This morning, enjoy a tour of Helsinki with a local guide, a great way to get oriented and note the places you wish to revisit on your own. Your half-day tour of the city, known as “the Daughter of the Baltic,” showcases Market Square, a perennial outdoor market, and Senate Square, undoubtedly the pride of the city. Senate Square is ringed by a treasury of Empire Neoclassic buildings, including the 19th-century Lutheran Cathedral, whose central tower dominates the city.
Senate Square, like Times Square in New York City, is the place where the city’s residents gather for celebration of special occasions, such as New Year’s Eve and Independence Day (December 6th)—or on any day when the sun is shining. Admire the onion domes of Uspenski Cathedral, the most important Russian Orthodox church in Finland.
See the Temppeliaukio Kirkko, a church beautifully hewn out of solid granite. As you wend your way through the city, notice and get a real feel for how the sea is such an integral part of it. Helsinki is built over peninsulas, curving around bays and spilling out across islands that are linked by bridges, causeways, and boats of all descriptions.
After relaxing over lunch on your own, your afternoon is at leisure. You’ll find many attractive options within easy walking distance if you wish to explore on foot. Helsinki is fairly compact, so getting around is made even easier with your one-day public transportation pass, included in the price of your trip. Your pass entitles you to travel free on city buses, trams, metro, and trains. Feel free to ask your Program Director about Helsinki’s attractions, and the available transportation options to reach those sites.
You might want to stroll through the Esplanade boulevard, which is flanked by a wide variety of shops, many of which feature distinctively Finnish products. You can head for the National Gallery (Valtion Taidemuseo) to see Finnish art from the 18th-20th centuries, take a boat excursion on the harbor, or visit the city’s open-air folk museum.
Gather with your travel companions for a dinner at your hotel this evening.