Situated on the southern coast of Finland, Helsinki is a gate between East and West. Finland’s capital city embodies much of the Finnish spirit and its progressive hi-tech push but also is unlike any other Finnish city, due in part to the combination of Swedish and Russianinfluences (see Helsinki, Where East Meets West).
Popular tours and excursions visit Sibelius’ Home and Art Nouveau locations; the Old Wooden Town of Porvoo; Mustio Manor and Fiskars Ironworks; or the countryside. A day trip to the Arctic Circle can also be arranged.
Founded in 1550 by Sweden’s King Gustav, Helsinki was developed as a harbor town to compete for Baltic trade with Tallinn. The Finnish capital developed around the port.
Situated in the city center, South Harbor is the central cruise passenger traffic hub. Cruise ships dock at Katajanokka or other quays within walking distance of the city center and the Kauppatori Market Square, a colorful way to begin exploration of Helsinki.
The largest cruise ships dock at Hernesaari in West Harbor, from where shuttle buses take passengers in ten minutes to the city center
Cruise passengers can hardly miss Helsinki’s famous Kauppatori, the Market Square, selling almost everything from fresh fish to handicrafts. The Old Market Hall next to the Market Square is worth a visit as well. The Old Market Hall offers historic charm and a wide assortment of fresh fish and special foods, including canned bear meat! See the video for a tour of the market. For more on Helsinki, see Avid Cruiser’s port profile of Helsinki.