Founded in the mid-16th century, Helsinki is a city that encompasses the old and new worlds like few others.
Located on the shores of the Gulf of Finland in the country’s southern portion, it is Finland’s capital and most populous city, with about 650,000 residents.
Helsinki is often referred to as the ‘Daughter of the Baltic,’ and in the early 19th century, it was largely rebuilt to mimic St. Petersburg.
Over the years, it has been featured in a number of Cold War-era movies, and it’s also considered one of the region’s hottest culinary, art, and design centers.
Below are 15 of the best tours of Helsinki.
1. 90-minute Helsinki Canal Boat Sightseeing Tour
Though they’re not as extensive as the more well-known ones in Venice, Italy, Helsinki’s canals are a great way to get a unique view of the city from a different perspective.
Tour guests will pass a number of the city’s premier sites, like the Maritime Fortress at Suomenlinna, the Helsinki Zoo, and the fleet of majestic ice breakers in the port.
Photo ops abound, and along the way, you’ll learn about the city’s history and culture, as well as discover things you’ll probably want to check out on your own when the tour is officially over.
Coffee, tea, cold drinks and pastries are available in the boat’s canteen.
2. Panorama Coach Tour
This Panorama Helsinki Coach Tour is a great way to get your bearing in the city without spending a ton of money or wasting needless hours of valuable vacation time.
The tour lasts just less than two hours, is available in nearly a dozen languages, and drives past many of the city’s iconic attractions, like the Parliament Building, Presidential Palace, Sebelius Monument, and Temppeliaukio Church.
You’ll likely see a number of attractions that you’d like to explore on your own in the following days, all while ensconced in a comfy seat in an air-conditioned bus that costs peanuts compared to other tours.
3. Jean Sibelius Live Music Experience
It’s okay; admit it – you’ve never heard of famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
So now that the uncomfortable part is out of the way, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a one-hour performance of the old master’s works performed by the professional musicians at the Balder Music Hall.
Built in 1813, the music hall is impressive and features impressive acoustics.
The performance is a short, powerful, and family-friendly event that includes complimentary non-alcoholic beverages
It’s a truly immersive and awe-inspiring activity, even for those who aren’t necessarily classical music fans. Each guest gets a free CD to take home with them.
4. Private Tour with Local Guide
Finns are passionate about their country. For those visiting Helsinki for the first time, it’d probably be a good idea to hook-up with at least one guided tour before striking out on your own.
This private guided tour can range from two to six hours depending on the interests and schedules of its participants and generally begins with meeting your guide and getting familiar with the neighborhood in which you’re staying.
In addition to visiting a number of the city’s highlight attractions, guests may choose to learn about places to eat, shop, and experience the city like a local.
5. Private Food and Beer Tour
Helsinki’s food and beer scenes are often described as vibrant, trendy, and unique. There’s no better way to experience them from street level than by participating in a private guided tour.
A knowledgeable and experienced guide will lead the way as you sample local produce, traditional dishes, and tasty beers featuring a variety of flavor profiles.
Stops include a brewery, restaurants, and cafés. In addition to making your taste buds happy, you’ll learn about the city’s history and culture.
Each tour can be customized to fit the needs and interests of guests, so contact the operator before booking.
6. Hop-On Hop-Off 48-Hour Ticket
For harried travelers who prefer flying by the seat of their pants to long stretches with rigid tours, hop-on-hop-off bus tours are great choices.
Tickets for this Helsinki tour are good for 48 hours from the time of purchase and include nearly 20 stops at some of the capital city’s most important and often-visited attractions.
The Olympic Terminal built in the ‘50s, Compass Square, the Ateneum Art Museum, and Hietalahti Flea Market are among the most popular attractions.
Guests are free to explore the things that interest them at their own pace and skip the things that don’t entirely.
7. Small Group Walking Tour
Looking for a more intimate experience than you’d get with a large tour?
Prefer walking to riding in a cramped minivan?
If so, this small group, three-hour Helsinki tour deserves a coveted spot on your itinerary.
You’ll see an abundance of city landmarks and learn about the area’s history, culture, customs, and food.
The city is particularly well-known for its majestic cathedrals, stunning architecture, and contemporary design, all of which are represented on the tour.
You’ll also see amazing views of the Baltic Sea and have the option of setting out at either 10:00 am or 2:00 pm.
Tours are limited to ten guests.
8. 5-Hour Helsinki and Suomenlinna Sightseeing Tour
Helsinki has a lot going for it.
