Helsinki's beauty hits you right between the eyes, not least because some of the world's greatest architects designed its buildings.

It's a friendly, exciting place full of people whose wry attitude will make you laugh and whose nightlife will keep you dancing until the early hours.

Insider Tip

Take a trip to the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. It is only a 2 hour ferry ride away.

Meals are usually served in three courses, often beginning with a warming, hearty soup in the winter. Pork, lamb and beef are common main course meats and many menus offer reindeer in some form. Baltic herring (silakka) is the favourite fish served with layers of potato cream or pickled as a snack. Sausages (makkara) are the snack food of choice, and you'll find them sizzling on grills in markets and street stalls.

Lingonberries and the earthy-sweet cloudberries ripen in the autumn, but you'll find them year round as jams, condiments and in deserts. Local alcoholic drinks include vodka, schnapps and liquers made from local berries, look out for Lakka made from cloudberries and Mesimarja, made from the highly-flavoured arctic brambleberries. If you prefer beer, a good local one is Lapin Kulta.

The streets bordering the Espanadi and the Aleksanterinkatu form the centre of Helsinki's most fashionable shopping district. Just beyond lays the Design District where you can find designer shops selling a huge range of products.

Must See

Pay a visit Temppeliaukio Church - the church in a rock.

For the latest and coolest in Finnish design - head for the Design District around Diana Park.

Must Do

Pay a visit to Kotiharjun Helsinki's last old-fashioned, wood-burning sauna.

Admire the city from all angles onboard an excursion boat or ferry trip around the archipelago islands.


Hop on Hop off Bus

The open top sightseeing tour offers a great way to explore Helsinki.
Departs: daily (May-Sept). Duration: 24 hours. Adults from £31.

Helsinki Canal Route

This 1.5 hour sightseeing tour by boat is one of the best ways to see and discover the city.
Departs: daily (May-Sept). Duration: 1.5 hours.
Adults from £30.