8 Excellent Day Trip Ideas from Helsinki

Published July 13, 2023
HSL bus in Vantaa

Many travellers who visit Helsinki spend most of their time exploring the city centre, but there are many more exciting places to discover beyond the usual tourist attractions. If you’re looking for a memorable day trip, consider exploring some of the locations outside the centre. In this article, we will share eight fantastic day trip ideas that are sure to impress.

Day Trip Destinations in Helsinki

Picnic in Vallisaari

Vallisaari is a former military island just a short ferry ride away from Helsinki Market Square. It is a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers, as nature is almost untouched and the island offers many picnic spots. A picnic in Vallisaari is a perfect way to spend a summer day with family and friends. The island suits especially people who prefer to enjoy nature instead of paid services. You only need to pay for the ferry ride and hiking on the island is free.

There are several picnic areas on the island, each with its unique charm and scenery. Some of the most popular spots include the old military barracks, the rocky shoreline, and the forested areas. Bring your food and drinks, or stop by a café for some snacks and refreshments. After the light lunch, you can explore the island’s hiking trails or simply relax in the middle of lush nature. Do not enter the forbidden areas because they may pose dangers.

To access Vallisaari, you need to take a private ferry ride from Market Square. It takes only 10 minutes.

Exploring the East Helsinki

If you’re looking for a one-stop destination for shopping, food, and entertainment, Itäkeskus Mall in East Helsinki is worth considering. With its modern movie theatre, food courts, and a variety of shops, it’s a shopper’s paradise. However, East Helsinki has much more to offer beyond the mall.

East Helsinki is a melting pot of cultures, with a large population of immigrants. This means that you can find a wide range of ethnic restaurants in the area, offering exotic and delicious flavors. If you’re a foodie, East Helsinki is the place to be.

If you’re looking for a nature escape, you can visit the Meri-Rastila camping area, which is located near Itäkeskus. It’s not just for campers, as they have a beautiful cafe/restaurant and water sports options open to all. It’s a perfect spot for a relaxing day out with family and friends.

Wander in Central Park

Helsinki Central Park of Helsinki is a sprawling green space located in the heart of the city. It is not just a small park but a large forested area. It is the largest park in Helsinki and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including forests, meadows, lakes, and streams. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and fishing, or simply relax and take in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

It takes only 15 minutes to reach Central Park from the city centre by walking. Because the park is huge, you can easily spend the whole day there. If you end up at the opposite end of the park, just take a tram or bus back to your origin.

Day Trip Destination outside Helsinki

A Day in Espoo

Espoo is a picturesque coastal city located on the southern coast of Finland, adjacent to Helsinki. It is the second-largest city in the country and is easily accessible from Helsinki Centre via the metro. Espoo is a nature lover’s paradise, boasting a stunning coastline and a beautiful national park. The city is home to a plethora of outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, cycling, and bird-watching.

Read our blog post about Espoo.

Porvoo Old Town

Porvoo Old Town is a 1-hour bus trip away from Helsinki Central Bus Station, Kamppi. It is the nearest old town to Helsinki. Occasionally, there are museum trains from Helsinki to Porvoo which is an idyllic way to reach this cosy town. You can also reach Porvoo by boat.

Read more about Porvoo Old Town on the Finnoy Travel website.

Hanko Marine Town

Hanko is a small town located on the southern coast of Finland. It is known for its beautiful beaches, picturesque nature, and historical landmarks. The town was founded in the late 19th century as a popular summer resort destination for the Finnish elite. The travel time from Helsinki to Hanko is about 2 hours.

Hanko is famous for its seafood cuisine, offering a variety of locally caught fish and seafood dishes prepared with traditional Finnish recipes. The town is a charming destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, history, culture, and culinary delights. Read more about Hanko on the Finnoy Travel website.

Turku – the Oldest Town in Finland

Turku is the oldest town in Finland and also the former capital. There is a direct train connection from Helsinki to Turku multiple times a day. The travel time is less than 2 hours. The trains are comfortable and the tickets are affordable. By booking tickets early, you save a lot.

InterCity Train in Finland
Long-distance trains in Finland are a comfortable way of travelling.

Turku is a place for people who like cosy cafes in the small centre and the rich history. Visiting Turku Castle is an eye-opening experience but you can experience more modern things in this traditional city. Why not enjoy lunch on a boat in Aura River and take a cruise to Ruissalo Island?

No one should visit Finland without giving Turku a chance to show its best sides. Turku is a true summer city so it is best to be visited when the weather is sunny.

Tallinn – the Estonian Neighbour

Did you know that you can travel from Helsinki to Tallinn in just 80 kilometres? With a ferry ride, you can make this journey in less than 2 hours, making it a convenient and exciting day trip. If you book a day cruise, you can enjoy surprisingly low ferry prices to Tallinn.

Tallinn is a small yet vibrant capital city, with plenty of attractions to explore. The charming Old Town is a must-see, but there is so much more to discover. The city offers a wide range of shopping opportunities, with prices that are generally lower than in Helsinki. It’s no wonder that locals in Helsinki love to visit Tallinn multiple times a year, and it’s worth a visit.

Read on the Finnoy Travel website what Tallinn offers for a day visitor.

Bottom Line

The biggest mistake people make is that they spend only a few days in Helsinki. That is not enough to see the best things that Helsinki has to offer and you don’t have time to visit destinations nearby. Our recommendation is to spend at least 1 week in Helsinki.

After a few days in Helsinki, you can make day trips to destinations near Helsinki. Public transport in Finland works well and the prices are low. By exploring other cities and towns, you will experience more. Even though all towns in Finland are modern, they are still surprisingly different. And why not give Tallinn a chance by making a day cruise to the Estonian capital?

What places have you seen in Finland? What is your recommendation? Comment below.

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