Are you planning to visit Helsinki and wondering which time of the year would be the most rewarding? Helsinki can be very different depending on the time of year, but it sure always has something amazing to offer. Helsinki is definitely worth visiting!
Helsinki in the autumn and winter
You might have already heard about autumn and winter in the northern countries. Beautiful red and yellow trees, chilly weather, lots of snow. There are also plenty of activities to do no matter what time of year it is.
In the autumn, the weather in Helsinki might be very rainy. The evenings are also really dark, the darkest season of the year is in November. Even though it might be really dim and rainy, the beginning of autumn is usually sunny and warm up until October. Here are some autumn activities that you should do while visiting Helsinki in the fall:
- The light festival at the Linnanmäki amusement park
- Visiting the Korkeasaari Zoo
- Art museums in Helsinki, such as:
- Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
- Helsinki Art Museum, HAM
- Amos Rex
- Visiting the Nuuksio national park to see the leaves change color
The winter in Finland is mostly cold and snowy. You have to be well prepared in terms of clothing if you want to spend more time outdoors. Here are some winter activities to do in Helsinki:
- Ice skating in the city center, next to the railway station
- Watching the Christmas lights and Christmas window for kids at Stockmann
- Going skiing at the Paloheinä ski center
- Visiting the market squares with Christmas markets
- Visiting the old market hall
- Visiting the Helsinki Cathedral
Helsinki in October
Are you visiting Helsinki in October? The October weather in Helsinki is beautiful. It’s chilly, but not too cold, so you can spend some time with outdoor activities. Since Halloween is on its way, the Linnanmäki amusement park is hosting a horror week with plenty to see and do. Other than that, Halloween is not that widely celebrated in Finland. Although, you can find some Halloween related pastries and dishes to have, as well as many shop sales.
Helsinki in November
In November, the Christmas season is well started. There is an annual Christmas parade held in the center of Helsinki on Aleksanterinkatu, where the Christmas lights are lit and many people gather to see the parade involving musicians, Santa Claus, fire trucks, performances, and puppies.
In November, you can spend the perfect day in Helsinki by going for a walk in the Esplanadi park, spending some time Christmas shopping, and having a nice cup of coffee in the city center. There are also a few Christmas markets, with a really popular one in front of the Helsinki Cathedral at the Senate Square. At the market you can buy sweets, drinks, and small souvenirs.
Helsinki in December
At Christmas time, the city center looks amazing. There are Christmas lights everywhere, and plenty of shops display their Christmas decorations.
In December, the market squares are filled with kiosks full of delicacies and little gifts. You can also buy the Finnish Christmas drink, called “Glögi”, or try out the traditional rice porridge with cinnamon. The old market hall also has vendors throughout December selling cute souvenirs and knickknacks.
The 6th of December is the Independence Day of Finland, so stores and shops are mostly closed. You can watch the President’s annual ball with famous guests on TV all night.
After Christmas Eve the whole city is pretty quiet. Most of the shops and even restaurants are closed on the 25th and 26th, and again on New Year’s, so if you’re planning to spend that time in Helsinki, check ahead of time where you plan to eat. Even on Christmas the movie theaters are open, so that is one popular activity during Christmas time!
Helsinki on New Year’s
Planning to spend your New Year’s in Helsinki? That’s a great idea! On New Year’s especially, most young people wait for the New Year at bars or pubs, celebrating the event with friends. There are also fireworks organized by the city, but also by individuals.
If you still haven’t decided on things to do in Helsinki in January, try out different winter activities like ice skating or ice hockey! You can also go ride a snowmobile or even find a husky ride near Helsinki.
Helsinki in the spring and summer
Helsinki is at its best in the spring and summer. The days start to get brighter, trees begin to grow leaves once again, and flowers blossom. People spend more time outdoors and are excited about the warmer weather. In June Finns celebrate Midsummer – a period when the sun doesn’t go down all night. Although, through the whole summer the nights are very light even after midnight.
Helsinki in May and August
In May the weather starts to get significantly warmer, even close to summer temperatures. People start hanging out more outdoors, having picnics, and engaging in other outdoor activities. The summer cabin season has started.
The first of May is a public holiday in Finland, called “Vappu”. It’s a celebration of workers and students. Most people celebrate Vappu on the last day of April, followed by a day off on May 1st. On May 1st there’s plenty of traffic at public market places, with vendors selling different foods, balloons and other decorations. If you’re visiting Helsinki during Vappu, you should definitely try a pastry called “Vappumunkki”. It’s made out of the same dough as cinnamon rolls, but fried in oil and covered in sugar. There are many popular cafes near the city center and the Kallio area where you can get the pastry.
In August most Finnish people go back to school and return to work. The weather starts to get a bit more chilly and rainy, but there are still many warm and sunny days. This is definitely the time to go explore the city. There shouldn’t be too much traffic or crowds of people, so it’s a good idea to see the Korkeasaari Zoo, or visit Seurasaari island for outdoor exploring. You can also take the ferry from the market square to the Sea fortress Suomenlinna, which provides a few beautiful cafes and interesting history.
