Wondering how to spend 1 day in Helsinki? You are in the right place because I have prepared a detailed Helsinki itinerary for 1 day with a lot of useful travel tips.
Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a city that effortlessly marries modernity with nature, creating a unique destination for travelers. With its stunning architecture, rich history, delectable cuisine, and abundant green spaces, Helsinki is a must-visit destination in Northern Europe.
In this article, you will find a complete Helsinki Itinerary for one day with other practical travel tips that you should know before visiting Helsinki.
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Useful information for 1 Day in Helsinki
Is Helsinki worth visiting?
Helsinki is one of the most beautiful cities in the Scandinavia. It’s the capital of Finland and a perfect place to get in touch with the Finnish culture.
The perfect blend of classical buildings and modern architecture is undoubtedly one of the best reasons to visit Helsinki. A trip to Helsinki is perfect for architecture lovers.
For nature lovers, picturesque landscapes overlooking the water and the green spaces are another reason to plan 24 hours in Helsinki.
And finally, it is one of the most livable destinations in Europe. This way it is easy to plan for a short or long weekend in Helsinki by using public transport.
Helsinki is a tourist-friendly city, but considering limited time, you still need a comprehensive itinerary for 1 day in Helsinki. That is where I step in.
How many days in Helsinki?
1 day in Helsinki is a good amount of time to enjoy all the essentials of Helsinki, taste delicious food, and try unforgettable experiences.
In this itinerary, we will cover how to spend one day in Helsinki and how to maximize your time in this modern city. I will add some optional stops, so this itinerary suits different travelers and interests.
In case you want to explore Helsinki and beyond, I recommend you spend at least 3 days in Helsinki.
When is the best time to visit Helsinki?
Summer in Helsinki is an enchanting time. The temperatures are warm and pleasant and visitors can revel in numerous outdoor festivals, open-air concerts, and cultural events that fill the streets. However, do keep in mind that summer is the peak tourist season, so be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices.
During the shoulder seasons, you can explore Helsinki’s Museums, historic sites, and art galleries are yours to enjoy without the bustling summer crowds. It’s an ideal time for those seeking a deeper connection with the city’s history and heritage.
Winter in Helsinki offers a unique and enchanting experience. This is your season if you’re a fan of winter sports like ice skating, cross-country skiing, or even ice swimming. Helsinki’s Christmas markets, holiday festivities, and cozy cafes provide a warm contrast to the snowy streets.
If you are a Christmas enthusiast consider exploring the area of Rovaniemi, the town of Santa Claus. You could even stay at one of the best glass igloos in Finland or explore ice hotels in Scandinavia.
How to get to Helsinki from the airport?
The most popular and efficient mode of transportation from Helsinki Airport to the city center is undoubtedly the train. The Ring Rail Line easily connects the airport to the central railway station.
Upon arriving at the airport, travelers will find the train station conveniently situated in the corridor between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The frequency of trains is impressive, with departures occurring approximately every 10 to 15 minutes. This means that, regardless of your arrival time, there will be a train ready to take you into the city.
For those who prefer a different pace or wish to explore more of the city on their journey, buses 615 and 620 offer a viable alternative. These buses have stops conveniently located just outside both airport terminals.
While buses run at regular intervals, it’s important to note that the journey duration is slightly longer, typically taking between 40 to 50 minutes.
A ride from the airport typically takes around 30 to 40 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
Taxis provide a comfortable and private mode of transportation, especially if you have a lot of luggage or are traveling with family or a group. However, it’s important to remember that taxi fares are higher than public transport options.
How to get to Helsinki from the ferry terminals?
Helsinki West Harbour Terminal 2 is conveniently located approximately 25 minutes from the city center via tram. Once you get out of the port, you will find tram number 7 and number 9.
In case you are traveling by Viking Line, you will arrive at the Katajanokka Terminal. Take the tram number 4 and you will be in the heart of Helsinki in 15 minutes.
You can use the HSL mobile app or machine to purchase a single ticket, return trip, or daily fare.
How to move around Helsinki?
When visiting Helsinki for 1 day, choosing the right method to move around is essential to save time and money. I will add more tips within the itinerary so you know what is walkable and where you will need transport, but here are the best ways to move around Helsinki together with pros and cons.
