Helsinki, Finland: I Can’t Get You Off My Mind!

I simply loved everything about Finland……….maybe it was the fresh air, the sea, or the fact that I no longer felt I was being watched all the time after being in Russia. I just felt free! I loved the wide streets, the cleanliness and the no graffiti look! I loved the chatter of the tour guide, who had moved here from Spain……… I had a smile on my face the entire time I was here and I definitely would go back. I toured Helsinki in my own way and hubby took another tour and did his thing. So, I will share lots of different things to see here. I even went out in the country to the village of Porvoo, which I will share in another post to follow this one! Let’s get a move on, we’re in Helsinki!

We’ll start down by the harbor looking at the different boats……..

Helsinki, Finland, Downtown Harbor, Coast Guard Boat, Uspenski Cathedral in Background

You can get around by boat……or bike……and it’s a fabulous place to walk!

Helsinki, Finland Harbor Boat

Or go by streetcar………and look, not one smudge of graffiti anywhere!

Helsinki, Finland Street Cars

One of our favorite things to do is visit a food market. I am always interested in what people eat! This is Vanha Kauppahalli Market …… a genuine Finnish Market Hall. Designed by architect Karl Hård af Segerstad, who was the city architect for Helsinki by 1907, Hakaniemi Market Hall was opened in 1914. The charming, 100-year-old building has many shops on two floors. His architectural inspiration came from Swedish and German designs.

Helsinki, Finland, Fish Market

and this is how the Hall looks inside………where you could get a reindeer plate with potato, or reindeer soup, or a reindeer sandwich, a reindeer kabab, a reindeer wrap, or a reindeer meat pie! Oh my!

Helsinki, Fish Market

Maybe the fresh fish is more to your liking………

Helsinki, Finland, Fish Market

or the fresh honey, or plain ‘ol reindeer, elk or bear meat………in giant tins.

Helsinki, Finland, Fish Market

This was more to my liking, the BERRIES! The blueberries were huge……..the guide told us that in most Scandinavian countries one can forage or camp anywhere up to 500 feet of a house! In Finland nature is not only wild, it’s free for everyone to enjoy, respectfully. The general public’s rights allows an access to anyone living in or visiting Finland, the freedom to roam the countryside, fish with a line and rod, forage for berries, nuts or mushrooms, and enjoy the recreational use of the natural areas. This is called, “The Everyman’s Rights.”

Helsinki, Finland, Fish Market

Look at all the nuts!

Helsinki, Finland, Fish Market

The old market is located next door to the huge, orange-tented outdoor market, right on the water’s edge.

Helsinki, Finland, Torikorttelit

Very fresh-looking vegetables were here!

Helsinki, Finland, Farmer’s Market

Now, let’s follow the street car and move along…….. oh look, it’s the Helsinki Cathedral!

Helsinki, Finland, Street Car and Helsinki Cathedral

which gets its own marker in the square…….

Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki, located on the Gulf of Finland, is the capital of Finland and the most populated city.  The population of Helsinki is only 650,00 although the entire urban area is 1, 268,000, making Helsinki the most important center for education, politics, finance, culture and research. Because of its proximity to Tallinn, Estonia, (only 50 miles south), Stockholm, Sweden, (250 miles east) and Saint Petersburg, Russia (190 miles west) all three countries have had their influence on Finland. This is especially noted in their architecture. Helsinki is also the most northern capital in the EU.
The Helsinki Cathedral is one of the most prominent buildings in the city. Carl Ludvig Engel designed the new city center, including several neoclassical buildings. The focal point of the city plan was Senate Square. It is surrounded by the Government Palace, the main building of the Helsinki University and the Helsinki Cathedral, which was finished in 1852, twelve years after Engel’s death. Helsinki was dubbed “The White City of the North,” from this construction era. Let’s look at this area a little closer.
The Cathedral was built on the site of a previous church, the Ulrika Eleonora Church, which was built on the top of the hill first and was dedicated to Ulrika Eleonora, the Queen of Sweden. That church was torn down to build a new church, as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and was known as St Nicholas’ Church, until the independence of Finland in 1917. Today the church is the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral. I also learned that in the early 2000’s a facsimile of the Ulrika Eleonora Church was made entirely of snow in Senate Square! That would have been something to see as well! I also learned that most Lutheran Churches are painted white on the outside as well as the inside and have very little decoration inside. I was also thinking of how many steps there were to get to the top and that most of the parishioners must have been in very good shape. But alas, at the top I saw the main entrance street side, making that journey a little easier!
Helsinki, Finland, Helsinki Cathedral, Senate Square and Emperor Alexander II Statue

Before we go up the steps we should look closer at the statue while we’re here. This a commemorative to Alexander II of Russia, who was Emperor of Russia from March 2, 1855 until his assassination on March 13, 1881 on the streets of St Petersburg. Remember I posted about that on our visit there. Alexander was also the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Finland, so that would get you a statue here up front and highlighting the square!

