I am looking to visit Helsinki about june-july 2009 and was wondering a few things as this will be my first ever trip abroad:
1) How much spending money will I be needing for about 8 nights?
2)What are some good spots to check out for good photography and history?
3)Are there any different laws that I might need to be wary of before I go?
4)What are the good night spots? (pubs, clubs etc)
Cheers for your help, and any tips are more than welcome...
1) Are you on a budget? The cheapest hostels are from 20 euros onwards. A standard night in a good quality hotel will easily reach 60 euros and more.
2) History? Mmh, Finland has very few historical buildings and sights as most of it was burnt and it is a relatively new country. Suomenlinna fortress is well-known though and you can go there by boat from Helsinki. There are also a few famous churches, like the Orthodox one (which is the most beautiful, in my opinion) and the big white one. Both are located near the centre. You can get a map and information on how to get there in a tourist office. People are usually very helpful there. For nature photography, if you have some time, you can go to Nuuksio national park, which is about half an hour by train away from Helsinki.
3) Ive never heard of any laws that were that different from my own native country (France). I guess it depends where you are from. But Finland is fairly civilised, maybe more than most other countries
4) Again, if you are on a budget, you can stick to free or cheap clubs like the Baker's on Mannerheimintie (free entrance) but these are definitely not the best. I'd personally recommend Aijo, and the gentleman's club (the latter costs 10 euros to get in, it is quite small but there are beautiful pole-dancers to admire).
Pubwise, my favourite of all times (ok I dont know that many pubs but still) is Molly Malone's. It is an "Irish" pub, 200meters from the train station right in the center and the atmosphere is wonderful inside. There is a lot of foreigners there too and always live bands playing for you Enjoy.
Sorry I should have been a little clearer, I have already sorted out accommodation costs, I was talking more about food, drinks, transport costs etc etc...
But thanks, the rest of that advice was gold :D
Food and drinks are quite expensive in Helsinki... Being a student, I know what I'm talking about lol :D
Keep some money especially for that purpose...
Transport costs are not particularly cheap unless you're a student. I've heard of special travel card for tourists that only lasts a certain number of days and allows you to travel anywhere in helsinki during this period. You might want to consider it if ou intend to use public transports a lot. You can get it from the train station in the center or Kamppi. I can't remember the name of the place but if you ask somebody where you can get a travel card, they'll surely be able to tell you. Otherwise I can tell you tomorrow when my memory is back :D
When you say "student" do you mean finnish student or student period? Because I am enrolled in university in Australia.
[ Edit: Edited on Dec 1, 2008, at 6:26 AM by dave2257 ]
2)What are some good spots to check out for good photography and history?
When I was in Helsinki last August, I spent forever taking photos in and around the two churches Ulvova already mentioned, the Uspenski cathedral and the Tuomiokirkko. (Bring the widest lens you have!) The Temppeliaukion kirkko (church in the rock) is also surprisingly pretty from the inside. Beyond that you really can't go wrong anywhere near the waterside, and there's a whole lot of waterside in Helsinki.
I'd also recommend taking a ferry over to Tallinn for a day. Very picturesque city, that.
Pubwise, my favourite of all times (ok I dont know that many pubs but still) is Molly Malone's. It is an "Irish" pub, 200meters from the train station right in the center and the atmosphere is wonderful inside. There is a lot of foreigners there too and always live bands playing for you [quote]
As Ulvola has said 'Molloy Malone's is a good pub - but then again Helsinki has a lot of good pubs. If you want to find out what's on in Helsinki I'd definitely make a stop off in Mollys and read the papers, ask the locals what's on etc... It's really central and if you like Irish music its as good as Irish pubs (around the world) get.
Karlie XII's on Thursday night is my favourite, except I can never find it on my own. After a night standing on the tables singing remembering where I've just been is the least of my worries.
Anyhow, I think you'll have a ball... I love Helsinki and it's people. I met a gang of complete strangers at the Bar in the Tuurni Hotel once (all Finish) and they brought me to a night club AND SPOKE ENGLISH ALL NIGHT - hows
that for making a guy feel welcome. Even when I went to the toilet and got talking to a lady on the way back for about 20 minutes, when I arrived back at the table they were still speaking english - Thanks guys.
Have a blast
Cheers Sander and Zaksame. All good advice, I really have to stop in at Molly's then dont I? LoL...
I've been told Helsinki arcitecture is reminisnt of Pt Petersberg. Is this true? (and i suppose I could just go to St Petersberg, but for some reason, Russia doesn't take my fancy)
Yeah, Tallinn is worth it too indeed.
It is true that Finns are amazing with speaking English. I've always wondered why they keep speaking English between them even when Im not directly involved in their conversation and Im still looking for the answer but thats just great (the downside is that you get very few opportunities to practice your Finnish, hehe).
Helsinki has been the capital of Finland since the 19th century only, if I remember right. Before that, it was Turku, when Finland was still part of Sweden and that is why the architecture is very different there but when Russia invaded Finland and made it a region of Russia for a century, they moved the capital to Helsinki (closer to Russia) and of course they added a Russian touch to it everywhere they could so yes it does look quite a bit Russian in some ways.
Even if you are not interested in Russia, I heard St Petersburg is really worth seeing plus it is not far from Helsinki and if you are interested in Finnish history, I guess a bit of Russian culture wouldnt hurt if you want to understand Helsinki better
I forgot to mention festivals. There are many festivals in the summertime in Finland and they are great. If you hear that there is one during your trip there, do not hesitate to have a look. They are a big part of Finnish life then. And do not forget to see markets. There is always a big one on the square near the harbour, in the centre. They all sell delicious muikut (small fish that you can eat with French fries and mayonnaise, yummy!!)
Hey again Dave,
If you're that close to St. Petersburg definitely consider going. It's only a train ride away and in Summer it's a really cool journey.
St. Pete is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and if you're a fan of history and the arts it just doesn't get much better. You will need a visa (don't know how easy it is to get one in Helsinki, maybe a Finnish member can check this for you!!!! Kiitos) and it may be a bit of hassle, but worth thinking about.
There's plenty to see in Helsinki but I'm no expert. The Tourist Office down by the seafront (corner of Unionsgatan and Pohjoisesplanadi I think) are fantastic and can recommend so much, they may even be the best Tourist staff I've met, and how many languages they speak!
A quick list of places I might recommend are:
The Ateneum - National Art Gallery
Sit at a cafe on the Esplanadi and watch the world go by
A morning visit to the Kauppatori (Market by the harbour)
Take a boat trip around the islands
Get drunk in KarlieKaarle XII at Kasarmikatu 40 (www.kaarle.com) I REALLY MEAN THIS!!!
There's lots to do, just ask a Finnish person and they'll be glad to help.
One last thing. I found that when you walk the streets there doesn't seem to be many shops and bars but if you go through any door you'll find everything is housed behind the facades as it's too cold to walk the streets in winter.
www.finnguide.fi is a good place to get an overview.
have a great time man, and say hello to lovely Helsinki for me!