The heart of Helsinki is the bustling kauppatori or market square. Also known as the fish market, it is surrounded by graceful 19th-century buildings - some of the few remaining in the city after the devastation of WWII. Visit Havis Amanda, the lovely mermaid statue and fountain just west of the fish market. The statue was designed in 1908 by one of Finland's most beloved artists, Ville Vallgren. Also known as Manta, it is commonly regarded as the symbol of Helsinki - if not all of Finland.
Fun Things to Do
- Explore the city of Helsinki. Visit Temppeliaukio, one of Europe's most unusual modern churches. Stop at the Olympic Stadium, site of the 1952 Olympic Games. Visit Sibelius Park, where you can see the unique stainless-steel monument erected for the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
- Immerse yourself in the history of Porvoo, the second-oldest town in Finland. See the majestic medieval cathedral as you walk the cobblestone streets of this old wooden town.
- Explore the Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, and the Senate Square.
As in other Scandinavian countries, the smörgâsbord is popular. It's a buffet with a wide range of hot and cold dishes featuring plenty of seafood, including Baltic herring and smoked salmon. There is a variety of ways to serve reindeer, including cold and smoked, much like salmon. Bear and elk may appear on the menu, and there is always plenty of game. You'll also find many pastries and desserts, as well as cloudberries, a slightly tarter variation on raspberries.
The Euro (EUR), the currency of the European Union, is the official currency of Finland. Many stores and restaurants also accept major credit cards, which usually offer you a good exchange rate. When shopping, remember there is a Value-Added Tax on most purchases.