The austere yet elegant city of Helsinki has been the capital of Finland since the early 19th century. Its waterfront setting, charming Art Nouveau architecture, cutting-edge design, and easy-going attitude entices plenty of visitors each year. That being said, the area surrounding Helsinki has also got a lot to offer in the way of unimaginably immaculate nature, charming towns, historic castles, and more. Here are our recommendations on the best day trips from Helsinki.
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11 Best Day Trips from Helsinki
Almost all our favorite day trips can be done by public transport. Of course, you can also drive there if you have a car, which is definitely more convenient.
Traveling by either bus or train is convenient. Trains will usually get you to your destination quicker but are slightly more expensive.
Check the VR website if you want to travel by train. If you book in advance, you can snag train tickets in Finland for cheap.
In a nutshell, these are our 11 favorite day trips from Helsinki:
- Nuuksio National Park
- Turku & Naantali
- Raseborg Castle & Fiskars Village
- Häme Castle
Important: Please Note
If you are planning on taking a day trip to Tallinn, you should carry a valid ID (national ID or passport) just as a precaution if they’re carrying out random ID checks at the Estonian or Finnish borders.
If you are planning on doing several day trips (or even just one) during your stay in Helsinki, we recommend that you book your accommodation close to Helsinki Railway Station or Kamppi Bus Station. Hotel Finn and Hotel Helka are great options.
What Doesn’t Make a Good Day Trip from Helsinki
Being someone who’s resided in Finland for nearly a decade, I am not going to suggest
The first one is St. Petersburg, Russia. While St. Petersburg is a magical city and there’s plenty to be seen there, the logistics of making a day trip out of it from Helsinki is a bit illogical.
Sure, you can get there in 3 and a half hours by train, but you would need an additional day at least to appreciate the glory of St. Petersburg.
Then, there’s the issue of obtaining a Russian visa, which is a must unless you have a South American passport or are a citizen of one of the former Soviet Republics.
Getting a Russian visa is no cinch either. You can travel
The second one is the historical fortress of Suomenlinna. Now, Suomenlinna is a part of the city of Helsinki, so I find it ludicrous that it’s suggested as a day trip from Helsinki.
Tallinn is one of the most popular day trips from Helsinki for a good reason. These two cities are only about 80 kilometers apart making Tallinn easily reachable from Helsinki. Tallinn is among the best-preserved historic cities in Northern Europe.
The city has a rich mercantile past, flourishing in the 14th and 15th centuries when it was one of the leading members of the powerful Hanseatic League.
Its fairytale-like Old Town is a strong testament to this golden period of Tallinn’s history. Post the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tallinn experienced a construction boom and has added some stunning examples of modern architecture to its cityscape.
As you’re approaching Tallinn, keep your camera close-by as it sets the scene for a sublime vista from the sea, with its medieval city walls, church spires, and red-tile roofed homes.
Virtually all the best things to see in Tallinn star lie within the Old Town or in the vicinity. I love how as soon as you enter the Old Town through the medieval Viru Gate you get the impression of being transported back in time and enter a warren of cobblestones, cute alleys, and colorful medieval buildings.
Tallinn is a fun place to explore on foot and can easily be covered in a few hours. Jacky and I never get tired of going there even though we’ve now been there four times.
Some of the best things to see in the Old Town of Tallinn are the Old Town Square, St. Olav’s Church, and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
How to Get to Tallinn from Helsinki
The best way to get to Tallinn from Helsinki is by taking one of the numerous ferries operating between the two cities. Tallink and Eckerö Line are two other carriers that operate year-round The trip takes about 2 hours.
Tampere, Finland’s third-largest city is one of the best day trips from Helsinki. It has been at the heart of Finnish industrialization since the very beginning and was aptly bestowed with the moniker “Manchester of the North.” You’ll notice that a lot of red-brick buildings in Tampere that stand as a testament to its industrial past.
In spite of its industrial heritage, Tampere is one of the prettiest cities in Finland. The city is very tourist-friendly and all the main attractions are within walking distance of each other. If you want to use public transport in Tampere, you can plan your journey here.
