Have you already seen Helsinki’s best-known sights – such as Linnanmäki, Korkeasaari and Ateneum? Do you wish you could take a detour from the standard tourism experience and do something different, new and exciting? We can help. Below you can find 10 locations in Helsinki that most won’t get to see. There are some lesser-known museums, a large allotment garden, Finland’s oldest swimming hall, a small observatory, and a fascinating submarine.

    These locations are not featured on fast-paced tourist tours, so there’s little chance of having to dodge the crowds. Read about these options now and get ready for surprises – did you know there’s a real live ghost town in Helsinki, for example? And to make your discoveries as easy as possible, these introductions also tell how to reach the locations from the centre of Helsinki.


    Alvar Aalto’s Home (Alvar Aallon kotitalo)

    See the great architect’s house and atelier at Munkkiniemi

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    Interested in history and architecture? You should visit Alvar Aalto’s house (Alvar Aallon kotitalo) at Munkkiniemi. It was built in 1936 to serve as the home and office of architect couple Alvar and Aino Aalto. The façade of the house is extremely minimalistic, almost bare. The atmosphere is much warmer, however, and there are a vast number of objects and details to admire, such as Alvar Aalto’s old grand piano. Almost all the other furnishings were designed by Aalto himself, so you can see what uses Aalto planned for what he designed.

    Near the home is the architect’s atelier, finished in 1955. Both locations are only available for visitors as a part of a guided tour, however. You can easily find the tour schedules and instructions for booking a ticket online. From the centre of Helsinki, the easiest way to Alvar Aalto’s house is by bicycle or Tram 4. The nearest tram exit is at the Laajalahti Square, only 300 metres from your destination.

    Locatie: Riihitie 20, 00330 Helsinki, Finland

    Openingstijden: The only way to see the house is as a part of a guided tour. The tour schedules vary. You can check the times for your visit on the location’s website.

    Telefoonnummer: +358 (0) 9 481 350


    foto door Hezzu (CC BY-SA 4.0) bewerkt



    A historical presidential villa on the shores of Meilahti

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    The Tamminiemi villa, built in the Art Nouveau style Finns love, was a particular favourite of the beloved long-time president Urho Kekkonen. It’s only a short bicycle trip from the centre of Helsinki. Wartime presidents Risto Ryti and C.G.E. Mannerheim also lived there, though compared to Kekkonen, their stays were quite a bit shorter. This is a great location for those interested in Finland’s history: each room in the house has a story to tell. The Tamminiemi sauna, on the seashore, has a downright legendary reputation – hard as it might be to believe today, in the 1960s and the 1970s, this sauna was basically where everything important in Finland was decided!

    The easiest way to Tamminiemi from the centre of Helsinki is to take a city bike or Bus 24. If the weather is fine, you can also stop at nearby Seurasaari on the same trip. And here’s a tip if you want to save a bit of money: while Tamminiemi tickets are hardly expensive, if you want free entrance, get there on Helsinki Day (12 June) or on president Kekkonen’s birthday (3 September).

    Locatie: Seurasaarentie 15, 00250 Helsinki, Finland

    Openingstijden: Opening hours vary.

    Telefoonnummer: +358 (0) 295 33 6921


    foto door Jukka (CC BY 2.0) bewerkt


    The Bank of Finland Museum (Suomen pankin rahamuseo)

    Fascinating free-of-charge museum of money at the foot of the Helsinki Cathedral

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    For those interested in currencies and Finnish economic history, the Bank of Finland Museum (Suomen pankin rahamuseo) on Senaatintori is a must-visit location. The Museum’s main exhibition showcases both in great detail. As one might expect, the exhibition features a large number of metal and paper currencies used in Finland at different times. Or you might check the annually changing side exhibit – some of the recent ones have featured counterfeit money and the worst crisis years at the Bank of Finland. The exhibits aren’t the only thing the museum organises – there are also a variety of events. You can follow them on the Museum’s webpage.

