Multi-Day Tour | Independent, Locally Hosted, Private

Essential Finland (8 days)

Exeter International

Helsinki, Finland To Helsinki, Finland

Valid for Departures Now Through: 31 Dec 2019


Day 1
Helsinki, Finland
None None

Arrival into Helsinki, where you will be met by your private driver just outside baggage claim and transferred to your hotel.

Originally founded by the Swedish king as a commercial rival to Tallinn (on the other side of the Baltic Sea), Helsinki has grown into a beautiful and cosmopolitan capital of more than 500,000 inhabitants.  The city retains a small-town feel; there are no high-rise buildings and the market square is still surrounded by 19th-century architecture. Its green parks and waterways, fresh sea winds with seagulls flying over the busy market square, and many open-air cafes make it a perfect summer destination.

Enjoy your afternoon at leisure.

Day 2
Helsinki, Finland
Hotel Kamp Breakfast

This morning your guide will meet you for a city overview tour. Your guide will show you Senate Square which was established when Helsinki became the capitol of Finland in 1812.  The square represents the political, religious and scientific aspects of the city as it is flanked by the Lutheran church, the Government palace and the University of Helsinki.

You will also see the amazing underground stone church Tempelliaukkio. Built in 1969, the 80 foot ceiling is covered with copper stripping which creates fantastic acoustics.

Continue onto the Sibelius Monument built in memory of Finland’s national composer Jean Sibelius. The monument is constructed of hundreds of hollow steel pipes. The pipes are united in a wave like pattern to represent the waves of music.

Your guide will also show you the embassy district which features historical homes and villas set in rolling green hills.  The drive will then lead to the beach area where many locals frequent for a relaxing afternoon.  Beautiful views unto the neighboring islands can be seen here.

We recommend you take your time at the famous fish market known as the Kauppatori for a glimpse of local life.  In summer, you can watch people selling salmon and potatoes from their boats, snack on a bag of fresh strawberries or cherries, or buy a warm fur hat or wooden toy.  

From Market Square, you may want to catch one of the sightseeing cruises around the islands of Helsinki (cruise lasts about 1 or 1 1⁄2 hours.)  You can enjoy the beauty of sunlight sparkling on the water as you cruise through the archipelago. (Please note, this sightseeing cruise is not pre-paid and is an optional excursion.  Please advise your guide if you wish to make arrangements.)

Children Interest: Or, you may want to take a paddle wheeler or waterbus to the Helsinki Zoo.  Helsinki's zoo is one of the northernmost zoos in the world located on Korkeasaari Island.  Established in 1889, the zoo has animals from Finland and around the world housed in large natural enclosures. Renowned for its success in breeding snow leopards, the zoo also specializes in snowy owls and bearded golden vultures.

From Market Square you can also take the ferry to Suomenlinna; The greatest sea fortress of the Swedish empire.  Located on a tight cluster of islands just south of Helsinki, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The fortress was founded in 1748 to protect the empire against Russian attack. It later fell to the Russians and remained under their control until Finland gained independence in 1917.  Here the interesting museums will take you back to the military and maritime history of the fortress, complete with old bunkers, cannons and model ships.  

Another option is to spend the remainder of your day at the Seurasaari open-air Museum, where you will step back in time to 18th and 19th century rural Finland.  This is a great way to get a glimpse of the traditional way of life in the Finnish countryside, while staying in the heart of the capital city. The museum, situated on a lovely green island accessed from the mainland via a footbridge, consists of a collection of cottages, farmsteads, parsonages, rural churches, manor houses and other old buildings, all preserved and relocated from their original sites around the provinces of Finland.  

Day 3
Helsinki, Finland
Hotel Kamp Breakfast

This morning, your guide will meet you at 10:00 AM to take you to the Presidential Palace. It was originally designed as the home of a wealthy merchant, before being converted to the Tsar’s Helsinki residence by C.L. Engel. Today it is the official residence of the President of Helsinki. Note: Available on Wednesday and Saturday only. The Office of the President of the Republic of Finland reserves the right to cancel bookings already confirmed without warning for official or other reasons.

Continue to the Sea Fortress of Suomenlinna, which gives you an overview of several centuries of Finnish history under Swedish and Russian rule and then as an independent state. The tour also includes a visit to one of the museums on the island. Suomenlinna, which celebrated its 250th anniversary in 1998, is on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.

