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Where to stay in Helsinki – 8 best areas on map

Where to stay in Helsinki – 8 best areas on map

Visiting Helsinki and wondering what's the best area to stay in? Helsinki is a fairly small city which means the city center is very compact and can be easily explored by foot. So, you'll want to stay somewhere central. Here are my personal recommendations for places to stay in Helsinki for different tastes.

8 best areas to stay in Helsinki

All these areas are located centrally and are well connected with public transportation. Check out the maps to get a better idea of Helsinki's central neighborhoods.

1. Kluuvi: central location close to the main sights

Kluuv on map

Kluuvi and Kamppi (see next section) form the Helsinki center. Choose either one of them and you're right at the very core of the city.

If your stay in Helsinki is short, Kluuvi really has it all. You can check out some of the main attractions, do shopping and promenade at the waterfront.

Kruununhaka is another neighborhood located right next to Kluuvi and is also a good option to enjoy your stay in Helsinki.

What to see and do in Kluuvi (and its surroundings)?

Tuomiokirkko, the white cathedral, and Senaatintori (Senate Square) right in front of it. Take a stroll down Esplanadi, stop for a coffee in Torikorttelit (some of Helsinki's oldest blocks surrounding Senate Square) and check out some souvenirs in Kauppatori (Market Square) or stop for lunch in Kauppahalli (Old Market Hall).

Art lovers will visit Ateneum, home to many key pieces of Finnish art history.

For a true Helsinki shopping experience, you have to visit Stockmann, a Helsinki landmark and an icon in the Finnish department store history. In Stockmann you can also stop for a coffee break or some rooftop drinks.

2. Kamppi: where the action happens

Kamppi on map

Kamppi is at the heart of Helsinki. You'll find an abundance of restaurants, cafés and shopping opportunities. It's a convenient location both for walking around the city and making day trips – the bus station is located right at the Kamppi shopping center.

What to see and do in Kamppi?

In Kamppi you can enjoy various museums. Kiasma, museum of contemporary art, is right at your fingertips. Or visit Amos Rex, a museum whose exhibitions often become the talk of the town. Or take a peek at the Helsinki Art Museum or HAM.

Kamppi is also the home of two big shopping centers: Kamppi (named after the area) and Forum. They are located conveniently right next to each other.

Hotel recommendation: St. George is popular even among the locals for little staycations. Rooms decorated with Scandi design, a soothing spa and drinks at their wintergarden – and not to mention the very convenient location.

3. Kaartinkaupunki and Ullanlinna: old Helsinki charm and elegance

Kaartinkaupunki on map

Kaartinkaupunki and Ullanlinna are separate neighborhoods but I'll go ahead and bundle them together. I could add Kaivopuisto and Eira to the bundle, too. The point is: these neighborhoods form the upscale district of southern Helsinki.

All of the above mentioned areas have the same vibe: elegant, beautiful and posh. The street Huvilakatu in Ullanlinna is often named the prettiest street in Helsinki. The street is pictured here in the main image of this post.

In these quarters you'll find plenty of restaurants, cafés and smaller boutique stores. It's all a walking distance from the sea where you can enjoy some seaside elegance.

*Sidenote: Only Kaartinkaupunki is marked on the map here but you'll see that Ullanlinna, Kaivopuisto and Eira are there in the southern coast of Helsinki.

What to see and do in Kaartinkaupunki and Ullanlinna?

To try some traditional Finnish food, visit Kauppatori (Market Square) and Kauppahalli (Old Market Hall) in Kaartinkaupunki.

For a Finnish design experience, pay a visit to Design Museum.

In these districts of southern Helsinki you'll find many parks, like Kaivopuisto or Tähtitorninmäki. Or walk to the shore right off Eira (Eiranranta) and grab an ice cream or a drink by the sea. Or take a ferry and visit one of the islands off the Helsinki coast!

Hotel recommendation: F6 is a stylish boutique hotel in Kaartinkaupunki. Enjoy the excellent location and try out some Finnish specialities in their breakfast buffet.

4. Punavuori: cool and artsy with lots of bars and restaurants

Punavuori on map

When the word “hipster” entered the Finnish vocabulary in the 2000s, Punavuori was the original hipster destination. Historically a working class neighborhood, it has been fully gentrified and now boasts some of the most expensive square meters in Helsinki.

Punavuori is home to a multitude of bars, cafés, restaurants, art galleries, flower shops and well-dressed people. You get the gist.

What to see and do in Punavuori?

