10 Unforgettable Day Trips from Helsinki

While Finland‘s capital Helsinki is itself an excellent destination, one of the best things you can do to truly get to know a country is escape the bustling streets of the capital. From picturesque islands in the Finnish Archipelago to charming coastal towns and even another country, there is no shortage of exciting adventures waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, exploration, or cultural experiences, these day trips from Helsinki are sure to leave a lasting impression.

1. Porvoo

Porvoo
Porvoo

Just a short distance away, Porvoo is perhaps the most popular destination when it comes to day trips from Helsinki. This charming town is known for its historic Old Town and picturesque riverside, offering visitors a range of enjoyable activities. One of the best ways to explore Porvoo is on foot, allowing you to wander through the cobblestone streets and take in the well-preserved 18th-century buildings.

There’s more to do than just strolling around; you can indulge in some shopping, dine at local restaurants, or even take a relaxing river cruise to admire the scenic views. For those who prefer more active pursuits, Porvoo offers opportunities for cycling and walking along the river. The King’s Road route is particularly popular during the summer months, offering a scenic journey through the surrounding countryside.

Runeberg Torte
Runeberg Torte

If you’re interested in history and culture, make sure to visit J.L. Runeberg’s home, a historic house museum that pays tribute to Finland’s national poet- and definitely try Runeberg Torte, a popular almond and rum flavoured cake named after the poet and made famous by his wife. The Porvoo Museum is another must-visit attraction, providing insights into the town’s rich history and heritage.

Getting to Porvoo is easy, with several options available. You can take a local bus or join a guided day tour from Helsinki, and driving is also an option with parking facilities available in Porvoo. If you prefer a more scenic route, consider taking a river cruise during the summer months. Overnight accommodation options are also available, allowing you to extend your stay and fully immerse yourself in the town’s charm.

2. Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna, Helsinki, Finland
Suomenlinna

Although this one is technically in Helsinki, it’s still a great way to spend the day. Suomenlinna is a remarkable sea fortress located on a group of islands at the entrance of Helsinki’s harbour. Built by Sweden in the 18th century, this fortress served as a military base to defend against the Russian Empire.

Today it stands as a popular tourist attraction and a district of Helsinki, with a population of 850 inhabitants. The fortress is not only an important historical site, but also an outstanding example of military architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Covering an area of 210 hectares, the Suomenlinna Fortress comprises 200 buildings and 6 kilometres of defensive walls spread over six separate islands. Most of the fortifications and structures have been well-preserved, thanks to the use of traditional construction methods to maintain their authenticity.

Visitors to Suomenlinna can explore its rich history through museums, historical sites, and guided tours. Submarine Vesikko is particularly noteworthy, where visitors can learn about Finland’s naval history and experience what life was like on board a Second World War submarine.

To reach Suomenlinna, you’ll need to take a ferry from Kauppatori. The ferry service operates throughout the year with several trips per hour, making it convenient for visitors to plan their visit. Besides the fortress, the island features a colourful village with charming cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a leisurely meal or grab a quick snack. You should also take the opportunity to visit the church of the archipelago, which offers a glimpse into the island’s past. Alternatively, you can explore the Museum of War and the former prison.

3. Tallinn

Tallinn old town
Tallinn old town

If you’re interested in enchanting day trips from Helsinki, Tallinn in Estonia is the perfect destination. This charming medieval city has so much to offer, from its stunning architecture to its lively atmosphere.

Tallinn attractions

One of the top attractions in Tallinn is its Old Town, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and beautiful churches, the Old Town is like stepping back in time. As you wander through the narrow alleyways, you’ll discover hidden gems such as the Town Hall, St. Nicholas’ Church, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, St. Olaf’s Church, Kiek in de Kök Fortifications, Maiden’s Tower, and Nunna Tower.

Aside from its rich history, Tallinn also boasts many modern attractions that are worth exploring. The Estonian Maritime Museum is a must-visit for those interested in maritime history, allowing you to explore submarines and other fascinating maritime artifacts. For breathtaking views of the city and the Gulf of Finland, head to the Tallinn TV Tower; the observation deck offers panoramic views that are not to be missed.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn, Estonia
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Tips for visiting Tallinn

Tallinn is also known for its unique souvenirs, with amber being a popular item to bring back home. Cats are also a common symbol seen on many souvenirs. In winter, Tallinn can be quite cold, so it’s advisable to wear layers to stay warm while exploring the city. If you wish to extend your stay, Tallinn has a number of accommodation options, from budget hostels to upscale hotels.

