Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Wed July 13 2022
Cityscape of Helsinki, capital of Finland.  (photo via Sitikka/iStock/Getty Images Plus)


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Market Square at the Old Town pier in Helsinki, Finland.  (photo via scanrail/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Market Square at the Old Town pier in Helsinki, Finland. (photo via scanrail/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the southern part of Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, by the Baltic Sea. The biggest historical museum in Helsinki is the National Museum of Finland, which houses an historical collection from prehistoric times to the 21st century. The museum building itself, a national romantic style neo-medieval castle, is a tourist attraction. Another major historical museum is the Helsinki City Museum, which introduces visitors to Helsinki's 500-year-old history. The University of Helsinki also has many significant museums, including the University Museum and the Natural History Museum. The Finnish National Gallery consists of three museums -- Ateneum Art Museum for classical Finnish art, Sinebrychoff Art Museum for classical European art, and Kiasma Art Museum for modern art.

The old Ateneum, a neo-renaissance palace from 19th century, is one of the city's major historical buildings. Helsinki’s three major theaters are the Finnish National Theatre, the Helsinki City Theatre, and the Finland Swedish Svenska Teatern. The city's main musical venues are the Finnish National Opera and the Finlandia concert-hall. Bigger concerts and events are usually held at one of the city's two big ice hockey arenas -- the Hartwall Areena or the Helsinki Ice Hall.

For dining, the city offers everything from haute cuisine to more budget-oriented restaurants. For fine dining, Sundmans has specialties like arctic char and reindeer fillet, plus a variety of puddings, for which the establishment is famous. Lappi showcases the food of the Laplanders, ranging from reindeer and white-tailed deer to snow grouse, elk and arctic char, along with traditional cheeses. Bar Tapasta, which is small and serves as a club in the evenings, has a lunch menu of pastas, soups and salads as well as a range of tapas, Spanish wines and beers.

Helsinki-Vantaa airport, with two linked terminals for national and international traffic, is located at Vantaa. Valtion Rautatiet is the main passenger rail service provider. Trains in Finland tend to be clean and efficient. Services depart from Rautatientori (Railway Square), located on Kaivokatu, off Mannerheimintie. Three main lines arrive from Turku in the west, Tampere in the north and Lahti in the northeast, through which trains from St. Petersburg and Moscow pass. There are daily direct train services to and from Russia. The Finnish train, Sibelius, to St. Petersburg departs Helsinki in the morning, while the Russian afternoon train, Repin, to the same city, leaves Helsinki in the afternoon. Tolstoi, the Russian-operated night train to Moscow, departs in the early evening. It is possible for travelers to continue on to Berlin on the Repin.

The city has a cold, continental climate, but enjoys long days in summer -- almost 19 hours around the summer solstice.