Some of the best things to see in Tampere can be seen by taking a stroll down Hämeenkatu, the city’s main artery. Teeming with a variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, and landmarks, Hämeenkatu is lined with many historic buildings and structures, representing different architectural styles and eras.
One such collection of buildings is the historic Finlayson Factory complex, which was critical to the city’s growth and is now home to a few museums and restaurants.
Boasting more than 50 public saunas in its vicinity, Tampere holds the distinction of having the highest number of public saunas compared to any other Finnish city, earning it the title “sauna capital of the world.” The city is also home to Rajaportti Sauna which is the oldest public sauna still in operation in Finland.
For a city of its size, Tampere boasts a diverse array of museums that reflect its rich history and culture. The Museum Center Vapriikki is a standout, housing multiple exhibits from archaeology to video games. The Lenin Museum provides a glimpse into the early 20th-century history, being the only one of its kind outside Russia.
Additionally, the Spy Museum and Finnish Labor Museum Werstas add unique dimensions to Tampere’s cultural offerings. Oh, and for fans of Moomins, Tampere is also home to the Moomin Museum, the only one of its ilk in the world.
There are a lot more things to see in Tampere such as the Old Church, Tammerkoski Rapids, the Market Hall, and the Pyynikki Observation Tower.
When visiting Tampere, you have to try blood sausage (mustamakkara) as it is a local specialty. It consists of pork, blood and grinded rye and is typically served with lingonberry jam and milk. Even though it sounds gross, it is surprisingly very tasty. I look forward to eating blood sausage each time I’m in Tampere. You can get them at Tampere Market Hall or one of the Tapola food trucks.
How to Get to Tampere from Helsinki
The fastest way to get to Tampere is by taking the train which sometimes gets you there in 90 minutes. There is also a multitude of bus options with
3. Nuuksio National Park
Huge tracts of protected forests make Finland one of Europe’s premier hiking destinations. If you love nature or hiking, then Nuuksio National Park is an ideal day trip from Helsinki.
Finns have a strong affinity for nature and Nuuksio is one of the 40-odd national parks spread throughout the country.
Nuuksio was one of the several national parks in Finland that Jacky and I visited. It serves as a perfect way to get away from the bustle of the city and connect with the serene Finnish nature.
Nuuksio National Park was established in 1994 and covers an area of 53 km². The landscape mostly consists of valleys and gorges formed during the Ice Age. One distinct feature of Nuuksio is the moss-covered cliffs which rise as much as 110 meters and offer unobstructed views for miles.
The park also features a few patches of primeval forests, some of which have not been touched in 150 years. There are in excess of 30 kilometers (19 miles) of marked trails around the various shimmering lakes and ponds in Nuuksio. The trails are very clearly marked every 10 meters so it is nearly impossible to not stay on the trail.
Nuuksio’s several marked trails are the best way to explore the area’s diverse flora and fauna. Foxes, deer, elk, and grey wolves call the park their home, although you will most likely not come across any of them. The elusive Flying Squirrel can also be found here although it managed to elude us.
For an authentic Finnish experience, buy some sausages in advance and stop to grill on one of the communal fireplaces along the track. You’ll need to split your own wood from the stockpile provided, and safely extinguish the fire when you’re done.
How to Get to Nuuksio National Park from Helsinki
Nuuksio lies approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Helsinki. In order to get to Nuuksio, you first have to get to Espoo Center from Helsinki, which can be easily reached by one of the numerous commuter trains. From there take bus 245 (direction Nuuksionpää) and get off at Haltia. Walk for 600 meters to reach Nuuksio.
The quaint little town of Porvoo is one of the best day trips from Helsinki. It is one of the only 6 medieval towns in Finland and was first mentioned in historical documents in the 14th century.
It is Finland’s second oldest city only after Turku. Originally a Swedish settlement and an affluent medieval trading center, the Finnish name Porvoo comes from Borgo, which literally means castle river.
The big draw in Porvoo is its Old Town, a beautiful collection of red wooden houses. The red houses originally served as warehouses that stored trading goods, but today are home to boutique shops, cafes, and museums.
