Quirky harbour city

The capital Helsinki has a laid back and refreshing vibe. The beautiful art-noveau buildings mix well with Finnish modern architecture and host the contemporary and vibrant Nordic lifestyle.

The beautiful design extends inside of the houses, too. Helsinki features multiple urban galleries and museums, as well as vintage and antique shops, and countless restaurants with wonderful interiors and themes.

Part of the city’s charm is the clear difference between the districts: you can find anything from peaceful and cosy cafés to sleek fusion bars, or from high-end fine dining to buzzing food markets. You can drop by at the quirky thrift shops or hit the shopping streets with all the biggest local and international brands. Relax in the gorgeous city gardens or take a walk in the wild forest, or enjoy the sun on the long sand beaches and stunning natural cliffs.

A great place for students

Helsinki features several higher education institutions, and a significant fraction of the residents are students and young adults. This is recognised by the city, and public transport, most museums and other attractions, as well sports centres and many recreational courses offer student discounts. Besides the cheap and plentiful student meals sold on campuses, also many restaurants and cafés have student prices.

The recently opened library Kaisa Kirjasto and many other public libraries have study halls and silent rooms for students to concentrate on their studies. Often there is a student café nearby where to having breaks and grab a bite.

The outdoors offers many exercise and leisure time possibilities, ranging from beaches and jogging tracks to free of charge Frisbee Golf fields.

Helsinki has a buzzing night life, and there is a scene for every subculture. Some of the clubs internationally recognised and host world-class DJs. Not that much a fan of dancing? Head to the cosy bars to spend a chill evening with your friends or a pub hosting concert.

  • Key facts

    Population: over 60,000 and approximately 1.3 million in Greater Helsinki

    Founded: 1550

    Foreign nationals: 3.1%

    Total area: 716 km2

    Mobile phones per 100 inhabitants: 96

    Warmest month: June, +21.7C°

    Coldest month: January, -10.4C°

    Currency: Euro ()

  • Geography

    Helsinki is a southern coastal city, and much of the town is built on a maze of islands connected by bridges. Surrounded by the Baltic Sea, you can find beaches everywhere, or explore the beautiful archipelago and its nature. Outside the downtown on the land, there is mixed deciduous and coniferous forest.

  • Climate and weather

    The climate is a mixture of maritime and continental. The summers are bright, with the sun shining more than 19 hours a day, and the temperature hovering on both sides of 20C°. The autumn is beautiful and busy, with the trees turning red and yellow during the harvest time. The winters are dark, but Helsinki gets covered in a blanket of snow that reflect all the light. The temperature drops below zero. In the spring, the ice covering the Baltic sea breaks, and you can clearly tell how the days get longer and brighter each day.

  • Shopping

    The shopping possibilities in Helsinki are endless! There are multiple tremendous shopping malls in town, such as Itis in the East-Helsinki, or Kamppi and Forum in the city centre. All the malls feature major Nordic and international brands. Shopping districts like Aleksanterinkatu and the nearby area, and the Design District host many Finnish and Scandinavian brands and global luxury stores.

    Helsinki, especially the area of Kallio, has also many vintage and thrift shops, that are very popular amongst the young people. Every weekend there are second-hand markets, where the coolest locals go treasure hunting for clothes, accessorises, books, homeware, and more.

  • Food and drink

    The basis of Finnish food are fresh local ingredients. Helsinki has many amazing restaurants that offer great Nordic cuisines, and especially Nordic fine dining is on the rise. However, the selection of different ethnic restaurants is also growing, and you can easily find Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Spanish, Italian, Jamaican and may other cuisines. The Finns also enjoy their coffee, and Helsinki is packed with cafés and pastry shops.

    The night life has also lots to offer. You can enjoy a chill evening in a cosy bar or pub, or head out to the clubs. A great place to dance the night away is Complex in Kallio, that hosts three different clubs. Or head to the central, where you can select from many various bars and cocktail places before trying out some of the clubs, some of them underground and some on the highest floors of the buildings!

  • Getting around

    Helsinki-Vantaa is Finland’s main airport, and the city can easily be accessed with a cab, airport bus, or train. In the city getting around is easy with the network of public transportation that consists of underground, trams, trains, and busses. Students travel half the price! The public transport is all operated by HSL, and you can find a journey planner from their web site: simply fill in your departure place, destination, and the desired time and date, and the application will give you directions and tell you exactly how to get to the destination.

