15 Best Day Trips from Helsinki

Since the early 1800s, charming Helsinki, the capital of Finland, has been designed by Russians to look a bit like a miniature St. Petersburg.

Filled with stunning architecture, the city blends the feel of a lively metropolis with a small-town vibe.

As one of the northernmost capital cities in the world, Helsinki’s coastal location means winters can be unusually cold and dark, while summer days are long and sunny.

During the warmer months, the city beaches attract huge crowds, and there are many gorgeous churches, beautiful parks, and interesting museums to visit throughout the year.

Top landmarks include Central Station, Finland Hall, Olympic Stadium and Tower, Sibelius Monument and Parliament Building.

Rejuvenate in a traditional sauna, enjoy family fun at water and theme parks, explore bustling markets and sample Finnish cuisine.

Looking to expand your adventure? There are also plenty of great day trip options – here are 15 of the best.

1. Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna Fortress

The Suomenlinna sea fortress is often referred to as the “Gibraltar of the North” and is one of Helsinki’s main attractions.

Built by the Swedes in the mid-18th century, it was the most powerful sea fort in the entire Baltic region.

Return to the UNESCO World Heritage Site as you walk around the defensive walls, admire Russian churches, peek into old military camps, take pictures of monuments and memorials, learn more at museums, and see what is still striking of old cannons.

There are places to eat, drink and shop on the island, and the ferry takes about 15 minutes.

Recommended Itinerary: 5-Hour Sightseeing Tour of Helsinki and Suomenlinna

2. Rabin Lahti Hospital

Lapin Lahti Hospital

If you’re looking for an unusual spot in Helsinki, it’s hard to beat Finland’s oldest mental hospital, the creepy Lapin Lahti Hospital.

Although the hospital has not been fully operational since 2008, it is still a place where people can relax and soothe their souls.

Once home to people with various mental illnesses, you’ll learn many fascinating stories from the hospital’s past.

Imagine what’s going on inside the walls, enjoy strolling through the beautiful gardens, and take part in a variety of workshops and events.

3. Porvoo

Porvoo, Finland

Travel back in time to the Middle Ages on a day trip from Helsinki to quaint Porvoo.

About 35 miles from the capital, this 14th-century city was once home to royalty and creatives.

See the historic wooden buildings that line the cobblestone streets and cling to the hillside, visit the Porvoo Museum and Porvoo Cathedral, and stroll along the scenic river or kayak on the water.

You’ll find a variety of quaint shops around the old port in a picturesque setting.

Old big rocks and fragrant pine trees add to the charm.

Suggested Tour: Porvoo: Guided Tour of Helsinki

4. Sipoonkorpi National Park

Sipoonkorpi National Park

Sipoonkorpi National Park is a popular day trip from Helsinki, especially for outdoor enthusiasts.

The forest is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, hiding the cool rock formations formed by melting ice age glaciers.

These rock wonders are often referred to as “trolls”. The terrain also includes marshes, lakes, idyllic lands and marshes, and you’ll find a variety of flora and fauna as you hike through the beautiful national park.

Guided Tour: Half-Day Hike in Sipoonkorpi National Park: Troll Trail

5. Nuuksio National Park

Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Another natural gem that is easily accessible from Helsinki, Nuuksio National Park is one of the most popular outdoor playgrounds in Finland.

Just an hour and a half from the capital, the natural environment seems very different from the hustle and bustle of the city.

With towering trees, sparkling lakes and mossy cliffs, the lush forest is home to creatures such as the Siberian flying squirrel, lynx, moose, woodfinches, foxes and European nightingales.

Available Tours: Nuuksio National Park Full-Day Hike from Helsinki

6. Pihlajasaari

Pilayasari

Pihlajasaari is one of Helsinki’s islands.

It is popular with locals, although relatively few foreign tourists visit, making it a hidden gem.

The ferry takes about 15 minutes and the two adjacent islands are connected by a bridge.

Soak up the summer sun at the beach, then head to the nude beach for a full tan.

Elegant villas are spread throughout the island and you will find saunas, restaurants, running tracks and woodlands for a comfortable and varied excursion.

7. Rutherburgh

Rutherborg Castle, Finland

In western Helsinki, visitors may be surprised to learn that the majority of Lasserburgh’s population speaks Swedish as their first language.

A must-see is the now-ruined Rutherburg Castle.

Immerse yourself in the atmosphere and learn more about past forts.

Wander the suburb of Tammisaari to admire its unusual historic buildings, and stop at Billnas to experience the former ironworks community.

If you need to relax, there are several small beaches nearby, or you can escape to a nearby national park for an outdoor adventure.

8. Kotka

Kotka, Finland

East of the Finnish capital, the drive to Kotka takes about an hour and a half.