Helsinki in July
July is the prime time to be in Helsinki. The weather is at its best, people enjoy the summer and there are many events, such as music festivals, outdoor theatrical plays, and cultural events. Swimming and spending time on the Hietaniemi beach is very popular, and it’s a great way to spend your whole day in Helsinki. There are ice cream stands all around the city and on the beach.
Helsinki walking tour
If you want to experience Helsinki by a walking tour, here are some options to consider:
- The shopping centers – Forum and Kamppi
- The Kamppi Chapel of Silence, the Helsinki Cathedral, and the Uspenskin Cathedral
- The Old Market Hall
- The Oodi Central Library
- The Esplanadi Park and the market square
- Linnanmäki amusement park
- Plenty of art museums around the city center
If you’re visiting Helsinki from outside the EU, you might need a visa for visiting. To apply for the Finnish visa, you need to visit the Finnish consulate or embassy in your country. If there isn’t one in your country of residence, the Finnish visas can be applied for in another embassy of a northern country.
You will need the application, two 36×47 mm passport photos and the visa payment. It’s a good idea to take the passport photos yourself, since the size is quite non-standard, so it might not be possible to get them at a photo booth. By taking the photos yourself and not going to a photo studio, you will save both money and time.
Best time to visit Helsinki – wrap up
Helsinki would love to have you visit! There are quite a lot of things to do and see, no matter what the time of year it is. Helsinki is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in northern Europe, and definitely worth visiting!
When traveling to Helsinki, remember to have your passport and visa updated, so everything goes smoothly. Have a lovely trip!
Visiting Helsinki – FAQs
When is the best time of the year to visit Helsinki?
That is a hard question. Helsinki can be very different depending on the time of year you’re visiting. Generally, the best time to visit Helsinki would be in the summer, between May and August. The most popular time to visit is around July.
What is the currency in Helsinki?
The currency in Helsinki is the euro. People don’t use a lot of cash in Finland, especially because of the pandemic, but in most places you can also pay with cash if you’re not carrying a debit or a credit card.
What does the Helsinki nightlife look like?
There are many different pubs and bars in Helsinki. Some bars are more common among young people, some have a minimum age of 25. The bars and pubs differ from one another, but generally speaking you might hear a lot of karaoke, people chatting around the bar, and also see dancing, and quite a lot of drinking. The bars are open until the early hours of the morning, and after that it is common to go home after getting something to eat from a food stand.
Can I enjoy shopping in Helsinki?
Yes! You can find two major shopping malls located right in the city center. They are about a 3-minute walk from the railway station, and they’re connected by a tunnel, so you can visit both easily. They are called Forum and Kamppi.
There is also a newer shopping mall right outside the city center in Pasila, you can get there within 5 minutes on almost any train. The shopping center Tripla has the newest shops and many stores that are one of a kind in Finland and can be found only in Tripla.
When is the Helsinki City Marathon?
The Helsinki City Marathon is organized in the fall, usually in August. This year it was held on the 21st of August.
What are the best places to stay in Helsinki?
If you’re traveling on a budget, it’s a good idea to find one of the many Airbnbs in Helsinki. There are many to find in the central area, and it’s easy to get around the city using buses and trains, trams, and the metro.
If you want a more luxurious stay, there are hotels from the Kämp Collection that many celebrities are familiar with when visiting Finland.
Can I go ice skating in Helsinki?
Of course! Every year there’s a huge ice rink in the middle of Helsinki, right by the railway station. The cost to go ice skating is low, and if needed, you can rent some ice skates on the site!
Is Helsinki worth visiting?
It definitely is! There are plenty of things to see and do, no matter what your interests are. Helsinki absolutely has a lot to offer to tourists, such as different attractions, cafes, restaurants, and cultural events.
What are the best parks in Helsinki?
There are quite a few parks in the Helsinki city center. Kaisaniemi, Tähtitorni, Esplanadi to name a few. If you want to go to a national park to see the real Finnish nature, the closest one is Nuuksio, which is about a 20-minute drive away.
Where can I listen to live music in Helsinki?
You can listen to live music in plenty of bars and pubs in Helsinki. There are also some music festivals or events organized in the summer, some of them free of charge.
What are the top ten things to do in Helsinki?
Here are the top ten things to do in Helsinki:
– Visiting the Helsinki Cathedral
– Visiting the Art Museums in the city center
– Getting a cup of coffee at Esplanadi
– Visiting the Suomenlinna sea fortress
– Going shopping in the many shopping malls in Helsinki
– Trying out the Finnish salmon soup at the old market hall
– Visiting the Temppeliaukio Church
– Visiting the Kamppi Chapel of Silence
– Attending an event or a music festival
– Going for a walk at the Nuuksio National Park
What are the most interesting cities near Helsinki?
You can get to many interesting places within only a couple hours on a train from Helsinki. A few interesting cities in the area are: Tampere, Porvoo, Turku, Hanko, and Kotka.
Is the botanical garden in Helsinki worth visiting?
Yes it is! Even if you’re not a huge fan of flowers, the whole building and setting is lovely to look at, and mindblowing to visit. It’s also not too far from the city center and can be easily reached by the tram or bus.