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Things to do in Helsinki

Hiking and cycling

Nuuksio National Park (www.nationalparks.fi/nuuksionp) is a rolling terrain of lakes and forests just north west of Helsinki, and makes a fabulous place to go trekking or biking. The 4km-long (2 miles) Haukankierros Trail gives a good introduction to the park, and climbs over high rocks, affording great views towards Haukkalampi and Brook Myllypuro valley.

Join a nation of swimmers

Helsinki is renowned for its swimming halls: Mäkelänrinne Swimming Centre (www.urheiluhallit.fi/eng/makelanrinne.html) is the largest in the country, whilst Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall (www.helsinkicard.com/attraction/yrjonkatu-swimming-hall) is Finland's oldest indoor public pool and offers the atmosphere of a Roman bath. If you're brave/mad enough, Kuusijärvi Recreation Centre (www.cafekuusijarvi.fi/english/) offers ice swimming in winter.

Saunas

There's little so Finnish as stripping off and sweating up in a sauna: to immerse yourself in this local tradition, head to Sauna Arla (tel: +358 09 719 218; www.arlansauna.net) or the Kotiharju sauna (tel: +358 09 753 1535; www.kotiharjunsauna.fi). The latter is oldest public wood sauna in the city and the perfect location for this distinctly Finnish experience.

Take it to church… underground

Whether or not you're religious, a trip to Temppeliaukion kirkko (church) is a must for anyone with an affinity for unique architecture. With its domed roof propped up by a circular wall of hewn stone and vast glimmering indoor skylight, its somewhere between church, farmhouse and extraterrestrial landing base.

Take the mic in a karaoke bar

Finnish people are second only to the Japanese in their ardent love for a night spent wailing their troubles away in a karaoke bar, and you shouldn't leave town without at least one shared rendition of 'You Can Call Me Al'. Check out Karaoke Bar Pataässä (tel: +358 09 626 076; www.karaokebar.net/pataassa) or Anna K (+358 09 676 128; www.karaokebar.net/annak).

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