Free Things to do in Helsinki

Free Things to do in Helsinki

Oh hey, looking for free things to do in Helsinki? If this is your first city of the Nordic countries, you must be feeling the wallet-shock. No worries, you’ve made a good choice, Helsinki is a great city–public transit, culture, a university with student vibes, saunas. At a mere two-hours distance via ferry, it makes a great excursion if you happen to be doing a work-exchange in Tallinn, Estonia.

ferry to Helsinki

Thing is…Helsinki is E X P E N S I V E!!!! Holy hostel prices, Batman!  Well, you’re not here for outdated pop culture references, so let’s cut straight to all the free things to do in Helsinki! BTW, all of these places (including the parks) have free toilets. Just saying.

Wander Wander Wander

Unlike many cities these days, Helsinki seems made for the pedestrian and cyclist. Besides strolling the light-lined walking streets (no really, that’s what they’re called) and maneuvering around Finnish design  shops, Helsinki has a number of nice parks where you can even pretend to visit the Finnish countryside.

Toloviken Lake, for example, is directly behind the Finlandia Hall on one end and the Opera House on another. It’s opposite shore boasts several old, large, wooden, villas. Iconic buildings from a different time. I was a big fan of the water fowl present at the lake.

Depending on the amount of time you have, there seems to be endless neighborhoods to explore. Here’s a good article at Culture Trip about the “trendiest” places in Helsinki: Helsinki’s Most Trendy Neighborhoods.

Helsinki at night

The Tram Museum

Ok….this one is because I have a deep, deep obsession with public transportation (it was a big factor in my decision to move to Prague). This nugget should definitely be a stop on your hunt for free things to do in Helsinki if you enjoy cute n’ quirky museums. Six historic tram cars, each from a different era, are housed in Töölö, at the Korjaamo Culture Factory. The museum talks about the development–both physical and cultural–of Finland’s public transit. In other words, it was clearly curated by a nerd like me.

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They even give you a pretend tram ticket to stamp! So much love.

Helsinki Tram Museum

The National Library

Fun Fact: LIBRARIES ARE ALMOST ALWAYS FREE! And this one is a stunner. Word is out. With a cafe and rotating exhibit, the library is well-equipped for visitors of both the touristic and studious nature. While I was there, the (yes, free) exhibit showcased gorgeous book-bindings from throughout Nordic history.

Finnish National Library

City Museum

The City Museum proudly boast free entry every day. Filled with quirky exhibits and one or two of a more serious nature, you’ll find something you like! I especially enjoyed the virtual reality exhibit where you could turn a wheel and see how the city has changed throughout the years.

Even if you’re not travelling with kids, I do insist you go through “Children’s Town” where they’ve recreated Mummola (Grandma)’s living room and a bog boardwalk reminiscent of one in Estonia’s Laheema National Park! Too cute.

Helsinki City Museum

Markets: (kinda) Free Things to Do in Helsinki

To be honest, I made it to ONE market….and that was the Christmas market next to the train station out of pure luck when returning from Jyväskylä. So, I’m going to let Passion Passport break it down for you with this Guide to Helsinki’s Markets.

Helsinki Christmas Market

Kamppi Chapel

As an introvert, I super appreciate the people of Finland for making this chapel exist in the bustling Narinkka Square. Easy to find, plopped right along a main stretch of primarily capitalist activity, this wooden structure is designed to cut out the noise of the outside world and give you a place of silence.

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Visitors are welcomed to just sit for as long as they wish. While it’s a Christian chapel, it hold no particular denomination and no regular services. All visitors are welcomed to hang in the quiet. Though no photos are allowed, you really just need to hold out longer than the one other person in the room…both of you trying to be slick and sneak a pic.

Kamppi Chapel