    As in everywhere in Finland, the public transportation is safe and in schedule. Traveling to other cities is easy with the train or by bus. The Helsinki-Vantaa airport has also excellent connections to everywhere in Europe and all the major cities in Asia.

  • Safety

    Helsinki, despite being the biggest city in Finland, is extremely safe. You do not have to worry about walking alone in the night time or being robbed; the Finns respect each other and others’ properties.

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  • Accommodation

    The Foundation for Student Housing in Helsinki Region, Hoas (Helsingin seudun opiskelija asunto-säätiö), is a non-profit foundation, that offers affordable housing for students. Hoas has a turnover of 70 million euros and over 9300 apartments.

    You are eligible to apply for Hoas’ student housing, if you are a full-time degree student in a Finnish higher education institution, located in the capital area or the surrounding municipalities

    Types of apartments:

    • A room in a shared apartment

    The most affordable option of Hoas housing, a room in a shared apartment is ideal for students just starting their studies. You can stay in the apartment for the whole time of your studies. Usually there are 2-4 people living in the apartment, and while the kitchen and bathroom are shared, each tenant has their own lockable room. Except for a wardrobe in each room, the apartment is rented unfurnished. A fridge, freezer, and a stove are included in the kitchen, and other tenants’ property may be in the common areas. No pets are allowed. Depending from apartment, the rent ranges usually between 250-440 euros per month.

    • Furnished studio with shared kitchen

    A furnished studio with its own bathroom. The kitchen is shared with 12-16 other tenants living in the same hallway. Especially suitable for students moving to Helsinki from far away. No pets are allowed. The limit of occupancy time is five years. The price ranges between 520-550 euros per month.

    • Furnished studio with mini kitchen

    A furnished studio with its own bathroom. The kitchen has the same equipment as a normal kitchen apart from a stove. Especially suitable for students moving to Helsinki from far away. No pets are allowed. Occupancy time: 1.9.-31.5., the apartments are used by Hostel Domus Academica during the summer period. The rent ranges between 530-550 euros per month.

    • Studio apartment

    Reserved primarily for those in need of a quiet study place, studio apartments are in very high demand and often have long waiting lists. The occupancy time is limited to five years. The studio apartments are rented unfurnished, except for a wardrobe. In the kitchen, fridge, freezer, and stove are included. Pets are allowed. The rent ranges between 450-660 euros per month.

    • Two-room apartments for one person

    The waiting time for these apartments is usually shorter than for studios. There is no limit of occupancy time. There is a bedroom, and a kitchen/dining area and a bathroom. Fridge, freezer, and a stove are included in the kitchen. Pets are allowed. The rent ranges between 450-560 euros per month.

    • Family apartment

    Family apartments range from studios to four-room apartments, and are offered to couples and families with children. Only one of the tenants needs to be a student. Except for wardrobes in the bed rooms and fridge, freezer, and a stove in the kitchen, the apartments are unfurnished. Pets are allowed. Rent ranges between 550-1000 euros per month.

    • Roomie apartment

    Like a shared apartment, but the tenants usually are friends or siblings, and choose their own room-mates. All tenants need to be students. Each resident has their own lockable room with a wardrobe. Except for fridge, freezer, and stove in the kitchen/kitchenette, the apartments are unfurnished. Pets are allowed. The rent ranges between 300-500 euros per room per month.

    • Studio with shared kitchen

    Every tenant has their own studio apartment and a personal bathroom, but the kitchen is shared with 12-16 other tenants living in the same hallway. The studios are unfurnished except for a wardrobe and a fridge. The shared kitchens have tables, stools, and basic kitchen equipment. The occupancy time is limited to five years. No pets are allowed. The rent ranges between 520-550 euros per month.

    • Studio with mini kitchen

    Similar to a studio apartment, except that there is no stove in the kitchen/kitchenette. The limit of occupancy time is five years. No pets are allowed. The rent ranges between 510-560 euros.

     

    You can find more information and the instructions on how to apply for a flat from Hoas website: http://www.hoas.fi/en/

  • Transportation

    The local transport in the Helsinki region is operated by Helsingin Seudun Liikenne (HSL). HSL offers a student discount of 50%, that is applicable to both regional and internal season and value tickets.

    The discount entitlement is stored on the personal Travel Card upon purchase, and must be renewed annually.

