Things to Know Before You Go to Helsinki: Saunas and Design Districts

Explore the bare essentials with our guide on the things to know before you go to Helsinki, helping you  prepare for a journey filled with culture and design!

Serene Finnish sauna in woodland setting near Helsinki.
Serene Finnish sauna in woodland setting near Helsinki.

Did you know Helsinki holds the title as the “Sauna Capital of the World”? That’s because this stylish city blends sleek design with age-old sauna traditions effortlessly. But whether you’re looking to unwind in a steamy sauna or explore artistic neighborhoods, having a handle on the things to know before you go to Helsinki will pave the way for a truly unforgettable experience.

Helsinki Planning Essentials: When, Where, and How

Effectively timing your trip is vital among the things to know before you go to Helsinki

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time and budget:

When to Go and How to Budget

Helsinki dazzles in the summer with its endless daylight and a packed events calendar, featuring the Helsinki Festival and Midsummer celebrations. 

However, visiting in late spring or early autumn might be quieter, with fewer tourists and still enjoyable weather. And given that Helsinki can be pricey, planning your finances well is crucial. City tourist cards are an excellent choice for saving on transportation and attractions, while dining at local markets can help reduce meal expenses.

Where to Stay

Your choice of accommodation is a key piece of the things to know before you go to Helsinki. For budget-friendly stays, the Kallio district is perfect for affordable accommodations without missing out on the local atmosphere. 

Meanwhile, Kamppi is ideal for its central location and a good selection of hotels that balance cost and comfort. For luxurious stays in Helsinki close to top shopping and cultural spots, visitors can opt for hotels in the Design District or near Esplanadi Park.

How to Get Around

Getting around Helsinki is also easy thanks to its excellent public transport system. The HSL app is essential for navigating buses, trams, and metros. 

For a more intimate exploration, consider renting a bike or walking to truly appreciate the city’s stunning architecture. Though car rentals are available, they are generally less recommended due to the high cost and limited availability of parking in central areas.

Tourists at a summer festival in Helsinki city center.
Tourists at a summer festival in Helsinki city center.

Navigating Helsinki’s Culture: Customs and Language

Familiarizing yourself with local customs is arguably an important aspect of the essential things to know before you go to Helsinki

Here’s your guide to navigating social etiquette with ease:

Local Customs and Etiquette

In Helsinki, it’s common to shake hands when meeting someone new, although you should wait for the other person to extend their hand first. 

Do dress modestly if visiting religious sites. And while tipping isn’t mandatory, it’s often appreciated for good service, typically by rounding up the bill.

Language Tips

Most Finnish speak fluent English, but picking up a few phrases in Finnish can definitely enhance your interactions. 

Simple greetings like “kiitos” (thank you) and “moi” (hello) are easy to remember and well-received. 

However, translation apps like Worddive and Mondly could really be useful when visiting less touristy areas.

Sunny view of the historic Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki.
Sunny view of the historic Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki.

Experience Helsinki: Attractions, Cuisine, and Unique Activities

Here’s what to keep in mind when it comes to the things to know before you go to Helsinki for a rich travel experience:

Must-Visit Attractions

Don’t miss the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a majestic historical site just a ferry ride away. 

And for a more tranquil setting, the Kamppi Chapel of Silence offers a unique oasis in the bustling city center.

Food and Drink

Finnish cuisine marries comfort with innovation. Sample traditional dishes like karjalanpiirakka (rice pies) or poronkäristys (reindeer stew) never fail to stimulate the palate. 

And whether you prefer street food at Hietalahti Market Hall or fine dining in the Design District, Helsinki has definitely plenty of options to offer.

Local Experiences

Dive into Finnish culture with a visit to a traditional public sauna. Places like Löyly not only provide a contemporary take on this cherished tradition but also offer breathtaking views and a chance to swim in the Baltic Sea. 

With that, do expect to spend around 20 euros for a truly local experience.

Health and Safety Tips for Travelers in Helsinki

While exploring Helsinki, keep vigilant in crowded tourist spots to steer clear of petty theft. The healthcare system in Finland is excellent, and the tap water is perfectly safe to drink. 

Although no special vaccinations are needed for Finland, keeping up-to-date with standard travel vaccines like tetanus and measles is always wise. Plus, staying informed about more essential things to know before you go to Helsinki is recommended especially when it comes to your health and safety.

Make the Most of Helsinki

As our journey in Helsinki draws to a close, keep these things to know before you go to Helsinki at your fingertips to ensure a rewarding experience. From enjoying traditional saunas to discovering lively design districts, Helsinki offers a distinct mix of relaxation and cultural depth.

Plan your Finnish adventure with the expertise and support of ThisCityKnows. Whether you’re after tranquil retreats or the vibrant city scene, we’re here to guide you through Helsinki’s captivating allure with confidence!

Author: Nine

Nine delves into cities with a thirst for the untold and the overlooked, weaving narratives that bring destinations alive. They spotlight the heartbeat of places—through the lens of locals and the whispers of streets less traveled. With Nine, every story is an invitation to see the world through eyes wide with wonder.

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