The largely remote country of Finland might not be first on your list when you’re thinking of luxury getaway destinations, but this hidden gem, located in Northern Europe, has far more to offer than you might think. With some of the cleanest air in the world and some of the most breath-taking landscapes too, Finland is fast becoming a favourite travel destination for the winter months, offering up the chance to see iconic attractions like the Northern Lights, visit Santa in Lapland, go bear-watching, sled through the snow and pine forests and visit one of the nation’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are thousands of lakes and forests in Finland, making it the ideal choice for outdoorsy types and nature lovers alike, and a number of luxurious chalets and five-star hotels to choose from that will ensure that you can enjoy the whole trip in style. If you’re considering visiting this breath-taking country in 2021 or beyond, then Helsinki promises to make for a great base from which to explore. Look no further – because we’ve pulled together the ultimate luxury Helsinki travel guide to make planning your itinerary a breeze.
Enjoy the very best Helsinki has to offer
A hip young city that is fast becoming recognised as one of the coolest in Scandinavia, Helsinki is Finland’s vibrant capital and is perpetually buzzing with life. A harbour city located on a peninsula close to a sprawling Baltic archipelago, it comes to life in the summer months, with outdoor events taking place and parks filling up with locals spilling outside to enjoy the sunshine before the depths of an ice-cold winter take hold once again.
What to do
There is no shortage of things to do in Helsinki, with numerous sites to tick off your list while you’re in the city. The Spårakoff brass pub-tram will take you from one corner to another, allowing you to take in the best of the city whilst enjoying a drink or two – the perfect choice on colder days when you can barely feel your toes outside.
The Finnish National Gallery will give you a captivating insight into the nation’s culture through its historic collection of art through the ages, while the Temppeliaukio Church, with its impressive copper roof, is a must-see. A short boat ride from the harbour will take you to the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site of Suomenlinna – a historic island fortress with an intriguing history.
No visit to Helsinki – or anywhere else in Finland, for that matter – is complete without spending an hour or two in a traditional Finnish sauna. The Yrjönkadun Uimahallisauna is one of the best and is located in a beautiful 1920s Art Deco building. Comprising a swimming pool and both wood-heated and steam saunas, don’t be alarmed by the nudity that is commonplace here!
Night owls will love the vibrant and varied nightlife on offer in the city, with plenty of options to suit all tastes. From quiet and cosy pubs and sophisticated cocktail bars to high-octane club nights, Helsinki has it all, with some of the best haunts including the jazz club Storyville, which features regular live music acts and comes to life after 11pm. Ravintola Juttutupa is another popular option and is one of the city’s most historic pubs – while for a more luxurious experience, Kaarle XII attracts an affluent crowd and is busy on Friday and Saturday nights thanks to its maze of bars and live music areas, which host a variety of different acts each week and serve up some of the best cocktails in the city.
One thing you won’t find in Helsinki, however, is much of a luxury casino scene – however, Finland still enjoys access to plenty of excellent online casinos. Kasinohai is one of the best, and a great place to get your fix while you’re here, offering up a great selection of live table games and plenty of action to boot.
For breath-taking city views and a chic and relaxed lounge vibe, head to Maxine – you can always move into one of the two dance rooms on-site once things start to liven up a little if you feel inspired to put on your dancing shoes.
Where to stay
Lapland Hotels Bulevardi is a spectacular five-star hotel located in the heart of the city, making it a great base from which to explore during your time in the city. A modern, urban hotel featuring all the usual luxury mod-cons, some rooms even come with their own private sauna – offering the chance to soak up the nation’s culture without even leaving your digs.
Serving up a mouth-watering lappish-style buffet breakfast each morning at stylish on-site restaurant Kultá – which serves up an impressive à la carte dining menu come the evening, service here is as impeccable as you’d expect, leaving you free to relax and enjoy every moment of your getaway.
Hotel Kämp is another great choice for luxury lovers and features 179 lavish rooms – 15 of which are grand and impressive suites – opposite the beautiful Esplanade Park.
Where to eat
Head to the harbourside Hakaniemi food market to stock up on traditional Finnish picnic fare – if you’re familiar with Russian cuisine, then expect similar cuisine. Stockmann’s deli is the perfect place to get your hands on some traditional bread, herring and even reindeer if you feel like making a DIY packed lunch.
For a touch of luxury come dinner time, head to Nokka for a mouth-watering menu of freshly-cooked Finnish delicacies comprising the freshest of local ingredients. Highlights include reindeer with fingerling potatoes, white fish ceviche with vendace roe, knife-cut moose tartar and freshly made bread with local cheeses.