Getting to Tallinn from Helsinki is easy and convenient, thanks to the ferry options available. Viking Line, Eckëro, and Tallinn Silja are three ferry companies that cover the 2 hour Helsinki-Tallinn route, and depending on the season Viking Line offers 2 to 3 daily departures. The ferry journey takes you from the Viking Line terminal in Helsinki to the ferry terminal in Tallinn, which is just a short walk from the Old City. Round-trip ticket prices range from €18-22 one way, with return trips costing around €40. If you prefer a more comfortable journey, cabins are available at an additional cost.

4. Nuuksio National Park

Nuuksio National Park, Finland
Nuuksio National Park

Located less than 30 kilometres from Helsinki and easily accessible by public transport, Nuuksio National Park is a must-visit attraction for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The park offers a wide range of activities for people of all ages, making it a perfect destination for day trips from Helsinki, or even a longer stay.

One of the main highlights is the Nuuksio Reindeer Park, where visitors can have an up-close encounter with these majestic creatures. You can feed the reindeer and enjoy the serene beauty of the park, and for a truly unique experience, you can even stay overnight in igloo huts and have the chance to see reindeer right outside your window.

Apart from the reindeer park, there are plenty of other things to do in Nuuksio National Park. With more than 30 kilometres of marked trails allowing visitors to explore its diverse flora and fauna, there’s a trail suitable for everyone. The Finnish Nature Centre Haltia is another must-visit attraction within the park. Here, you can learn about Finland’s landscapes and wildlife through interactive exhibits and educational programs. Don’t forget to grab a buffet-style lunch at the centre and immerse yourself in the beauty of Finnish nature.

If you’re feeling adventurous, Nuuksio National Park offers opportunities for geocaching. This modern-day treasure hunt will take you on a thrilling scavenger hunt through the park, where you’ll use GPS coordinates to locate hidden caches. It’s a fun and interactive way to explore while challenging your navigation skills, although there are more relaxed activities available; the summer months provide the perfect opportunity for swimming, fishing and canoeing, providing the perfect escape from the confines of the city.

5. Turku

Turku, Finland
Turku

Fifth on the list of day trips from Helsinki is Turku. Located just 2 hours from Helsinki, the city is steeped in history and culture, making it a must-visit destination.

Turku landmarks

One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is the Turku Cathedral, which dates back to the 1300s and boasts stunning Gothic architecture. Another historical gem is the Turku Castle, the largest surviving medieval castle in Scandinavia. This imposing structure has withstood fires and wars throughout the centuries, and stands as a testament to Turku’s rich past. It’s now home to a fascinating historical museum.

You should also make sure you don’t miss out on visiting the Turku Market Hall. Here you can sample local delicacies and immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere. If you’re tired after a day packed with activities in Turku, consider booking a room at Kakola. The former prison has been transformed into a luxurious hotel, and is one of the city’s best offbeat attractions.

Moomin World, Kailo, Finland
Moomin World

The Turku Archipelago

Aside from its culinary and historical attractions, Turku also offers access to the Finnish archipelago, an island network along Finland’s southern coast. One of the must visit islands in the Turku archipelago is Kailo, which is home to Moomin World, a theme park based on the beloved children’s books by Tove Jansson. The theme park is a great day out for families, making it one of the most child friendly day trips from Helsinki, and will delight both adults and children. You can also go sailing, kayaking, or enjoy a stroll along the shores, with the archipelago being a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

Getting around Turku is also a breeze, thanks to its efficient public transport system. Travellers can hop on the free ferry which connects the city centre to the island of Ruissalo, or take a ride on the Funikulaari cable car for panoramic views of the city. Renting a bike is another convenient way to explore Turku, especially along the picturesque Aura River.

6. Lahti

Lahti Sports Centre, Finland
Lahti Sports Centre

The city of Lahti offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and thrilling winter sports activities. Given its ski museum and sports complex, it’s also undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Helsinki for winter sports enthusiasts.

The Lahti Ski Museum

One of Lahti’s must-visit attractions is the Lahti Ski Museum, a museum specialising in skiing and other winter sports. Established in 1959, this museum is located in the city’s main sports complex and is dedicated to showcasing the fascinating history of Nordic ski sports and Finnish skiing, mainly focusing on the golden era of Finnish ski racing from the 1950s to the ’70s.

