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Travel Guide Budget and Itinerary for Helsinki

I included Helsinki in my itinerary because it was convenient to reach the capital of Finland from Tallinn. I kept an open mind and as the cliche goes, I'll discover what the city has to offer.

Helsinki The Wandering Juan

Travel Guide Budget and Itinerary

Helsinki is the capital of Finland. Sweden's King Gustav I Vasa founded the city in 1550. The city burned to the ground a few times over its history. Reconstructions and redevelopments put it right back up. Fast forward to today, the city is now a bustling and developed destination. I didn't spend too much time in Helsinki, but I was curious enough to travel further north during my trip around the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). My first impression of the city was that it's chill and relaxed compared to the other European capitals I've been to. It's also quite expensive. 

Getting a Visa

Finland is part of the Schengen group of countries. This means that once you get a visa from one of its member states, you can enter any of them. I got my visas from Austria, Czechia, and Poland. 

Read: how to get a Schengen visa

How to Get to Helsinki

By Plane

Helsinki has an airport that's accessible from the city center by public transportation. There are regular flights from different cities in Europe. Book flights early to get discounted prices.

How to get out of the airport:

  • You can take the I or P train to Helsinki's Central Railway Station. Buy a ticket from one of the machines. The fare is around €4.10. 
  • You can also take bus #600 to the Central Railway Station. The fare is around €4.10.

By Ferry

I visited Helsinki from Tallinn. I took the ferry which is only a few hours away. There are restaurants, shops, cafes, and some entertainment (karaoke, etc) to keep you occupied during the trip. You could also depart from a few cities in Sweden to Helsinki. Some of the shipping lines you can choose from include:

Getting around Helsinki

As a visitor, Helsinki is compact enough to explore on foot. Many attractions are within walking distance of the city center. Some parks and places of interest are further away, but still convenient and easily accessible using public transportation. Helsinki has ferries, trams, a metro, and buses. You can purchase day tickets (from 1 to 13 days) or get a Helsinki Card. You can use a day ticket to visit Suomenlinna from the city. You can buy tickets from HSL ticket machines, the HSL mobile app, R-kiosks, and other shops. If you want to do Helsinki on a budget, you can just walk from point A to point B.

Things to do in Helsinki

You can easily fill your itinerary with things to do in the city while still staying within your budget and itinerary for Helsinki.


Suomenlinna The Wandering Juan

Suomenlinna The Wandering Juan

This historic and fortified island is one of the most popular tourist destinations not just in Helsinki but in Finland. The island's inhabitants built a fort dating to the 18th century to thwart the Russian's from accessing the Baltic Sea. However, the Russians managed to take the fortress during their war against the Swedes during the early 1800s. Finland gained control of the fort from the Russians on their independence in 1917. Fast forward to today, the fort is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tourist attraction. It's easily accessible by ferry from the mainland. Ferries to and from the island run regularly throughout the day.

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral The Wandering Juan

This centuries old cathedral occupies a substantial part of Helsinki's cityscape. It's one of the most recognizable structures in the city. It dates to the 19th century and was also known as the St. Nicolas Cathedral. Carl Ludvig Engel designed this neoclassical piece of architecture. This church is a usual part of a budget and itinerary for Helsinki.


Esplanadi Helsinki The Wandering Juan

This small green space is where residents and visitors converge to have picnics or hangout during the summer. There are also live performances during different times of the year. The colder months don't bring the same vibrancy of the summer, but there are cafes, restaurants and accommodation surrounding the park.

Temppeliaukio Church

Temppeliaukio Church The Wandering Juan

Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen designed this beautiful church in the 1960s. The church's unique underground interior was carved out of an ancient rock. Natural light enters the church's interior through its glazed dome. Its accoustics make it a popular choice for concerts. There's a small entrance fee if you want to enter.

Uspenski Cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral The Wandering Juan

You can see Russia's influence on the city when you see the Uspenski Cathedral. This Orthodox church is one of the largest in Western Europe. Inside you'll find iconostasis and religious works of art. 

Old Market Hall

Old Market Hall Helsinki The Wandering Juan

This market hall dates to 1889. Inside you'll find different produce, meat, fish, cafes, and other products. 

Helsinki Central Library Oodi

Library Oodi The Wandering Juan

I'm no expert in architecture, but I do appreciate beautiful buildings. Oodi is an eye-catching piece of architecture in Helsinki. It's spacious and has thousands of books inside. Other than the usual study tables and reading areas, the library has workshops and meeting spaces as well. You can chill here and read one of your favorite books.

Senate Square

Senate Square Helsinki The Wandering Juan

Senate Square is one of the oldest areas in the city. Here you'll find some of the city's most famous landmarks such as the Helsinki Cathedral and the Government Palace. Both locals and tourists converge in this area to walk around, take photos, or just chill. The statue you'll see in the square is of Emperor Alexander II. The statue dates to 1894 and was built to commemorate the things he has done for the country. Include this square in your budget and itinerary for Helsinki.

The National Library of Finland

The National Library of Finland The Wandering Juan

This library is one of the landmarks you can visit while exploring Senate Square. This is where Finland's cultural heritage is stored and archived. The library's oldest part dates to the 1840s. 

Helsinki Railway Station

Helsinki Railway Station The Wandering Juan

Eliel Saarinen was an architect that designed this piece of Art Nouveau architecture. It's one of the popular landmarks you'll find in the city. The exterior's giant statues that are holding globes is one of the railway station's striking features.

The city is home to many museums (if that's your thing) and other attractions:

  • Seurasaari open-Air Museum
  • Linnanmäki Amusement Park
  • Museum of Contemporary Art (Kiasma)
  • Finlandia Hall
  • Korkeasaari Zoo
  • The National Museum of Finland
  • Sibelius Monument and Park

Where to Stay in Helsinki

Helsinki is an expensive destination, especially coming from the Baltics. However, you can still find budget accommodation options during your visit. I usually stay in hostels because they're often more affordable compared to hotels and even Airbnb. 

You can look for a place to stay through www.booking.com.

Budget for Helsinki

Helsinki The Wandering Juan

Helsinki is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. However, you can still enjoy your trip even if you're trying to save money. A budget of roughly €80 a day gets you a bed in a dorm, budget meals or food and drinks from a grocery or supermarket, visiting mostly free attractions, and use of public transportation. There's a good chunk of free things to do that fit into your budget and itinerary for Helsinki

You might want to read my other posts:

Itinerary for Helsinki

It's possible to do a day trip of Helsinki from Tallinn. Many visitors (and even locals) travel back and forth between these two cities. 

Here's a sample itinerary:

Day 1

Half day trip to Suomenlinna

Temppeliaukio Rock Church

Uspenski Cathedral

Day 2

Senate Square 

National Library of Finland

Helsinki Cathedral

Market Square

Helsinki Railway Station

Library Oodi


If you're staying a little longer, there's plenty of other things to do to fill your itinerary. 

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