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Insider's Helsinki

10 free things to do in Helsinki

10 free things to do in Helsinki

Helsinki is known as an expensive city but you can still have fun here, even on a budget. Here's a list of ten free things to do in Helsinki – something for every season.

1. Visit public libraries

Oodi library in Helsinki

Libraries are more than just a place to check out some books.

In the city center, there are a couple of public libraries worth paying a visit to.

Oodi is the crown jewel of Helsinki's modern architecture. It really challenges the definition of library and is more of an open living room or a rec center. It carries books, yes, but Oodi also features a movie theater, a café, workshop rooms, gaming rooms, and just some overall hangout space.

And the total opposite is the National Library in Senate Square. An important library for the academic world, it's also a significant historical landmark.

2. Culture up in free museums

Museums on a list of free things to do in Helsinki? While you have to pay admission to most museums, there are some free options. And with some good planning, you can visit even the more popular museums free of cost.

Entrance to these museums is always free:

  • Helsinki City Museum in Senate Square
  • Tram Museum in Taka-Töölö

Many museums feature free admission days once a month. Here are some of the most famous museums in Helsinki and their free admission schedules:

  • Kiasma: first Friday of each month
  • Helsinki Art Museum (HAM): last Friday of each month
  • Sinebrychoff Art Museum: first Wednesday of each month at 17–20
  • Ateneum: check free admission dates here

3. Have a picnic in one of our many parks

Pack lunch and some drinks and hit the parks. Some nice options in the city center include Kaivopuisto, Tähtitorninmäki, Sinebrychoffin puisto ja Vanha kirkkopuisto (aka Plague park). Or go to Eiranranta and let the sea be the backdrop of your picnic.

Enjoy greenery in one of these parks in the center of Helsinki:

  • Esplanadi, the main park promenade, in the very center of the city
  • Kaivopuisto on the seashore
  • Tähtitorninmäki in Ullanlinna
  • Sinebrychoff park in Punavuori
  • Eiranranta or Eira beach, they are on the seashore in the Eira district
  • Vanha kirkkopuisto or colloquially “Plague park” Kamppi

4. Get tropical in the Winter Garden

Winter Garden in Helsinki

The Winter Garden is a lush oasis filled with tropical plants. It's located in Töölö, at the of the Töölönlahti bay. If you're taking a walk around Töölönlahti, pay a visit to the Garden (free entrance!) or, in the summertime, enjoy a walk around the rose garden in front of the Winter Garden.

5. Visit Seurasaari island

Seurasaari is a popular outdoor destination in Helsinki. It's an island that's connected to the mainland with a bridge for pedestrians. Seurasaari is located in the Meilahti neighborhood. There's a bus (number 24) that goes from Kamppi to the starting point of the bridge leading to Seurasaari.

Walk around the island and enjoy the peace and quiet out in nature. You can also dip in the sea, so on a hot summer day, pack a swimming suit.

On Seurasaari, there's an open-air museum, focusing on old-timey rural life, but unfortunately, admission isn't free.

6. Visit Suomenlinna island

Technically, this isn't free. But if you've already bought a ticket for public transportation, make sure you make the most of it and catch a ferry ride to Suomenlinna. The ferry is covered by your basic public transport ticket. Pack a picnic, or a bathing suit, and enjoy a day on the island.

7. Wintertime: Walk on ice

Feel almighty and walk on the frozen sea. Helsinki is located off the coast of the Baltic sea.

Stay safe: only go on the ice if you see other people doing it and the ice is thick and sturdy. It's not easy to judge the thickness of the ice by eye. The sea might still be frozen at the end of March, but the ice thins quickly as the spring sun shines on it. When in doubt, don't risk it.

8. Summertime: Have a beach day

You might not think of Helsinki as a great beach destination. And admittedly, it isn't, but there are some beaches where you can enjoy a summer day and take a dip in the sea.

  • Hietaranta is the most famous beach in Helsinki. Its sandy beaches are just a walking distance from the center of the city.
  • Seurasaari beach is located on Seurasaari. Make it a day by touring the island and dip in the sea for a swim. There are a couple of different locations where you can swim. One is the “official” beach where you have nudist beaches separated for men and women. The other is a tiny beach surrounded by rocks. Sunbathe on the rocks and dip in to cool off.
  • Mustikkamaa has a few places to swim. You can dip in the sea from the rocks (right after the bridge if you come in from Kalasatama) or go to the sandy beach a bit further on the island.
  • Munkkiniemi beach is a bit further away from the center of the city. It's a small but cute beach in a closed, forestry milieu.

9. Relax in the woods: Visit central park

A view from the Keskuspuisto park in Helsinki

Connect with nature without even leaving the city. Keskuspuisto translates to Central park but it's no park; it's practically a forest, or something between a forest and a park. It stretches from Töölö all the way to the neighboring city of Vantaa.

It's very large but there are plenty of trails and signs so you won't get lost.

10. Bathe in Sompasauna

Best for last. Finland is famous for the sauna culture so bathing in a sauna is a must in your visit to Helsinki. But of course, usually saunas aren't free.

Enter Sompasauna.

Sompasauna is a project of urban activism. It's a sauna open to the public, free of charge, mainated by volunteers. It's always open, no reserverations required. Just pack a towel, bathing suit optinoal. It's a mixed sauna; be preapred to see naked people, especially men.

You can find Sompasauna in Verkkosaari, next to the Kalasatama area.

Learn more about Sompasauna on their website.



I'm Ella, your local insider in Helsinki. In this blog I share my best tips to make sure everyone gets to enjoy Helsinki to the fullest.

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Insider's Helsinki

Insider's Helsinki