     

    Discount Entitlement Criteria:

    • The student lives permanently in the HSL area.
    • The student is studying in a Finnish university of applied sciences or university.
    • The student is studying on a full-time basis with at least 25 study hours per week, or in multimodal learning at least 60% of the total study time must be contact teaching.
    • Under normal circumstances the studies lead to a qualification or degree
    • The studies are estimated to take at least one school/academic year. The school/academic year must be at least 8 months, for example from September to May.
    • The student is over 17 years of age.
    • All students aged 30 years or over must prove that either Kela or the provincial government of Åland has granted them student allowance or rehabilitation subsidy (accepted forms of student allowance are study grants and/or government guarantees for student loans).

     

    More information on the criteria and how to apply for the Student Travel Card can be found from HSL’s website: https://www.hsl.fi/en/tickets-and-fares/discount-tickets/students

  • Library

    The library services in Helsinki and the surrounding areas are organised by HelMet. The acquisition of your first HelMet library card is free of charge, and allows you access to services such as going to library, loaning, making requests, reading newspapers and magazines in a library and using the e-library.

    The HelMet network consists of 63 libraries, one journal reading hall, and six bookmobiles. There are 14 institutional libraries and a home service.

  • Student meals

    In Finland, the meals for students are state supported, and thus healthy, nutritious, and very affordable.

     

    Here you can find a list of the student restaurants catering in Helsinki: https://asiointi.kela.fi/opiskelijaravintolahaku/OpruokaApplication?karttalinkki=eng08000091

     

    More information about student meals and meal subsidies can be found from http://www.kela.fi/web/en/meal-subsidy

  • Health care

    In Finland, the health care of students is organised by Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS, in Finnish: Ylioppilaiden terveydenhoitosäätiö, YTHS).  The FSHS services are available for all students studying on Bachelor’s or Master’s level at universities and have paid their student union membership fee to a student union that is affiliated with the FSHS. Those studying for a Licentiate of Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Medicine degree are also entitled to use the FSHS’s services. The health services are not available for Doctoral students, so if you are admitted to Doctoral level studies, please contact your university for advice and options on local health care.

    If you are studying at a university of applied sciences (UAS), the health care services are usually provided through municipal health care providers. You can find more information on your health care arrangements from your UAS directly.

    Please note that even when your student status makes you eligible to access the student health care services, this does not replace the need for a valid insurance.

    You can find more information from FSHS website: http://www.yths.fi/en/

    Or directly from your own UAS or university.

Apply to Arcada University of Applied Sciences

Suomenlinna Fortress

Accessed by a ferry all year, the fortress island of Suomenlinna is a beautiful UNESCO world heritage site. The island hosts museums, shops, cafés, and restaurants, as well as living residences. It is a popular picnic place during the summer time, with it large grass fields and natural cliffs.

Allas Sea Pool

Right next to Kauppatori market place is an oasis in the middle of the city. The Allas Sea Pool is a complex containing a large pool area and great saunas, as well as a lookout spot offering drinks and food and hosting various events throughout the year. Allas is a popular place for people to gather together and enjoy the view over the Baltic sea.

The Old Market Hall

Build in 1888, the beautiful Old Market Hall nowadays hosts many food shops, stands and restaurants. While you can find a traditional Vietnamese place or shop Spanish ingredients, many of the shops and restaurants concentrate on high quality Finnish and Nordic cuisines.

Temppeliaukio Church

Excavated inside solid rock and covered with a dome, the church built in 1969 is a popular attraction. The place has great acoustics and serves often as a venue for concerts and weddings. On top of the interesting architecture, even the altarpiece is an ice-age crevice!

Linnanmäki Amusement Park

Since the 1950s people have gathered to the hill of Linnanmäki to enjoy themselves. While the 67-year-old rollercoaster still remains the most popular device, the amusement park offers a wide range from fun to wild rides. From the tall rides, you can see the over the whole Helsinki and beyond. Linnanmäki has also many game arcades, as well as a theatre and multiple venues for other events, that are held on regular basis.

Senate Square

The Senate Square is surrounded by art-noveau buildings designed by Carl Ludwig Engel: the white Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki, and the National Library of Finland. A statue of the Russian tsar Alexander II, who was also the Grand Duke of Finland, is located in the middle of the square. The stairs leading up to the cathedral are a wonderful place to watch the sunset!

