Going to Helsinki from Estonia is easy and quite cheap and spring is a great time to make a trip there. The problem is that once you have got to Helsinki the city is actually really expensive. Most of us are travelling with student budget and that is why I would like to give some tips to all you who are planning a trip there.
Where to eat
Eating out is expenSive in Finland (at least if we compare to Estonian prices) and if you don’t want to waste a lot of money on food I would recommend couple of nice options.
When the weather allows it is common to have a picnic in the very center of Helsinki. Park Esplanadi and Musiikkitalon puisto are my favorite places for this purpose. There are a lot of things you can buy from a supermarket and eat outside. Worth of mentioning that it is allowed in Finland to drink alcohol out in public if you are on a picnic.
Eat in the central market. There are many little cafe type of places in the market that serve interesting and fresh food. Usually the prices are not that crazy eighter and you get to taste finnish food.
If you want to eat ”junk food” the pizza and kebab places are the cheapest ones. My personal favorite is ”sky express” where you can order a really big pizza and it is only like 6 euros. (Yes that is cheap in Finland)
Even though the prices might higher then in Estonian it might be worth it because there are many many fantastic restaurants in Helsinki. If you plan to eat out you should visit this page http://eat.fi/en/helsinki , there you can find reviews and locations of all the restaurants worth of mentioning in Helsinki.
What to visit
From the Internet you can find all the main attractions but I would like to recommend some of my favorite ones.
Take a ride with tram number 3. This route is beautiful and will take you to see many different parts of Helsinki. You can use the ticket that you buy for 3 euros for 1,5 hours and in all the public transportations in Helsinki area.
Once you have already bought the ticket you should definitely visit Suomenlinna. This is a historical site in the center of Helsinki. Actually Suomenlinna is an island and you have to take a ferry there, you can enter the ferry with the public transportation ticket. More information about Suomenlinna is provided in this web page http://www.suomenlinna.fi/visitors_guide
Visit Kiasma, this is a museum of contemporary art and it is located in the center of Helsinki. The entrance is 8 euros for students but I think it is worth it. The schedule of the exhibition you can see from this site: http://www.kiasma.fi/come-to-kiasma
If you are travelling with small budget there are also museums with free entry : http://www.hel.fi/hki/Museo/en/Etusivu
Staying over night
Kotiharjun Sauna. This is authentic Finnish public sauna that is heated with wood (this is really important when we talk about saunas). I have heard from many tourists visiting Helsinki that this has been one of the best experiences. The sauna is open from tuesday till sunday from 14-20 and the ticket is 8,5 euros with a student card. This place is also located in so called urban district of Helsinki that is known for its cheap bars and great authentic atmosphere.
You should sing Karaoke! In Finland we truly love Karaoke and there are a lot of Karaoke bars in Helsinki. Usually the places are really small local bars so you dont have to worry about stage fever. One place where many younger people go is called Swengi and it is located at Iso Roobertin katu.
There are several cool places to go out, these places might be a bit hard to find for somebody who does not know Helsinki that well. One area for bar hopping I would recommend is Kallio, the same urban district where this public sauna is located. The bars there are small and to be honest kind of grimy BUT at the same time filled with interesting and international people (not to mention the rather cheap beer that is rare in Helsinki). Other area where many nice bars are located is Iso Roobertin katu, which is more in the city center then Kallio.
For a serious night out with dancing and late opening hours you should check some of these places out: Siltanen, Helmi, Roska, We got beef, Tres Bones, Bar Loose, Navy Jerrys and Kuudeslinja. These bar/clubs offer mostly a bit more alternative music then we are used to here in Tartu.
If you are in Helsinki during the weekend you should deffinietly go for a brunch! This thing in Helsinki is now booming and there are many places that offer a really good brunch. Last year the people voted that these three brunch places are the best in Helsinki: Sandro, Klaus K and Oiva. Here is a web page that offers brunch tips in English: http://brunssipartio.fi/brunch-in-helsinki/
When to come
I mentioned that spring is a great time to visit Finland. I looked up the dates of couple of my favorite events that are happening in spring. It might be worth of travelling in Helsinki during these events.
My ultimate favorite cultural event is Restaurant day (ravintolapäivä). This amazing idea comes originally from Helsinki, but now it is held in other cities around the Europe too. Basically the idea is that anybody can open up a ”restaurant” and serve food they have prepared. There are many pop up restaurants around the streets of Helsinki and some people even held a restaurant in their houses. You can find the restaurants from a application that you download to your smartphone or from the Internet. Next restaurant day is held 17th of may. More information you can find from: http://www.restaurantday.org/en
Other interesting event is May day (Vappu) 30.4-1.5. I am going to be honest and tell you that this is a time when whole Helsinki and especially students get crazy and party all over the city. In the morning first of May it is a tradition to go and have a long picnic in Ullanlinnan mäki which is located near the sea in Helsinki. You can see the streets of Helsinki full of people who have their white high school graduation hat on. This is something interesting to see and if you want to get crazy and party hard this is a perfect day for you to visit Finland.
I hope you got some tips if you are visiting Finland and WELCOME ALL OF YOU!