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48 Hours in Helsinki:A City of Design

Photo by Pixabay

Helsinki is a city that lives and breathes design. Whether interested in furniture, fashion or architecture, you will find something that suits your taste and inspires your imagination in Helsinki. Here is how to spend 48 hours in Helsinki, a city of design and a city for designers.



Day one

Arriving in the afternoon, after settling in your hotel, head out to explore the Design District, a cluster of over 200 design shops, galleries, studios, cafés, and restaurants in the centre of Helsinki. You can find everything from fashion and furniture to ceramics and jewellery, all made by local designers and artisans.

You can also visit some of the museums and cultural venues in the area, such as the Design Museum, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Finnish Museum of Photography, and the Amos Rex Art Museum.

The Design Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Finnish design history and contemporary trends. The museum has a permanent collection of over 75,000 objects, 45,000 drawings, and 125,000 photographs, as well as temporary exhibitions and events. The museum covers various design aspects, such as industrial, graphic, fashion, and interior design.

Photo by Aku Pöllänen



The Museum of Finnish Architecture is the second oldest museum of its kind in the world, showcasing Finland's rich and diverse architectural heritage. The museum has a permanent exhibition that displays the development of Finnish architecture from prehistoric times to the present day, as well as temporary exhibitions and events that feature the latest works and projects of Finnish and international architects.

Three of Finlands most famous architects: From left to right: Alvar Aalto, Aino Aalto and Eero Saarinen

The Finnish Museum of Photography is Finland's national photography museum, and it exhibits and collects both Finnish and international photography. The museum has a collection of over 4 million photographs, a library and an archive. The museum organizes exhibitions and events that showcase photography's history and future, as well as the social and cultural impact of the medium.

Photo by Patrik Rastenberger, The Finnish Museum of Photography



The Amos Rex Art Museum is one of Helsinki's newest and most innovative cultural attractions. The museum is underground, beneath the Lasipalatsi Square, and has a futuristic and playful appearance. The museum has five exhibition halls hosting exhibitions and contemporary art events, both Finnish and international. The museum also has a cinema and a restaurant.

Photo by Tuomas Uusheimo / Amos Rex

After an afternoon of design shopping and sightseeing, you can treat yourself to a dinner and a drink at the Tori Quarters, the historical heart of Helsinki. The Tori Quarters are between the Market Square and the Senate Square, and they consist of old buildings that have been renovated and turned into restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops. You can find cuisines from all over the world and traditional Finnish dishes in the Tori Quarters.

After dinner, you can enjoy a drink and a view of the SkyWheel, a 40-meter-high observation wheel on the Katajanokka peninsula near the Uspenski Cathedral and the Allas Sea Pool. The SkyWheel has 30 climate-controlled gondolas, one of which is a VIP gondola with leather seats and a glass floor.

Photo by Max Van Den Oetelaar



Day two

On Saturday morning, you can take a ferry from Market Square to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular attractions in Helsinki. Built on a group of islands in the 18th century, Suomenlinna is a former military fortress now serving as a cultural and recreational destination. You can explore the history and nature of Suomenlinna, visit the museums and galleries, or relax and enjoy the scenery.

Photo by Julius Jansson

After visiting Suomenlinna, head to the Löyly Sauna, a public sauna and a restaurant on the Hernesaari peninsula near the Kaivopuisto Park. Löyly is a stunning example of contemporary Finnish architecture, designed by Avanto Architects. The building is made of wood and has a sculptural shape that blends with the landscape. Löyly has two types of saunas: a traditional smoke sauna and a modern electric sauna. You can dip into the Baltic Sea from the wooden decks or warm up by the fireplace in the lounge. Löyly also serves delicious food and drinks using organic and locally sourced ingredients.