If you are planning to spend one day in Helsinki, you can safely rely on public transport. Helsinki boasts an extensive tram network and busses. Trams are a convenient way to get around, with routes connecting major attractions and neighborhoods.
Buses complement the tram system, serving areas not covered by trams. Helsinki’s buses are clean and efficient, making them a viable option for exploring the city. Like trams, you can buy tickets onboard or through the HSL app or machines.
Helsinki has a metro line that connects the eastern suburbs to the city center. It’s a fast and efficient way to travel.
Given Helsinki’s maritime location, ferries are a unique mode of transportation. A perfect 1 day in Helsinki itinerary for first-timers should include a ferry ride to admire the city from the water. They connect the city to nearby islands like Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you are looking for an original way to move around your 24 hours in Helsinki, the bike can be a fun way to discover the city. Helsinki is a bicycle-friendly city with dedicated bike lanes and rental services. You can easily rent a bike to explore the city at your own pace. Many bike paths are separated from car traffic.
Taxis and Ride-Sharing
Plenty of taxis are available in Helsinki, and additionally, you can also use ride-sharing services like Uber. Taxis can be a convenient option if you have only 1 day in Helsinki.
This is probably the easiest way to get the best out of your 1 day Helsinki itinerary. Helsinki’s compact city center is perfect for exploring on foot. Most of the key attractions, shops, restaurants, and cafes are within walking distance of each other.
Where to stay in Helsinki for 1 day?
It is important to find the right accommodation for your trip, so I have prepared a list of the best hotels in Helsinki for every budget. Depending on your travel style, I am sure you will find something suitable, so take a look and decide where to stay in Helsinki.
Established as the first Grand Hotel in Finland, there’s no better place in the capital to give a boost of luxury to your Helsinki vacation. It is located a few steps away from the Senate Square.
With 179 spacious rooms, 15 of which are luxurious suites, the hotel offers high-quality accommodation in each of these rooms.
Unique: GLO Hotel Art
Set in a 1900s Art Nouveau castle located in the Design District, this is a great solution if you are looking for one-of-a-kind accommodation for your trip to Helsinki.
While the exteriors appear to be ancient, as you step in you will find very modern rooms providing all comforts.
Mid-Range: Hotel Finn
If you are wondering how to spend 1 day in Helsinki in good quality accommodation without killing your finances, Hotel Finn should be your choice.
The hotel offers modern and stylish rooms for a comfortable and central stay while visiting Helsinki.
Affordable: Inn Tourist Hostel
Inn Tourist Hostel is the perfect place to spend one night or a long weekend in Helsinki if you are on a budget. Located a few minutes away by public transport, it offers a good base to explore the city.
The accommodations are essential but very functional and have everything you need for a comfortable stay.
What to do in Helsinki for 1 day?
- See the iconic Helsinki Cathedral
- Explore hidden gems like The National Library of Finland and St. John’s Church
- Relax at the Engel cafe
- Take a walk to the Uspenski Cathedral
- Eat your way through Helsinki Market
- Visit local museums
- See the modern architecture at the Kamppi Chapel
- Jump on the Archipelago Cruise
1 day in Helsinki itinerary
Overview of your 1 day in Helsinki
- Morning: HelsinkiCathedral, The National Library of Finland, Engel cafe, Uspenski Cathedral
- Lunch: Helsinki Market
- Afternoon: Rikhardinkatu Library, St. John’s Church, Design Museum or Amos Rex optional, Kamppi Chapel
- Evening: Archipelago Cruise
- Dinner: Restaurant Savotta or Ravintola Palace
Your 1 day Helsinki itinerary starts by visiting the Helsinki Cathedral, the symbol of the Finnish capital. Standing proud in Senate Square, this grand neoclassical cathedral, is topped with an iconic green dome designed by Carl Ludvig Engel.
Once you pass the statue of Alexander the Second, walk the long and impressive stairs to reach the cathedral.
Stepping inside, you’ll discover a place of profound simplicity and spirituality. The cathedral’s interior reflects the elegance of neoclassical design, with clean lines and a sense of harmony. The atmosphere invites quiet contemplation and reflection.
