Finland: 3 Main Cities On a Budget

Nomad Faces – Our trips and budget-friendly recommendations inside three of the main cities in Finland: Helsinki, Turku, and Tampere.


1. HELSINKI

Helsinki is the capital and most populated city in Finland. It is located on the southern peninsula by the Gulf of Finland and it is the most northerly of continental European capitals.

Helsinki | By: Eva Garro

💎TIPS:

  • For small trips inside Finland,  we used Onnibus. This company offers trips as cheap as 1€ depending on the destination! And it arrives at Kamppi Center bus terminal and shopping complex, also a metro station.
  • You can also use the VR train paying a bit more if you prefer.
  • When you’re at Kamppi Station, check out the Kamppi Chapel (The Silent Church). Perfect to take a break and admire its unique architecture.
  • Download the HSL App. You’ll get reduced prices on transportation tickets.

📝NOTE: The metro is only 1 line, so it’s very easy to use.

📍Touristic places:

  • Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square: the most iconic places in Helsinki. The Senate Square is the stage of national and academic festive services (like the Christmas Market) and the cathedral is located on the north side of it. It is open from 9-18 and FREE to enter.
Helsinki Cathedral | By: Eva Garro
  • Sibelius Park and Monument: the monument is dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and it is located at the Sibelius Park in the district of Töölö. It is totally worth visiting, especially if you are an music/artsy person. This place is about 50 minutes walking / 25 minutes by public transport and it is open 24 hours. FREE
  •  
Sibelius Park and Monument | By: Eva Garro
  • The Rock Church: this church has a very special architecture. It has a dome supported by rock walls. Due to its excellent acoustics, a lot of concerts are held there. The entry is 3€ and you can purchase tickets online in advance here.
  • Aleksanterinkatu and Esplanadi: Just take a walk. Very nice streets surrounded by shops, restaurants, sculptures, etc.  Esplanadi is really cool for having a picnic (if the weather allows it). FREE
  • Suomenlinna: [UNESCO World Heritage] 18th-century sea fortress and nature area with old artillery spread across 6 islands. It has amazing views, we recommend enjoying the sunset there. There’s also a brewery and several waterside restaurants. You can enter the museum for 8€/students 5€ or just walk around. It is about 20 min from the Senate Square by Ferry. The cheapest way to get there is using a regular Helsinki travel card which is 5€. The ferry runs 1-4 times per hour until night both sides.
Suomenlinna
  • Uspenski Cathedral: The Eastern Orthodox cathedral is one of the clearest symbols of the Russian impact on Finnish history. Open from 9:30-16/15 on Sundays, you can appreciate its beautiful architecture. FREE
  • Museums: The National Museum of Finland 12€/students 9€, Finnish Museum of Natural History 15/students 7, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma 15€/students 13€ FREE admission first Friday of every month, Island Zoo (ice views) 12€/students 8€.

🍴🍷Eat and drink:

  • Market Square: Totally recommended. A typical Finnish market where you can try different typical dishes.
Food at market square | By: Eva Garro
  • Elmo Sport Bistro: Good food and 1 lt of beer for 8€
  • Ravintola Sivukaide: Small, hidden restaurant where you can get a tasty large pizza + 1 lt of beer for around 12€ (probably the cheapest you’ll find in Helsinki)
  • Vaesla Ristorante: Delicious pizza in a very convenient location at decent prices.
  • Friends and Burgers: Eva’s favorite** DELICIOUS burgers. They also have Veggie and Vegan Burgers.

💎TIP: If you’re a student, you can eat at University Restaurants to save some money. The best one is UniCafe right in the City Center.

😱Hidden gems:

  • Moomin Cafe: Moomin themed coffee place about 4 min walking from the Cathedral and Senate Square. Worth visiting!
  • Café Regatta: close to Sibelius Park; Very cute and cozy coffee place. During the winter, you can enjoy a fire outside or stay warm on the inside. In the summer, you can sit outside by the water.
By: Eva Garro
  • Linnanmäki: Amusement Park.  FREE ENTRY (includes 9 rides)
  • Hesperia Park: Pure nature inside the City Center!

2. TURKU

Turku is located on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. It is a notable commercial and passenger seaport and was Finland’s first capital. Turku has a lot of history since it is the oldest city in Finland, settled during the 13th century.

Turku | By: Eva Garro

💎TIP:  Walk. That’s the best way to really enjoy the city and discover places. We went in the winter and we still walked everywhere so imagine in the spring or summer! Best way to save money.

📝NOTE: We saw everything listed here in only one day.