The scenic city is located at the mouth of the Kymi River, and you can learn more about the area’s maritime history at the maritime center Vellamo.

Suomen Salpa (Salpa Line) is another interesting local attraction. Today’s museum, the fortified line of bunkers was built to defend Finland from any invasion attempts by the Soviet Union.

Russian history can also be found in the former royal fishing lodge Langinkoski.

Enjoy a few hours at Sapokka Water Park with lush gardens, bridges, ponds, sculptures, flowers, waterfalls and more.

9. Tampere

Tampere, Finland

Tampere is one of the largest cities in Finland and is also known as the cultural heart of the country.

It is only 110 miles from the capital and offers many interesting sights and activities.

Take the kids to Särkänniemi Theme Park, Duck Park and Pyynikki Park (complete with observation tower) and reconnect with your childhood at the cool Moomin Museum.

The Spy Museum offers hands-on fun and intrigue for all ages, and the city has many other interesting museums dedicated to different themes.

Pispala’s abandoned factories, Tampere Cathedral, Market Hall and Hatampa Botanical Gardens are some of the other attractions on your day trip bucket list.

10. Espoo

Espoo, Finland

Just a hop, a hop and a hop (about 14 miles) from central Helsinki, Espoo is a convenient day trip destination.

With a youthful and modern vibe, the city is home to hipsters, creatives, immigrants, students, young professionals and families.

The small islands along the coast are especially charming in summer, and there are many natural attractions outside the city.

Young and old alike can relax at the huge Serena Water Park.

Other Espoo highlights include the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, the Gallen-Carrera Museum, the five-century-old Espoo Cathedral and Espoo Central Park.

11. Pori

Raatihuoneenpuisto Park, Pori

Located on the west coast of Finland, about three hours’ drive from Helsinki, Pori is a picturesque and historic seaside city.

Founded in the 1550s, the city was once the gateway to western Finland.

However, little remains before the 1850s, as Pori has seen no less than nine devastating fires over the years.

The riverfront is lined with elegant Neo-Renaissance buildings, and famous landmarks include the Town Hall, Pori Cathedral and the Mausoleum of Sigrid Uselius.

Stroll through Viikkari and feel bohemian.

There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in nature, and the city has a vibrant night scene.

12. Hameenlinna

Hameenlinna

The medieval town of Hameenlinna is about 62 miles from Helsinki.

It’s famous for the awesome lakeside Häme Castle (also known as Tavastia Castle), where you can see the two remaining turrets and gatehouses, explore the battlements, and learn more about its history in the museum.

The Prison Museum and the Hameenlinna Art Museum are also well worth a visit, and literature lovers will love the former home of the famous Finnish writer Jean Sibelius.

Santa Croce is a lovely attraction for history buffs.

Puuhamaa offers plenty of water fun for the whole family, while Aulanko is a large and charming park.

13. Lahti

Lahti, Finland

The former industrial city of Lahti sits on the edge of Lake Vesiervi.

Gentrification and modernization projects are underway, but the city still has an edgy vibe.

Finland’s most famous symphony orchestra – Sinfonia Lahti – is from this city, and you can try buying tickets for various performances at the beautiful timber-framed Sibelius Hall.

The harbour has many charming open-air restaurants and several beautiful parks, such as the Yli-Marola 4H Farm Animal Yard and Laune Park, for you to explore.

Don’t miss the twice-daily fountain show at Vesiurut.

14. Loja

Loja, Finland

Lohja is an hour’s drive from Helsinki and has a trading history dating back to the Middle Ages.

Plenty of summer houses and elegant estates add a resort-like atmosphere to the city, and there are beautiful parks, gardens and natural attractions nearby.

Relax on Aurlahti Beach or Liessaari Beach by the lake, explore the Finnish wilderness along the Karkaliniemi Nature Trail and venture into the awe-inspiring Torhola Cave.

For something a little different, visit the underground Tytyri Mine Museum.

Feel spiritual at St. Lawrence Church and visit interesting art galleries and museums.

15. Turku

Turku, Finland

Turku was once the capital of Finland and the oldest city in the country.

Just two hours from the current capital, a day trip to Turku is like stepping back in time.

Descend into the dungeon and explore the labyrinthine rooms of the impressive Turku Castle, an impressive fortress that has been lovingly restored to reveal its former might and splendor.

The stunning cathedral is also sure to dazzle visitors.

Admire nature in the nearby Ruissalo National Park, take in the views from Kakolanmäki Peak and sunbathe on Naantali Beach.

With museums, art galleries, historical sites, restaurants and shopping hotspots, a trip to Turku is never boring.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Helsinki, Finland
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