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. These places are convenient to reach with the aid of the efficient Finnish public transportation system. Here are our recommendations on the best day trips from Helsinki.
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10 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 more expensive and don’t run so frequently. Check the VR website if you want to travel by train. There are several bus companies operating throughout Finland. Jacky and I usually traveled with Onnibus due to their cheap prices. Check Matkahuolto if you want to travel by bus. In a nutshell, these are our 10 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 the Russian visa, which is a must unless you have a South American passport or are a citizen of one the former Soviet Republics. Getting the 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 fairy tale 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.
Insider TipAs 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 of Tallinn’s star attractions 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.
It’s a fun place to explore on foot and can easily be covered in a few hours. Jacky and I never get tired of going to Tallinn even though we’ve now been there four times. Some of the best things to see in the Old Town 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 is on one of the numerous ferries operating between the two cities. Linda Line provides the quickest connection but they don’t operate in the winter season. Tallink and Eckerö Line are the two options. Either way, you’ll be there in 2 hours tops.
You May Also Like→ Convinced? Click here to plan your day trip to Tallinn with our full guide!
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’. In spite of this industrial heritage, Tampere is one of the prettiest cities in Finland. The city is very tourist friendly and all the main attractions are at a walking distance from each other. If you want to use public transport in Tampere, you can plan your journey here.
Take a stroll down Hämeenkatu, the city’s main artery, and admire some of the beautiful late 19th century architecture. You’ll notice that a lot of red-brick buildings in Tampere that hark back to its industrial past. One such collection of buildings is the historic Finlayson Factory complex, which was key to the city’s growth and is now home to a few museums and restaurants. There’s a lot to see more to see in Tampere such as the Old Church, Tammerkoski Rapids, the Market Hall, and the Pyynikki observation tower. Oh, and for fans of Moomins, the Moomin Museum, the only one of its ilk in the world.
Insider TipWhen 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 in one of the stalls in the Market Hall.
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
You May Also Like→ Looking for more things to do? Click here for the best things to do in Tampere!
3. Nuuksio National Park
If you love nature or hiking, then Nuuksio National Park is an ideal day trip from Helsinki. Finns have a strong affinity for the nature and Nuuksio is one of the 40 odd national parks spread throughout the country. Nuuksio was one of the several national parks Jacky and I visited in Finland. 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. but 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 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.
The park’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.
Insider TipFor the 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 away from 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 mentioned in historical documents in the 14th century. Originally a Swedish settlement, the Finnish name Porvoo comes from Borgo, which literally means castle river. It is Finland’s second oldest city only after Turku.
The big draw in Porvoo is its Old Town, a beautiful collection of red wooden houses. The red houses originally served as warehouses which 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 and explore the many shops and shop for handicrafts, chocolates, and art.
Insider TipOne 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 rum and almond flavored cake when you visit Porvoo. It’s widely available in cafes and pastry shops throughout the town. 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 Matakhuolto for bus connections.
5. Turku & Naantali
The cities of Turku (or Åbo in Swedish) and Naantali should be on any travelers list of day trips from Helsinki. I have a special attachment to Turku since the city served as my home for nearly a decade. Founded in the early 13th century, Turku (or Åbo in Swedish) is Finland’s oldest city. It is a city with mighty proud traditions, and was the former hub of Finland’s spiritual a commercial life until the Russians made Helsinki the capital. The best way to explore Turku is on foot but you can also use public transport.
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, there are some notable places to be visited such as Turku Castle and the impressive Turku Cathedral, both of which date back to the late 13th century. To see the best of Turku, you should walk along the Aura River from the cathedral up to the castle.
Insider TipTurku 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 lanes and admire the old wooden houses or sit in one of the many cafes next to the quayside admiring the picturesque view. Naantali is also home to the popular Moominworld theme park.
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 heads 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 sought after summer resort with stretches of wide sandy beaches (a rarity in Finland), good fishing and sailing opportunities. Hanko was especially popular among the Russians when they ruled over Finland, and this Russian influence is visible in the architecture in many of the wooden villas here.
Of the notable sights you can see in Hanko are 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.
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
The most notable attraction in Lahti is the spectacular ski jumping arena in the Lahti Sports Center. The sports center also features a small ski museum, which is interesting if you don’t know anything about skiing and its evolution. 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. The famous Sibelius Concert Hall is also located along the shores of the lake.
There are also a couple of buildings we found interesting in Lahti for their architecture like Eilo Saarinen’s City Hall and Alvar Aalto’s Church of the Cross, both of which form an integral part of Lahti’s cityscape.
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 connection.
The historic center of Rauma (Old Rauma), a UNESCO world heritage site, is one of Finland’s top attractions and one of the best day trips from Helsinki. Old Rauma has a collection of over 600 single-storey wooden buildings 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 travelling 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 colourful facades and beautifully decorated gates. There 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 3 times so far.
Notable points of interest in Old Rauma are the two stone buildings – Church of the Holy Cross (a Franciscan monastery church from the 15th century), the Old Rauma Town Hall (now home to the Rauma Museum), the Marela House, and Kitukränn (supposedly the narrowest street in Finland).
Trivia TidbitRauma is renowned for its locally produced high-quality lace. Lace was first 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.
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 14 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. The castle was used 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. The castle has now been restored as well as possible. You can now tour the castle and get a glimpse of how 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 opening hours here. Admission costs 7 EUR.
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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 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. Over 600 people reside here now.
Walking around Fiskars Village is a real treat and Jacky and I
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 area arranged by the Fiskars Museum. You can check opening hours here. Admission is 5 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 with public transport is not really possible unfortunately, the furthest you can get with public transport is Karjaa, which is still 11 kilometers 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.
10. 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 red-brick fortress was built in 1260 by the Swedes as a line of defence against the Russians of Novgorod, which was a member of the Hanseatic League.
Over the years it has also been used as a residence for Swedish nobility and also served as a prison for nearly 150 years till the 1970’s. The castle has been largely 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.
Häme Castle is open throughout the year. Check opening times here. Guided tours, events and exhibitions are organized in the castle. Entrance costs 10 EUR.
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.
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!