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Helsinki is the capital of Finland and is Europe's most northerly capital.  It did not develop into a major citiy until after the creation of the Grand Duchy of Finland in the early 19th century.
 
Helsinki is located on a peninsula by the Baltic Sea, and the central region is surrounded on three sides by water and small islands.  One of those islands contains the great sea fortress of Suomenlinna, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and now contains museums and craft shops.  Helsinki also has a couple of interesting churches such as the Helsinki Cathedral and the Rock Church.
Questions answered about visiting Helsinki
I'll have a few hours (max 8) on a stopover in Helsinki in December. What's a must-see/must-do? Thank you!
What should I do on a whistle stop tour of Helsinki?
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Travel Tips from people who've been to Helsinki
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Liquor and Cigarettes, along with countless other things, are Tax free in neighboring Tallinn, Estonia. This leads people from Helsinki to make day trips here to stock up 'supplies'. The ferry ride is a comfortable 2 1/2 hours between Helsinki and Tallinn, and it gets you those cool stamps in your passport. How many of you're friends can say, "Oh, and this is the stamp from when we went to Estonia". So if your in either Tallinn or Helsinki, there absolutely NO excuse to not visit the other.
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You have to visit Suomenlinna!!
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Helsinki is one of my favorite cities in the world. The first time I was there was on early December, and I stayed there for 3 or 4 days as a brief stop on my way to St. Petersburg. As there was a Finnair strike going on those days, I had to stay in Helsinky a bit longer so I was "forced" to get to know the city a bit more than I was expecting.
The first thing you'll notice is how quiet the city is. Nobody speaks any louder than they need to, and they seem to do things on a whole different pace. If your working, you're concentrated in what your doing, not talking also on the phone or with your nearest work colleague. Helsinki is a small city for the south/central europe standards, so you'll get to know the best part of it in 2 or 3 days. Finns are one of the most welcoming people I ever had the please to make acquaintance. Everywhere you go you're welcomed with a warm smile and "doi". Even though their language (suomi) looks something that came out of Narnia (really, not like anything I've ever seen) most of the people you interact with will speak English to an almost native level, so communicating with the locals it's pretty easy.
Going around the city is easy also, everything well signaled and fairly near, so knowing the city is possible to do on foot, even in wintertime where temperatures reach minus a whole lot of degrees Celsius. If you are going in wintertime as I did, expect temperatures in the order of -20 on daytime, so be prepared. Standard cold weather dressing applies - dress in layers, buy inner pants even if you're a guy (you'll praise that choice later), bring a really warm coat and warm gloves. The sunrise comes pretty late (after 9 AM) and the sunset begins around 2PM, so you don't get much daylight in the wintertime. Despite this, the snow that covers all of the city gives it a really nice blue-ish white.
And if you're travelling to Russia, be sure to "breathe" a lot of civilization before you enter the plane. You'll thank me later.
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Matti T. wrote a review on The Market, Helsinki
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I'll have a few hours (max 8) on a stopover in Helsinki in December. What's a.. (More)
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