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.