Stretched over the islands and bays of the Baltic Sea, Finland’s capital Helsinki is seriously cool. Although temperatures rarely get higher than 20 degrees celsius even in summer, the Finns still love to get outdoors before hitting the sauna. The freezing winter weather means there are plenty of indoor attractions to keep you entertained as well.

Suomenlinna is a group of islands that were turned in to a huge fortress when Finland was ruled by Sweden. Take a ferry over to the islands which are connected by bridges and car-free – making them perfect for exploring if you are traveling with a family. The island was also home to Russian forces that occupied Finland and remnants of this period include a Russian Orthodox Church which is now used as a lighthouse. Military buffs can visit a World War Two submarine, while younger visitors can check out hundreds of dolls and teddies at the Lelumeseo. There’s plenty of cafes, shops and even a microbrewery on the islands for when you need to replenish your energy.

Like its Scandinavian neighbours, Helsinki has a strong design history and visitors can find out more about this at the Design Museum. Get a combined ticket with the architecture museum for a complete immersion into Finnish aesthetics. Alternatively, head to Konepahalli, a former shipbuilding warehouse now home to a cultural centre. There’s plenty of cool cafes and bars serving food from all over the world, as well as boutique design shops where you can pick up a souvenir or two.

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Read more on Helsinki below with flight options, current weather, maps, and activities to try while you are there.

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