Helsinki day card

Helsinki in one day with Helsinki Card

It has been a while since I ventured out to seek new adventures in a whole new place. Work commitments, new goals at hand as well as the winter gloom have slackened the pace for a while now but a girl needs adventures. So till the time I am on the roads again, I decided to be a tourist in Helsinki, the city, I believe, I know very well. Still, it is a different thing to explore the city in one day like a tourist. I planned my whole journey according to the benefits available to a Helsinki Card holder since I wanted to see if buying the card is really a good idea.

So consider it an experiment or a review of the Helsinki card, I am just elated that I did this.

Helsinki card

The ‘Helsinki Card’

I stuck to the main attractions and left aside the secret spots for another time and I was such an amazing feeling to see everything from a different perspective. I will let you know my verdict if the card was useful at the end of this post. For now, let’s just take a look at the things one can do with the card.

The one day card (valid for 24 hours from the time of validation) costs 48 Euros (2018) and the card includes a free Helsinki Panorama sightseeing, Hop On Hop Off bus, free canal cruise across the coast area, a guidebook with maps, tips and tourist information, free entrance to most of the city museums, ferry ride to Suomenlinna Island, free public transportation within Helsinki area (there is a separate regional card for Helsinki and its surrounding areas), discount on restaurants, shops and some of the other attractions like the Zoo and Helsinki flytour. However, both the hop on-hop off bus and the canal ride are only available in summer-time.

I took a day off from work and set out to explore Helsinki on a special sunny day. I started with the Panorama sightseeing tour at 11 AM. I did not have high hopes for this tour as I have been to many European cities and the panorama bus tours in each of these cities were not very exciting. Here, I was a bit surprised to find my interest piqued as the bus started its journey along the beautiful coast of the Baltic and the audio tour content was really educative.

Helsinki card

A glimpse of snowy Helsinki from the Panorama bus

Perhaps, I found it interesting only because I live in Helsinki and I knew where to look when the voice in the audio guides you to look at a particular direction. Nonetheless, before this tour, I never knew some of the most stunning buildings in the city and the history behind their architecture. Starting from the Springtime carpet cleaning rituals to a peek into the history of the oldest bakery in the city (or to the background of the Nordic Noir theme which reflects both in the country’s architecture as well as literature), the tour was a journey into discovering Helsinki in a new light. Seeing Helsinki and the lives of its residents from very close quarters was, indeed, the most touristy thing I could do in this otherwise too-cold-to-go-out season.

The tour bus starts from Esplanadi Park, one of the most touristy spots in the city and stops at Rock Church, another favourite among visitors. The bus stops for only a few minutes and lets you explore this architectural marvel carved inside a prehistoric rock for a while. But since I live right in front of the church, I decided to skip going inside. I was actually saving my energy for the rest of the day.

Helsinki card

The rock church from outside

It was a rare sunny day and snow-covered Helsinki was gleaming in the morning sun. So when the bus tour ended right front of the Helsinki Cathedral, I decided to climb to its top stairs and enjoy the view. The cathedral is, undoubtedly, the most beautiful landmark in the city and I fall in love with it each time I am there.

By the time I came down, it was lunchtime and I decided to sample some Finnish food near the market square. So what kind of food a tourist would want to sample? Some salmon soup or maybe some smoked salmon! I decided to try the first. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of what I sampled but if you ask me, Old Market Hall right across the Old Market Square is the place I went to. There are many kiosks and shops inside where one can sample some authentic Finnish food.

Helsinki card

Helsinki cathedral, the most beautiful landmark in the city

Post lunch, It was time to explore the market square area and different souvenir shops lined along its length. This market area is actually the heart of the South harbour and one can just spend hours by strolling around the area. The Uspenski Cathedral and the Finnair Skywheel were two must-visit things to do in this area. I skipped the Allas Sea pool because I wasn’t prepared to take a dip in a pool or go for the sauna. Also, I wanted to visit the museums before it was dark. And trust me when I say it gets dark here at 4. But before that, I walked to the gate of the President’s palace located right in front of the market square. The guards at the gate looked immune to curious tourists though.

Helsinki card

The market square

By then I had figured out that being touristy in wintertime Helsinki is not easy. It gets dark early and also one gets tired easily as the cold wind can be brutally tiring. Still, I hoped on to a ferry to Suomenlinna sea fortress. There was not time to explore the island and but the 15 minute ferry ride to reach the island and another 15 minutes to get back gave me enough time to relax and enjoy the icy view of Baltic.

I was a bit tired by the time I entered Ateneum, the most beautiful place to admire art in the city. Even though I do not understand art, I was particularly interested in a couple painting based on the Finnish national epic called Kalevala. You can imagine, I did not spend much time here but I had been meaning to visit this place for a while and I am happy that I did as the building in itself is a piece of art.

Helsinki card

A view of the Helsinki Senate Square

After Ateneum, it was time for some coffee. I grabbed mine at Karl Fazer Cafe, the most iconic cafe in the city center as the cafe has its own legends and a legacy of 127 years of confectionary art.

Even though the Helsinki card gave me free access into so many museums and other points of interest, I was about to call it a day. The last thing, I wanted to explore was Kiasma, a place for contemporary art exhibitions. Again, a quick peek into its galleries and I was ready to head home. Luckily, I didn’t have to catch a train or a flight. I have a home in the city to return to.

The best part, the sunny weather gave me some decent pictures and I was more than happy to wrap up my day then and there.

Now, the verdict time!

The card is indeed beneficial and a cheaper option, if you are interested in visiting the museums as the individual entry to each museum, vary from 10-15 euros. Also, the panorama tour alone cost 32 Euros per person. A day card for public transport also costs 9 euros. Money wise, it could be a smarted option to choose. In summers, the card gives the extra benefit of the hop and hop of tour as well as the canal ride which I would have loved to do. Besides, in winters some of the museums also remain closed.

But, if you ask me, it is impossible to see everything in one day. At the end of the day, you have to prioritize and if the card covers the things you want to see then it could be a hassle-free as well a cheaper option to see Helsinki in one day.

For details about the bus tour click here.

P.S: This is not a sponsored post. All views expressed here are based on my own experiences.

 

 

 

 


2 Comments

  • Suvi February 15, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    What a lovely day you had đź’– And you were lucky with the sun! I love days like this, Helsinki is such a fun place to play tourist!

    Reply
    • Jutismita February 16, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      True! I was, indeed, lucky with the sun. And Helsinki is always amazing!

      Reply

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