📍Touristic places:

  • Turku Cathedral: is the previous catholic cathedral of Finland, today the Mother Church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, considered to be Finland’s most valuable historical monument. It is situated in the heart of Turku next to the Old Great Square, by the river Aura. FREE
  • Turku Castle: founded in the late 13th century, together with Turku Cathedral, the castle is one of the oldest buildings still in use in Finland. It is the largest surviving medieval building in Finland. 12€/students 6€.
Turku Castle | By: Eva Garro
  • The Sibelius Museum: Music museum of the famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. This museum is the only one devoted to music in Finland. It houses a wide collection of historical music instruments, sheet music, manuscripts, recordings, and photographs. 5€/students 3€.
  • Old Great Square: medieval market square located in the City Center. The area was the administrative and commercial centre of Turku since the founding of the city in the 13th century. FREE

🍴🍷Eat and drink:

  • Cosmic Comic Café: very nice, fancy comic themed bar with very decent prices. It is located in Forum Kortteli Shopping Center.
  • M Kitchen & Café: is a great spot to try Finnish food and amazing desserts. It offers special weekend brunches at 19€. There’s jazz music on Saturdays.
  • Aussie Bar: located in a boat in the river. It is a good option for a night out for both locals and tourists.

😱Hidden Gems:

  • The Giant Chamomile Flower at Forum Marinum: Forum Marinum is a maritime museum but on the outside, there is a really cool giant flower with a nice view. It is worth visiting for cool photos. FREE
Giant Flower | By: Eva Garro
  • Archangel Michael’s church: It dominates the western skyline of the city. Amazing neo-gothic architecture and beautiful garden outside. FREE
  • Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum: open air museum with wooden houses from the 18th century. Entry is 8€/students 4€.

3. TAMPERE

Tampere is the third largest city in Finland the most populous inland city in the Nordic countries. It is located in the south on Finland inside the Pirkanmaa between two big and beautiful lakes.

Tampere | By: Eva Garro

💎TIP: Check out this app: Tampere.Finland, which was made in cooperation with VisitTampere. It has a lot of valuable information including a guided tour, local bus routes and timetables, parking garages, event calendar, etc.

📍Touristic places:

  • Central Square: along the main street Hämeenkatu on the western shore of the channel rapids, Tammerkoski. Many important buildings in Tampere are located near it including the City Hall, the Old Church of Tampere and the Tampere Theatre.
  • Moomin Museum: The world’s only Moomin Museum. You can find illustrations made by Tove Jansson (the creator of Moomins), and a small Moomin House. Open from 9-17, closed on Mondays. The entrance is 12€.

📝NOTE: FREE entry on the last Friday of every month (15-19) except on January and February 2019 when the free afternoon is on 1st February.

  • Särkäniemi Amusement Park: Located on the peninsula, about a kilometer from the city center of Tampere. It has roller coasters, an aquarium, a planetarium, a children’s zoo, an art museum and an observation tower (below). Worth visiting when the weather allows it. Check prices here.
    • Näsinneula Observation Tower: located inside Särkäniemi, it is a perfect view point over Tampere. It is the tallest free-standing structure in Finland and the second tallest observation tower in the Nordic countries. The entrance is 5.9€.
Särkäniemi | By: Eva Garro
  • Pispala: Probably the most famous part of today’s Tampere. Here you’ll find beautifully restored wooden houses and magnificent views towards the two large lakes and streets connected by long stairs. It houses the oldest still active public sauna in Finland: Rajaportin sauna.
  • Pyynikki Observation Tower and Park: only 20 minutes walking from the center. The view is amazing even if the tower is only 26 meters tall. The park itself is beautiful to have a walk or a jog. Entry to the deck is only 2€. Totally worth it!

💎TIP: Have a coffee and a donut at the legendary café. They’re delicious!

Pyynikin Cafe | By: Eva Garro
  • Tampere Cathedral: Lutheran grey granite church decked with a red brick roof. It is the most notable church in Tampere.

🍴🍷Eat and drink:

  • Fazer Café: The most iconic cafés in Tampere. Very nice decoration and location plus delicious coffee and pastry.
  • Friends and Brgrs: As mentioned above in the Helsinki section.
  • Naughty Brgr: Fresh and tasty hamburgers plus good beer! Vegetarian options available.

📝NOTE: You can find them also in Helsinki and Turku.

  • Fafa’s: Very good middle eastern fast food (and cheap). Vegetarian and Vegan options available.

📝NOTE: You can find them also in Helsinki and Turku. Sometimes they offer discounts for students. ASK!

😱Hidden Gems:

  • Vapriikki Museum: Home to the Natural History Museum of Tampere, the Media Museum Rupriikki, the Mineral Museum, the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame, the Doll Museum, Postal Museum and The Finnish Museum of Games. Open 10-18, closed during mondays. Entrance is 13

📝NOTE: FREE entry on Fridays 15-18.

  • Rauhaniemi Public Spa: situated by the lake Näsijärvi. The sauna and the cozy swimming beach offer a lovely experience with amazing views of Tampere. It is 35 min walking from the Central Square.

📝NOTE: Sauna is an essential part of Finnish culture. More than a luxury, it’s a necessity for Finns. They go with friends or family, usually naked, but they respect if you prefer to cover up. Also this place is probably the best viewpoint in Tampere to catch some northern lights. 💙

  • Café Pispala: small and cozy restaurant in the heart of Pispala with delicious food and coffee. You might have to make a reservation since it’s REALLY small.

With love,

Eva & Tautvy – #nomadfaces 👫

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