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Located on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland, this Scandinavian capital is surrounded by water on three sides – and it’s currently being touted as ‘the new Copenhagen’. In winter, the city and surrounding water is enveloped in snow as the city welcomes holiday celebrations. Frequent symphony performances around town play familiar favourites such as Handel’s Messiah, while offering a welcome chance to get out of the cold. During the day, the plethora of museums, shops and galleries also make excuses to hide out from wintery weather. If you have the time, you must venture beyond the city to see the Northern Lights, a once-in-lifetime experience.
When to go?
Each season offers up a distinctively different Helsinki to explore. If you can handle the cold, winter is full of Christmas cheer with traditional markets and classical music galore. Come spring, the temperature warms up and brings with it lively celebrations such as the Helsinki Beer Festival, which is closely followed by a festival dedicated to coffee. In May, you’ll find the charmingly named Lovely Helsinki Festival, an ode to the city’s best bits – this is the time to visit for an truly immersive, all-things-Helsinki experience.
Who to take with you?
Someone with appreciation for design, food, and architecture. Helsinki is a blend of old and new in all these areas, making it a dynamic destination appreciated by aesthetes and gastronomes alike.
Most likely to bump into?
Style-conscious visitors looking for an alternative European city break without the hordes of tourists.
It’s worth making the short trip just outside the city to see the Fortress of Suomenlinna. This UNESCO World Heritage site dates back to the mid-18th century and has stunning views of the city and its port, stretching out across the open expanse of sea. Don’t forget your camera.
Essentials to bring with you
No matter the season bring comfortable shoes because walking is the best way to appreciate Helsinki. It goes without saying that visitors should keep the climate when packing – no one wants to be left out in the cold without a hat and gloves.
How to get there
Norwegian Airlines fly direct from London Gatwick to Helsinki, while Finnair flies direct from London Heathrow. A direct flight is about three hours, with a bus from the airport to the city centre taking about thirty minutes.
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