Easy-Going Helsinki

Helsinki Cathedral
Slow down and get into the groove. That’s probably the best advice anyone can give you to enjoy a break in Helsinki. That’s how to really get the most out of Finland.

You’re sure to have heard of the Danish lifestyle trend called “hygge”. However the phenomenon isn’t limited just to Denmark, “hygge” is an integral part of all Scandinavian culture. It’s like yoga and zen Buddhism in one, all outdoor exercise and healthy eating habits. Just the approach by plane to Helsinki as you view the landscape from above shows how inhabitants of the Finnish capital don’t have far to go to access wilderness – they practically live in it. Relax, meditate, see the sights, enjoy!

Suomenlinna Fortress The choice is yours. Suomenlinna means Finnish castle, but you’ll often encounter the older name Sveaborg – Swedish Castle.

This old, naval fortress spread over eight small islands  is a symbol of Helsinki’s history. It was built during the time the Kingdom of Sweden ruled over Finland. It was to have acted as a counterbalance to Kronstadt fortress and efforts by Tsar Peter the Great to dominate the Baltic Sea. Today, this structure is a place of pleasant strolls. From there you can admire the fort’s well-preserved remains, as well as the Finns’outdoor museums. Finns spend many long hours here, making use of the fact that the small islands are linked by bridges. They reach them by privately-operated motor boats and other craft which leave every 15 minutes and are part of the public transport system. On the islands you’ll discover 11 restaurants, coffee shops and even a hostel – so there’s nothing stopping you, joining the approximately 800 locals for the night.

In 1991 Suomenlinna fortress was added to UNESCO’s list of world cultural heritage sites. All Aboard the Beer Tram Just as riding the trams in Lisbon is a must-do, Helsinki’s street cars have also become a popular attraction. This phenomenon has even featured in some Nordic crime series. Helsinki’s public transport is one of the world’s most pleasant to use. Helsinki’s trams have been running since 1891 (in Prague, by comparison, the first horse-drawn tram appeared in 1875, the first electric tram in 1891) and today there are 11 routes with a total length of 39 kilometres.

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