One striking feature of the Helsinki Cathedral is its architectural layout. The church’s plan takes the form of a Greek cross, perfectly symmetrical in each of the four cardinal directions. Each arm of the cross is adorned with a colonnade and pediment, enhancing the cathedral’s classical beauty.
The Cathedral is open every day from 9 am to 6 pm and on Sunday from 11.30 am to 6 pm. There is no entrance fee, but you will find a donation box near the entrance.
The National Library of Finland
The National Library of Finland is an absolute must-visit for any Helsinki itinerary for first-timers. The Library is part of the University of Helsinki and from 1919 to 2006, it was known as the Helsinki University Library.
The Library is a cultural heritage organization that is open to all and provides nationwide services to citizens, scientific communities, and other societal operators. It is also responsible for storing the Finnish cultural heritage.
The moment you step inside, you’ll be greeted by a stunning blend of architecture and design. The interiors are a sight to behold, with elegant wooden details and a painted ceiling that adds a touch of beauty.
As a visitor, you can enter the library for free, but you will have to leave all your belongings in the cloakroom. Please, keep in mind that silence is appreciated.
The National Library of Finland is open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm.
After your exploration of Helsinki’s iconic symbols, it’s time to indulge in a delightful coffee or breakfast experience at one of the city’s finest cafes. Engel Cafe, situated just opposite the cathedral, offers the perfect respite for both rainy and sunny days.
The cozy interiors invite you to enjoy a warm drink or some local specialties with a view of Helsinki Cathedral directly from your window.
One of the standout features of Engel Cafe is its delectable selection of freshly prepared cakes. Additionally, the cafe offers several breakfast deals, ensuring you start your day in Helsinki on the right note.
If you are just looking for a good cup of tea or coffee, Engel Cafe has you covered with its wide selection. From aromatic teas to rich and robust coffees.
Engel cafes welcomes visitors every day from 8 am to 9 pm and on Sundays from 10 am to 7 pm.
After a refreshing break walk to the Uspenski Cathedral to discover another religious sight of the Finnish capital.
Any Helsinki itinerary for 1 day couldn’t be complete without a visit to Uspenski Cathedral. This is the head of the Orthodox Church in Finland and it is considered to be the largest Orthodox temple in Western and Northern Europe.
The cathedral’s exterior is a visual marvel, characterized by its gleaming golden cupolas and striking redbrick facade. These architectural elements, match the cathedral’s stunning interiors, making it one of the most distinctive symbols of the Russian influence on Finnish history.
Beyond its religious significance, the Uspenski Cathedral also offers a panoramic view of the city from its elevated location. Ascending to the cathedral’s heights, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of Helsinki’s skyline, the majestic Baltic Sea, and the surrounding islands.
There is no entrance fee, so it is one of the best free things to do in Helsinki.
Lunch – Market Gamla Saluhallen
If you are wondering what to do in Helsinki for 1 day to get some authentic vibes, the Gamla Saluhallen is the place to be.
This market dates back to the 19th century, and it is not only the perfect place to find some unique products and delicatessen but also the ideal place to have a genuine Finnish lunch.
SOUP+MORE Vanha Kauppahalli was my choice, and I simply can’t recommend it enough. The creamy salmon soup with dill was hands down one of the best soups I had in my life.
If soups are not your thing, you can find several stalls where you can try Nordic specialties. If you are in the mood for a quick coffee or a sweet, Cafe Scandinavia is a good place to get one of the best cinnamon rolls in Helsinki.
The Market opens its doors every day from 8 am to 6 pm.
Want to elevate your food experience? Don’t miss this market tour for foodies visiting Helsinki.
As you continue your exploration of Helsinki, take a short stroll from the market to the Rikhardinkatu Library, an essential addition to your Helsinki itinerary for 1 day. Especially if you have a passion for books, design, or architecture.
This public library has been a beloved institution since its opening in 1896, and it was thoughtfully designed by architect Theodor Höijer. What makes Rikhardinkatu Library truly special is its seamless blend of modern and classic design elements.
But Rikhardinkatu Library isn’t just about books; it’s also a showcase of artistic talent. The library proudly displays works of art created by members of the Helsinki Artists’ Association, adding an extra layer of cultural richness to your visit.
You can find updated opening times here.
