Helsinki is known for being one of the coldest cities in Europe during winter. For this reason a lot of people don't make the trip there, however we recently visited in the depths of winter and fell in love with this cold, wintery and beautiful city!

The days are short, with the sun only rising for a few hours meaning you'll likely see both sunrise and sunset! The Baltic Sea freezes over and the whole city is covered in powdery white snow!

There's lots of beautiful things to see and do and you can do like the Finn's do and drink coffee and have saunas! Here are our top five things to do in Helsinki in winter.


Have a traditional Finnish Sauna

Saunas are a massive part of Finnish culture. Finland has 5 million people and 3 million saunas, isn't that amazing! Helsinki has some incredible public saunas so visitors to the city can experience the culture for themselves.

We booked into Löyly, Helsinki's newest public sauna which offers two sauna rooms, a lounge, terrace, bar, restaurant and outdoor access to the icy sea (for swimming)! We think saunas are so much more appropriate in winter and anyone who isn't already a Finnish sauna fan, will be converted once they leave Helsinki!


Take a dip in the icy Baltic Sea

After your sauna, do as the locals do and try your hand at ice swimming! The Finnish way to end a sauna experience is by taking an icy dip in the Baltic Sea!

Löyly has an outdoor path to the sea (which is freezing) and stairs down into the icy sea! To us, it was more painful than refreshing however it was a big tick off the bucket list and we quickly ran back into the sauna to get feeling back into our limbs!

It was freezing but something we would definitely do again - and definitely a good story to share!


Visit Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral is located in the centre of the city and is one of the most iconic landmarks in Helsinki.

This white and blue cathedral looks even more magical in winter surrounded by snow. Entrance to the Cathedral is free (and gives you an opportunity to warm up too)!


Drink glögi at the Christmas Markets and Enjoy the Festive Lights

The Helsinki Christmas Markets are held in the Senate Square, in front of the beautiful Helsinki Cathedral.

There are food courts that focus on regional specialties, hundreds of vendors selling traditional handicrafts, a traditional merry go-round and of course vendors selling glögi (Finnish mulled wine).

Glögi will help you keep warm as you stroll the beautiful markets. The markets run from the 1st until 23rd December every year.

Helsinki itself also decks itself out with festive lights throughout the city! We loved strolling through the park admiring the lit-up reindeers, trees and beautiful lights! The lights stay up well into January - bringing some beautiful warmth to the snowy, dark days!


Take a day trip to frosty Suommelina Fortress

Suomenlinna is a sea fortress located on a group of islands near the entrance to Helsinki harbour.

This UNESCO World Hertitage site is easily accessed, with regular ferries departing from Market Square. It is a wonderful place to spend a day or a few hours exploring!

In winter the boat goes through the icy Baltic Sea which is an experience in itself.


About The Aussie Flashpacker

This article was written by Simone and Dan from The Aussie Flashpacker. They've have travelled extensively across six continents, lived on three continents and share the best in travel to inspire you to see the world.

 

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