Helsinki is a gorgeous city and an authentic Finnish experience. Helsinki is also a great city for children. Let this real itinerary from an active family show you some of the best that the city has to offer and see what worked best for them as you prepare yourself to tour Finland and celebrate its history as well as its fun and excitement.
The type of vacation we typically choose is luxury. For our activities, we like luxury and often stay at the finest hotels, but we are also adventurous and love off the beaten path types of experiences and always seek them out. We aren’t bothered by very “local” experiences anywhere and think these are very important to our vacation. We love adventure. We also like a mixture of regular, touristic and organized places. We enjoy hiking and outdoorsy activities. We enjoy museums, markets and other activities geared towards children. We like to maximize each day by seeing as much as possible. Our children at the time of this itinerary: 6 children- Boy age 15, Girl age 15, Girl age 15, Girl age 11, Boy age 8 and Girl age 3.
Address: Simonkatu 7, Helsinki, Finland
Hours: Weekdays 7AM – 8PM and Weekends 10AM – 6PM
Admission: Free of Charge
Description: Located in the heart of the city in Narinkka Square this modern chapel is a sight to behold and worth a quick visit. Walk around to take in the marvelous contemporary design and unique architecture. Then step inside to enjoy the juxtaposition of total silence in the middle of the busiest part of Finland. Take a moment to rest up after a long morning and refocus in this urban oasis before moving on.
Our Experience: While far from a must see, we found this a worthwhile stop and would recommend it if you are already in the area. The children said it looked like a carrot. It truly does have a unique design and worth a quick look.
Address: 00170 Helsinki, Finland
Admission: Free of Charge
Description: Market Square in Helsinki (known locally as Kauppatori) is centrally located and one of the most popular destinations in the city. Spring and Summer are the best times to visit as the marketplace bustles with activity. Although there is extra activity in these peak times, there is something to see here year round. From standard souvenir shops to cafes and unique market stands there is something for everyone here. Try one of the local delicacies, meat pastries (“lihapiirakka” in Finnish) for a real Helsinki experience. Check the website to see if a special event is going on during your visit!
Our Experience: The kids really liked this market for trinkets and other small purchases. It was one of the better such markets we encountered on the trip. Nothing truly unique but it is a well executed example of such a place. Worth a short amount of time browsing.
Address: Eteläesplanadi 1, 00130 Helsinki, Finland
Phone: +358 10 7663880
Hours:Daily 9AM – Midnight
Description: This famed cafe has been in operation since 1867. This cafe blends old and new as its rich history and tradition of service updates to meet the modern needs of a bustling city. Enjoy local delicacies and old standards under one roof, or in beautiful outdoor seating when weather permits. Take in a city standard while enjoying a leisurely bite to eat or quick drink.
Our Experience: Our kids really enjoyed this place. It was a nice midday break for all of us and we would recommend it to other families. Our tip is to try and grab one of the rooms in the corner with the doors that close. The kids really enjoyed feeling like they were in a private dining room and it made for a fun treat.
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.
Description: 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 children’s’ 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.
Our Experience: We were very impressed by the quality and fun factor at this park. The kids absolutely loved this place. We all found it to be well run, very clean and the staff was pleasant and very professional. While not a huge place there is a nice variety of fun rides and enough to keep everyone happy and engaged. It struck a good balance. The kids would have stayed here for hours if possible, unfortunately we had to leave earlier than planned because of rain.
Editor’s Note: The family received free park tickets for the purposes of reviewing. We offer this in the interest of full disclosure, though their opinions remain their own.