St. John’s Church
Less than a 10-minute walk away, find St. John’s Church, which is one of the most impressive churches in Helsinki. I consider this Imposing, late-19th-century neo-Gothic stone church, a hidden gem in Helsinki as there is not much information online.
Located in a peaceful park, St. John’s Church was built between 1888 and 1891 and designed by a Swedish architect. It is the biggest Lutheran Church in Helsinki and the largest stone church in Finland by seating capacity.
Due to its excellent acoustics, the church is popular as a venue for classical concerts, which are held regularly.
The beauty of the exteriors matches perfectly with the spectacular interiors. Colored panels within the church create beautiful plays of light and shadow, adding to the overall enchantment of the space.
You can visit the church for free every day from midday to 5 pm and on Sunday from midday to 3 pm.
Optional: Design Museum or Amos Rex
Depending on your time and interest, I have selected 2 museums in Helsinki.
Amos Rex is a unique space where art and architecture come together to create a unique cultural experience. It is a large bubble-like structure emerging from the ground, with iconic domed skylights that have become a part of the city’s skyline.
Inside, the space is dedicated to contemporary and experimental art including including visual arts, photography, and new media.
Design Museum is a pretty small museum, which has 3 very different exhibitions. There are stylish clothes, fancy furniture, and even cool gadgets. A journey through time, where you can see how people have designed things in the past and how they’re doing it today.
During your one day in Helsinki, you shouldn’t miss Kamppi Chapel. This contemporary church chapel is easily recognizable by its unique wooden shape. The minimalist wooden interior is built for silent reflection.
Kamppi Chapel welcomes people of all backgrounds and religions, offering a profound and personal experience. Whether you’re looking to pray, meditate, or simply connect with your inner self and escape from the outside world, this chapel provides a sacred space for it all.
Keep in mind that while the chapel is a place of reflection, talking and photography are generally not allowed to maintain the tranquil atmosphere. However, you can inquire at the reception if you can take a photo when the chapel is empty.
The entrance ticket is 5 euros and you can visit the chapel from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.
⭐️ Rating: 4.3 | ⌛️ Tour Length: 2.5 hours | 📆 Check rates and availability
Taking an evening cruise is one of the best things to do in Helsinki in 1 day. Embarking on a cruise will give you the chance to discover Helsinki from the sea and appreciate the beauty of the city at its best.
The cruise will also give you the chance to discover the UNESCO fortress Suomenlinna and navigate through the picturesque Helsinki Archipelago while catching a sunset.
As you sail, you’ll witness an evident contrast between the urban landscape of Helsinki and the unspoiled wilderness of the archipelago.
On the cruise, you also will have access to food and drinks that you can savor during the journey, but keep in mind that food and drinks are not included in the price.
Restaurant Savotta or Ravintola Palace
A remarkable dinner will be the highlight of your one perfect day in Helsinki and I am going to share two options.
The first option is Restaurant Savotta, located in the Senate Square. The ambiance is a blend of elegance and coziness, with a strong emphasis on tradition. In fact, as soon as you step inside, you’re transported to a world where Finnish culinary heritage takes center stage.
Guests can try traditional and classic menus for 59 euros or 76.50 euros. On the traditional menu, you can find a classic of Nordic cuisines like the Arctic Char, or on the classic menu, you will have the chance to taste the reindeer. Both options come with starters and sweets. A vegetarian option is available for 49 euros.
If you are into fine dining, you should head to Ravintola Palace instead as it is one of the best things to do in Helsinki in 1 day. What makes Ravintola Palace stand out is its distinction as the first restaurant in Finland to be honored with a prestigious Michelin Star.
With a history dating back to 1953, Ravintola Palace has consistently been at the forefront of Finnish gastronomy. It’s a place where culinary innovation and tradition harmoniously coexist.
The restaurant offers a singular menu that evolves in harmony with the changing seasons, narrating a compelling culinary story with every dish. The price is 240 euros including water and coffee or tea serving. The wine pairing for the menu is 210 euros. Non-alcoholic pairing for menu 100 euros.
Further reading for one day Helsinki itinerary
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If you were wondering what to do in Helsinki for 1 day, I am sure that now you are fully prepared for your trip and can’t wait to discover this unique Finnish city.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.