It’s full of friendly people, impressive historical attractions, chic food and art scenes, and some of the region’s most stunning natural beauty.
This value-packed five-hour sightseeing tour includes visits to many of the capital city’s premier sites, like the Upenski Orthodox Cathedral, the Jean Sibelius Monument, and the Olympic Stadium that hosted the summer games in 1952.
The coastal fortress at Suomenlinna is another of the tour’s historical highlights, and pretty much everything is included in the cost, like an English speaking guide, hotel pick-up, transportation by both coach and ferry, and all applicable taxes too.
9. Helsinki Highlights and Porvoo Old Town Shore Excursion
Getting around on your own in downtown Helsinki is relatively easy, but for those who want to distance themselves from the urban setting and explore the countryside, it’s best to hook-up with a tour.
This shore excursion was designed with cruise ship passengers in mind and includes portions both in and out of the city.
You’ll see all the city’s centerpieces listed in the tours above, but will also leave the city skyline in your wake as you head out to explore more rural attractions too.
The quaint town of Porvoo and its interesting Rock Church are ever-popular and particularly photogenic.
10. Half-Day Nuuksio National Park Tour
Finland is dotted with amazing National Parks. As luck would have it, many of them are less than an hour away from the capital city of Helsinki.
Nuuksio National Park is known for its idyllic and undisturbed forests that are home to a number of unique animals, and even a few endangered species.
Tours begin and end in downtown Helsinki and include round-trip transportation, the services of an English speaking guide, and relatively easy walks through the park’s most scenic areas.
Guests will have time to ask questions, take photos, and relax with a cold drink or a light snack before making the drive back to town.
11. Highlights and Hidden Gems Walking Tour
After a long international flight or being confined on a cramped cruise ship, it might be a good idea to kill two birds with one stone by getting an overview of Helsinki while stretching your legs at the same time.
This highlights and hidden gems tour is self-guided; when payment is made, you’ll receive an email with all the information you need to make the most of your limited time.
It’s an interactive experience, making it an excellent fit for those traveling with kids in need of engaging and entertaining activities.
Along the way, you’ll solve riddles via the phone app that’ll lead you to your next site.
12. Sipoonkorpi National Park Half-Day Trail Tour
From Helsinki’s city center, Sipoonkorpi National Park is just slightly more than 20 kilometers away.
It’s a popular day-trip destination for those who long to see the country and breathe the fresh Finnish air.
The park is most well-known for large tracts of towering pine trees, unique geological formations, primordial bogs, and abundant lakes.
This tour includes the services of a guide, who’ll lead guests on a hike that lasts approximately three hours. Along the way, you’ll hear tales of forest lore and local history and culture as well.
Consult with the tour provider about physical fitness and age requirements before booking.
13. Redrib Archipelago Fast Boat Experience
The waters of the Baltic Sea around Helsinki are dotted with tens of thousands of islands that are amazing places to explore by boat with a guide.
The island chain is called the Redrib Archipelago and is best reached quickly by speedy powerboat.
The wind often howls off the coast, creating rough conditions, but since safety is the utmost concern, all guests get full-body suits, life jackets, and speed-rated goggles to ensure a safe and exhilarating time.
Tours include narration, a light lunch, and a trip to a traditional Finnish sauna before rocketing back to the city after four hours.
14. Winter Archipelago Excursion
For lovers of the great outdoors, Finland offers a variety of year-round outdoor recreation activities.
When winter descends on the northern country, its natural wonders are often awash in snow and ice, making for amazingly breathtaking views.
This half-day, four and a half-hour excursion takes hearty guests to the Porkkala Peninsula, where they’ll walk among pristine forests. With a little luck, you’ll see a variety of animal species, including fox, moose, and birds of all stripes.
Tours are limited to eight participants and include abundant photo ops, hikes appropriate for most ages, and lunch and coffee by a campfire overlooking the sea.
15. Tallinn Day Cruise from Helsinki
Though it makes for a long day 12-hour day, visiting the Estonian Capital of Tallinn from Helsinki is a popular excursion.
After being picked up from their city center hotels, guests will board a ferry and set out across the Gulf of Finland.
Upon arrival, it’ll be time to explore the city’s preeminent attractions, like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Old Town area, and the waterfront.
Guests will have both guided and free exploration time before the comfortable ride back to Finland.
Ferries include in and outdoor seating, heating, and air conditioning, and onboard dining options as well.