So you’ve browsed the standard offers from the cruise company portfolio, read a bunch of stuff online and still not decided what to do when you dock at Helsinki for the day?
Don’t worry, we know the feeling 🙂
So we’ve put together some interesting and alternative stops for those wishing to join a small group tour and get into the Finnish culture a little deeper. These experiences are perfectly tailored to combine the sights, sounds, tastes and activities of Finland – leaving you with a sense of “Finnishness”.
Feel free to share and comment as you wish – do you have any more ideas to add to this list?
1. THE CLASSIC – Helsinki, Porvoo & Rural Life – Our take on the Helsinki & Porvoo sightseeing tours are small friendly groups of likeminded people, with a local Finn as their guide. Starting at the top sights in Helsinki, including Church in the Rock, Helsinki Cathedral and Sibelius Monument, Helsinki’s Capital is small and easy to get around. There is sometimes time to make a quick stop at the harbor on the way back for some shopping 🙂
Continuing onwards to Porvoo Old Town, a trade port dating back to the 1300’s, its small but prominent Cathedral played a big role in some historic events for Finland – find out more when you are there…. Have time to wander the cobbled streets lined with craft and antique shops and enjoy a Finnish buffet lunch with homemade bread in the Art Deco Cafe.
Returning back to Helsinki through some of the rural roads that are common place outside of Helsinki, and understand more about the lifestyle and how the weather of Finland affects our homes and living. Return back to the Cruiseliner gate for easy boarding.
2. THE UNIQUE SAUNA EXPERIENCE – Everyday* from 13.00, a traditional smoke sauna by the lakeside awaits you! This chimney less warm sauna has 3000kg of stones which are heated for 7 hours using Birch and Alder Logs. The heat is mellow, the sauna is quite dark but the experience of taking the short pier walk to the lake and going for a swim is quintessentially Finnish!
In Winter, the sauna is even more welcoming and there is a chance to walk the heated pier and dip into the icy water that remains close to 0 degrees, but circulated to stop it from freezing! Light a fire in the fireplace and relax with some drinks and snacks if requested.
3. DAY OF THE ARCHIPELAGO – Island cruising & Countryside – There are many inhabited Islands along the Southern Coast of Finland, most notable off the coast of the old Capital of Turku. During a short stay in Helsinki, there is plenty of time to head East from the city to the inner islands of the Archipelago, about 30 minutes from the harbor areas. Here you board another boat, this time a small local fishing boat, heading out to the inner islands. On route, you can easily view the sea side cabins, saunas and larger villas of the residents here. For many, these are only summer homes.
Taking to the beach on a large island, take a short stroll to the berry fields in the forest before settling down to make a fire and enjoy a snack and some refreshments in the rock shore or beach. Swimming is totally possible and towels are provided for those wishing to enjoy the low saline Baltic Sea water.
Continue back to shore and return to Helsinki, not without visiting the routes and tracks of the rural area, learning about the lifestyle and seasonal changes in the area.
4. FINNISH NATURE THERAPY – Forest & Lakeside Excursion – Do you know that it is said that just 5 minutes in the forest can reduce stress and blood pressure?
Collected from the harbor, first we venture off into the National Park just outside of Helsinki, enjoying a gentle hike through the woods (equipment and clothing provided if necessary), to the fire pit, where you can assist your guide to make fire and prepare a snack lunch of traditional Finnish foods, including perhaps Karelian rice pastries, sausages, cheese, rye breads, smoked salmon or gravalax etc. Its a forest feast! The next stop is by a lakeside for a refreshing swim if guests would like this or just to take in the pleasant views of the water’s edge.
Return to Helsinki refreshed and welcomed to Finnish forest culture!
5. HELSINKI GUIDED TOUR with Suomenlinna – On your way into harbor on board the cruise liner, you may have passed by Suomenlinna Fortress Island. This still working Fortress has had its day in protecting Helsinki from attack, but is today a place for walking and enjoying the view of Helsinki from the sea. The museums and architecture of the buildings on the site are a big allure for both tourists and Finns and it is well worth the visit. Combining this with a Helsinki guided tour is a really great way to understand more about the coastal Capital and can be done in 4-5 hours with a private guide.
6. SIBELIUS & FRIENDS ANNIVERSARY TOUR – 2015 celebrates the 150 year ‘birthday’ of three very influential friends – Jean Sibelius, Pekka Halonen and Akseli Gallen Kallela – one composer and two artists. This tour takes guests to all three of their homes (now living museums) outside of Helsinki, and finishes with a gourmet feast by the lakeside family owned farmhouse – Krapihovi. While the dinner might not be suitable for all cruise departures, the day tour starts at 13.00, leaving time to see Helsinki before embarking to the Artist’s community. This will be run every Saturday during summer 2015.
While our small group tours are a great way to meet fellow visitors to Helsinki, enjoy a really authentic perspective of Southern Finland and get to know some of our friendly local guides, you might still be wishing for something more tailored for you?
No need to worry – we can arrange private tours to include all the items that you would like to include, within your own time frame. This normally works best with 4 people or more but feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements for your Day of Helsinki!