public transport tickets

HSL app

If you are staying longer, there are many natural and cultural destinations close to Helsinki. 

More info: VisitFinland

City and its history

Gustav I of Sweden founded Helsinki in 1550. Gustav is considered as the founder of modern Sweden who modernised administration and brought about Reformation. For the next centuries Helsinki remained as a small fishing village. City’s importance grew in the mid-18th century when the sea fortress of Suomenlinna/Sveaborg was built on islands at the entrance of the harbour to protect the city.

Russian Emperor Alexander I made Helsinki the capital of newly founded Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812. Helsinki was built and designed as an imperial city of Russian Empire in the model of St. Petersburg by German-born C.L. Engel with Imperial Alexander University and neoclassical administrative block.

Helsinki became the capital of independent Finland when the turbulence of the First World War and Russian Revolution made it possible for the Parliament of Finland to declare independence in December 1917. The dramatic European history of the first half of the 20th century, the Finnish civil war, the Great Depression and the Second World War all left their marks in Helsinki and Finland.

During the post-war decades, Finland developed into modern industrial land and into a Nordic welfare state. Helsinki hosted the Summer Olympics in 1952. Under pressure to find housing for people moving in large numbers from rural areas Helsinki quickly founded suburbs.

In 2019 Helsinki is the centre of Helsinki Region of about 1.48 million inhabitants. Over 460 years of history, several architectural layers and the impact of different periods have shaped the city that aims in its strategy to be the most functional in the world.

More on the history of Helsinki