Apart from its impressive collection of winter sports-related artifacts, the Lahti Ski Museum also has an interactive section. Visitors can test their ski jumping skills, making it a truly immersive experience, as well as offering access to ski tracks and walking trails through the Lahti Sports Centre. The museum shop is also worth a visit, as it sells souvenirs related to Lahti and Finnish winter, allowing you to take home a piece of this unique experience.

Lahti, Finland
Lahti

Further things to do in Lahti

Other must-visit places in Lahti include the Malva Museum of Visual Arts where you can immerse yourself in the world of art and enjoy captivating exhibitions, as well as the Radio and TV Museum, which takes you on a journey through the evolution of broadcasting technology. Lahti is also home to Finland’s only Motorcycle Museum, with a collection of over 100 motorbikes, mopeds and racing bikes. For history buffs, the Lahti Historical Museum and the Museum of Military Medicine are worth a visit, offering further insights into the city’s past.

Lahti is also known for its vibrant cultural scene. The city hosts the renowned Lahti Sibelius Festival, a celebration of classical music that attracts music lovers from around the world. The Lahti Symphony Orchestra is another highlight, offering mesmerising performances throughout the year. For architecture enthusiasts, the Church of the Cross designed by Alvar Aalto and the Lahti Town Hall designed by Eliel Saarinen are must-visit landmarks. Overall, these offerings make Lahti one of the best day trips from Helsinki for Finnish culture enthusiasts.

The city also boasts stunning natural attractions that are worth exploring. The redesigned Vesijärvi Harbour offers a picturesque setting for a leisurely stroll or a boat ride on the lake. Salpausselkä UNESCO Global Geopark is another stunning natural attraction that offers breathtaking landscapes and opportunities for outdoor adventures.

7. Hanko

Hanko coastline from above on a clear day
Hanko coastline

Known as Finland’s southernmost town, Hanko is located less than two hours from the capital by public transport, making it convenient for budget-friendly day trips from Helsinki. It offers a wide range of reasons to visit all year round, including outdoor activities and unique cultural experiences.

One of Hanko’s top attractions is the Hanko Water Tower, offering stunning 360° views of the city and its surroundings. It’s definitely worth timing your visit to be able to climb up the tower and take in the breathtaking panoramic views.

Another must-visit spot in Hanko is the Tulliniemi Nature Path, where you can explore the beautiful Finnish nature and enjoy peaceful walks along the coast. For those who love beaches, Bellevue Beach is a popular choice. With its sandy shores and clear waters, it’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun during the summer months. Additionally, Gunnarstrand’s rugged cliffs and stunning views make it a great spot for photography enthusiasts. The Hanko Front is also worth a visit, as it showcases the city’s rich history and architecture.

8. Rauma

Cobblestone Street in Rauma old town
Old Rauma

Located in southwestern Finland, Rauma is a charming town. Founded in 1442, it holds the distinction of being the third-oldest city in Finland. One of its most notable features is the Old Rauma, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its well-preserved wooden buildings and cobblestone streets.

One of the standout attractions in Rauma is Sammallahdenmäki, a fascinating Bronze Age burial site dating back over 3,000 years. This archaeological site is renowned for its well-preserved stone cairns and has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999. Exploring Sammallahdenmäki allows visitors to delve into Finland’s past, gaining insight into ancient burial customs and rituals.

Rauma, Finland
Rauma

In addition to its historical and cultural attractions, Rauma also offers natural beauty and outdoor activities. The town is situated near the stunning Finnish archipelago, providing opportunities to visit pristine islands and enjoy the tranquillity of the Baltic Sea. The Kylmäpihlaja Lighthouse and Kiikartorni, a wooden tower overlooking Syväraumanlahti bay, offer the best viewing points of the archipelago, and are well worth timing your trip to catch the sunset.

Rauma also offers a range of cultural activities for visitors to enjoy. The Church of the Holy Cross is a notable landmark with its striking red exterior and impressive interior. The Rauma Maritime Museum showcases the city’s maritime history, while the Rauma Museum, the Rauma Art Museum, and the Teresia and Rafael Lönnström Home Museum amongst others further showcase the town’s rich cultural heritage.

9. Tampere

Tampere, Finland
Tampere

Known for its craft beer, street art, and intimate vibe, Tampere is a city that offers a unique and vibrant atmosphere for tourists to explore. One of the main highlights of the city, and a key reason for its inclusion on this list of top day trips from Helsinki, is its reputation as the world’s sauna capital.

