Being Finland’s largest city, Helsinki has the most cultural opportunities in the country, in every area from photography to sculpture. There are dozens of museums and galleries, including the National Museum and the National Gallery, regular festivals and events and plenty of jobs in the creative industry. It is also a great place to earn a living as a creative, with a large artistic community and plenty of opportunities for creatives to display and promote their work.
There is plenty of Finnish cuisine to try in Helsinki, especially the fresh local fish, but as it’s Finland’s most multinational city, with as much as a quarter of the population speaking a language other than Finnish, you can also find food from practically anywhere else in the world. Sushi, kebabs and curry are particularly popular choices among Helsinki residents, and the market halls sell rare imported ingredients that are useful for preparing any type of international cuisine at home.
While Helsinki may be located right at the bottom of Finland, good travel connections make it easy to explore the rest of the country, even the far north of Lapland, by plane, train or bus. Helsinki has plenty of international travel connections as well, with trains to Russia, ferries to Sweden, Germany and Estonia, and more flights to southeast Asia than any airport in Europe.
Helsinki really shows the world how to combine the traditional with the modern, in every sense. The city’s architecture features stunning Art Nouveau buildings and sleek modern structures, making the entire city pleasant to look at. It is easy to step into Finland’s past at locations such as the Suomenlinna fortress or the Seurasaari open-air museum. You can also experience Finnish traditions such as sailing, using the sauna and ice skating while still enjoying all the amenities of a modern city, such as fast internet speeds, contemporary art and amusement parks.
Despite being a thriving urban centre, it is amazingly easy to head out to the countryside and get some space and peace. The offshore archipelago has hundreds of small islands with summer houses that you can buy or rent for weekend retreats. Charming country towns such as Porvoo and Fiskars are only an hour away by train or bus, and it is easy to drive to the country to enjoy the outdoors. Even within the city itself, there are huge parks and nature reserves where you can hike, cycle, go birdwatching and enjoy almost any rural activity, all without leaving the city.