DISCOVER THE BEST PHOTO LOCATIONS IN HELSINKI
When you think of Finland’s capital city, Helsinki, iconic photo locations don’t immediately spring to mind, let alone instagrammable spots that will make your grid stand out! Wrong! Helsinki has got to be one of the most hidden gems of Scandinavia and the secret has been in the bag for way too long!
Helsinki is an ideally located city metropolis which not only is in excellent proximity to nature, surrounded by 330 islands which comprise it’s archipelago but also woos with its unique architectural style.
From stunning city scapes featuring, sea pools, cathedrals and parks to a coastline adorned by flora, fauna, summer houses, historical fortresses and a playground of outdoor activities, Helsinki is waiting to be discovered. Let it draw you in by entering a unique culture and lifestyle that will have you reeling for more of a city’s charm, friendly locals and taking top spot on your wanderlust list! You truly won’t have any problems in finding some fabulous photo locations in Helsinki.
Full Disclosure: The activities in this post were sponsored by Helsinki Partners, My Helsinki. Additionally this post contains affiliate links where I may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. This is at no cost to you. For further information, read our Disclosure Policy
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Recommended Helsinki Hotels
If you’re looking for hotels, check out this review of a hidden gem in the heart of the swanky Design District:
Alternatively search for a your ideal accommodation in Helsinki based on your travel style below:
A great economical way to explore Helsinki is by purchasing a Go Helsinki Card. The Helsinki card gives you access to 30 + tours, attractions and activities. It’s advantages are:
- Great savings and easy budgeting
- Choose from 1,2, or 3 day cards
- Great for advance planning or ad hoc visits.
- You can purchase it online and collect in Helsinki (airport or central tourist information location).
- As long as you activate the card at one of the stations, your timed card starts then and you just need to scan at each attraction.
Recommended Tours For Helsinki City Orientation & Discovery
One of the best ways to get your orientation around the city of Helsinki is by taking a small group guided walking tour. You can save time by booking this in advance of your trip so you can get your bearings around the city on Day 1 of arriving, especially if you’re short of time. You’ll also get to hear about the history behind certain iconic landmarks and points of interest, the Hop on Hop Off Bus tours are also a great way to get around the city and if you’d like more of a personal touch, why not have a private local guide who can tailor the tour to your interest?
Discover the Best Photo Locations in Helsinki
Helsinki Cathedral takes centre stage in Senate Square and is a Lutheran church and is probably one of the most iconic buildings in the whole of the capital, let alone the country. It was built during 1830-1852 and to this day is still used for religious services as well as weddings and christenings.
- How to get there: Unioninkatu 29, 00170 Helsinki. Tel. +358 9 23406120
- Visiting Information: Helsinki Cathedral
- Where to get the shot: Stand right in front of the Cathedral after the fountain or on the steps. It’s worth going around to the side and scoping out the columns too for a different perspective.
The square that you cannot miss houses a unique example of neoclassical architecture, with four buildings designed by Carl Ludvig Engel. These are namely Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library. Note the stature of Alexander II which stands in the middle of the square.
Senate Square also hosts a sound installation, the Sound of the Senate Square which can be heard at 17:49 every day as it travels from one building to the next, its almost like a modern day version of the European glockenspiel and the sound lasts for five minutes and 18 seconds.
- How to get there: 00170 Helsinki. Tel: +358 9 31013300
- How to get the shot: Stand on the steps of Helsinki Cathedral for a wide angle view of the square.
Be-lavie Tip: Stop by Café Engel located on the side of the square in front of Helsinki cathedral. If the weathers good, grab a seat outside.
Colourful Instagram shot fans will adore this colourful street in Helsinki. Huvilakatu is Finnish for ‘Villa Street’. These almost candy-coloured houses in this desirable part of town come in shades of pale yellow, pink, green and blue and have a staggering price-tag!! Some of these Art Nouveau houses are Air BnB’s incase you fancy staying here and are located in the famous Design District of the city.
- How to get there: Huvilakatu, 00150, Helsinki.
- Where to get the shot: There will almost always be cars parked on this street so your best shot opportunity is to stand in the middle of the street and get down low to get the full length of the houses in the frame.
Be-lavie Tip: If you’re an Art Nouveau fan, make sure you drop by the Design Museum en route to the street.
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit. It is known as the island Sea-Fortress which was once a Swedish fortification against the Russian expansion. The fortress is shaped by three historic eras which through the times have helped Sweden, Russia and Finland. The island is home to around 800 residents, has a hostel as well as some very cute cafes and a church. One of which cafes (Pictured below) being the Cafe Silo & Villa
The Island consists of six kilometres of walls, 100 cannons, tunnels and pretty parklands. You can also visit museums or see the island on a guided tour.
- How to get there: 00190 Helsinki. The easiest way to access is by the HSL ferry from Market Square with travel time being around 15 minutes. Ferries are quite accessible with 2 or 3 per hour in either direction.
- Where to get the Shot: The cute, coloured walls of the cafes and buildings. Head to the Clock tower of the Jetty’s barracks which can be found by turning left from the jetty where you disembark the ferry.
