Helsinki is the capital city of Finland, and the location on the Gulf of Finland offers many day trip opportunities. From Helsinki, you can easily travel within Finland and Scandinavia, or even over to Eastern Europe and Russia. We’ve rounded up some of the best day trips from Helsinki for you.
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St Petersburg, Russia
If you’ve ever wanted to visit Russia, but were put off by the visa requirements and red tape, a day trip from Helsinki to St. Petersburg is a great option! There is a 72-hour visa waiver for passengers arriving by ferry from Helsinki or Talinn. There are additional rules in place around this, so be sure to do your research, but this is a nice alternative to the visa process for visiting Russia.
There is also a train from Helsinki to St Petersburg, with four daily departures making the 3.5 hour journey. St Petersburg is a wonderful city with interesting history including the Hermitage Museum and Peterhof Palace.
Another international destination day trip from Helsinki is to visit Tallinn, Estonia. The faster ferry trips are as little as two hours across the Gulf of Finland. Tallinn is Estonia’s capital city, and maintains centuries of history, combined with modern culture.
Old Town remains a walled city with cobblestone streets and you can find 13th century landmarks around the city. Town Hall Square is a lively area filled with entertainment, outdoor cafes, restaurants and shops. Enjoy a day of Estonian culture before hopping a ferry back to Helsinki for the night.
Suomenlinna is a World Heritage Site just off the coast of Helsinki. You can take a ferry, water taxi or dock your own boat at Suomenlinna. Built on a group of islands, “The Sea Fortress” was started in 1748 when this was still part of Sweden. There are six islands total to explore, and guided tours are available to provide historic context of the fortress.
You can bring a picnic lunch, or visit one of several cafes on Suomenlinna. In summer, the last ferry leaves at 2am, so you can enjoy the long hours of daylight, into the wee hours of morning.
Porvoo is a coastal city just 50 kilometers from Helsinki, with several buses making the 70 minute trip each day. This quaint seaside town is a nice alternative to bigger Helsinki, and has developed quite the foodie scene in recent years.
Upon arrival, grab a walking tour map from the tourist information centre, and have a stroll around. The waterfront is lined with traditional wooden houses, and there are many cafes and shops along the waterfront.
In the opposite direction of Porvoo, Espoo is another good day trip from Helsinki. Just 20 kilometers away, Espoo is the second largest city of Finland, and is a very modern city. You can take trains or a city bus from Helsinki to Espoo, in under an hour.
Espoo has a modern art museum, the Haltia Finnish Nature Centre, plus a boardwalk along the water and over 20 beaches. Espoo is the gateway to nature in Southern Finland, including Nuuksio National Park.
Nuuksio National Park
Finland has 40 National Parks, and this is one of the closest to Helsinki. From the Espoo train station, you’ll take a bus to the visitor center of the park, and start your outdoor adventure from there. The National Park only covers 45 square kilometers, but that makes it easy to access from nearby cities, and it’s possible to explore as a day trip.
The park encompasses several types of forests, ponds, lakes and swamps. The Siberian Flying Squirrel lives here, as do lynx, hares, foxes and deer. Entrance to the park is free, and vehicles are not allowed, so be prepared to walk around.
The gateway to the archipelago is Turku, Finland’s former capital. Just two hours from Helsinki by train or bus, Turku has historical charm and culture. From the train station, you can walk to the main shopping area and restaurants. There are several museums, a cathedral and interesting architecture.
Another 60 kilometers from Turku is Archipelago National Park, encompassing 500 square kilometers of tiny islands. Turku is also where you can catch a ferry or cruise ship to Stockholm, although the 10-plus hours journey makes it a bit much for a day trip!
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