Oh, the view is so cute! It’s no surprise that Porvoo has been dubbed the city of charming moments.
Our advice would be to first take a stroll along the shore and snap a couple of Instagram-worthy photos of the pretty red houses. Then you should venture into the narrow streets of the Old Town (e.g. Jokikatu) and explore the many shops to browse for handicrafts, chocolates, and art.
It is here that you really feel the ambiance of this quaint town, especially beside the old shore houses and granary buildings that stretch up to the riverbank.
Some of the best things to see in Porvoo are the Porvoo Doll and Toy Museum (consisting of over 1,000 dolls and hundreds of toys collected from Finland and abroad) and the Porvoo Museum (chronicling yesteryear times with displays of textiles, glass, porcelain, and silver).
Other notable points of interest in Porvoo are the rococo-style Old Town Hall, one of only two 18th-century town halls remaining in Finland, and Porvoo Cathedral, one of Finland’s loveliest Gothic churches.
Ravaged, rebuilt, and marauded repeatedly during its tumultuous history by, among others, the Danes and the Russians, Porvoo Cathedral is often referred to as “the unluckiest building in Finland.”
One of Finland’s most beloved sweet treats, the Runeberg cake (Runebergintorttu), originated in Porvoo. It is named after Finland’s national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg, a native of Porvoo. Be sure to try this cylinder-shaped rum and almond flavored cake when you visit Porvoo. It’s widely available in cafes and pastry shops throughout the town.
You May Also Like→ You can read more about Runebergintorttu and other Finnish pastries here
How to Get to Porvoo from Helsinki
The best way to get to Porvoo from Helsinki is by taking the bus. Buses from Helsinki to Porvoo depart at Helsinki Central Bus Station (Kamppi) daily every 15-30 minutes. Check Onnibus or Matakhuolto for bus connections.
5. Turku & Naantali
The cities of Turku (or Åbo in Swedish) and Naantali should be on any traveler’s list of day trips from Helsinki. I have a special attachment to Turku since the city served as my home for nearly a decade.
Turku is Finland’s oldest city, founded around the end of the 13th century. It served as the most important city in Finland for centuries and was the country’s capital until 1812 when the Russians made Helsinki the capital.
In 1827 a fire raged through Turku, known as the Great Fire of Turku, annihilating everything in its path and consumed about 75% of the entire town. This is the main reason why there isn’t much to be seen of the city’s 700-year history.
However, several notable vestiges of its glorious past are still standing. Two of the most notable Turku attractions are the Turku Cathedral and the Turku Castle.
Turku Cathedral is Finland’s national shrine, a majestic structure originating from the 13th century. Its Gothic and Romanesque architecture, coupled with its richly detailed interior, tells tales of Finland’s religious and historical journey.
Turku Castle, established in the late 13th century, stands as a symbol of Turku’s significance in the medieval Nordic world. Over time, it transitioned from a military fortress to a grand ducal palace and now functions as a museum.
Turku was named a European Capital of Culture in 2011. It boasts numerous theaters, galleries, and museums, including the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova – a unique combination of history and modern art museums.
To see the best of Turku, you should walk along the Aura River from the Turku Cathedral to the Turku Castle. The banks of the Aura River buzz with activity, as locals and tourists alike frequent its riverside cafés and walkways.
Otherwise, you can also get around using the city’s excellent public transport.
Turku is the location of one of the most amusing displays of art, the infamous Pigduck (Posankka). This bizarre sculpture represents a hybrid between a marzipan pig a rubber duck and is meant to be a criticism of modern gene technology.
Located just 20 kilometers north of Turku, Naantali forms the ideal image of a medieval town, having been founded in the 15th century. It is definitely well worth a visit.
You can take a stroll along the narrow cobbled lanes of its quaint Old Town and admire the old wooden houses or sit in one of the many cafes next to the quayside admiring the picturesque view. Many of these wooden houses are now home to handicraft shops, art galleries, and antique shops.
