Address: Mannerheimintie 34, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Phone: +358 40 12866469
Hours: Daily, 11AM – 6PM
Admission: Adults 8 Euros, Children under 18 are free.
The National Museum of Finland (Suomen Kansallismuseo) is a veritable treasure trove of Finnish history from the stone age on through today. It spans both natural and cultural history as it weaves together the story of man himself with that of the Finnish man; through objects and historical context. The information plaques do include English so don’t be concerned about following the descriptions. Guided tours are available for the entirety of the Museums permanent and temporary exhibitions, though experienced visitors will tell you that you’ll be fine on your own. Continue your education on the Kalevala as you take in the ceiling frescoes that adorn the larger halls. Young and old of all predilections will enjoy the range of exhibits from coins and weapons to folk culture the industrial revolution. Families will want to pay special attention to the VINTTI Workshop which explores “easy history” through interactive activities for children. It offers tasks and assignments that encourage experimentation and provide a unique lens through which children can see and perhaps better absorb the rest of the museum’s teachings.
Address: Suomenlinna C 74, 00190 Helsinki, Finland
Phone: +358 29 5338300
Hours: Ferry runs almost constantly, activities vary but the on-island visitor center will be helpful in identifying what you would like to do.
Admission: Ferry Costs 3.80 Euros per person. Activities vary once there though many are free. Guided tour starts at 10 Euros for Adults and 4 for children.
Getting There: Only accessible by a 15 minute ferry ride that leaves regularly, especially in summer.
Years ago the capital of Finland was a city calledTurkubut was transferred to Helsinki primarily for purposes of defense. This small group of islands guard the entrance to Helsinki’s Harbor and the fortress constructed there is an impressive monument to the city and the reason it was made the capital. This site has since been added to theUNESCO World Heritage List as a unique monument of military architecture. There is a ton to do in this scenic island location. There are activities for children, films and the 1 hour guided walking tour will give you a good lay of the land. Children will enjoy seeing real cannons and walking through the underground tunnels and caves that connected embankments. Historical reenactors bring the story to life at many exhibits. The island is also home to the decommissioned submarine Vesikko, one of five Finnish submarines and a veteran of the Winter War and Continuation War. Worth a chunk of time you will find a good mix of history, fun and breathtaking views all in one spot.
Address: Hameentie 1a 00530 Helsinki, Finland, Helsinki, Finland (Kampinmalmi)
Phone: +358 (0)9 310 23565 (Wholesale/Customer Service)
Hours: Monday – Friday 8AM – 6PM, Saturday 8AM – 4PM
Admission: Free of charge to enter, food varies greatly.
If you want to see a farmers’ market done right, visit one that was founded in 1897. This is not the official slogan of the market in Hakaniemi square but perhaps it should be. The onetime working class neighborhood is quickly developing but still holds close to its industrious roots. The open air market features locals selling fine produce, handmade goods and all manner of souvenirs. In the summer months the outdoor market is open daily, with some variation in vendors. The indoor Market Hall is a two story building made of beautiful old brick and contains everything you were looking for any many things you didn’t realize you were. Be warned though, many say it smells strongly of fish. You will meet a vast array of locals here as well as rubbing elbows with tourists from across the world. The food is quite varied and should suit all tastes. Just aware not everything is inexpensive. You may need to shop around to find a decent deal.
Address: Åstorgsgatan 1, 00500 Helsingfors, Finland
Phone: +358 9 7531535
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 2PM – 8PM, Closed Sunday and Monday
Admission: 12 Euros for Adults, 6 Euros for Children
This public sauna in Helsinki is the only one in the city heated by natural wood in an authentic style going back through many years of Finnish History. This particular building dates back to 1928 and has a real old world feel to go with its relaxing atmosphere. The idea of the sauna is a local tradition and fixture of life here. This is the ultimate melting pot of Finns and tourists and perhaps the best place to catch the natives with their guard down. It will help you appreciate how social and receptive they are. Learn about culture and hospitality not by reading, but by doing as the locals do. Families should note that the saunas are separate for men and women which may produce problems for single parents travelling with children of the opposite gender.
Address: Tivolikuja 1, 00510 Helsinki, Finland
Phone: +358 10 5722200
Hours: Most days 11AM – 9PM, consult site for any specific day you plan on visiting
Admission: Entrance is free, consult park for charges for certain activities.
Time for a break from the serious and to begin getting an education in great times at Linnanmaki. This amusement park is a national treasure, in existence for over 60 years and entertaining over 50 million visitors in that time. The 40+ rides of varying sizes are complemented by great food, tons of games, the popular “Peacock Teatteri” for childrens’ shows and a Sea Life Centre (which requires an additional charge). If you plan on spending a lot of time the best value is a wristband which lets you ride all that you want, as much as you want, for one day. This will run in the neighborhood of 35-40 Euros. This amusement park is quaint and nostalgic, a throwback to simpler days. While there are coasters and bigger rides to excite adventurous and older children much, of it is smaller, slower and built around family time. It isn’t the same as the mega-parks many are used to in the US, but maybe that’s a good thing. One last thing that sets the park apart? Visit “Santa Claus World” for Christmas in the summer! With a Finnish Santa greeting visitors while elves translate for foreigners, enjoy yourself and send official North Pole postage before you leave with lasting memories.
Address: Seurasaari Island, Helsinki FI-00250, Finland
Phone: 358 9 4050 9660 summertime / 358 9 4050 9574 wintertime
Hours: Open June 1 – August 31 Daily, 11AM – 5PM
Admission: Adults 8 Euros, Children 7-17 2.50 Euros, Under 7 Free. Family rate of 18 Euros.
Traveling a bit out of the city proper to a beautiful, lush island will find you and your family in the world of Seurasaari. Cottages, farmsteads and manors from across Finland have been transplanted and lovingly restored to create this unique historical village. Nestled among green forests and rolling hills that make for a lovely walk themselves, families will love taking in the rustic architecture in a relaxing setting. Note that you will not be allowed into or get to tour the buildings. Instead, plan ahead and see what activities are going on. Get involved in a handicrafts workshop or Ollie the Squirrel’s Adventure Trail for children. The summer sees concerts in the evening and if you are lucky enough to be there for midsummer you get the best treat of all: an annual festival featuring a bonfire lit by a newlywed couple. Another great idea is to have a picnic in the island’s lovely natural setting. Parents Note: as family friendly as most of this location is, the island does contain one of Finland’s only nude beaches. It is segregated into men and women but look into where you are going if you hear about a “great beach” before bringing your kids.