Be-lavie Tip: If you purchase a Helsinki Card, unlimited ferries are included for the duration of the card post activation. If you have children, don’t miss the Toy Museum on Suomenlinna.
Helsinki City Highlights Boat Cruise
One of the best ways by far of seeing Helsinki from another perspective is to take a 1.5 hour City Highlights cruise that showcases the urban shore line and a few of the 330 islands that make up the Helsinki archipelago.
The 1.5 hours cruise is relaxing, with a guide explaining the history and significance of the areas you pass as well as the summer terraces, beach cafes and beautiful parks that bring architectural contrast to teh newer and older parts of the city. The boat also passes by a lot of residential areas which you may not normally see
There is a cafe and convenience facilities on board as well as lower and sun deck depending on what you prefer and weather conditions.
Please note cruises only operate May 25 – Sep 11, 2022
- How to get there: The tour departs from Market Square near the yellow flags. Daily at 11:30, 13:30, 15:30/ Boast arrive 30 minutes prior to departure
- Where to get the Shot: The sun deck is teh best place to sit along the sides to get the best unobstructive view of the shoreline. Be sure to get some shots of Helsinki Cathedral as you come in and out of Market Square from the boat.
Be-lavie Tip: If you purchase a Helsinki Card, the Helsinki Highlights tour by Stromma is included post activation.
Recommended Tour: 1.5 Hour Cruise of the Helsinki Archipelago
A fine example of Russian architecture, Uspenski Cathedral was completed in 1868 in the Katajanokka neighbourhood of Helsinki. It is said to be the largest orthodox church in Western Europe featuring gold cupolas and a red brick exterior. The interiors are just as impressive as the exteriors – go take a peek inside, it’s Free!
- How to get there: Kanavakatu 1, 00160 Helsinki. Tel. +358 9 85646100
- Visiting Information: Uspenski Cathedral
- How to get the Shot: Stand opposite the Cathedral on the small hillside.
Bonus Be-lavie Tip: To get an incredible shot of Helsinki Cathedral at sunset climb the steps up to Uspenski Cathedral and look left. This is one of the best sunset photo locations in Helsinki you’ll find.
The incredible 600 pipe monument by Eila Hiltunen of composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) is located in the Sibelius Park. Unvelied in September 1967, the monument resembles organ pipes and is made of welded steel.with the bust of teh composer on one side.
This is one of Finlands most notable monument let alone Helsinki, Have a walk around Sibelius Park whilst you’re going to see the monument
- How to get there: Sibeliuksen puisto, 00260 Helsinki
- How to get the Shot: There are some great angles so experiment until you get what you want.
Be-lavie Tip: If you’d like some people-free photos make sure you head to teh park early morning so you can enjoy the park and monument all to yourself.
This cute cabin (formerly a shed to store fishnets) which has now been turned into a café, has become a bit of an Instagram hotspot in Helsinki for its quaintness and charm. The famous coffee family Paulig owned it back in time, infact, you can still see their wooden yellow & white lace villa (now owned by the city) in close proximity to the cafe today.
cafe Regatta is super small with the majority of tables located outside, which is also a very kitsch garden area with colourful nick-nacks.
Café Regatta is located right by the sea in Töölö and definitely has vintage countryside vibe. The fresh cinnamon buns are to die for!! The atmosphere is relaxed and in the summer you can even grill sausages bought from the café on the open fire in the yard area. The café is a regular hang-out for tourist as well as the locals, so it’s a nice spot to mingle with the Finns.
In the wintertime, the water beside the café freezes and many locals cross it by foot as it’s considered safe!
- How to get there: Merikannontie 8, 00260, Helsinki
- How to get the shot: It’s all very photogenic spot so in front of the café, at the side towards the water or even one sitting in the yard come garden is perfect.
Be-lavie Tip: If you’ve never tried Cardomom Buns, this is the place for the freshest ones ever, they’re delicious and go well with a hot chocolate or an iced fresh lemonade.
Allas Sea Pool
For a truly Finnish affair, you must experience the Finnish Sauna and Allas Sea Pool is the place. It’s a marine spa and an oasis of urban culture right in the heart of the city of Helsinki.
The Finns culture hugely value, wellbeing and mental health, leading to many saunas in Finland.
Allas is built on a floating deck is located minutes away from the Market Square with views of the cityscape and Baltic sea as well as other city attractions and points of interest. The pools are open year-round and is full of locals and a very small handful of tourists who brave the experience. It is definitely one to be braved.
There are three saunas as wells as floating saunas (one for ladies, one for men and a mixed one – same with changing rooms), two warm water pools, and a sea pool where the water is pumped from nearby streams and filtered.
There is also an ice pool so you can go back and forth between the saunas and the pool – an activity which is highly recommended by the locals.
It’s an exhilarating experience.
How to get there: Katajanokanlaituri 2a, 00169, Helsinki
Visiting information: https://allasseapool.fi/
How to get the shot: choose the pools or the sandy beach area with views of the cityscape and Baltic sea harbour.
