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Helsinki tours and excursions

Helsinki tours

Walking tours

Helsinki Expert, Lönnrotinkatu 7B, offers a variety of tours around Helsinki, including a two-hour guided city walk focusing on Finnish design. You can book at the City of Helsinki Tourist Office and Hotel Booking Centre at the railway station.

Tel: (09) 2288 1222.
Website: http://www.helsinkiexpert.fi

Bus tours

Year-round sightseeing bus tours of Helsinki are available from Helsinki Expert, Lönnrotinkatu 7B. Options include a one-hour-and-a-half audio tour with a pre-recorded commentary in 12 different languages, and a one-hour-and-45-minute tour with a live commentary in English and Swedish. Extra tours run in the summer months.

Tel: (09) 2288 1222.
Website: http://www.helsinkiexpert.fi

Boat tours

Royal Line and Sun Lines offer 90-minute cruises around the islands and inlets surrounding Helsinki harbour, with food and refreshments, starting from the quayside in front of Kauppatori. With more time to spare, consider the boat trip to Suomenlinna sea fortress.

Tel: 020 711 8333 ; 020 741 8210.
Website: http://www.sunlines.fi

Helsinki excursions

Vihti

Imagine an undulating landscape peppered with hills, valleys, lakes, tranquil villages and manor houses. Less than an hour's drive from Helsinki, Vihti offers a refreshing countryside break from the city and for those looking for rustic accommodation, there is a plethora of barns, loggers' cabins and lean-to shelters to stay in. Meanwhile, there are tons of activities: horse riding, golfing, gliding, snow mobiling, canoeing, cycling, hiking and cross country skiing.

Website: http://www.vihti.fi

Hamina

Hamina's unique circular-planned town is a boon for visitors - it's impossible to get lost. At the centre lies the Town Hall, visible from every street corner. An amazing star-shaped, 18th century fortress takes centre stage however featuring six bastions named after other Finnish cities. Parts of the structure today are still used by the military, while it also hosts the Hamina Tattoo, a military music event, held bi-annually in the city. Other places of interest include wooden houses, churches and museums plus fishing villages.

Website: http://www.visithamina.fi

Porvoo

Rich in history, Porvoo's unique Old Town is less than an hour by bus from Helsinki. Framed by charming wooden houses, gardens, boutiques and cobbled streets, it is enchanting all year around. In summer, enjoy cruises in the archipelago, guided walks and plundering little markets and boutiques. Good restaurants and atmospheric cafes mean there are plenty of places to rest your feet. During the winter, the town comes alive with Christmas markets and concerts.

Website: http://www.visitporvoo.fi

Seurasaari

About 4km west of Helsinki's city centre, the peaceful island of Seurasaari is an open-air museum of traditional Finnish life. The island is dotted with 18th- and 19th-century houses and wooden farm buildings, relocated to Seurasaari from around the country, alongside the wooden Karuna Church, constructed in 1686. Guides in period costume demonstrate traditional crafts and folk dances, but the museum has been open for more than a century, and the experience is informative and actually rather charming. A bridge links the island to the mainland, and bus 24 and tram 4 run here from Erottaja.

Tel: 4012 86374.
Website: http://www.nba.fi/en/seurasaari_openairmuseum

Featured Hotels

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CheapSleep Helsinki

This hostel does what it says on the tin, offering affordable accommodation in a notoriously expensive city. The humorous tagline of its website sums it up: "Sleep cheap, stay rich". With 10 private rooms and 118 dorm beds, take your pick from this modern, comfortable and clean hostel, which benefitted from a refurb in 2012. There's free Wi-Fi throughout, a supermarket on the ground floor, kitchen, 24-hour reception and free lockers.

Crowne Plaza

The 349-room Crowne Plaza benefits from an excellent location opposite the Finnish National Opera on Mannerheimintie close to most of the attractions in Helsinki. The hotel offers wireless internet access in all areas. Creature comforts include saunas a spa and pool and a restaurant and bar.

Holiday Inn Helsinki City Centre

The thoroughly modern Holiday Inn in Helsinki benefits from an excellent location in the centre of Helsinki, next to the train station, the terminus for buses from the airport and the new music centre. There are 174 rooms and suites with modern amenities, plus a restaurant and lobby bar. There's also a gym and a kids play area.

Hilton Helsinki Strand

Just north of the centre, in the Hakaniemi district, the Hilton Helsinki Strand makes the most of the water views from its rooms, restaurant and rooftop sauna, pool and gym complex. The 192 rooms have every convenience, including wireless internet access, and the Helsinki hotel offers excellent services for families, including a babysitting service. The hotel is less than a mile from shops and entertainment areas in the city.

Hotel Kämp

Founded in 1887, the Hotel Kämp has attracted high fliers for more than a century, and its public areas swim with period charm. Restored throughout, the Helsinki hotel offers 179 spacious rooms with luxurious amenities and high-quality dining at the elegant Kämp Café Brasserie & Bar and Yume, which serves innovative Japanese/Scandinavian fusion cuisine. Other facilities include a gym, spa, sauna suite and a stylish bar and nightclub. The hotel has five meeting and conference rooms, plus the flamboyant Mirror Room, with banqueting space for 120.

Hotel Helka

Housed in a building designed by architect Wivi Lönn in 1928 and furnished with furniture designed by Alvar Alto, this inexpensive and comfortable Helsinki hotel also scores points for its convenient location, just west of the centre. Refurbished throughout in 2006, Hotel Helka has 150 rooms, sauna facilities, a restaurant and bar. Limited parking spaces are available.