Flights to Helsinki
Helsinki is Finland’s capital and largest city and it’s located in the south of the country on the Gulf of Finland. This attractive city has plenty of culture and interesting buildings to see, and many islands to explore.
Helsinki has 2 airports though Malmi Airport only handles local and general aviation, so international flights to Helsinki will come to the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (airport code: HEL). It’s 17 kilometres outside the city, and accessed by public bus and taxi. BMI and Virgin Atlantic have 1-stop flights to Helsinki from South Africa via London, and Iberia makes a connection in Madrid. You can also go through Munich if you fly with Lufthansa. Most flights to Helsinki are between 15 and 20 hours long.
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The Tourist Attractions of Helsinki:
Helsinki is a vibrant city, particularly so during the summer when the streets are filled with both locals and tourists coming to enjoy the culture, dining, shopping and nightlife. There are numerous specific attractions that visitors to Helsinki can head for and amongst these are the following:
The Lutheran Cathedral
Today the Lutheran Cathedral is the unofficial symbol of Helsinki and it reminds locals and visitors of a time when Helsinki was occupied by the Russians. They built a number of structures that still exist today, giving parts of the city quite a Russian feel. The Lutheran Cathedral features striking white walls and a green domes and it was completed in 1852.
The Upenski Cathedral is another Russian creation. This one is a classical ‘onion’ domed Russian Orthodox Church. A completely unrelated, but interesting church all the same is the Church in the Rock and this is a newer Helsinki landmark that was completed in 1969.
The Olympic Tower
Another landmark of Helsinki is the Olympic Tower. As the name suggests this was built for the Summer Olympics which came to Helsinki in 1952. It’s part of the Olympic complex and it’s still open today for visitors to get great views over the city.
Being the capital of Finland there are numerous national museums in Helsinki, making this a good city for museum lovers! If you enjoy art then there are several museums in Helsinki for you including the Ateneum Art Museum and the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. History and culture can be discovered at the National Museum of Finland and for a more local take on history visit the Helsinki City Museum.
Helsinki is actually spread over several islands as well as peninsulas and bays giving the city a very scenic setting. If you like the water then you’ll enjoy getting out from the centre of Helsinki and discovering some of the islands. Among these is Soumenlinna, an island fortress that’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. The great sea fortress was built by the Swedes in the 1700s and though only parts of it remain today the island has become a popular tourist destination and includes cafés and restaurants, museums and shops too.
In central Helsinki is the island of Korkeasaari which is home to the Helsinki Zoo. If you’re visiting Helsinki with children this is a popular attraction, featuring about 200 different species of animals.
When Should You Visit?:
Because some of Helsinki’s attractions are only open during the summer this is definitely the best time to visit. Temperatures around June, July and August are mild getting up to an average high of 21C. Days can be sunny even though this is Helsinki’s wetter period. During the winter it gets quite chilly and snowy so not good for sightseeing.