Posted by: Ciaran | October 29, 2009

Changing places – Helsinki

I love Scandinavia, and in due course will be looking at a few more of the capital cities in that part of the world.  But today a short post about Helsinki, which is a relaxing place to get away for the weekend and wander about.  It’s not very big and there’s not a great deal going on, but getting lost in the little back streets and bartering at the seaside market is a relaxing way to spend a day without breaking the bank.

The market is a bit of a stereotype peddling quite a lot of touristic items (think woolly ear muffs and big furry hats, things purporting to be made from reindeer and elk, knives, Father Christmas t-shirts etc.) but it makes a nice stroll along the waterfront towards the city centre, at the end of which you can see the Uspenski Cathedral set on the hill above you.


Uspenski Cathedral

Better still, you can chat with the friendly people in the small parks dotted around the suburbs and check out the street entertainment.  Not far from Uspenski Cathedral I found a woman who had an assortment of cats which would crawl through tubes and jump into boxes on command.  Later in the day I found this chap:


'The reindeer man'

It must have been 25 degrees and he was sat there in the midday sun as bus-loads of Japanese tourists took pictures of him.  I don’t know who was the more surprised.  More importantly, he was sat outside the majestic Helsinki Cathedral (do you see a pattern emerging?) in Senate Square, which is worth visiting to check out both the Cathedral and the regal-looking univeristy building.


Helsinki Cathedral

If you carry on through the square you will come towards the main shopping street and a couple of big department stores and malls.  Head out of the city centre and away from the sea to find yet another place of architectural and religious significance: Temppeliaukio Kirkko, better known as ‘Rock Church’.  It is hidden away in the back streets and I spent about an hour fruitlessly searching for it; ask for directions!


Rock Church

It is built underground and has a copper wire ceiling; it’s not the most exciting of places but worth stopping by if you’ve got a spare half an hour or so.  You can see more pictures here.

I visited Finland in the summer so can’t speak from experience but I would imagine that it is quite something at this time of year, so if you fancy a weekend away to prepare for the upcoming festive season then I would recommend it.



  1. Nice post, i hope i’ll visit the scandinavian countries some day too 🙂

  2. Well worth it if you can (although it is an expensive place to go) – keep an eye out for my forthcoming blogs on Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn 🙂

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