Naantali is primarily a summer town and even serves as the official summer residence of the Finnish president (an elaborate stone castle overlooking the harbor). Many visitors to Naantali in the summer flock to the ever-popular Moominworld theme park.
Other popular things to see in Naantali are the 15th-century Naantali Church and the Naantali Museum, which sheds light on the town’s history with the use of plenty of artifacts.
Fun Fact: The Moomins
Finland’s biggest literary export, the Moomins are an eccentric family of nature-loving, white-snouted, hippo-like trolls. Creator Tove Jansson based the central characters of Moominpappa, Moominmamma and their meek child, Moomintroll, on her own eccentric family. Beloved throughout Finland and abroad, the Moomins have since been the basis for numerous television series, films and even a Japanese cartoon series.
How to Get to Turku & Naantali from Helsinki
Turku is well served by a multitude of trains and buses from Helsinki, with Onnibus providing the cheapest option. To reach Naantali from Turku, hop on bus 6 or 7 which go straight to Naantali.
Hanko (or Hangö in Swedish) is Finland’s southernmost city that serves as an easy and fun day trip from Helsinki. This quaint little town is a highly popular summer resort due to its stretches of wide sandy beaches (a rarity in Finland) and good fishing and sailing opportunities.
Hanko was especially popular among the Russians as a spa town when they ruled over Finland. This Russian influence is still visible in the architecture of the opulent wooden seaside villas here, many of which now function as guesthouses and restaurants.
These splendid edifices, which have elements of Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture are a big reason to visit Hanko.
A notable point of interest in Hanko is the rock monument symbolizing the southernmost point in mainland Finland and the emigration monument. This monument was erected to recognize Hanko’s role as the departure point for thousands of Finns who emigrated to North America between 1880 and 1930.
Another major attraction in Hanko is the 50-meter tall water tower on Vartiovuori Hill which offers panoramic views of the town and the Baltic Sea.
How to Get to Hanko from Helsinki
Getting to Hanko is fairly straightforward. First, take a train to Karjaa (Karis in Swedish) and then take a regional train to Hanko. The journey takes about an hour and 45 minutes.
Lahti, the eighth-largest city in Finland is situated around 100 kilometers northeast of Helsinki and serves as a convenient day trip from the city.
As a former industrial center, Lahti is famous for its timber, wooden furniture, classical music, and winter sports activities. The city is very compact and easily explored on foot.
The most notable attraction in Lahti is the spectacular ski jumping arena in the Lahti Sports Center. Ski-jumping is quite popular in Finland and Lahti plays host to the annual Lahti Ski Games.
The sports center also features a small ski museum, which is interesting if you don’t know anything about skiing and its evolution. Two fun contraptions at the ski museum include the 3D ski-jump simulator and a biathlon practice rifle.
The other must-see attraction in Lahti is its guest harbor located at Lake Vesijärvi. The guest harbor has been christened the “living room” of Lahti and deservedly so, as it features serene views as well as bars & cafes to keep you entertained.
One of the best things to see in Lahti is the famous Sibelius Concert Hall, located along the shores of the lake. Opened in 2000, this architectural landmark has won plaudits for its timber-coated auditorium that is conjoined to an older building by a cathedral-like foyer with massive glass walls and pillars designed to echo a Finnish forest.
There are also a couple of buildings we found interesting in Lahti for their architecture. These include Eilo Saarinen’s City Hall and Alvar Aalto’s Church of the Cross, both of which form an integral part of Lahti’s cityscape.
The church is particularly impressive and is notable for its cross formed by glass bricks inserted into the exterior wall. Benches in the church’s interior are arranged in a way to resemble an organ’s pipes.
How to Get to Lahti from Helsinki
The train takes about an hour from Helsinki. Alternatively, you can travel by bus. Buses run more frequently than trains as there are several companies operating in and out of Lahti. Check Matkahuolto for bus connections.
The historic center of Rauma (Old Rauma), a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of Finland’s top attractions which also happens to be one of the best day trips from Helsinki. Old Rauma has a collection of over 600 single-storey wooden buildings and is home to about 800 people.
