Whether you have family visiting or if you are new to Helsinki, this itinerary to spend 3 days in Helsinki is showing off the Finnish Capital at its best, from sights, to nature, relaxing, local things to do! This is a very relaxed schedule, taking an afternoon siesta into account as we all need to take some downtime when it’s so warm!
This is a great itinerary for anyone who
- wants to experience Helsinki like a local
- enjoys a casual bike ride
- wants to see all the main sights but not focus on them
- take it easy during the afternoon
- loves great food and drinks
- loves to see some nature
- Map Overview
- DAY 1: Sightseeing and Biking around the South
- DAY 2: Relaxing Island day on Pihlajasaari
- DAY 3: Exploring local cafés, markets and visiting Vallisaari Island
If you’d rather explore Helsinki more from a historic and design perspective, stay tuned for an upcoming itinerary!
DAY 1: Sightseeing and Biking around the South
- Breakfast: Green Hippo Café or Ekberg
- Morning: Take a City Bike around Southern Helsinki and take a boat ride
- Break: Café Ursula or Mattolaituri
- Lunch: Sandwich Club or Pupu Salads
- Afternoon: downtime
- Coffee or Drinks: Round or Jackie
- Dinner: Pamela
- Evening: walk around the city
Local neighbourhoods and biking along the shore
Getting around the city by bike is easy and fun, but this trip can also be done on foot – just plan in some extra time. 3 days in Helsinki are a good time to get an overview of the city! Start your day with a delicious breakfast (classic Finnish at Ekberg, or modern at Green Hippo Café) – both are in the same area. From either, I recommend grabbing a Citybike from the Old Church Park, bike down the Bulevardi Street, and then continue towards the left all along the water.
Bike along the shoreline and drop your bikes off at Kompassitori. From here, you can take a small boatride (for example with Callboats) to Uunisaari, or just walk around the harbour. A coffee or snack at Mattolaituri or Café Ursula are great spots too!
If you have time, going for a walk through the beautiful area of Eira – especially the Huvilakatu street is always incredible and very photogenic.
Historic center of Helsinki
Continue to walk or bike by the water until you reach the Old Market Hall and Market square! From here, you can explore some of the magnificent sights of historic Helsinki – our stunningly beautiful White Cathedral (extra tip: check out the crypts on the back of the Church, the entrance is on Kirkkokatu). You can also go for a stroll around Katajanokka Island and have a browse of the market. For lunch, I like a hefty Sandwich from Sandwich Club or grab a refreshing salad from Pupu.
At this point, I would personally go for a break or a nap.
Punavuori neighbourhood and dinner
However, you can also continue to walk down Esplanadi Park and take a turn on to Korkeavuorenkatu, and turn again into Pikku Roobertinkatu and continue towards Iso Roobertinkatu. This lovely street is great for some shopping and people watching. Enjoy a donut treat at Round or take an Apéritif at Jackie’s, before making your way to Pamela for dinner. One of my favourite restaurants to enjoy with friends, shared appetizers and delicious mains, also great drinks.
From here, you are pretty much at the same spot where you started your bike ride in the morning and you came full circle! A lovely spot for a slow evening walk if you still feel like it.
DAY 2: Relaxing Island day on Pihlajasaari
- Breakfast: Greenbake
- Morning & Day: Take the boat to Pihlajasaari island
- Lunch, Coffee or Drinks: Restaurant Pihlajasaari
- Afternoon: downtime
- Dinner: Goose Pasta Bar or Viinibaari Apotek
- Drinks: Buenos Aires
Beach day and Finnish Nature
Yesterday was busy, so today we will take it easy – and since. We have 3 days in Helsinki, we can take a beach day!
Greenbake is my favourite French bakery, and the best way to start the day is always with a fresh and flakey Croissant. From here, walk to the Ruoholahti stop of JT-Line, which takes you to Pihlajasaari, which is only a 20-minute boat ride away. Book your tickets beforehand here (on the boat is possible too).
Start your visit with a walk around the Island going towards the left after stepping off the pier, and at the end of the walk get comfortable at your preferred spot at the beach or on the rocks. Go for a swim and have a nap in the shade!
Grab a light lunch or just a drink at the idyllic Restaurant Pihlajasaari in the middle of the island and enjoy some views there too!
Dinner at a neighbourhood favourite
You can never go wrong with pasta, and Goose Pastabar is the best place for it. Apotek Winebar also serves delicious food, if you’d rather focus on the drinks but not compromise on your meal. For a drink, hop over to Buenos Aires bar or terrace and finish your day here. All these are in the same street, so a choice is easy!
DAY 3: Exploring local cafés, markets and visiting Vallisaari Island
- Morning: Bike to and then walk around Töölönlahti Bay
- Breakfast: Café Tyyni, Sinisen Huvila Café or Taideterassi
- Day: Local delicacies at Hakaniemi Market Hall
- Afternoon: Take the boat to Vallisaari Island for Helsinki Biennial – Island Hopping Route from Hakaniemi or direct from Market Square
- Coffee or Drinks: Easy Café Vallisaari
- Dinner: Kesäterassi
Morning at Töölönlahti bay
Today we start our day by biking or walking to Töölönlahti bay in the heart of the city! Here you have three lovely spots to choose from for a great coffee and great views. You can sit on the pier at Tyyny, or go on the opposite side of the bay to sit on the large terrace of Taideterassi or local classic, tucked away in the trees – Sinisen Huvilan kahvila. Impossible to pick!
Don’t eat too much, we will continue with a lot of treats at the local market hall later!
Local treats at Hakaniemi Market Hall
Continue your bike ride or walk from Töölönlahti along the water, ending your trip at Hakaniemi square. Here, we will go for a culinary stroll around Lasihalli – the current replacement of the original market hall from 1914. At the glass hall, I recommend the following stops: Kestoleike for some slices of cold smoked reindeer / “Tsarinlohileipä” the “tsars cured salmon” on rye bread from Marja Nätti / Karelian Pies from Marian Konditoria. If you have 1 or 3 days in Helsinki, these local treats are a must!
Helsinki Biennial on Vallisaari Island & Dinner on the summer terrace
The Helsinki Biennial is an international celebration of art that has taken the works of 40 artists to the beautiful island of Vallisaari. This island is part of the former military area, and has only been open to the public since 2016. It’s stunning with great views to the city, rugged rocky shorelines and lush forests. I’ve always loved to visit Vallisaari (even over Suomenlinna which is the classic spot for visitors) and the Biennial installations only add a layer of interesting things to it.
I recommend at least 3 hours for the visit, maybe even towards the end of the day (although the art installations close at 18:00, although some are openly accessible. Plan some time for a break with a drink an ice-cream at Easy Café and enjoy the time!
From Vallisaari, I recommend returning to the market square stop, and head over to the summer terrace at Kasarmitori for dinner! Here, for summer 2021, 13 local restaurants offer their best of dishes in the heart of Helsinki, with great drinks and atmosphere so bring people together in a safe environment. There’s something for everyone from pizza to burgers, tacos or bagels – so everyone can get what they prefer and still enjoy an outdoor dinner all together.
This is a great spot to end your 3 days in Helsinki! Good food and drinks – what more could you ask for! Here are some more tips for foodies: