Consistently voted one of the most liveable places in the world, Helsinki is a vibrant seaside city with great social services, friendly people and an appreciation for the simple pleasures in life.
The city of Helsinki is actually a collection of 315 islands at the tip of a peninsula. It was originally established in 1550 as a trading town by King Gustav I of Sweden, who called it 'Helsingfors'. These days, it's a growing metropolis of about 640,000 residents from all over the world.
One of the draws of Helsinki is that it is large enough to be exciting, but small enough to explore on foot or by bike. Indeed, cycling is a great way to get around Helsinki city centre, and there are 150 city bike stations dotted around for people to use as they please (for a small fee).
Travellers who visit Helsinki and want to do some sightseeing have plenty of museums and cultural centres to choose from, including the Helsinki Art Museum, the Virka Gallery at City Hall and the Helsinki City Museum. If you're interested in Finnish architecture, we recommend visiting the Kamppi Chapel (aka the Chapel of Silence), a stunning curved wooden building intended for calm and meditation. Entrance is free of charge.
For Finnish fare, take a stroll to Market Square between the south harbour and Esplanade Park, where you'll find souvenir vendors and food stalls serving up salmon soup, fresh herring and meat pastries as well as coffee and sugary treats. And if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the market, there are plenty of parks and green spaces in Helsinki to escape to.