In fact, it is the largest unified historical wooden town in the Nordics. The oldest existing houses date back to the 18th century. The major wooden houses in Old Rauma are clustered around two main streets and the marketplace.
Stepping into Old Rauma is like traveling back in time. You will find yourself lost in the narrow winding alleys, peeking around the next corner and hunting for the perfect shot of the colorful facades and beautifully decorated gates.
There are art galleries, pottery, and jewelry studios, and a gamut of antique stores and secondhand shops to check out. Jacky and I really love this place and have been here three times so far.
Rauma is renowned for its locally produced high-quality lace. It’s believed that the lace-making originates from Flanders (Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium), brought with them by sailors from the 18th century and it quickly became a thriving cottage industry. Lace began to be produced in significant amounts in Rauma in the early 19th century and was often the only way for unmarried women to generate a stable income. Unlike in other lace producing centers in Europe, lace production in Rauma was never automized. Today, Rauma’s natives still celebrate their town’s lacemaking heritage with an annual festival.
Notable points of interest in Old Rauma are the two stone buildings – the Church of the Holy Cross (a Franciscan monastery church from the 15th century) and the Old Rauma Town Hall (now home to the Rauma Museum).
Two other interesting places worth checking out in Rauma are the wonderful Marela Museum House and Kitukränn (supposedly the narrowest street in Finland).
Rauma is also famous throughout Finland for its unique dialect, known as “Rauman giäl,” an old sailor’s lingo. Rauman giäl is more of a separate language itself like Karelian making it difficult to comprehend for Finns from elsewhere.
What makes the Rauma dialect so hard is that it has certain diphthongs and other sounds which standard Finnish lacks or has dropped.
How to Get to Rauma from Helsinki
Rauma is easily reached from Helsinki by bus (3 and a half hours). Check Matkahuolto for bus connections. Once you reach Rauma, just follow the signs to Old Rauma. It’s a short walk away from the bus station.
9. Raseborg Castle & Fiskars Village
Jacky and I both love visiting castles. There’s just something magical and about them, that thrusts our imagination into overdrive. We try to seek out castles wherever we travel. Castles in Finland are a bit of a rarity, with Raseborg Castle being one of the select few.
Finnish castles are certainly not as architecturally spectacular as some other prominent castles around Europe and can seem a bit bland. But they do have a simplistic allure.
Raseborg Castle is located on a grassy mound and dates back to the late 14th century. It was built by the Swedes as an important defensive fortification and a mercantile center in the Gulf of Finland, intended to rival Tallinn.
The interesting thing is that the castle was originally built on a small island in the north end of a sea bay but due to the postglacial rebound, it is now inland. Raseborg Castle was in use till the mid-16th century when Helsinki and Ekenäs got their own charters.
It lay abandoned for more than 300 years and fell into ruins. Although the castle has now been restored as well as possible, it mostly consists of ruins.
You can now tour the castle and get a glimpse of what everyday life was like back then. The area around the castle is surrounded by lush meadows so it is nice to stroll around.
Raseborg Castle is open to visitors from the end of April to the end of September. You can check the opening hours here. Admission costs 8 EUR.
You May Also Like→ Love castles? Check out our list of 5 cool castles you must see in Finland!
Before Nokia became a global brand, Fiskars was probably the most well-known Finnish brand. The iconic metal tool company, famous for making top-notch scissors, knives, pots, frying pans, and gardening tools was founded in this place in 1649.
Fiskars Village thrived as an industrial and commercial center for more than three centuries, but since the 1980s Fiskars shifted the bulk of its operations to larger facilities elsewhere in Finland and the United States.
Fiskars Corporation still owns much of the village, where it has encouraged artists, designers, and their families to settle. This plan has worked to a certain extent as over 600 people reside here now.
Jacky and I
These formerly housed workshops and have now been refurbished into various artists’ studios. The artists’ living quarters are one-storey rustic houses that are scattered on the backstreets and throughout the surrounding woodlands.
