On our Northern European cruise, Helsinki, Finland was the port that we had the least amount of time in. Unfortunately, we also arrived late into port, therefore, we had even less time – less than 4 hours! On top of that, we experienced every type of weather that we could during our time in the city including rain, sleet, sunshine, and hail.
Our original plan was to visit Suomenlinna which is an old fortress that was built on a group of islands off of Helsinki. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique monument of military architecture. You do have to pay to take a ferry to get to the fortress however there is no charge to visit Suomenlinna. There are many sites on the island to see along with museums, shops, and cafes. With our shorted amount of time and the weather we made the decision not to go to Suomenlinna, but I really wish we would have. I have heard so many great things about the fortress.
We decided to explore some of the city with our shorter amount of time, including:
The Market Square is located along the harbor front with an open outdoor market with souvenirs, crafts, and food. In the Market Square, you will find the first public monument in Helsinki, Czarina’s Stone, with its double-headed eagle of Imperial Russia. The harbor front is beautiful to walk along. From the Market Square, we headed to Senate Square to check out the Helsinki Cathedral.
In the middle of Senate Square is a statue that honors Russian Czar Alexander II who was well liked in Finland because he never pushed for the Russification of Finland.
The Lutheran Cathedral is a distinctive landmark in Helsinki with its neoclassical design. It has a tall, green dome surrounded by four smaller domes. The church is laid out like a Greek cross – a square center with four equilateral arms. If you would like to visit the interior of the church, the entrance is located on the left side of the building.
The Uspenski Cathedral is set upon a hillside overlooking the city. It was built as a place of worship for the Russian military in 1868. Admission to the Cathedral is free of charge. The interior of the church is beautiful.
The Esplanade is Helsinki’s top shopping boulevard with flagship stores for many Finnish designers. At the very top of the Esplanade is the Swedish theater. The Esplanade is a fun place to window shop, take a leisurely walk through the park and it also leads to the bus stop to get back to our cruise port.
Temppeliauko or Church in the Rock was built into solid granite with a copper dome. The church is always filled with music, so sit down and take the music in.
Sibelius Monument is made up of 600 stainless steel pipes called “Love of Music” and is in honor of Finland’s composer Jean Sibelius.
We made the most out of our day in Helsinki, however, I wish we could have visited Suomenlinna. I guess we will just have to plan another trip.
Have you visited Helsinki? What was your favorite site to see?