Ateneum

Located in the central Helsinki in a neo-renaissance building, Ateneum is the home of both Finnish and international art works from the 19th century to modern age. The exhibiton Stories of Finnish Art displays not only the masterpieces of artists such as Eero Järnefelt and Edvard Munch, but also their sketch books and notes, giving insight to the artists’ lives. Temporary exhibitions have featured names such as Tove Jansson, Pablo Picasso, and Helene Schjerfbeck.

Olympic Stadium

Built in 1938, the stadium hosted the Olympic games in 1952. Today the stadium is the venue for many national and international sports events, as well as outdoor concerts. The stadium tower is 72 metres tall, and open to visitors. A restaurant and the Finnish Sports Museum are also located at the stadium.

Finnair Sky Wheel

Opened in 2014 at Katajanokka, the Finnair Sky Wheel lets you have an amazing view over the central Helsinki as well as gaze to the sea and at the horizon. The blue and white –the colours of Finland- wheel stands 40 metres tall!

National Museum of Finland

The National Museum lets you explore the history of Finland from medieval times until the 19th century. In addition to the permanent exhibition telling how the life was over a 1000-year period, there are also changing contemporary exhibitions as well as the interactive Vintti, where you can learn about the history by participating in it yourself.

Kiasma

The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma features temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. Along with augmenting its collections, Kiasma also conducts research in art. Although the primary focus is in contemporary Finnish art, the museum more often than not features also exhibitions of international artists. The beauty in Kiasma’s exhibitions is their inclusiveness: the art works and installations can be interactive and trigger all your senses!

Kamppi Chapel of Silence

Located in one of the busiest corners in the whole city and at the entrance of Kamppi Shopping Centre, the Chapel of Silence offers an opportunity to calm down and take a breath. The modern, round design is soft and protects the visitor, while blending well in the city centre.

Seurasaari Open Air Museum

Seurasaari Open Air Museum is located on a beautiful island just a few kilometres out of the city centre. The atmosphere is relaxed and tranquil, and people often come here to take a break from their busy lives. In the summertime, the traditional Finnish way of life is displayed in the cottages, farmsteads and manors of the past four centuries, that have been relocated to Seurasaari from all over Finland. You can also find a restaurant, multiple kiosks and a beach from the island, as well as a barbecue spot.

Design District

To the south of the Esplanade, the area named Design District hosts over 200 design attractions on 25 streets including museums, galleries, studios, shops, showrooms and restaurants. Design Walk, a guided tour in English on every Friday, is a good way to get an insight on Finnish design. If you prefer exploring by yourself, there are also Design District Route Maps available free of charge.

Cable Factory

The Cable Factory is the biggest and most diverse cultural centre in whole Finland. It features three museums, a restaurant, a book store, 12 galleries, dance theatres, art schools, and acts as a venue for artists, bands, and companies doing business in the creative industries. A popular event is the Winter Circus, an annual set of a perfect blend of acting and acrobatics.

Teurastamo

The culinary and cultural centre Teurastamo, or in English The Abattoir, presents the latest food culture in Helsinki. You can always drop by to relax in the hammocks or on the various terraces, but food plays a key role in everything happening in the area. From a public grill and picnic spots in the urban garden to various ethnic restaurants, handmade icecream and Finnish cuisine, you can find it all. Teurastamo hosts often also events, such as the Sideways music festival, or Helsinki Night Market, when the area fills up with various interesting food stalls!

City Bikes

Helsinki has excellent cycling routes even in the heart of the city, and is a great place to be explored from the saddle. The city bikes are a fun and convenient way of getting around. The shared-use bicycles can be borrowed for a fee by anyone in Helsinki, residents and visitors alike. In 2017 there were already 1,400 bikes in 140 locations around the city!

Ice Skating on the Railway Station

In the wintertime Helsinki features multiple natural and artificial ice skating rinks around the town, but none other is as iconic as the ice rink in the middle of the Railway station! Enjoy a good time in the middle of the beautiful city, and drop by to the pop-up café for a cup of hot chocolate.

Amos Anderson Art Museum

The biggest private art museum in Finland, the Amos Anderson Art Museum, is located in the former home of the art patron Amos Anderson. In addition to the permanent exhibition of Mr. Anderson’s own collections and the home with its furniture and stories, the museum features changing exhibitions of mostly contemporary art. A restaurant and an art shop are also located in the building.

And more!

See Visit Helsinki for many other amazing things to experience!

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