The Finnish capital since 1812, Helsinki is by far the biggest city in Finland as well as one of the biggest cities in northern Europe with over a million inhabitants in its greater metropolitan region.
Helsinki of today is a modern city surrounded by the sea and a vast archipelago. It is a city full with culture, history, entertainment and world-class architecture. Helsinki is a unique mix of both western and Russian influences and at the same time it remains both vast and approachable, big and intimate, busy and calm.
The King of Sweden, Gustav Vasa, founded Helsinki in 1550 as a trading post to compete with the Hanseatic city of Tallinn. It took nearly three centuries for the city to start to blossom. When Russia annexed Finland, Russian Czar Alexander I gave his architects the task to renew the Helsinki cityscape to become a “sister city” of storied St. Petersburg.
Helsinki of today is a modern, compact and stunningly beautiful city surrounded by the sea and a vast archipelago. It is filled with culture, history, business possibilities, entertainment and world class architecture. Helsinki is a unique mix of both western and Russian influences and at the same time remains both vast and approachable, big and intimate, busy and calm.
Summertime in Helsinki is unique even by global standards. Its numerous parks and promenades invite both locals and visitors to enjoy the endless days and nightless nights of Scandinavia. Don’t be scared of the latitude; the Gulf stream assures that the daily summer temperatures in Helsinki reach a comfortable 20 to 25°C.
A third of Helsinki is covered in green areas and its large Central Park, with forests spread out just outside the city centre. Every corner of Helsinki is covered by one of the best public transportation systems in the world, while the whole city centre is easily covered by foot or by bike.
While most of the visitors spend their days around the city centre around the Central Railway Station and make a day trip to the UNESCO heritage site of Suomenlinna Fortress (only 15 minutes by boat from Market Square), there are plenty of interesting places to roam such as the historic administration district of Kruununhaka, lively Kallio region filled with young people and artists or modern Ruoholahti with its canals, parks and cafés.
The crime rate in Helsinki is one of the lowest in the world and practically everyone in the city understands or speaks English. While Finns might seem reserved, never hesitate to approach them whenever you need assistance!
Finland’s biggest airport, Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport is located 18 kilometres to the north of central Helsinki. Nearly all the major airlines fly to or from Helsinki while Finland’s biggest airplane company, Finnair, operate direct flights to Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.
It is easy and convenient to get to Helsinki from Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. While a taxi ride from the airport to city centre costs around €30-40, a new ring rail connection from the airport to Helsinki started to operate in July 2015. The trip takes approximately 30 minutes and a single ticket costs around €5.50.
Two other major airports of Finland, those of Turku and Tampere-Pirkkala, are also only a two-hour train ride away from Helsinki.
Numerous passenger ships operate to and from Helsinki. Helsinki is a day trip away from Stockholm (Sweden), half a day away from St. Petersburg (Russia) and only three hours away from Tallinn (Estonia).
Services to Travemünde (Germany), Rostock (Germany) and Gdynia (Poland) are also available.
There are three passenger harbors with five terminals in Helsinki, all only a few minutes away from the city centre.
For further information, please visit: http://www.portofhelsinki.fi/frontpage.
Elämysmatkat Sport Travels is the official travel partner of the Finnish Basketball Association. Elämysmatkat provides travel services for groups (10+ persons) travelling to Finland for the FIBA U20 European Championship.
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Central Helsinki is easily explored by foot or by bike and the public transportation system in the city is one of the best in the world. Helsinki’s Journey Planner website is heavily recommended and completely free of charge.
All public transportation around the greater Helsinki metropolitan region is coordinated by HSL. With a regional ticket (available from time ranges from 24 hours up to two full years), you will be able to use the bus, tram, metro, local trains and the Suomenlinna ferry as much as want – just remember to show your ticket to the driver or ticket inspectors whenever asked.
Taxis in Finland are rather expensive, but the drivers are professionals and the taxi system in Helsinki is heavily regulated. That assures an almost total lack of scam taxis and maximum safety.
Both venues of the FIBA U20 European Championship are easily reached by a combination of public transport and walking.