The Land of Sauna – Helsinki, Finland
We used Helsinki as the entry point to northern Europe. It’s a big city and the capital of Finland with over 629,000 people and an additional 1.2 million people living just outside the city. We think Helsinki is one of those big cities that you either fall in love with or shrug your shoulders and say…..okay, another big city. We enjoyed our stay, but love was not in our hearts.
The Finns are huge sauna fans with an estimated 2 million saunas for a country with a population of 5.3 million. The tradition is to enjoy a sauna and then jump into the icy waters of the Baltic Sea…..anytime of the year!
The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral, better known as the “White Church” by the locals. The cathedral overlooks the Senate Square. The best time to view the cathedral is late afternoon or early evening……after the tour buses have left.
If you have a white church then you need a “Red Church” and that’s how the locals refer to Uspenski Cathedral, an Eastern Orthodox cathedral. Built in 1868, the cathedral is the largest orthodox church in Western Europe.
Inside the Uspenski Cathedral
The interior has massive chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling.
The coolest cafe in all of Helsinki is a great place to stop in the morning for a cup of coffee and one of their famous cinnamon buns. Outdoor seating along the water is a great way to start your day.
Helsinki Skywheel Sauna
Where can you ride a Ferris Wheel and sit in a sauna at the same time? In Finland! The brown cabin in the top middle will carry up to five people who’ll be able to bask in temperatures of up to 94F (90C).
Islands of Suomenlinna
The fortified islands of Suomenlinna are easy to reach by 20-minute ferry ride and worth a few hours exploring.
A strong reminder of the harsh winters: icebreakers in the background waiting patiently to be put into action.
Ferry to Tallinn, Estonia
If you are not heading on to Tallinn, Estonia we highly recommend a day trip or overnight trip to this city via ferry (2 hours). The ferry port is within walking distance of Tallinn Old Town.
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