Helsinki, Finland, Helsinki Cathedral, Senate Square and Emperor Alexander II Statue
Helsinki, Finland, Helsinki Cathedral, Senate Square and Emperor Alexander II Statue

Going up the steps, up and up and up…………..

Helsinki, Finland, Helsinki Cathedral

I need a breather, so here’s a good photo of the top of the cathedral!

Helsinki, Finland, Helsinki Cathedral
Helsinki, Finland, Helsinki Cathedral

and this is what it looks like inside!

Helsinki, Finland, Inside Helsinki Cathedral

Looking down you can see how big this square is and how wide the streets are, even the side streets.

Helsinki, Finland, Senate Square View from Helsinki Cathedral

Back in the square I think I need some refreshment. It is early morning and we have a lot planned for today.

Helsinki, Finland, Coffee Cart in Senate Square

Hubby and I are going separate ways now. He is setting off on a walking tour of the city and I am headed to Porvoo, Finland. What will we discover in these stops? See you soon for more of Finland!

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Librarylady says:

    I’ve been here, and share your sentiments! We took a street car tour of the city and a ferry out to an island. Did you happen to try the pear ice cream?


  2. No, I did’t get to try any ice cream, but when I got to tiny, tiny, Porvoo, there was a chocolate factory and shop that was waiting room only filled to the edges with the town folks and tourists alike! I bought sacks of different chocolates and then got to carry them around for the rest of the day! I decided after a sampling of many of them at the shop it would be worth the trouble of the bags! Ha ha! I wish I would have tried that Pear ice cream! If I liked cold weather and short summers, Finland would definitely be on my radar as a homeplace!


  3. DrJunieper says:

    Your captures give a roomy feeling in this city! The white cathedral is so beautiful! A happy 2020 to your, with many pleasant travels:) Jesh

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Helsinki had to be one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest city, we have ever visited. It is rated #9 in “best urban living” in the world! I can’t imagine where the first 8 cities could be! We have another full year ahead of us!


      1. DrJunieper says:

        Haha, you are right – I wonder too which cities would be rated cleaner! Thank you for getting back to me:)


  4. Jo Shafer says:

    Forget the ice cream varieties. I love the displays of fish and other seafoods. So delectable! And you managed to climb all those steps to the Cathedral? Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo, I walk at least 5 miles a day and sometimes many more! But, I HATE STEPS! I have to really want to see something to go up that many steps! Ha Ha! Finland was definitely my cup of tea! Wait until you see my Porvoo Photos!


  5. I can see why you loved Finland, especially after Russia. I love the Fish Market and that coffee cart. Looking forward to the next post, although I was confused because I thought I was going to a Thursday Doors post. Wasn’t paying attention to the fact that I was in the Reader, not Norm’s site.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russia was gloomy, and unhappy to me. And then we got to Finland and what a different vibe! Out tour guide moved from Spain to Finland because he was so enamored with the city! Many folks shuttle from Tallinn, Estonia everyday to Helsinki for work. The pay is much better in Finland.Their number one industry is Information Technology.


      1. In Russia, there’s also always the unseen but likely omnipresent feeling of government oversight, in the worst sense of the word, and then of course there’s the world-famous Russian mafia, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sartenada says:


    Well-made post and lovely photos. Someday, if you have possibilities, then visit Finland and not only Helsinki. They differ like night and day! My country offers wonders, which you have never heard!

    Happy and safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, we absolutely loved Finland! I would like to know more about the island you live on!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sartenada says:


    I do not know, how you noticed that I love on island. We just moved way from there due to tempters in our neighboring. The island is called Laajasalo and it can be visited easily. Because no official pages do not tell about it, there no tourists – sigh.

    It is the biggest island of Helsinki, it is beautiful, flowers, gorgeous rock and waling on paths in small forest. Its untouchable nature fascinates the visitors. From the Herttoniemi metro station taking a bus, anywhere on the island is easy. hopping off anywhere and leaving roads, you can start exploring the island by taking nearby path. There is no fear to get lost, because paths always end to roads and on roads busses go.

    In 2026, Laajasalo gets a long bridge connecting Helsinki center! I have made four posts by name “Unknown Helsinki” and one by name “Search for ghost houses”. In the post number three, we did find dinosaur! Can you imagine it? If interested, then here are those posts:

    Unknown Helsinki 1

    Unknown Helsinki 2

    Unknown Helsinki 3

    Search for ghost houses

    Happy and safe travels!


    1. Matti, Thank you for sending me all these great posts of Helsinki! This really gives me a much more in depth view of Helsinki in all Seasons! It also shows the contrast between the city and the country, the modern and the old. The natural ares are fantastic! I would definitely like to spend a great deal more time there! Thank you again for sharing!


      1. Sartenada says:

        Oh, thank you reading all of them. In the middle of Helsinki is also wooden house area! I am very glad that you read them! Here:

        Lesser-known Helsinki

        Have a wonderful day!


  8. Helsinki is a really nice city – so many things to see and do as well.


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