Be-lavie Tip: The Allas Sea Pool opens pretty early around 07:30 so to have the space almost to yourself and get in some lane swimming, start your day here! It’ll set you up for some sightseeing.
Located on the floors right above the Allas Sea Pools, this swanky rooftop bar is the place to hang out! It encompassed three different restaurant experiences; Allas Café & Terrace (Serving food all day in a relaxed atmosphere), Allas Bistro & Lounge (urban sea-view restaurant on the second floor of Allas) and Allas Sky Bar (Drinks and fabulous views galore!)
The second floor is idea for a lovey meal and drinks and a good spot for some lovely photos with Helsinki cathedral in the background. The music is also pretty cool with a wonderful atmosphere!
It is also possible to book a VIP table at Allas restaurants with a small deck area and truly provides a personal touch!
- How to get there: Katajanokanlaituri 2a, 00169, Helsinki
- Visiting Information: https://www.allasrestaurants.fi/en/etusivu-en/
- How to get the shot: An outdoor table will give you the best views to photograph but if the weather is not on your side, then the bar area is decorated in a stylish contemporary style.
Be-lavie Tip: During the summer months, Allas Restaurants do not take bookings so to brag a good table turn up pretty early – I’m talking later afternoon to secure yourself a good spot for the evening! Oh and there are great veggie options, just speak to the server.
Oodi Helsinki Central Library
Finland boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world and the Oodi Library is a symbol of national pride for Finland. It has been designed by acclaimed Finnish architecture firm, ALA and opened in 2018.
Books only fill one-third of this incredible building. the Oodi library includes a recording studio, makers space, movie theatre, restaurant, café, and public balcony. In this way, the library becomes a well-rounded cultural hub that reaches far beyond simply borrowing a book.
You can enter the library for free and look around, read a book or use the computer points but require a permanent Finnish address to borrow or take any resources away.
- How to get there: Töölönlahdenkatu 4, 00100 Helsinki. Tel. +358 9 31085000
- Visiting Information: https://www.oodihelsinki.fi/
- How to get the shot: Head to the second floor for s great panoramic shot of the terrace or the awe inspiring staircase in the centre of the building.
Be-lavie Tip: Make this a pit stop and grab some food or a coffee in the cafe, go and sit on the roof terrace and enjoy the views. A modern take for your photo locations in Helsinki list!
The Temppeliaukion kirkko or Temppeliaukio church is excavated into a solid rock, with work being completed in 1969 and forms one of the main attractions in Helsinki.
The hall of the church is covered with a dome which is lined with copper and supported on the rock with reinforced concrete. If you visiy before noon, you’ll see the light spread from the line of windows around the edge of the roof to the altar wall, where the altarpiece is an ice-age crevice.
The Temppeliaukion Church is well known for its excellent acoustics and hosts many concerts throughout the year.
- How to get there: Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki. Tel. +358 9 23406320
- Visitor Information: https://temppeliaukionkirkko.fi/
- How to get the shot: Stand on the top level for a great shot of the lower level and rock ceiling.
Be-lavie Tip: Due to the architecture, word has got out that this place is definitely worth a visit, if you want to spend some peaceful time here, listening to the acoustics, plan to get here as close to opening or closing time as possible. You’ll also be able to able to frame some great images and add to your photo locations in Helsinki list!
Moomins at Iittala & Arabia Store Esplanadi
One for the Moomin Fans: Unfortunately, the Moomin café closed in Helsinki, there is still a Moomin Coffee at Helsinki Vantaa Airport.
You can still head to Littala & Arabia Store on the Esplanade, which sells some incredible glass and homeware products. They have a Moomin range and a little area set up which you can crash for a photo opportunity.
- How to get there: Pohjoisesplanadi 23, 00100 Helsinki
- Visiting Information: https://www.iittala.com/fi-fi
- How to get the shot: Head to the Moomin area in store and get creative!
Moomin Fans Must know…
Later in 2022, Digital Nature will be opening up a digital Moomin experience exhibition, which you can find out about here: Moomin stories to life in an interactive showroom There are plenty of Moomin-related locations in Helsinki as their creator was a Helsinkian, Get all the detail at Tove Jansson’s Helsinki
Be-lavie Tip: Be sure to look at the beautiful collection of glasses and home products in this beautiful store. A great place for some classy present purchasing!
The Best Day Trips from Helsinki
If you would prefer to leave the city for a day or two and discover the surrounding areas of Helsinki, thee day trips are a great way to see the countryside, National Parks and as well as quintessentially Finnish towns within a couple of hours from the city.
Discover The Best Photo Locations in Helsinki Round Up
If you were in any doubt at all about the lack of photography opportunities in Helsinki, this post aims to provide inspiration on locations as well a thirst for discovering this unusual capital city. Walking the streets of Helsinki leads truly to so many perspectives and angles unique to this place and its diverse culture. A place for any budding photographers visit list, not just for the photography but also the history. Some of the best photo locations in Helsinki are hidden gems, you never know what you’ll across.
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