Helsinki in One Day – What to Do

Helsinki skyline
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Helsinki skyline @adobestock

From Tallinn to Helsinki – A Day Trip

When I visited Tallinn in September  (find out about my Tallinn trip here) I also decided to spend a day in Helsinki. It seems, a day trip from Tallinn to Helsinki is a great idea since it is so easy to get from one place to the other.

One place in Helsinki has stolen my heart: Helsinki in One Day – What to Do in Helsinki.

Scenic summer panorama of the Market Square (Kauppatori) at the Old Town pier in Helsinki, Finland
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Scenic summer panorama of the Market Square (Kauppatori) at the Old Town pier in Helsinki, Finland

How to Get From Tallinn to Helsinki or How to Get From Helsinki to Tallinn

The best way to get from Tallinn to Helsinki (or the other way around) is to take a ferry.

How to Get to Tallinn Harbor – How to Get to Helsinki Harbor

It takes about 10 minutes by bus from the old town of Tallinn to the Tallinn harbor. It takes about 15 minutes from Helsinki harbor to Helsinki city center by tram.

For the ferry ride you can either check-in online or at the terminal. You definitely need to have your passport ready. I got my tickets in advance and checked in few hours before my departure.

Tallinn Harbor- taking a ferry to Helsinki
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Tallinn Harbor- taking a ferry to Helsinki

Ferry Ride to Helsinki

I love ferry/boat rides, they are probably my most favorite transport mean. If I love something more than ferry rides it is food.

Taking a ferry with the Estonian shipping line Tallink from Tallinn to Helsinki in the Business Class was a perfect choice for me, as it combined those two things. So it does not come as a surprise that I enjoyed my ferry ride.

If you are on a budget you can check out the other categories as well. They should be also more than fine as the ferry left a very good impression. Business Class, however, comes with a good choice of drinks and a buffet. There is also free and fast wifi, newspapers and magazines and clean toilets.

If you are on a budget you can check out the other categories as well. They should be also more than fine as the ferry left a very good impression. Business Class, however, comes with a good choice of drinks and a buffet. There is also free and fast wifi, newspapers and magazines and clean toilets.

Tallink recommends arriving at least 30 minutes before departure. It really makes sense because after “check-in“ it still takes some walking before actually arriving at the ferry.

Check out the best prices for flightshotels I activities and tours in Helsinki

Helsinki in One Day – What to Do in Helsinki

What to Do in Helsinki in 1 Day

I had about 8 hours in Helsinki and zero ideas what to do. This day was not planned or organized and so I just started my Helsinki trip in the city center. To be more precious I started at the railway station which has become quite an attraction in Helsinki. I went inside and think it is nice but if you are in a rush you can skip it.

Train Station Helsinki
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Train Station Helsinki

I headed to the market square next to the water. The market was busy and might be inviting for a nice stroll – I was overwhelmed by all the fur that was sold there and thus had to escape quickly.

Helsinki Harbor
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Helsinki Harbor

Boat tour Helsinki
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Boat tour Helsinki

I was happy to spot an “Island Hopping“ tour which stops on three islands (JT-Line, ticket 7€). It was after lunchtime, and so I did not have time to visit all three islands. The three island are Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Lonna Island and Vallisaari and Kunninkaansaari Islands. I only visited Lonna Island and Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.

While the latter island was awesome and my travel highlight in Helsinki I recommend skipping Loona Island. It was a little boring and there was not much to see. Thus I ended up sitting in a cafe where I had some nice but overpriced waffles.

Lonna Island in Helsinki
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Lonna Island in Helsinki

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress Must see Place in Helsinki
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Suomenlinna Sea Fortress Must see Place in Helsinki

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress was more beautiful than the photos on the leaflet pictured. So green, so lush, so pretty and full of history (and I should not forget to emphasize those little Hobbit houses) I really enjoyed the island.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress how cute are these houses?
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Suomenlinna Sea Fortress how cute are these houses?

It is so picturesque and I could have spent much more time if I had not been in a rush because I had to catch the last boat.

According to some information at the ticket center visitors should plan in 2 hours to see all of the islands. I definitely agree that it is hard to see all within 1 hour. Though I often rush through places/attractions, this is definitely a place I would have liked to stay much longer at.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and not surprisingly one of Finland´s most popular tourist attraction.

It was built in the mid 18.th century to defend the country (back then Finland belonged to the Kingdom of Sweden) and was taken by Russia a few decades later.

After Finland´s independence from Russia in the 20.th century, Finland overtook the fortress again and it is now open to the public without an extra entrance fee.

I really liked the island which I just discovered coincidentally and can highly recommend if the weather is good. So when I left the island and I already knew that Helsinki was worth the trip.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki
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Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress @shutterstock
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Suomenlinna Sea Fortress @shutterstock

Places to visit in Helsinki on a day trip, Finland
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Places to visit in Helsinki on a day trip, Finland

Back on the mainland, I got a ticket for the mini bus tour which started at the Senate Square. The tour itself was quite short (8€) but I saw some buildings on my way which I then decided to check out again after the tour.

Sightseeing Tour Helsinki
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Sightseeing Tour Helsinki

Helsinki Cathedral at Senate Square @shutterstock
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Helsinki Cathedral at Senate Square @shutterstock

Helsinki in 1 day - Senate Square @shutterstock
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Helsinki in 1 day – Senate Square @shutterstock

Since I did not have much clue what to do I left Helsinki about an hour earlier than planned and headed to the port to catch my ferry.

I am sure Helsinki has much more to offer and if the weather had been warmer and I would have planned my day better and I would have seen much more. However, I think Helsinki makes a great day trip from cities like Tallinn or Stockholm and I can definitely recommend visiting Helsinki.

Helsini in 1 day
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Helsini in 1 day

If you want to visit Helsinki for longer and stay overnight, you can check out the best hotel deals here.

Though I am sad I did not make the most of it visiting the island was already a highlight and the whole trip was worth of that alone.

I am looking forward to spending more time in Finland since the pictures of Evan Kristine convinced me to re-visit and spend more than 1 day in Finland (read more here).

If you want to visit Helsinki for longer and stay overnight, you can check out the best hotel deals here.

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Goodbye Helsinki
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Goodbye Helsinki

Be better prepared and book your tours in advance


Paris Tours
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Disclaimer: Tallink provided me with a ferry ticket, but, as always, opinions are my own.

Helsinki in One Day – What to Do in Helsinki

Looking for accommodation in Tallinn? Read the review of a charming 4* hotel here.

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