Soak in the culture by visiting the various events Helsinki winter has to offer
Starting of the winter season the Helsinki Christmas Market is held every year between November leading up to Christmas in central Helsinki, showcasing over 120 traders and attracting tonnes of visitors. Though every European city organises some iteration of Christmas markets, Helsinki puts a rather cosy spin on it. If the cool weather gets to you then grab yourself a warm glass of glögi, a spiced drink similar to mulled wine (though here it’s often non-alcoholic) which the Finns enjoy with gusto throughout the colder months! Such events are not restricted to the Christmas season but they continue well into January. To provide respite from the dark winter days Lux Helsinki, an annually organised light festival in the centre of Helsinki, lightens up your days in the beginning of January. The festival presents a diverse range of light art along a changing route that covers a few kilometres. In addition to the most famous buildings in Helsinki, the route also highlights lesser known courtyards and façades. The programme features specially commissioned new works and popular installations for international light festivals.
Take a day trip to Suomenlinna
Whilst Helsinkians are welcome to take the ferry to Suomenlinna Island all year-round, a trip in winters is especially magical as the ships navigates through the cold winter breeze. Although some of the museums on the island are closed in winter, but weather permitting, a view of the stunning frost tipped fort and icy sea vistas more than make up for it. You can enjoy a peaceful walk around the island and pop by the cute cafes located in the colourful wooden houses. Not just that but the views from the boat are great and it’s worth making the trip!
Enjoy the moody dark atmosphere
Finland is infamous for the darkness that sets in upon the country in the colder months but there is a different way to look at this moody dilemma. The perks of late sunrises and early sunsets is that in winters you can easily catch both of those in Helsinki on the same day, offering ample photography opportunities without insanely early wake-up calls. Coupled with ample photography opportunities you can enjoy the moody atmosphere you get when the lovely street lights as well as Christmas decorations cut through the darkness.
Experience the traditional Finnish sauna
You cannot even think of a Helsinki winter and not immediately think of sauna! The city is full of public saunas but if you truly want to experience the winter sauna culture in Finland then try the traditional combo of sauna and swim in the cold water session. It is an experience you shouldn’t miss when visiting Helsinki, especially in winter. It will leave you both incredibly invigorated and relaxed. One of the best places to gain this experience in the city centre is at the modern Löyly. It is an urban oasis equipped with two saunas heated to over 90°C and an outdoor deck on the water, that allows ou a dip in the sea. Another staple is the Allas Sea Pool. The location is ideal as it is in the heart of Helsinki, just a few minutes away from Senate Square. There are three saunas heated to about 80°C: one for men, one for women, and a third that's open to both, unless if it is booked for private events. There are also three swimming pools: with cold sea water, with warm water and one for children. Located in the heart of the city, the 3 outdoor pools floating on the Baltic Sea offer a breathtaking view of the port of Helsinki.
Warm up in the various museums in Helsinki
When cold outside you might be tempted to warm yourself up indoors. What better way to do this than by exploring art at the best museums that Helsinki has to offer. You can find five art museums within a kilometre radius of the city center: Ateneum Art Museum, Kiasma, Amos Rex, Helsinki Art Museum HAM and Kunsthalle Helsinki. The Nordics are known for their design so to best experience Finnish design visit the Helsinki Design Museum. This museum is one of the most unique ones in Helsinki, as the history of Finnish design is presented in the museums collection exhibition through living narratives, using today's technology and digital applications. The completely renovated sports museum, Cultural Centre of Sports TAHTO, at the Olympic Stadium is suitable for those interested in competitive sports.
Enjoy all the winter outdoor activities
There are plenty of outdoor activities that you can participate in Helsinki in winters. Do remember to dress properly when walking around Helsinki in winter and you can always warm yourself up in one of the many cafes Helsinki has to offer. But no list of things to do in winter in Helsinki is complete without mentioning ice skating. Every year multiple ice rinks are set up in various parts of Helsinki, where you can pop by for free to go an ice skate to your heart's desire. Further each winter Helsinki is transformed into a real cross-country skiing destination. In winters when there is lots of snow, Helsinki can offer up to 200 kilometres of groomed trails which can take you from Central Park (Keskuspuisto) to almost every part of the city. And if you’ve already exercised enough, how about a spot of spectator sports. Throughout the winter months, you can watch ice hockey, basketball, volleyball, floorball, handball and bandy matches from the sidelines of ice rinks and courts in and around Helsinki.
Grid card list
Saunas are a big part of Finnish culture as well as a big part of having a relaxing fun time. Helsinki offers a wide range of public saunas that easily rise to the occasion and serve as the highlight of your evening. Public saunas in Helsinki also offer a very nice way to unwind. If city life at any point feels overwhelming, saunas in Helsinki are a stone's throw away.
Many great new public saunas have opened in Helsinki in recent years, in addition to which there are numerous traditional saunas to choose from. It’s not easy to rank all these saunas, as each one has its own special character. There are an array of saunas in Helsinki that offer a range of experiences, you have the opportunity to soak in the Helsinki archipelago or enjoy the luxuries a spa has to offer right at the heart of the city.