1. Fall into a fairy-tale world in Seurasaari
Seurasaari is a green island popular for hiking, as well as its outdoors museum, Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, which depicts traditional Finnish life from the 18th to the 20th century.
A popular Helsinki pre-Christmas event is the Seurasaari Christmas Path. The path offers visitors a glimpse into a fairy-tale world, with over 30 different activities and events found along the route, including face painting, a maze, a slow-burning log fire and roasting stick buns over a campfire.
Seurasaari island is open all year.
The open-air museum is open 5-31 May, 1 June to 31 August and 1-15 September. Opening times are Mon-Fri 9am-3pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm and Mon-Sun 11am-5pm.
Price: €8 for adults; €2.50 for children ages seven-17; children under seven years get in free when accompanied by an adult; €18 for a family ticket.
2. Discover all Porvoo has to offer
Finland’s second oldest town, and a very popular daytrip, located 50km up the coast from Helsinki. The town has charming cobbled streets and beautiful red-brick converted warehouses along the river that sit next to newer developments painted in reds and yellows. The Old Town with its cobbled alleys and wooden houses is great to explore and is full of quirky craft shops, galleries and cafes.
3. Shop the St. Thomas Christmas market
This is the largest Christmas market in Finland and held in Helsinki’s landmark Senate Square. The entire square becomes a lively Christmas store selling everything from handicrafts to mulled wine, festive ginger bread, rye bread and traditional cinnamon buns. The wooden Christmas decorations and toys are particularly popular with visitors. Expect to pay around €10 – €15 for a medium hand-carved wooden toy train or animal. The market is open from 8 December to 21 December 2014.
4. Discover the deep sea at Sea Life Helsinki
Main attractions include an underwater tunnel with sharks and rays, discovery pool with the opportunity to see and feel sea creatures, Mussakka the zebra shark (Sea Life’s largest resident) and feeding demonstrations throughout the day.
Price: €16 for adults; €12 for children ages three-14; free admission for children under three; €53 for a family of four plus a guidebook.
5. Lux light street festival
This free event in Helsinki shows off magnificent light art installations that lights up the city when the sun goes down. 2015 will be the event’s seventh year and includes circus shows and guided walking tours to explore the art. Tours in English are free (pre-registration at Helsinki Tourist Office is required) and take place at 5.30pm and 6.30pm 4 January to 7 January and at 6.30pm on 8 January. Tours last 1.5 hours.
6. Trek through Nuuksio national park
A few miles from Espoo on the outskirts of Helsinki, Nuuksio National Park is a wilderness that seems far away from city life. Activities include riding, cycling, climbing, picking berries and mushrooms, swimming, snowshoeing, skiing or trekking. There are almost 30km of trekking trails that lead to beautiful lakes.
7. Experience Heureka’s interactive exhibits
Located in the Helsinki district of Vantaa, Heureka is full of interactive exhibitions, indoors and outdoors, and is home to one of Europe’s most modern digital planetariums.
Price: From €13.50 for children under 16 and 19€ for adults.
8. Carve up some ice at Icepark
Helsinki’s large ice rink is one of the city’s most popular meeting points during the colder months, located in the heart of Helsinki at the Railway Station Square. The Icepark will be open from 22 November until the end of March.
Price: 6€ for adults; 4€ for children under 18 (valid all day); 5€ for skate rental.
More of what you love…
Moomins, observation wheels and beaches are just a few of the many things Finland has to offer. Have a look at our Helsinki city guide for more holiday inspiration or visit Lapland for a festive Christmas holiday.