For the art hungry, visit Sinebrychoff museum. And for a picnic, visit the park by the same name.

Take a walk on Bulevardi and stop for coffee in Cafe Ekberg, the oldest café in Helsinki.

5. Kallio: hipster favorite (which can be a little rough around the edges)

Kallio on map

Like Punavuori, Kallio used to be the working class neighborhood but it has gone (and is still going) through gentrification and is now a hipster haven. But it does still have some of its spunky spirit left. There might be some scruffy-looking folk around but Kallio isn't unsafe. I'd argue that no area in Helsinki really is.

In Kallio you'll find loads of bars, cafés and restaurants. And some of the best electronic music venues in Helsinki.

*Sidenote: In the map above, the Kallio area only says “Linjat”, but that is the heart of Kallio.

What to see and do in Kallio?

Bars, restaurants, cafés! Or go enjoy some DJ sets in Siltanen and Kaiku.

For a true Finnish experience, visit a public sauna, like Kotiharjun sauna.

Or spend a fun day in the amusement park Linnanmäki! The park is open only during summer season and in the spooky season in the fall for Halloween festivities.

6. Vallila: calmer extension of Kallio

Vallila on map

Vallila is located a bit further from the tourist center of Helsinki, but it is well-connected to the city center by public transportation.

Vallila has the same bohemian and modern vibe as Kallio but it's quieter and calmer. If you're looking to enjoy restaurants, cafés and second-hand shopping without the hustle and bustle of downtown Helsinki, Vallila might be your pick.

The newly renovated Konepaja area is an old machine shop that has been repurposed as a trendy location for bars, restaurants and various events (plus also just some residential housing). This area gives Berlin.

What to see and do in Vallila?

Wooden Vallila, or Puu-Vallila, is a part of Vallila that consists of beautiful colourful wooden houses. Have a walk around Puu-Vallila or stop for a coffee in Helsingin Kahvipaahtimo or a drink at Pikku-Vallila.

Hotel recommendation: Folks Hotel is a trendy and modern option in the Konepaja area in Vallila. In the summertime you can enjoy drinks and views at their rooftop bar.

7. Töölö: elegant and quiet

Töölö on map

Töölö is actually divided into “Front” and “Back”. “Front”, Etu-Töölö, being the part that is closer to the city center.

Töölö is a quiet neighborhood with cafés and restaurants and it's walking distance from the heart of the city and some major attractions such as Sibelius park and Sibelius monument, Cafe Regatta and Hietaniemi beach.

What to see and do in Töölö?

Take a stroll to the Sibelius park to see the famous Sibelius monument. And while you've walked all the way here, stop for a coffee and cinnamon bun at Cafe Regatta.

Hotel recommendation: Hotel Helka is located between Töölö and Kamppi. It's an excellent basecamp for exploring the city. Helka's rooms are decorated with Finnish designs, such as some world-famous Alvar Aalto pieces. We really take great pride in our design classic.

8. Jätkäsaari: seaside vibes with a modern twist

Jätkäsaari on map

Jätkäsaari isn't really my personal favorite. It's right by the sea which is lovely (albeit windy) but the district has been built only recently and the modern look isn't close to my heart.

But there's a reason I still included it on this list: Clarion hotel.

This 16-storey building stands out from the Helsinki skyline. And its towering height is put into good use with a rooftop pool and a rooftop bar. If you're looking for a little touch of luxury and bird-eye views over the city, while still staying within walking distance from the heart of Helsinki, this could be your pick.

What to see and do in Jätkäsaari?

Even if you don't stay in Clarion, you can still visit the bar for some spectacular views. Or take a ferry from Jätkäsaari to Tallinn and enjoy a little day trip to our southern sister city.

Hotel recommendation: Clarion Hotel, obviously.

Where is Helsinki city center or Helsinki downtown?

The districts of Kluuvi and Kamppi make up what most people would consider the Helsinki center. That's where the railway station, bus stations and shopping centers and some of the main tourist attractions are located. Mannerheimintie and Aleksanterinkatu are the main streets around that area and Senaatintori (Senate Square), Kauppatori (Market Square) and Esplanadi (esplanade) are some of the focal points in downtown Helsinki.

Does Helsinki have an old town or historic center?

There isn't really a Helsinki old town. Helsinki is a young city and few buildings go even as far as the 19th century. You'll find beautiful Jugendstil/Art Nouveau architecture in Kluuvi, Katajanokka and other central areas but I would hardly call any part of Helsinki a historic center.



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