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View of Helsinki at sunset | © kostiolavi/Pixabay
View of Helsinki at sunset | © kostiolavi/Pixabay

Top Free Things to Do in Helsinki

Picture of Jessica Wood
Updated: 28 November 2017

Living in or even just visiting Helsinki can quickly eat into your budget, thanks to the expensive transport, accommodation, and restaurants. However, there is a lot to be seen and enjoyed throughout the city for free, including the natural landscapes, untouched public parks, fascinating architecture, and rich cultural sites. Here are some of the ways to experience Helsinki without spending a cent:

Hietaranta Beach

You probably don’t picture yourself spending a lazy afternoon lounging on a beach in Helsinki, but during the summer, the temperature can climb over 30 degrees Celsius, which translates to perfect beach weather. Hietaranta is one of the most popular beaches on the city’s coastline, known for its clean and sandy shore, shallow and sheltered bay, and clear Baltic Sea water (which is safe for swimming). You can also find a lot of summer sports in the area, including beach volleyball, basketball, tennis, and miniature golf.

Museums

Most of Helsinki’s museums and galleries have a weekly or monthly time slot in which entry is free. This is usually on a Thursday or Friday during the late afternoon, a few hours before closing. While you may not be able to visit all the best museums in town during this short window, it is nonetheless a great chance to see the ones you’re really interested in for free. Check each museum’s individual website to see when they offer free entry.

Malminkartano Hill

Climbing the rainbow stairs to the top of this 90-metre hill, the highest point in Helsinki, provides panoramic views of the entire city and its surrounding region. It is an excellent spot for a picnic, jogging, dog walking, or mountain biking. The hill is a little less accessible during the winter, especially during heavy snow, but if you can make it to the top, it is the best place in town for sledging.

Central Park

It is surprisingly easy to get back to nature even in the middle of Finland’s capital city. Central Park is spread over 10 km and contains everything, from landscaped gardens to primeval forests. Here, you can do practically anything you would otherwise only be able to do in the countryside, such as hiking, bird watching, nature photography, or just escape from the city for a while.

Kaartinkaupunki and Ullanlinna

Each of Helsinki’s neighbourhoods has a charm of its own, but these two are exceptional. Among the oldest and wealthiest parts of the city, the Jugend and Gothic architecture found here is slightly different to the Art Nouveau style which makes up the rest of the city. The Kaivopuisto hill overlooks the south harbour and creates a romantic scene at sunset. Just wandering down the streets to see the beautiful buildings or window-shopping in the classy boutiques is a perfect way to spend the day.