Photo by Loyly Pekka Keranen (top) and Maija Astikainen

After a relaxing morning, you can picnic at the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, an island and a park showcasing the traditional Finnish way of life. The museum has over 80 buildings from different regions and periods of Finland, such as cottages, farmhouses, manors, and churches. You can see how people lived and worked in the past and learn about the Finnish culture and history. You can also enjoy the nature and wildlife of the island or join some of the events and activities that take place throughout the year.

Photo by Jussi Hellsten

If you are feeling adventurous, you can rent a bike and explore the city on two wheels. Helsinki is a bike-friendly city with over 1200 kilometres of bike lanes and paths and a public bike-sharing system called Helsinki City Bikes. You can cycle along the coast and see the beautiful archipelago or visit some of the landmarks and attractions of the city, such as the Sibelius Monument, the Temppeliaukio Church, the Olympic Stadium, and the Oodi Central Library.



The Sibelius Monument is a tribute to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, and it consists of over 600 steel pipes that form a wave-like structure. The monument is located in Sibelius Park and has a bust of the composer.

The Temppeliaukio Church is a unique church carved into solid rock. The church has a circular shape and a copper dome that lets in natural light. The church is also known for its excellent acoustics and organ, with 43 stops and 3001 pipes.

Photo by Kuvatoimisto Kuvio Oy (top) and Jussi Hellsten

The Olympic Stadium is the largest in Finland, hosting the 1952 Summer Olympics. The stadium has a capacity of over 40,000 spectators, and it is used for various sports and cultural events. The stadium also has a tower that offers a panoramic city view.

Photo by Jussi Hellsten

The Oodi Central Library is a modern and multifunctional library that opened in 2018. It was designed by ALA Architects, who won the open international architecture competition for the Central Library in 2013. The starting point was that the building should be a public, open to everyone, safe, and free of charge city space in the heart of the city The library also has a terrace and balcony overlooking the Kansalaistori Square and the Parliament House.

Photo by Tuomas Uusheimo

After a fun afternoon, you can spice up your evening and enjoy Helsinki's nightlife. You can start with a drink at the Kallio district, a hip and bohemian area east of the city. Kallio has a lot of bars, pubs, cafés, and clubs where you can meet locals and experience the alternative and creative side of Helsinki.



If you want a place to have dinner, book a table at Restaurant Savoy, a classic and elegant restaurant that has been serving Finnish and international cuisine since 1937. The restaurant is on the top floor of a building overlooking the Esplanade Park and the harbour. The restaurant has a stylish and sophisticated interior designed by Alvar and Aino Aalto, two of the most influential Finnish architects and designers. The restaurant also has a terrace where you can enjoy the view and the sunset, depending on the time of the year you are there.

Day three

On Sunday morning, you can visit the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, one of the leading museums of its kind in Finland and the Nordic countries. Kiasma showcases the latest trends and developments in contemporary art, both Finnish and international. The museum has a diverse and dynamic collection of over 9000 artworks and temporary exhibitions and events. The museum building is a masterpiece of modern architecture designed by Steven Holl.

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar

After exploring the Kiasma Museum, you can walk to the nearby Kamppi Chapel, also known as the Chapel of Silence. The chapel is made of wood and has a simple and elegant shape contrasting with the surrounding buildings.



For lunch, you can head to the Hakaniemi Market Hall, a traditional market hall that has been operating since 1914. The market hall has over 70 stalls selling fresh and local produce, such as fish, meat, cheese, bread, vegetables, and fruits. You can also find delicacies from different cuisines, such as Turkish, Thai, Vietnamese, and Italian. You can buy snacks and souvenirs from the market hall or enjoy a meal at one of the cafés and restaurants.

Photo by Camilla Bloom

After lunch, visit the Iittala and Arabia Design Centre, a Finnish design and creativity hub. The design centre has exhibitions, workshops, events, and a store where you can find products from Iittala, Arabia, Fiskars, and other Finnish design brands. You can also join a guided tour or workshop to learn more about the design process and the stories behind the products.

Photo by Jussi Hellsten



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