    The museum is located at the foot of the Helsinki Cathedral. The way inside is through Snellmanninkatu street, going past the church on the right side. If you’re at the Helsinki Central Station or Kamppi Shopping Centre, the easiest way to get to the museum is simply by walking there. If the weather is lousy, you can take Tram 7, for example. Entrance to the museum is free of charge.

    Locatie: Snellmaninkatu 2, 00170 Helsinki, Finland

    Openingstijden: Tuesday–Friday from 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +358 (0) 9 183 2981


    Vallila Allotment Garden (Vallilan siirtolapuutarha)

    A beautiful allotment garden and mini museum in the district of Vallila in Helsinki

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    Vallila Allotment Garden (Vallilan siirtolapuutarha), to the north of downtown Helsinki, offers much to see from spring to autumn. The garden is divided into 174 small allotments, and everyone renting one of the lots maintains it in their own way. The small roads and paths running between the allotments allow you to see everything except the interiors of the small allotment cottages. However, at Mansikkapolku, you can see one of the cottages, converted into a museum and still furnished in full 1930s decor. It’s open on summer Sundays.

    Specific regulations on the appearance of the other cottages helps in preserving the idyllic nature of the garden. The best way to get to Vallila Allotment Garden from other parts of Helsinki is to take a city bike or Tram 6 or 8. Between 1 May and 16 September, the area is open free of charge every day from 9 am to 9 pm.

    Locatie: Elisabeth Kochin tie 1, 00550 Helsinki, Finland

    Openingstijden: Daily from 1 May to 15 September from 9 am to 9 pm


    foto door Jonik (CC BY-SA 3.0) bewerkt


    Villa Gyllenberg

    Admire famous Finnish artworks at the old home of the Gyllenberg family

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    At Villa Gyllenberg, on Kuusisaari Island in Western Helsinki, you can spend a whole afternoon immersed in nothing but art. Here, well-known industrialist Ane Gyllenberg (1891–1977) kept his large collection of famous art, accumulated throughout his life. This house and art museum contains 350 works from 1500–1970, most of them by Finnish artists. There are several paintings by Helene Schjerfbeck, Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s masterwork Ad Astra, and Wäinö Aaltonen’s iconic bust of writer Aleksis Kivi. There’s also a small café.

    From the centre of Helsinki, you can easily reach Villa Gyllenberg by Bus 510 or by bike, and while you’re in the area, you can also check some other nearby locations presented above, such as Alvar Aalto’s home or the Tamminiemi villa.

    Locatie: Kuusisaarenpolku 11, 00340 Helsinki, Finland

    Openingstijden: Opening hours vary.

    Telefoonnummer: +358 (0) 9 647 390


    foto door Ninara (CC BY 2.0) bewerkt


    Vesikko Submarine (Sukellusvene Vesikko)

    A historical submarine, now on land at Suomenlinna Fortress

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    Vesikko Submarine (Sukellusvene Vesikko) is the only historical submarine in Finland. This is a real must-see location for everyone interested in history and the machines of war. The sub’s wonderfully renovated interior allows you to see its various control equipment, but it’s also a real demonstration of what a submariner’s life was like in the past. Just imagine spending a whole week inside one! The price of a ticket to the submarine also lets you inside the nearby War Museum Maneesi, which presents Finnish military history from the 19th century to the present. In addition to the basic exhibition, there’s a changing selection of special exhibits.

    Submarine Vesikko is located on Susisaari, which is a part of Suomenlinna Fortress. To get there from the centre of Helsinki, first go to the Market Square and then to Suomenlinna Fortress via ferry. Ferries operate throughout the year. While on this trip, you can also stop by the Suomenlinna museum, or maybe just go on a picnic.

    Locatie: Suomenlinna, 00190 Helsinki, Finland

    Openingstijden: Opening hours vary. For information on the ferries and the opening hours at the time of your visit, please check them online.


