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Finland’s capital city Helsinki has a unique atmosphere and its buildings could, for a moment, make you forget where you were. The city has a heavy international influence, with many buildings featuring traditional Russian architecture. With an extensive network of trams, Helsinki is easy to explore and enjoy.
Helsinki’s summers are perfect for cruise excursions, though the winters tend to be cold and dark. The city’s architecture is varied, and historic buildings include those surrounding the pedestrian Senate Square. Helsinki’s museums are particularly popular, and close enough together that you can enjoy multiple attractions during your shore excursion. Other attractions, such as those listed below, are considered to be truly unmissable:
The island of Suomenlinna includes an impressive fortress. A ferry ride to the island gets you free shore access once you arrive. Still inhabited, Suomenlinna is a peaceful place where cars are rare and where there are restaurants and museums to enjoy. Access to the UNESCO monument is cheap by public ferry, though these are often crowded. Private ferries provide a more efficient option for those willing to pay a little extra.
Completed in 1852, the Lutheran Cathedral is a sight that few want to miss when they visit Helsinki. It features the twelve apostles, and stands in Senate Square where its domes can be seen long before you reach it.
National Museum of Finland
Finland’s National Museum details the history of the country over 10,000 years, from the arrival of the country’s first human inhabitants. Major archaeological exhibits are displayed in this educational museum, alongside information about life in Finland through the ages.
Chain and independent stores selling high-end design, arts and crafts are the prominent shops in Helsinki. The Stockmann department store offers a varied selection of souvenirs and essentials, and in the heart of the city you’ll find the Esplanade where shoppers are often distracted by live concerts at lunch time. The Louis Vuitton store is situated here.
You’ll be able to browse shops selling furnishings, homewares and books. Helsinki is home to the largest bookshop in Northern Europe, and to the Hakaniemi Market Hall where you’ll find local delicacies and fresh foods to enjoy. The Hietalahti Open Air Flea Market is the perfect place to find unique gifts, antiques and collectables, whilst music shops are also popular in the city.
With such a strong international influence, Helsinki has restaurants serving dishes from around the world. There are buffets, grill restaurants, Thai restaurants and those serving European fusion dishes. Vegetarian restaurants include pay-by-weight buffet dining establishments and cafes as well as more luxurious places to enjoy a sit-down meal, whilst traditional Finnish restaurants are known for their fresh seafood dishes and their meals influenced by Russian cuisine.
Alternatively, why not try some traditional Finnish meat dishes? Elk, bear, moose and reindeer are served at some restaurants. Another favourite amongst tourists and Helsinki’s residents is the zander fish, served in creamy sauces at some of the best restaurants in the city.
Enjoy an overnight in port in St Petersburg!
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Receive up to 59 FREE shore excursions.
Receive up to 60 FREE shore excursions
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