This afternoon, your guide will take you just a little outside Helsinki to Hvitträsk. Hvitträsk is an outstanding example of Jugendstil, the German and Scandinavian variant of Art Nouveau. It was built of logs and natural stone in 1903 to serve as the studio of the architects Saarinen, Gesellius and Lindgren and the home of Eliel Saarinen. It stands in a forest setting on a hill overlooking a beautiful lake.

Return to Helsinki and evening at your leisure.

Day 4
Helsinki, Finland
Hotel Kamp Breakfast

This morning, your guide will meet you at 10:00 AM to take you to Porvoo, on the outskirts of Helsinki.

Historical Porvoo is a charming little town with well-preserved wooden houses. The tour includes the medieval cathedral, Town Hall Square, the home museum of Finnish national poet J. L. Runeberg, delightful little shops and craftspersons' workshops.  

Lunch in the old town or at the Haikko Manor, which is a delightful combination of history, splendours and nostalgia in a beautiful rural setting. (Cost of lunch is not included).

Return to Helsinki and afternoon at your leisure.

Day 5
Helsinki, Finland
Hotel Kamp Breakfast

This morning your guide will take you to Riihimäki, which is famous for its blown glass craftsmen. Finnish glass design and art glass are known all over the world. The basic exhibition covers the history and development of glass design. A fine collection of pieces designed by such masters as Alvar Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva.  

After the guided tour at the museum, a chance to see one of a present-day master at work in his studio. Time for shopping. Lunch in a local restaurant. (Cost of lunch is not included).

Return to Helsinki and afternoon at your leisure.

Day 6
Helsinki, Finland
Hotel Kamp Breakfast

This morning, your guide will take you to the design district which is a great place to learn about Finnish design. The district features over two hundred design based businesses including shops galleries, restaurants and hotels. Here you will also find the Design Museum, the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Design Forum Finland.

The Amos Anderson Art Museum in Helsinki city centre is one of the largest private art collections in Finland. The museum is housed in Amon Andersen’s former home. Anderson was a generous patron of the arts and culture in HelsinkiThe Amos Anderson Art Museum specializes in 20th century Finnish art. In its acquisitions it focuses on contemporary art. Some of the works from earlier periods, such as those exhibited in the chapel, were originally part of Amos Anderson's own private collection.

Day 7
Helsinki, Finland
Hotel Kamp Breakfast

This morning, your guide will take you to visit Kiasma, one of the most unique and extensive museum projects to be created.

Kiasma is an ensemble in continuous movement where performances and projects live, overlap and intertwine at different speeds. Collections and large-scale exhibitions are showcased for a longer period of time while the shorter life-spans of smaller exhibitions and theatre pieces attest to a more rapid cycle.  

This afternoon, we recommend a visit to the Ateneum, a collaboration of artists and craftsmen, that was conceived by Professor Carl Gustaf Estlander. While initially met with hesitation from both artists and craftsmen alike, but has since come together and flourished successfully in a uniquely creative synthesis.

Day 8
Helsinki, Finland
None Breakfast

This morning, you will be privately transferred to the airport for your onward flight home.

Tour Features


Experiences have not been selected at this time


A sample itinerary for FIT touring of Helsinki and its surrounding areas.

About Us

For 25 years, Exeter International has built their reputation for meticulous planning, personalized service and unparalleled destination knowledge through our collaboration with fellow Virtuoso members and clients. We are the best of both worlds between a traditional tour operator and DMC. You have the convenience of working with our passionate team of U.S based travel managers, while your clients experience the best of each country in our sphere of expertise, including top guides, seamless (cross-border) operations and 24-hour support throughout your clients' trip.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Advisor for more information.

