Helsinki’s iconic Olympic Stadium gets an elegant renovation

Southern entrance of the Olympic Stadium
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The newly renovated Olympic Stadium in Helsinki is delightfully dashing and fantastically functionalist. Beautiful to behold from both the inside and out, the stadium comprises sturdy concrete, curving lines, lovingly manicured lawns, innovative materials and multifunctional spaces.
The elegantly renovated Olympic Stadium
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The Olympic Stadium reopened in August 2020 after an uncompromising renovation. The new facilities are spacious and bright, and the quality of workmanship is unparalleled. The end result is a landmark that attracts people of all ages and opens up another new perspective on the Finnish capital.

The renovated stadium has effectively doubled in size, as additional space was excavated underground and alongside the original structure. The new Olympic Stadium continues to be Finland’s biggest event arena, a place where people can exercise, compete, entertain and meet friends from around the world.

The new external architecture is based on the restored concrete architecture of the 1930s, the modified sections from the 1950s and the new North Stadium Square with its food and beverage kiosks. The original canopy over the stands in the A section has been renovated, and the existing structures and details have been restored to how they were in the 1930s. The benches have been replaced by individual wood composite seats, while the curves and the back straight stands are now also covered with a canopy resembling the wings of a swan. The materials of the canopies and seats are directly connected to the history of the Olympic Stadium. Wood was always the material of choice when expanding the concrete-structured stadium in the 1950s, both temporarily and permanently.

Innovations and impressive details

Finnish design is represented by the new wood composite seats, which are made from materials recycled from the wood industry. All spectators now get their own individual folding chair in the stands, from where they can watch the sports and rest their feet in comfort. To ensure safety, the canopies above the stands are made from fireproofed wood. The audiovisual systems for the stands are integrated into the outer structures of the canopies and the bowl. Most of the spaces in the arena have been designed to be multifunctional, making them ideal for sports, events and meetings.

The wood composite seats are made from materials recycled from the wood industry
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Fascinating history of the Olympic Stadium

Back in the 1930s, Helsinki was busily preparing to host the Summer Olympics. Numerous sports arenas and various services sprung up across the city.

What has been called the world’s most beautiful Olympic Stadium was the result of an architectural competition. Architects Yrjö Lindgren and Toivo Jäntti won the competition with their clean-lined and functionalist proposal.

In spring 1940, however, the Olympics were cancelled due to the outbreak of the Second World War, and Helsinki had to wait until 1952 before the Games finally arrived.

The 1930s functionalist architecture combined with the look of the 1952 Summer Olympics symbolised the birth of a new area for the young nation.

You can read more about the fascinating history of the Olympic Stadium on the Stadium website.

Light for the new underground facilities enters through this massive passage
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Stunning views from the Stadium Tower

Architects Toivo Jäntti and Yrjö Lindgren designed a Stadium Tower to stand guard next to the main entrance. The 72-metre tower offers stunning views over the city. Kids especially love to go to the top, and the views are especially impressive in the evening when the sun goes down and lights are turned on across Helsinki. Tickets to the Stadium Tower have been kept affordable, costing €6.50 for adults and €4 for children ages 7 to 16. Discounts are also available for special groups and groups of more than 10 persons.

Interesting facts

  • One of the workers who helped build the Stadium Tower was Aino Lehtinen, a woman who carried on her back all the limestone mortar for plastering the exterior. Each load weighed 40 kilos, and she carried countless loads throughout the day.
  • The Stadium Tower was officially inaugurated on 19 July 1952, when Flying Finn Hannes Kolehmainen lit the Olympic flame.
  • The Stadium Tower also played an important role in Finland’s air defence during the war from 1941 to 1944, when it served as an observation tower. 
  • Many couples have said their vows to each other at a height of 72 metres. The last wedding to be held at the top of the Stadium Tower was on 11 November 2011.
  • The new elevator that was installed in 2011 takes just 37 seconds to get to the top.
  • The Stadium Tower celebrated its millionth visitor already in 1953.
  • The Stadium Tower has even served as a TV link, enabling the country’s very first broadcasts.
Stadium tower and a row of flags
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The Visitor Centre at the foot of the Stadium Tower is open daily and lets you soak up the atmosphere and purchase souvenirs. 

The Bistro Stadion restaurant serves visitors to the Olympic Stadium with delicious seasonal menus. The lunch menu is updated daily and á la carte menu seasonally. You can also order light snacks to give you energy for your visit.

The renewed Sports Museum can be found in the west wing of the Olympic Stadium. The permanent exhibition presents the story of Finnish sports in a new way, with emotions at the heart of the exhibition – just like in sports. The first temporary exhibition was opened in 2021, presenting the story of the Olympic Stadium.

Due to the ongoing corona crisis, opening hours may change. Please see the Stadium website for the latest information. 

Information about accessibility is available on the Stadium website.

How to get there

The Olympic Stadium is easy to find – just head north from the city centre towards the white Stadium Tower. The walk from the Central Station takes around half an hour along the western side of the pretty Töölönlahti bay. Trams 1, 2, 4, 8 and 10 stop just a few hundred metres from the stadium at the Finnish National Opera.
Paavo Nurmen tie 1, Töölö

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The newly renovated Olympic Stadium in Helsinki is delightfully dashing and fantastically functionalist. Beautiful to behold from both the inside and out, the stadium comprises sturdy concrete, curving lines, lovingly manicured lawns, innovative materials and multifunctional spaces.