Visitors can indulge in the traditional Finnish sauna experience at places like Saunaravintola Kuuma, a sauna restaurant that offers great food and stunning views. However, if it’s food you’re after, you should visit the Market hall, where visitors can sample local delicacies and traditional dishes, immersing themselves in the best of Tampere’s culinary scene.

For breathtaking views, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks is the Näsinneula Observation Tower, which is the tallest in Scandinavia. Another must-visit spot is the Pyynikki Observation Tower and Café, where tourists can savour delicious Finnish doughnuts called munkki while enjoying panoramic views of the city. The thrilling roller coasters at the Särkänniemi amusement park meanwhile provide views at a much quicker pace, while also promising fun and excitement for the whole family.

Hatanpää Arboretum, Tampere, Finland
Hatanpää Arboretum

Tampere museums and nature

Tampere also boasts a range of museums and theme parks that cater to different interests. The city is closely associated with the beloved Moomin characters, proudly boasting the world’s only Moomin Museum. Another interesting spot to explore is the Lenin Museum, which showcases the history and impact of Lenin’s ideology. The Doll Museum, Postal Museum, Natural History Museum, Media Museum, Mineral Museum, and Finnish Museum of Games are further attractions that offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture.

Nature lovers will also find plenty to do in Tampere. With its beautiful landscapes and waterways, the city offers numerous outdoor activities. Hatanpää Arboretum and Viikinsaari Island are popular destinations for those looking to immerse themselves in nature. If you’re looking to relax and unwind, head to Rauhaniemi Beach and Sauna, where you can take a dip in the lake or indulge in a rejuvenating sauna session.

10. Kotka

The Kotka Archipelago, Finland
The Kotka Archipelago

Don’t be fooled by Kotka’s position as last on the list of day trips from Helsinki. Nestled in southern Finland, Kotka is a city that offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors. With its rich history, maritime battles, and stunning water-based activities, this major port city has something for everyone. Kotka is divided into two centres, Kotkansaari and Karhula, both of which contribute to the city’s unique identity. The Kymijoki River, the Baltic Sea, and the surrounding archipelago shape the landscape and provide a breathtaking backdrop for exploration.

Kotka things to do

When it comes to things to do in Kotka, water-related attractions take center stage. From leisurely cruises along the coast to thrilling rafting adventures on the river, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the beauty of the sea and the excitement of water sports. Kayaking, sailing, and fishing are also popular activities for those looking to immerse themselves in nature.

For those interested in marine life, the Maritime Centre Vellamo is a must-visit. Here, you can explore exhibitions that delve into the history and significance of the sea. Meanwhile, at the Maretarium you can marvel at the diverse range of fish species on display.

Sapokka Water Garden, Kotka, Finland
Sapokka Water Garden

Kotka also pays homage to its heritage through its unique museums. The Finnish Wooden Boat Centre is a fascinating attraction that showcases the art of wooden boat construction and highlights the importance of this craft in Finnish history. Langinkoski, an old Imperial Fishing Lodge turned museum, offers visitors a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved exhibits. For aviation enthusiasts, the Aviation Museum is a treat, featuring a plane collection that will captivate both young and old.

When exploring Kotka, visitors can immerse themselves in its natural beauty by visiting attractions such as the Sapokka Water Garden, Katariina Seaside Park, and Haukkavuori Lookout Tower. These scenic spots offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and provide a serene escape from the city’s bustling atmosphere. Additionally, the Sculpture Promenade and Palotorninvuori Park are worth exploring for their artistic charm and tranquil ambiance.

Conclusion

Whether you fancy wandering through the cobblestone streets of UNESCO listed Old Towns, strolling along the Tulliniemi Nature Path or through the Sapokka Water Garden, learning the history of Soumenlinna or Finnish ski racing (and having a go yourself) or spending the day amongst reindeers or even the Moomins, Helsinki’s surroundings offer everything you could possibly wish for- and more.

CTA: What are you waiting for? Head to Skyscanner for flight deals, pack your bags and start planning your trip to Helsinki and beyond- and make sure to let us know in the comments how many day trips from Helsinki would feature on your perfect itinerary!

Note: If you require emergency assistance in Finland (or Estonia), dial 112 to contact emergency services.

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