Do you want to experience Helsinki like a local? As a tourist, you probably know what the best things to do in Helsinki are. However, have you ever wondered what the locals do for fun? Someone told us that there was this joke about Finns in Hungary:
A reporter asks a young Finnish man:
– How do you spend your pastime during the summer?
– We go fishing and we have sex with our partners.
– And how about winter?
– Well, you can’t go fishing during the winter…
This joke is an example of how little foreigners may know about Finns and Finland in reality, because the locals can of course go ice fishing and enjoy a lot of other activities in the winter.
So, since you are coming to Helsinki, why not experience this city like a local?
7 Best Thing To Do In Helsinki Like A Local
1. Get around the city with trams, city bikes or e-scooters
First of all, Helsinki has one of the oldest electrified tram systems in the world. If you stay within the city center, getting around with trams is really convenient. During the summer, you have a chance to try the vintage tram ride. Find out more about it HERE.
Riding the city bikes is a good option when you want to explore the city at your own initiative. A one-day ticket costs 5 euros while you only pay 10 euros for a one-week ticket. However, you should keep in mind that you have to return the bike every 30 minutes. More info HERE.
Starting 2019, electric scooters became so popular in many European cities. In Helsinki, they have been such a real hit that you see people hopping on them all the time. It’s convenient to move around but can be really pricey and even dangerous. Download Tier, Voi or Lime app to start your scooter ride.
2. Take a stroll along the coastline
Residents of Helsinki loves nature. Since Helsinki is blessed with hundreds of kilometers of shoreline, it’s undoubtedly natural for the locals to spend time near the sea. At any time of the year, you will see locals jogging, running or walking their dogs. Our favorite route is the loop of Töölö Bay (Töölönlahti) as not only the views are amazing but we can also stop by the beautiful Winter Garden and sit down at Sinisen Huvilan Kahvila for some coffee and Finnish pastries.
3. Treasure hunt at a second shop or flea market
The people of Helsinki loves roaming second-hand stores and flea markets (known as kirpputori or kirppis in Finnish). You will find thrift stores at almost every street corner of Helsinki. For example, Fida is a large Finnish charity shop chain aiming to improve the rights of vulnerable children in poor countries, while UFF is a second-hand chain that helps with development projects in Africa and India. Moreover, you can expand your treasure hunt to Hietalahti outdoor market during summer or Kattilahalli flea market during winter.
4. Take part in an outdoor event
There is always something going on throughout the year in Helsinki. Finns enjoy being outdoors even in freezing weather. Here are a few annual events that make your trip to Helsinki more fun and memorable:
- The Night of the Arts (Taiteiden Yö) – mid August
- Flow Festival: start of August
- International Food Market – usually in summer
- Kallio Block Party – start of August
- Color Obstacle Rush – late spring
- Tough Viking Helsinki – end of summer
- Ice skating at Ice Park Helsinki – as long as there is snow
5. Experience Helsinki: Sauna – Beer – Skinny-dipping
More sauna – More beer – More skinny-dipping
There is nothing more Finnish than sauna and sauna culture is deeply rooted in every Finn.
It is believed that you cannot truly grasp Finland and its culture without experiencing Finnish sauna.
For any newbie, please note that there is nothing sexual when it comes to Finnish sauna, even when people go there in the nude. It is the place where you get cleansed mentally and physically. And don’t be surprised when a sauna session can last for several hours. So, since you are in Finland, do it the Finn way: Go to sauna with an alcoholic drink in your hand, relish the löyly, cool down by skinny-dipping into water, and repeat that circle till eternity… Just kidding, but basically, you can enjoy the sauna as long as you like.
In case you would like to visit a public sauna, check out our list of awesome public saunas.
6. Take a day trip from Helsinki to nearby places
It is worth seeing what lies beyond Helsinki. Therefore, Helsinki locals usually spend their free time exploring nearby places, which also offers a great getaway from the busy city life. Here are some of our inspirations for a perfect day and half-day trips from Helsinki. :
- Nuuksio National Park Adventure
- Hvitträsk – A hidden gem
- Porvoo Finland- A pleasant day trip from Helsinki
- Explore Turku – The former capital of Finland
- Tallinn – Baltic’s well-kept secret
7. Get on a Baltic cruise
Going on cruises is another thing Helsinki residents take pleasure in. Overseas cruises could be very affordable or even cost next to nothing if you book at the right time. Subscription to those cruise-offering websites will keep you notified of their unbelievably good deals and allow yourself to always book a cruise at a discounted price. We once got a day cruise from Helsinki to Tallinn for 2 euros/pax. It is up to your schedule to decide how much time to spare for a cruise. Belows are the list of cruises you can take from Helsinki:
- Helsinki – Tallinn
- Helsinki – Stockholm
- Helsinki – St. Petersburg
- Helsinki – Åland Islands