Helsinki, Finland: Quirky and Full of Character

Though not one of the most popular tourist cities in Europe, Helsinki wins visitors over with its quirky character and its scenic position on the Baltic. Architectural offerings from forward-thinking designers are found throughout the city, giving visitors plenty of visual delights to absorb. But there are also plenty of neighborhoods to remind travelers that they are still in Europe. My complete, three-day itinerary for Helsinki can be found on my website, thetriparchitect.com.
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If you're lucky enough to be there during a musical performance, you'll be astounded by the natural acoustics created by the granite rock from which the chapel was carved.

If you're lucky enough to be there during a musical performance, you'll be astounded by the natural acoustics created by the granite rock from which the chapel was carved.

This funky-looking church was designed to provide respite in one of the most bustling parts of the city.

This funky-looking church was designed to provide respite in one of the most bustling parts of the city.

The Eliel Saarinen-designed train station offers travelers a great introduction to the city's design culture.

The Eliel Saarinen-designed train station offers travelers a great introduction to the city's design culture.

The modern design of this music hall is spectacular. But if you're a music lover, look into heading back one evening for a show.

The modern design of this music hall is spectacular. But if you're a music lover, look into heading back one evening for a show.

Putte's, which is notable for its affordable food and lively atmosphere, makes a great lunch spot.

Putte's, which is notable for its affordable food and lively atmosphere, makes a great lunch spot.

Tuomiokirkko, or the Helsinki Cathedral, is the city's most recognizable landmark.

Tuomiokirkko, or the Helsinki Cathedral, is the city's most recognizable landmark.

Uspenskin is an ornate cathedral offering a great scenic lookout.

Uspenskin is an ornate cathedral offering a great scenic lookout.

This museum is an homage to Finland's famous design culture.

This museum is an homage to Finland's famous design culture.

A trip to Helsinki would not be complete without a visit to the famous Marimekko Flagship Store.

A trip to Helsinki would not be complete without a visit to the famous Marimekko Flagship Store.

This gallery-boutique combo features art and items for sale from a rotating crop of designers.

This gallery-boutique combo features art and items for sale from a rotating crop of designers.


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This restaurant in the trendy Kallio district serves delicious Finnish meatballs.

This restaurant in the trendy Kallio district serves delicious Finnish meatballs.

The once seedy, now hip Kallio District is a great spot for bar hopping. Check out the lively joints along Helsinginkatu and Vaasankatu streets.

The once seedy, now hip Kallio District is a great spot for bar hopping. Check out the lively joints along Helsinginkatu and Vaasankatu streets.

Though pricey, this restaurant dishing up gourmet Scandinavian food is worth the splurge.

Though pricey, this restaurant dishing up gourmet Scandinavian food is worth the splurge.

This trendy cocktail lounge in the center of town is perfect for after-dinner drinks.

This trendy cocktail lounge in the center of town is perfect for after-dinner drinks.

The second oldest town in Finland, Porvoo is located just 60 km from Helsinki, making for an easy day trip. This village is notable for its historic, wooden buildings and charming, cobblestone lanes.

The second oldest town in Finland, Porvoo is located just 60 km from Helsinki, making for an easy day trip. This village is notable for its historic, wooden buildings and charming, cobblestone lanes.

Miun is one of the many boutiques in the Design District that is worth checking out.

Miun is one of the many boutiques in the Design District that is worth checking out.

For the full, Finnish sauna experience, try the one on Lake Kuusijarvi, which enables you to engage in the ritual of soaking in the sauna, jumping into frigid water, and then warming back up with another round of sweating.

For the full, Finnish sauna experience, try the one on Lake Kuusijarvi, which enables you to engage in the ritual of soaking in the sauna, jumping into frigid water, and then warming back up with another round of sweating.

Try "sapas," or Finnish tapas, at this popular restaurant.

Try "sapas," or Finnish tapas, at this popular restaurant.

Karaoke is the entertainment of choice for locals, and Restroom is a town favorite.

Karaoke is the entertainment of choice for locals, and Restroom is a town favorite.

This is the city’s last, public, wood-fired sauna.

This is the city’s last, public, wood-fired sauna.

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