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I recently went on a trip to Finland for the first time with the Tortuga Travel Tribe (a group of travel writers) and experienced the Finnish way of life and find out why Finland is the happiest country in the world. It’s such a welcoming country and there are so many family friendly things to do. We stayed in Helsinki and Rovaniemi for a few days. The first few days we stayed in Helsinki at Hotel Katajanokka and spent a lot of time around the Market Square which has six squares for outdoor markets (opening hours for Market Square vary depending on which market and what day) and plenty of transportation to get to places like the nearby islands.
With a single Helsinki card, you can use public transportation and hop aboard trams, buses, the metro and even the ferry to Suomenlinna (sea fortress). Single tickets can be purchased from ticket machines, R-kiosks and other HSL sales points or by using HSL mobile application. On buses you can also buy your ticket from the driver.
The kids love the outdoors and especially like boats, so it’s perfect for families like us who thrive outdoors. So, here are 7 family friendly things to do in Market Square, Helsinki and beyond.
Helsinki Market Square
The Market Square is a central square in Helsinki, Finland. It is located at the eastern end of Esplanadi and bordering the Baltic Sea to the south and Hotel Katajanokka to the east. The most popular are the Helsinki Market Square and Hakaniemi Market Square. Helsinki’s Market Square is one of the city’s main tourist destinations, with fantastic shopping, food, and souvenirs for locals and tourists. It’s a must-see sight when visiting the Finnish capital, Helsinki. It’s a beautiful place that attracts many visitors to the old town, especially those arriving by ferry.
Hakaniemi Market Square
Hakaniemi Market Square is an outdoor market. It is the perfect place where you will find anything from fresh vegetables and fish to fruit.
The Finn’s take pride on keeping a healthy lifestyle, from picking fresh mushrooms to berries like lingonberries, bilberries, cloudberries packed with antioxidants. It offers a large variety of these fresh fruits and vegetables.
You can also find really fresh fish like “neulamuikut” (deep fried whitefish), which is usually served with potatoes and garlic sauce.
Vanha Kauppahalli (also known as Old Market Hall) is Helsinki’s Oldest Market hall, open since 1888. This is a great place to go if you’re looking for a cup of coffee; head to Robert’s Coffee.
*fun fact – Finnish people consume more coffee per capita than any nation in the world. Eight or nine cups a day is normal for them.
Robert’s Coffee is the oldest café in the Old Market Hall. It’s one of the most famous coffee shops in Helsinki. There you can also enjoy breakfast, lunch and evening tapas using fresh Finnish ingredients.
You will find lots of Finnish foods like pastries; the cinnamon rolls are very popular there. The Finn’s also love healthy, organic food also straight from the farm.
You can also pick up some souvenirs.
The kids can try some reindeer chips!
Or you can get some fresh reindeer for yourself.
You can finish your day with some gelato. That’s always a hit with kids!
While we were there we had traditional salmon soup at Story, a Nordic café and a popular restaurant.
*For more information on Finnish foods click HERE.
The Finn’s love their salmon soup. It’s hearty, served with fresh bread and the dill gives it a Finnish twist. Salmon soup is a big part of the Finnish culture and is a staple everywhere you go.
While walking through beautiful Finnish nature, you will come across large Amur tigers, tiny pygmy marmosets, agile snow leopards, impressive wisents and dazzling, free roaming peafowls alongside indigenous Finnish species such as the elk, bear, wolverine and forest reindeer.
Depending on the season and if purchased online, tickets for kids are anywhere from 8-10 Euros and 14-16 Euros for adults. There are discounts for seniors and small groups and children under 4 are free. Bonus!
The Zoo shop at the ferry harbor is open from May to September. You can purchase plush toy animals from elks to snakes and other Korkeasaari Zoo products. A minishop at the Mustikkamaa ticket office is open from October to April.
If your looking for a really unique experience, you can go on a Ferris wheel with the kids and try the SkySauna. It is Finnish tradition to sauna with the family and this takes it to the next level! Imagine seeing the beautiful city of Helsinki from the skyline!
SkySauna is open from April to December and closed for the coldest months. SkySauna prices start from 240 € / hour (for 1-4 people) and additional hours are half price. For groups larger than four people, there will be an extra cost of 30 € per person. This includes a drinking package or a customized package. Towels are included in the price, bathrobes and sandals can be rented separately.
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
Just minutes away by boat from Market Square is Suomenlinna Sea Fortress. There are 3 Era’s of history at Suomenlinna Sea Fortress ; the Swedish era 1748-1808, the Russian era 1808-1918, and the Era of independent Finland.
In May 1918, the fortress was renamed Suomenlinna (‘Castle of Finland’) to reflect Finland’s independence, and it was annexed to the state of Finland. Soon, the fortress housed various Defense Forces units and Suomenlinna became a Finnish garrison. It’s one of the popular attractions in Helsinki and an Unesco World Heritage Site.
Suomenlinna has about 800 residents with 400-500 people working there in the fortress all year round. There is a preschool there and Suomenlinna islands are hosts for museums, artists work rooms and have conference facilities and banquet facilities.
*save and get free entry to 28+ top attractions and tours in Helsinki by getting the sightseeing pass.
There’s a beautiful space to sit and eat and chat with friends.
This space is next to a coffee/cake shop inside with all sorts of pastries and eats.
There are lots of vintage toys to check out and an area to purchase cute toys and games too. The Toy Museum is definitely an interesting stop on the island and a place to indulge in childhood nostalgia.
Other famous museums in Helsinki include Design Museum and Helsinki City Museum which is located at the corner of the Senate Square.
Another perfect place to visit is Helsinki Cathedral. This church is located in the city center at the Senate Square. In addition to Helsinki Cathedral, the Uspenski Cathedral, Temppeliaukio Church, and Rock Church are also some of the best places to visit when you are in the Finnish capital.
There are so many picturesque locations on the island. Make sure you bring your camera whenever you are on a walking tour.
Market square in Helsinki is a great place you want to spend a day or to at especially if this is your first time in Finland. There are so many places to visit close by and at the market like the city center and Esplanade Park.
What peaks your interest?