Terms & Conditions

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The trademarks VIRTUOSO, the Globe Swirl Logo and SPECIALISTS IN THE ART OF TRAVEL are registered trademarks of Virtuoso, Ltd. Virtuoso, Ltd. has a U.S. copyright registration for the Globe Swirl Logo, ©2000. All rights reserved. Virtuoso CST#2069091-50. California CST# 2069091; TA# 808 - Registered Iowa Travel Agency; Washington UBI # 601 554 183. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.
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Reviews and Recommendations for Exeter International


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Highly recomended

By: KandeeB

Reviewed on: 06 Jun 2013

Exeter International was staffed with first class personnel from the drivers to the EXTRAORDINARY guides through out the trip. The vehicles used to transport us were luxurious. The hotels were commensurate with the level of quality expected by the cost and located in the most advantageous sites. Totally organized and stress free experience.
Travel Advisor:  Brigitte Feinberg
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Great high-end travel company

By: Not provided

Reviewed on: 23 Aug 2013

Does superb job for demanding high-end travel Customized travel with excellent guides and programs. You pay but you get what you pay for.
Travel Advisor:  Leah Bergner
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Highly recommend

By: Jean

Reviewed on: 01 Oct 2013

Exeter was very well organised with very good guides and drivers. Our requests were responded to with professional speed. Some of our hotels could have been better. But we understand that they were the best available. We would have no hesitation using this agency again and recommending them to others.
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Yale
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Pampered Travel

By: KandeeB

Reviewed on: 07 Nov 2013

Exeter provides luxury travel with all the hassles and worries removed. The quality of their drivers and guides is first rate. From the minute you arrive until your final departure you are in excellent hands. The itinerary is well thought out and provides many special visitations not offered to other tourists. I have heartily recommended Exeter to several people without any reservation.
Travel Advisor:  Brigitte Feinberg


By: Jean

Reviewed on: 13 Jun 2014

We have used Exeter on a prior trip and were equally happy with them this time. We did have a Russian Visa situation which could have been serious, but was resolved quickly.The guide spoke very good English and was knowledgable in history and art along with the local architecture. The driver was also very safe in a chaotic traffic system.
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Yale

highly recommend

By: BB

Reviewed on: 22 Jun 2014

Travel Advisor:  Rochelle Lieberman

Highly recommended

By: Mkt123

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2014

We were connected with local English speaking guides and drivers that gave us an inside view of each country we traveled to. The experience was priceless.
Travel Advisor:  Martha Rhodes

Oustanding Guides

By: J & W

Reviewed on: 15 Oct 2014

All of the services provided by Exeter were truly outstanding. The hotel accommodations were excellent. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and well organized. The drivers were prompt and courteous. The suggestions for restaurants and additional things to do and see were very good. The printed booklet of helpful hints and language support was a nice bit of support for travelers who are visiting countries for the first time.
Travel Advisor:  Sara Krutsinger

Across the Russian Far East

By: Judee 544

Reviewed on: 30 Aug 2015

Everything was perfectly planned and resulted in a wonderfully exciting trip with all of our interests and needs taken into account. going on such an adventurous and challenging trip, so far away when one is no longer young could have been quite difficult, but instead was nothing but a fabulous experience. Wonderful guides and wonderful experiences on the Trans-Siberian Express and the cities of the Russian Far East, and a lovely hotel at the end in Moscow.
Travel Advisor:  Vivian Rubenstein

Excellent Russian Trip

By: Roger

Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2016

Exeter provided all of our guides and support for a 9 day family trip to Russia - very well informed, personable guides and smooth transportation. We were a bit hesitant to go to Russia but highly recommend - the trip of a lifetime !
Travel Advisor:  Tony Huffman
Not Recommended


By: TheGrapevine

Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2017

Take out trip insurance - not going to bash - but you get the idea.....
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1st Class

By: Carlos Gavidia

Reviewed on: 08 Mar 2017

From the beginning to the end this organization really surprised me! From getting our travel visas for Moscow to every detail of the tour pick up transfers and tours through the city were perfectly executed
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Yale



Reviewed on: 14 May 2017

Exeter was excellent with tour logistics and great guide. Seamless trip.
Travel Advisor:  Britt Gerber

Great planning and service

By: WWII And Cold War History

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2017

Exeter planned an excellent two week trip for me and my three teenagers. We went to Poland, Germany and Amsterdam. We focused on WWII and Cold War history. The plan was thoughtful and well paced. When I had questions Exeter staff responded promptly. A very good experience.
Travel Advisor:  Josh Friedman

