Helsinki is filled with many activities, from exploring museums and enjoying a Finnish sauna to taking a summer cruise through the archipelago or sampling a Finnish seisovapöytä (smorgasbord). If your time is limited, though, be sure to visit the Mannerheim Museum, the home of Sibelius, the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, and the Suomenlinna Fortress.
Hvitträsk, in Luoma, Kirkkonummi (tel. 09/405-096-30), the studio home of architects Eliel Saarinen, Armas Lindgren, and Herman Gesellius, was built of logs and natural stone, and ranks among the most remarkable architectural creations of its time. The artistic unity of the house with its forest surroundings was a remarkable achievement. Today it's used as a center for exhibits of Finnish art and handicrafts. A first-rate restaurant, Hvitträsk (tel. 09/297-60-33), is open Tuesday to Thursday noon to 8pm and Friday to Monday noon to 6pm.
Admission to the center is 5€ ($8) for adults, 4€ ($6.40) for students; free for kids 17 and under. It's open daily from 11am to 6pm. To get here, take bus no. 166 from the Central Bus Station, Platform 62, and then walk about 2km (1 1/4 miles). Or take the train to Luoma, and then walk about 2km (1 1/4 miles). By car, follow the Jorvas motorway about 20km (12 miles), turn off at the Kivenlahti exit, drive about 5km (3 miles) toward Kauklahti, and then follow the Hvitträsk signs.
Tapiola, a notable model community, is in Espoo, 10km (6 miles) west of Helsinki. This garden city, from the pre-World War II era, is filled with parks, fountains, handsomely designed homes and apartments, shopping centers, playgrounds, schools, and churches. In the center of Tapiola is a large office building with a self-service cafeteria on top (a good choice for lunch). To reach Tapiola, go to stop no. 52 or no. 53 near the Central Station. From either stop, take any bus marked TAPIOLA.
Especially for Kids
Helsinki has many activities for children, beginning with the opportunity to travel around on the ferryboats and water buses that link the city's islands and attractions. The Helsinki Card entitles them to free admission or reduced rates at a number of attractions. We've noticed that children like the Traditional Helsinki by Sea boat tours, the Helsinki Zoo, the Pihlajasaari Recreational Park, Suomenlinna Fortress, the model-ship collection in the Ehrensvärd Museum, the submarine Vesikko on Susisaari Island, the outdoor Olympic Stadium, and many other sights and excursions.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.