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A top destination in Finland, Helsinki is defined by straight-up freezing temperatures and very short days with little sunlight during winter. But it’s these very qualities that have developed some of the most incredible aspects of visiting during the winter. We’ve excluded some of the obvious choices like sleigh rides and snowshoeing to introduce some other activities that would be a shame to overlook. Helsinki in the winter is a glittering spectacle of festive coziness, and these are the most magical things to do.
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Snowmobile Safari in Helsinki Archipelago with Lunch
What Is It? Delving into the surrounding nature of Helsinki in the winter is both unforgettable and exciting while onboard a speeding snowmobile.
Why Do It? Guides take riders to see icy gulf waters, then to forested lands coated with powder.
Good to Know: Lunch is deliciously cooked over a campfire while you sip a warm beverage.
Winter Wonderland Hike in a National Park
What Is It? Do you want to build a snowman? Traversing from Helsinki, adventurists will experience the ultimate “winter wonderland” at Liesjärvi National Park.
Why Do It? However, rather than snowball fights and snowy creations, this tour encourages the enjoyment of pure silence that can be found in this magical place in Finland, in winter particularly.
Good to Know: A warm lunch awaits in a traditional Finnish hut in the woods.
What Is It? Fat biking has become a popular winter activity through the US as well and consists of riding a bike with extra-wide tires.
Why Do It? These bikes work well in the snow found along the gulf during the Finnish winter, and it’s a relatively attainable activity for most, that requires stamina, but pretty basic skill overall.
Good to Know: A lot of terrains can be covered in comparison to hiking, and the ride offers just enough exhilaration.
Sauna and Swimming
What Is It? Saunas are a traditional way to relax and recharge in Finland—it’s not hard to find one. However, in the winter, folks in Helsinki like to pair their sweat sessions with a dip into icy sea water—no joke.
Why Do It? A rectangle opening is chiseled through the frigid surface, and people just jump in for a swim, before shuffling to an authentic wooden sauna to warm up. It’s believed this is fantastic for health.
Good to Know: Allas Sea Pool, and Löyly, are two local options where travelers can experience both.
What Is It? Ice rinks can be found in abundance in and around Helsinki, and many are sports parks where one can play a game of ice hockey.
Why Do It? Ice Park in Railway Square has a more socialized atmosphere, with skaters coming to enjoy a relaxed environment in a pretty area overlooked by cathedrals and other lovely buildings.
Good to Know: Glide for an hour, then take a break for a warm snack from the cafe. Helmet and skate rentals are onsite.
Redrib Ice Experience
What Is It? Hop aboard a hovercraft on the Redrib Ice Experience, to speed through surrounding icy water, busting through layers as you make your way to a stop where’ll you’ll disembark for more adventure.
Why Do It? A campfire lunch of heartwarming salmon stew awaits before putting on a survival suit, then jumping into the bitterly cold water for a float.
Good to Know: There will be an opportunity to skip by foot from one mini iceberg to the next, and even do some ice breaking of your own.
Helsinki Christmas Market
What Is It? If you’re lucky enough to be in Finland during the holidays, nothing says magic more than the Helsinki Christmas Market. Lights twinkle above, massive Christmas trees are adorned and a beautifully crafted merry go round offers free rides to little ones.
Why Do It? Vendors fill the walkways with fragrant regional eats, and artisans craft one of a kind gifts that make the ultimate presents.
Good to Know: A lot goes on during Christmas in Helsinki, and this market is a great introduction. You may even see ole Saint Nick.
Nuuksio Reindeer Park
What Is It? A visit to Nuuksio Reindeer Park is well worth the 40-minute drive from Helsinki because as the name suggests, real reindeer call the natural landscape home.
Why Do It? Imagine bringing the kids to see Santa’s navigators (gingerbread and glögi are offered during the Christmas season).
Good to Know: White Reindeer Teepee Restaurant is a part of the attraction, offering campfire coffee and Finnish fish dishes along with cheeses and cloudberry jam.
Stay in a “Igluhut”
What Is It? Deserving its own separate mention, Nuuksio Reindeer Park houses authentic spruce shingle “Igluhuts” with a classic Finnish aesthetic on the inside.
Why Do it? Snuggle up in the cozy plush bed and wait for a reindeer to pop it’s head up by your window, in hopes of a snack.
Good to Know: Baskets with human goodies and breakfast items are available upon request, and hiking trails are right outside. Skiing terrain isn’t far away.
Enjoy the Lights
What Is It? Because of the lesser amount of daylight, Helsinki glitters with creative light arrangements. Walking around and taking in this mesmerizing display is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Why Do It? It’s free to browse around “light seeing”, and you’ll likely discover a lovely coffee shop or cafe along the way.
Good to Know: Speaking of lights, it’s possible for the Northern Lights to make their debut in the area various times throughout the frigid months.
Eat, Eat, Eat
What Is It? Helsinki is a foodie’s dream, and the offerings change with the season, especially during the winter.
Why Do It? If you are human and like food, you’ll want to explore the restaurants, and Old Market Hall, where the best fish soup (a winter staple) can be found. Earthy root veggies, rich cream sauces and a savory pancake topped with salmon eggs are amongst some of the Finnish winter treats to try.
Good to Know: Pair your meal with a delightful cup of glögi, aka, warm mulled wine, or coffee. Not only do Helsinki natives love coffee, but they are also darn good at making it.