St. Petersburg Tour

By: B Snead

Reviewed on: 18 Jul 2017

Our driver and guide could not have been better. Polite and accommodating for the three days we were in St. Petersburg. We saw a lot of attractions, got some behind the scenes tours and were able to access some sights prior to the general public. I would use Exeter again without hesitation!
Travel Advisor:  Deborah Barth


By: Hodges

Reviewed on: 17 Jul 2017

Exceeded all expectation. Super cost effective to compared to Oceania.
Travel Advisor:  Deborah Barth

Germany & Russia

By: Oz

Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2017

I strongley reccomend Exeter for shore excursions. Their staff and vehicles were first class, and the value was tremendous. We never felt uncomfortable or worried about being back to the ship on time. True professionals.
Travel Advisor:  Deborah Barth

Great tour

By: mt

Reviewed on: 25 Aug 2017

Knowledgable, efficient and friendly tour operators!

Baltic Cruise

By: Roger

Reviewed on: 17 Sep 2017

Fantastic tour service. Their guides and drivers were outstanding. Guides all had an excellent knowledge of the city and the history. We are very pleased that Ralph recommended Exeter. When comparing notes with others that had used the tours supplied by the ship, we learned that we had seen and accomplished much more than they had. Our guides were able to make special arrangements that others could not. Will always use Exeter when it is available
Travel Advisor:  Ralph Iantosca

Great tour

By: Ann

Reviewed on: 26 Sep 2017

Everything was wonderful. Very nice guide and well informed about the places we visited.

Exeter International

By: Goodwitch

Reviewed on: 02 Oct 2017

All guides were great and expedited airport service was fantastic
Travel Advisor:  Joanne Smith

St Petersburg

By: Swan

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2017

Absolutely fabulous
Travel Advisor:  Sherrie Coffey

Custom Guided Tour

By: JJ

Reviewed on: 18 Dec 2017

The tour guides and drivers were outstanding plus. They were very personable, always early, and their local knowledge was excellent. All of them were eager to please and all adapted to the changing crowd situation caused by weather, national holiday, or political meeting.
Travel Advisor:  Eleanor Hardy

Well run independent travel to Russia

By: Susan and Murray Morrison

Reviewed on: 18 Jun 2018

From getting visas for us to planning a private visit to Russia for us, Exeter International was top notch. No detail was overlooked. The guides that Exeter provided were outstanding, spoke fluent English, had a good grasp of Russian history and were willing to accommodate our every interest. The guides were truly experts about their cities: museums, palaces, and surroundings. In addition, the guides were friendly and helpful. Exeter ran a well organized, well thought-out tour of Russia for the two of us.
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Yale

Family time and fun

By: Jane

Reviewed on: 27 Jul 2018

My experience with Exeter was positive. The drivers were on time and very courteous. There was water in the cars for us. They had information to offer as we drove to destinations. They were accommodating to our schedules and were very helpful if we had questions. We missed walking around the interior of a famous church due to the day the tour was scheduled. There were services going on and we could not enter. Another tour was partly taken up by a long walking tour to get to a castle. I would have rather spent time inside the castle. We had to exit with the guide and missed a lot of interesting things. Too bad we were not allowed to stay inside on our own to see more.
Travel Advisor:  Stephanie Miller Murphy

less common places tour

By: ssunsfanatic

Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2018

good tour to less visited places in Bergen. We had been to the more common tourist sites.
Travel Advisor:  Leah Bergner

Central Europe

By: Tour of Central Europe and QM2 to NYC

Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2018

Vienna, Prague, Krakow, Berlin, Hamburg. Wonderful hotels, wonderful guides, wonderful restaurants. Not one single mistake or hiccup. Exeter does an outstanding job.
Travel Advisor:  Brigitte Feinberg

St. Petersburg

By: SandStar

Reviewed on: 06 Aug 2018

We had a wonderful trip. Hotel was excellent. They were able to accommodate our special requests and schedule. We highly recommend the local guide, Anya, who was extremely knowledgeable about local and Russian history.
Travel Advisor:  Linda Zelisko

Exeter tour guides

By: smcknight

Reviewed on: 06 Aug 2018

We had basically positive experiences both days we toured with Exeter guides. The first day there was a little too much emphasis placed on taking us to "gift shops" and expecting us to buy tourist trinkets. The heat and the crowds may have been easier to bare if we had gone to the Hermitage in the early morning instead of wasting 45-50 minutes in a trinket shop. The second guide was very professional and led us seamlessly through Catherine's palace and the palaces on the canal in St. Petersburg.
Travel Advisor:  Joanne Meyer

Every detail was perfect!