    The Finnish National Library (Suomen kansalliskirjasto)

    An enchanting, venerable library next to Senaatintori

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    The Finnish National Library (Suomen kansalliskirjasto) at Unioninkatu Street is the most important library in Finland – a sight one should not miss. This building, designed by the famous architect Engel and constructed in Empire style, is from 1840. The library has two wings, Rotunda and Fabiania, and large spaces underground for special collections. The buildings alone – the main building’s breath-taking domed hall, for example – make this location worth a visit, but an additional reason are the library’s exhibits and events. The exhibits showcase the unique collections of the library, including a huge number of historical works from Finland and the times of the Russian Empire.

    You can find the Finnish National Library next to Helsinki Cathedral. Looking from the front of the Cathedral, the library is on the left. From the centre of Helsinki, you can easily walk there, but if this isn’t possible, you can get pretty close with Tram 7.

    Locatie: Unioninkatu 36, 00170 Helsinki, Finland

    Openingstijden: Monday–Fridays from 9 am to 6 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +358 (0) 2941 23196


    Kaivopuisto Observatory (Kaivopuiston tähtitorni)

    A small observatory full of history in the southern part of Kaivopuisto Park

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    If the skies are cloudless during your Helsinki visit, keep the Kaivopuisto Observatory (Kaivopuiston tähtitorni) on your list of options, as during these times, the observatory organizes fascinating shows. Here people can admire the stars or the sun, depending on the time of year. The building itself is no less worth seeing, however – at least as a part of a general tour of Kaivopuisto.

    The tower’s location on the highest hill of Kaivopuisto makes it easy to find – and a great spot for meeting people. If it isn’t showtime, however, you can’t get inside the tower – unless you know one of the astronomers using it. The tower is located on the southern part of Kaivopuisto; the closest public transport will get you is with Tram 3 or Bus 24.

    Locatie: Ehrenströmintie 1, 00140 Helsinki, Finland

    Openingstijden: Apart from the middle of the summer and the times around Christmas and New Year, the shows are organized from Tuesdays to Sundays between 1 pm and 3 pm (the sun) or between 7 pm and 9 pm (the stars).


    Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall (Yrjönkadun uimahalli)

    A magnificent swimming hall with a long history – only a select few tourists will find their way here

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    No doubt about it – Yrjönkatu Pool (Yrjönkadun uimahalli) is one of the grandest exercise locations in Finland. It was built in 1928, and the neo-classical style is quite different from what you would expect from a swimming hall. Even the BBC has featured this location in its list of the most beautiful public swimming halls in the world. The hall’s entrance is quite modest, but don’t let this fool you – the interiors are downright extravagant. The hall is lined by tile-constructed pillars arches and there are beautiful light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. The atmosphere is so relaxed you might imagine you’re at an ancient public bath.

    Here’s something that’s also different from a traditional hall: there’s no shallow kiddie pool, so if you’re planning a swim with small children in tow, you’ll need to find your way elsewhere. As the name says, you can find the hall at Yrjönkatu Street, in the centre of Helsinki. From Helsinki Central Station, for example, it’s easiest to walk. The hall has separate shifts for men and women; more specific information can be found online.

    Locatie: Yrjönkatu 21 B, 00120 Helsinki, Finland

    Openingstijden: Opening hours vary.

    Telefoonnummer: +358 (0) 9 310 87401


    Kruunuvuori Ghost Town

    See and experience the haunted villas of Eastern Helsinki

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    Want to see another side of Helsinki? Then make your way to Kruununvuori ghost town, in the Laajasalo District of Eastern Helsinki, and explore the local forests and ramshackle villas, some of which have been decomposing since the 1960s. Here’s a great example of the changing tides of history. In the early 1900s, these villas were full of life, but in the 1960s, everything started to change utterly. It’s all thanks to the city’s plans for a suburb of 2,300 residents – the plan was not implemented, but the owners of the villas no longer felt the area had a future, and simply left their houses to rot.

    This situation led to the birth of a true ghost town, and the time to check it out is now – it probably won’t last this way for long! The best route to the area from the centre of Helsinki is to take the subway to Herttoniemi and continue by Bus 88.

    Locatie: Kruunuvuoren huvila-alue, 00590 Helsinki, Finland



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