Let’s face it; nobody wants to see rain on their summer holidays. Unfortunately, this was the case for us and our recent trip to Helsinki. Luckily for us, Helsinki is one of those cities that is used to extreme weather conditions and there was plenty for us to do on a few rainy days. Here are my top ten activities for a rainy or even a snowy day in Helsinki.
- Take a Sauna
When the weather is cold and miserable, what better way to get some heat into your bones, than a traditional Finnish sauna? Sauna is a culture in Finland and there are approx. 3 million of them in the country. This means that there is roughly one sauna for every household!
There are a number of options to suit all tastes and budgets, including public and private saunas. Some are high-end spas and include other treatments such as massages and facials. There is even a sauna in a Burger King restaurant, but unfortunately you have to rent it out in full, so this would only really be advisable for large groups! Alternatively, most hotels will have their own sauna. We were not feeling particularly brave, so we opted for our hotel’s sauna since we were first timers. It was also free to use, so it was a welcome activity in an otherwise expensive city. Men and women are generally separated for sauna, so we got some time alone to recharge the batteries.
- Three Museums in One
On a rainy day, museums are always a handy way to hide from the elements. So it is even more convenient that there are three museums under the same roof in Helsinki. The Cable Factory is a short Metro ride from the Central station and houses the Finnish Theatre Museum, the Hotel and Restaurant Museum and a Photography Gallery.
The Photography Gallery on the ground floor had an intriguing exhibition of wild animal photography when we visited, which would capture the minds of young and old.
Next we visited the Theatre museum which was a fantastic experience. This incredible interactive museum tells the history of Finnish theatre, by capturing the senses at every stage. It is a highly interactive experience and even though most of the instructions were in Finnish, we still managed to fully engage with the activities. Such activities included dressing up in full costume and getting on stage, trying out the lighting and even performing a puppet show. We were really very impressed by this museum for children and adults alike and I would highly recommend it.
Next on the agenda was the Hotel and Restaurant Museum and while I was initially disinterested in visiting I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It was also quite interactive and told of the history of some of Helsinki’s famous hotels. All in all, I would recommend the journey out to the Cable factory for an interesting day indoors.
- Helsinki Cathedral
The main Cathedral in Helsinki is a fine place to escape from the rain. It has a rather basic interior compared to the mammoth exterior and you may find that you can easily use it as a focal point to find your way home as it stands proud in the centre of Helsinki.
- (Not so) Open top tour bus
I do enjoy an open top tour bus when I only have a short time in a city, but in bad weather they generally aren’t as much fun. Thankfully, they do have roof covers so you can still enjoy the benefits of the tour bus, without getting soaked. We took a circuit on the bus to have a look around and hopped off to view the Sibelius Monument, which is a grand metal sculpture which, on a windy day, echoes from the cavities within. While this is technically not an indoor feature, it is certainly worth getting wet to see it!
- Rock Church
One of the more fascinating attractions in Helsinki is the Temppeliaukio Church which was built directly into solid rock. Come here to enjoy the music, supported by the churches excellent acoustic qualities. A large copper dome, surrounded by stained glass allows natural light to pour through. It is easy to understand why this is one of Helsinki’s top tourist attractions.
- Church of Silence
Of all of the Churches I have visited (and there have been a lot), this for me, was the most spiritual. Located in the middle of a modern square and neighbouring a large shopping centre, it seemed counter intuitive to have such a quiet space here. The Kamppi Chapel is a space to stop, reflect and meditate in the middle of one of the busiest parts of the city. Built completely from wood, it is modern yet timeless in design and is made built for silence. Inside there are no corners and the curved walls are strangely hypnotic. While it is a Lutheran church, people of all faiths and none are welcome and the church is staffed by health and social care staff who are available to talk to anyone who needs their help.
- Orthodox Church
I could certainly describe my trips with my other half as ABC “Another Bloody Church!!!” And it may be feeling like this as you read this blogpost! I am always interested in visiting Orthodox Churches, just because of the sheer grandeur on the inside. This church had an interesting feature of a cabinet of jewellery donated and I was surprised to see an Irish Claddagh ring inside. How it got in there, I will never know!
- Boozey Tram tour
Ok, so by now I am guessing that you are all churched out! I don’t blame you. It is probably time for a drink, but why waste your time in a regular bar, when you could be out seeing more of the City? The Sparakof Tram tour is a reconditioned tram, which doubles as a bar. This means you can take in the sites of Helsinki, while also indulging in a beer or in my case a gin?
I’ll be honest in saying that this was a little disappointing. While the tram was beautifully restored, some music or commentary would certainly have livened up the tour. Still, if you fancy a tram tour with a novelty factor it is certainly one way to keep dry!
- Sky Wheel
Like many capital cities, Helsinki has its very own Sky Wheel. This is a great way to see the City from a height. It doesn’t last very long, rotating 3 times on average, but the capsules are dry, I’ll give it that much!
- Eat, drink and be Merry
Well what can I say? Ya gotta eat. However, I couldn’t possibly begin to talk about food without giving it a whole post of its own. So stay tuned for my Helsinki food and drink guide up next!
So there you have it. 10 things to do on a rainy/snowy day in Helsinki.