By: Beth

Reviewed on: 31 Aug 2018

Exeter was a joy to work with. Our drivers and tour guides were helpful, friendly, and very knowledgeable. I traveled with my 13-year-old daughter, and our tours were uniquely tailored to interest her. I had heard horror stories about obtaining Russian visas. Not for us! Exeter took care of everything, and quickly. I loved the custom packet that they sent me in advance of the trip. It listed our itinerary in detail, helpful phone numbers, restaurant recommendations, and travel tips that were specific for our destinations. I would enthusiastically recommend Exeter for travel planning.
Travel Advisor:  Andre Koester

St. Petersburg tour

By: Rocky Mountain Flier

Reviewed on: 31 Aug 2018

Becky recommended Exeter International for my party of four. We all agreed after two full days of touring with our guide and driver that we would not have wanted to see St. Petersburg any other way. Our guide was excellent and very informed and we liked the driver too. We were able to avoid the long lines and were admitted to areas of the palaces that other visitors would never have the opportunity to see. We invited her to join us for lunch on both days whereby we learned even more about St. Petersburg.
Travel Advisor:  Becky Sullivan

Exeter/Norwegian Tour

By: Lien

Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2018

Exeter (Jody Ricottone) coordinated my recent sole tour of Norway. This involved guides in three cities, hotels in those cities and in two fjordside locations, trains and ferry, rental car and other transfer arrangements. I was very pleased with everything, including that Jody paid close attention to what I wanted and was responsive to my requests. Her recommendations and examples of somewhat similar sole tours really assisted me in my planning. The entire trip went off without a scheduling hitch, and introduced me, as I had wished, to Norwegian sites and experiences I never would have seen or had without Jody's good work.
Travel Advisor:  Wanda Worsley

Russia St. Petersburg

By: Jay Johnson

Reviewed on: 07 Oct 2018

The guide and driver were both wonderful and full of knowledge and professionalism. I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone. They also had great suggestions for lunch venues, during our stay in and about St. Petersburg.
Travel Advisor:  Jay Johnson

Russia Private Tour

By: Susan

Reviewed on: 01 Oct 2018

We engaged Exeter to provide a private tour in St Petersburg, Russia. Exeter was outstanding!! We had a guide, Anya Smirnova, and driver for 3 days and it was a fabulous experience. Anya spoke perfect English and was able to relate the sites we saw to Russian history and culture in a fascinating manner. We asked her many, many questions that she readily answered. Her knowledge was extensive. We had special entry to the exhibits, bypassing the long normal entry lines. We had the flexibility to see what was of interest to us, and the ability to visit sites that the ship tours did not include. For lunch we stopped at wonderful restaurants that served authentic Russian food at reasonable prices, which was far better food than on the ship. The day at Peterhof Palace, with the extravagant fountains and grotto, was especially memorable. Our experience with Exeter was outstanding and I would highly recommend them for future private tours.

Great Tour Group

By: Tommy

Reviewed on: 07 Oct 2018

We had a four day touring experience with Exeter in Prague and both my wife and myself could not be happier. Peter, our driver met us for the transfer from our ship to Prague right on time and throughout our tour. He was extremely professional and made sure we were where we needed to be and was always pleasant. We felt very comfortable while being driven. Lucie, our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable in all areas that we visited and made sure we got to see everything we were supposed to see and more. She worked things out while we were with her to ensure things went like clockwork and we were not disappointed. I can't say enough how using Exexter made our time in Prague a wonderful experience and I would not hesistate using them again.
Travel Advisor:  Ourisman Travel


By: Sharon

Reviewed on: 25 Oct 2018

The quality of the tours and the guides was great. Some of the guides were exceptional. The tours were informative and we enjoyed them very much.
Travel Advisor:  Joanne Smith

russian guides

By: Toni

Reviewed on: 29 Oct 2018

Exeter was all you could ask for. We were always met on time and the guides were terrific.
Travel Advisor:  Jamo Ladd