The Engel-designed Clock Tower building is the focal point of the village, containing an exhibition about the Fiskars company and a shop selling Fiskars products. Delightful products such as pottery, glassware, leather goods, jewelry, chocolates, and craft beer are on sale here.
You can visit Fiskars Village and go on one of the several guided tours they have on offer. They are available throughout the year and are arranged by the Fiskars Museum. You can check the opening hours here. Admission is 6 EUR.
How to Get to Raseborg Castle & Fiskars Village from Helsinki
Raseborg Castle and Fiskars Village are both approximately 90 kilometers from Helsinki, making both these places good day trips from Helsinki.
Getting to Raseborg Castle all the way by public transport is not really possible, unfortunately, the furthest you can get with public transport is Karjaa, which is still 11 kilometers (7 miles) from the castle ruins. So realistically, Raseborg Castle is best reached by car from Helsinki.
In order to get to Fiskars Village from Helsinki, first hop on the train to Karjaa (Karis). From Karjaa Bus Station you can take one of the numerous buses headed to Fiskars Village. Check Matkahuolto for bus connections. The total journey from Helsinki should take around 2 hours.
The bubbly little city of Jyväskylä is located in Central Finland about 270 km from Helsinki and is the main city in the Finnish Lakeland region. It is famous for being the hometown of the legendary Alvar Aalto, one of the 20th century’s most celebrated architects, and also for hosting the Finnish leg of the popular World Rally Championship.
Jyväskylä also prides itself on being known as the “Athens of Finland” due to its importance in tertiary education and its large student population.
As is the case with most cities in Finland, Jyväskylä is devoid of any famous must-see attractions. To get the best out of Jyväskylä, you should take a stroll through its tranquil and compact city center.
The main shopping street is actually rather pleasant and is home to a couple of small independent stores and hipster-style cafés. Just around here, you can also find the lovely City Church and its adjacent park as well as Harju, a small ridge with well-kept parks on its slopes.
One of the best things to do in Jyväskylä is taking a refreshing walk along Lake Jyväsjärvi which dominates the city’s landscape. Jyväskylä really benefits from having the lake within the city as it provides the city with a scenic lakefront trail ideal for pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists.
The idyllic harbor area is home to boat bars and houseboats. Numerous boating and jet-ski hire options are also available here.
Architecture aficionados will get their money’s worth in Jyväskylä as the city is home to some of Alvar Aalto’s most famous structures. Aalto buffs should commence their pilgrimage at the Aalto Museum.
The museum is housed in a building that was one of Aalto’s last designs and does a good job of highlighting his major designs in the fields of architecture, furniture, and glassware.
Other prominent architectural works of Aalto in Jyväskylä include the main building of the University of Jyväskylä, the Defence Corps Building, the Viitatorni Apartment Tower, the Säynätsalo Town Hall, the Workers’ Club Building, and the Jyväskylä City Theater.
If you are interested in these in detail, it may be worth getting a small guide from the tourist information office.
How to Get to Jyväskylä from Helsinki
Jyväskyla is well served by a multitude of trains and buses from Helsinki, with Onnibus providing the cheapest option. Both journeys take about 3½ hours.
11. Häme Castle
If you love castles as much as we do, Häme Castle is a good day trip from Helsinki. Häme Castle occupies a strategic position on the waterway leading into Vanajavesi Lake.
This chunky, twin-towered, red-brick fortress was built in the mid-13th century by the Swedes as a line of defense against the Russians of Novgorod, which was a member of the Hanseatic League.
Over the years it has been used as a residence by the Swedish nobility and also served as a prison for nearly 150 years till the 1970s. The castle has been primarily restored except some of the second-floor rooms remain in ruins.
These days, the Häme Castle features changing exhibitions and various cultural events. The area also hosts the Hämeenlinna Historical Museum, the Prison Museum as well as the Artillery Museum.
How to Get to Häme Castle from Helsinki
Take a train or bus to the city of Hämeenlinna. The journey takes a little over an hour. From the train and bus stations, Häme Castle is about a 20-minute walk on foot.
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Now, what do you think? What are your favorite day trips from Helsinki? Any place we missed on this list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!