I was welcomed to Helsinki by large snow flakes at the airport while after a big day of teaching and travelling. Being from Australia, I was so excited to see the snow. After a late flight and getting some much needed shut eye, I woke to find outside our window a sight that I had never seen before. This was a frozen ocean! I knew the ocean could freeze in the arctic circle and the Antarctic but never in Finland. This ice is also extremely thick and you feel you could jump from one piece to the next!
Start your day by exploring the different cathedrals of Helsinki. There are four different Cathedrals you can visit, these include:
- Senate Square Cathedral
- Uspenski Cathedral (Russian)
- Rock Church (yes, it a church that has been carved out of the inside of a rock!)
- Johannes Church
The one that I did go inside was Senate Square Cathedral; Helsinki is famous for this Cathedral and is on most of their postcards. It is a big white cathedral that has a massive organ. Beside a few gold fittings, compared to most churches in Europe it was plain inside, with no extravagant stained glass windows or carving work.
The Esplanadi is a main strip/form of park in the historical centre of Helsinki. It has a very beautiful and has restaurants, monument statues and Narnia like lamp posts. This park led down to the water to the two main churches and Helsinki’s giant Ferris wheel.
Seurasaari Island and Open-Air Museum
This is a beautiful Island in the middle of Helsinki City. It is full of historical buildings that have been transported from all over Finland. A definite must see if you are interested in history and nature!
Make sure you treat yourself to a fresh local salmon dish. Salmon is one of Finland’s specialist meals!
Visit one of Helsinki’s famous island’s called ‘Suomenlinna Sveaborg’. The trip to this island was incredibly fun. Before we got on the ferry there were some local markets that had a few tempting items. I nearly bought a bottle opener of which the handle was a reindeer antler! On our ferry over we had to push through all the thick ice to get there. So of course we had to stand on the deck in the freezing cold and watch this happen.
The island we visited used to be a fortress from 1708- 1917. Finland used to use the fortress against Russia to stop them from invading. However eventually the Russians won the battle and turned the fortress into an army barracks and used it for prisoners of war. Finland then got their independence from Russia in 1917.
We then went exploring which starts off with a funny story. Having had prisoners of war on the island we saw a sign that said prison so we thought it would be a good idea to go check out what kind of conditions they had to live in etc. However once we got there, there was a lot of no entry signs but we managed to get through, to then have a guy stop us and tell us that it actually was a real prison and that people were in jail there. Whoops!!! We then made a B line back to the main path. (Don’t make that same mistake…)
The rest of the island had underground compartments, they were a bit like hobbit homes from Lord of the Rings. Here they kept items such as weapons and gun powder. From the island you could see a few more islands further out otherwise you were looking at the Baltic Sea. While you are here, climb some sea ice and have some fun.
Wonder the City Streets
Wonder and explore the local architecture. There are buildings in this city where you will just look up with your mouth gaping open.
Try something different and go to a bar on a local boat. Here you can have a nice red wine (or whatever drink you please), and watch the snow fall on the frozen sea. Of course that’s if you are here in winter. No matter what season it is I highly recommend it!