Helsinki Boat Tours

Helsinki is a port city so one of the best alternatives to get to know it is to sail on one of the boat services offered by this destination. I will tell you which are the options you can find and what sites you can visit in each one.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

10 min read

Helsinki Boat Tours

The Suomenlinna ferry |©Lucy Huntzinger

Helsinki is the capital of Finland, one of the main cities of Scandinavia and one of the cultural references of Europe, but it is also a port city that was built around the Baltic Sea and the surrounding canals. That is why an ideal way to get to know this destination is to enjoy a boat trip that will also allow you to visit the nearby sites.

Among the best activities you can do in Helsinki are to participate in a tour of the city's navigable canals, enjoy an exciting speedboat excursion, get to know Tallinn on a ferry trip, embark on a tour to the island of Vallisaari and opt for a private catamaran tour that will allow you to design your own itinerary.

1. Helsinki canal boat tour

Helsinki Canals and Harbour|©Kevin Oliver
Helsinki Canals and Harbour|©Kevin Oliver

One of Helsinki's best profiles can be discovered from the city's canals, and to experience this you can take part in a boat tour. During these tours, you will have the opportunity to discover the Finnish capital from a different perspective, through the landscapes that give the canals that run through the city.

From the calm waters of the navigable canals you can contemplate the architectural elegance that distinguishes the city and that stands out both for the Helsinki Cathedral in the heart of the capital to the Suomenlinna fortress, which was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco and where you can discover one of the best museums of this destination. In this way, you will be able to contemplate the fusion between the historical and the avant-garde from the deck of the ship.

In addition to the panoramic architectural sights, this tour will also give you the opportunity to discover the local culture. The boats frequently pass lively markets along the canals, where you can sample the local cuisine and discover the authenticity of everyday life on one of Helsinki's best tours.

Details of interest

  • Price: approximately 30 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 1.5 hours.
  • Advantages of these tours: you will discover one of the best profiles of Helsinki during a relaxed and safe tour.
  • Disadvantages of these tours: during the winter the views from the deck might be reduced, especially during drizzly or snowy days.

Book a Helsinki canals tour

2. Speedboat tour in Helsinki

speedboat on the water|©Shaun Smith-Milne
speedboat on the water|©Shaun Smith-Milne

If you are one of those who prefer to live exciting experiences during your travels, you can't miss a speedboat tour through Helsinki's waterscapes. These tours will allow you to discover the city from a completely different perspective and, aboard a powerful semi-rigid boat, you will experience a discovery full of adrenaline and speed

During these dizzying rides you will discover Helsinki's modern architecture, from its sleek skyscrapers to the iconic buildings lining the water front. The speedboat will take you through the canals, offering views of the Helsinki Cathedral, Suomenlinna Fortress, the Presidential Palace and other iconic sites silhouetted from the water.

These adventures also include the assistance of expert local guides, who will provide you with information about Helsinki's history and culture while you experience the experience at full speed.

In addition, these tours are perfect to discover the city in a quick circuit, which will be ideal if you plan to visit Helsinki in 2 days or even less time. Also, keep in mind that if you plan to visit the city during the winter, I advise you to book in advance to secure your spot, as this is considered one of the best tours in the Finnish capital.

Interesting details

  • Price: approximately 155 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 1 hour and a half.
  • Advantages of these tours: it is one of the most exciting experiences you can live in the city, because while you know the main sites of this destination you can enjoy an adrenaline ride.
  • Disadvantages of these excursions: they do not offer stops.

Buy a speedboat ride

3. Tallinn Ferry Tour from Helsinki

ferry in Helsinki|©Sergei Gussev
ferry in Helsinki|©Sergei Gussev

If you want to enjoy a full day of discovery around the city, you can join a ferry tour from Helsinki to Tallinn. This trip will take you across the Baltic Sea to the capital of Estonia, giving you the opportunity to experience the rich culture and ancient history of this medieval city.

Upon arrival in Tallinn you will walk through its cobblestone streets, where medieval architecture and modern buildings merge in a unique way. The Old Town, with its walls, towers and cobblestone alleys, will offer you a trip back in time and the Town Hall Square, with its colorful buildings and lively cafes, will be a central point to start the tour after having seen the city's skyline from the Baltic.

In addition, you can visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece of Russian influence, and enjoy the panoramic views from Toompea Hill. Tallinn also offers opportunities to discover its rich art scene at exhibitions such as those at the Kumu Art Museum, which bring a cultural perspective to one of the best things to do from Helsinki.

Details of interest

  • Price: approximately 170 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 12 hours.
  • Advantages of these tours: you will get to know what is considered one of the most beautiful medieval cities in the world.
  • Disadvantages of these excursions: the tour in winter can take up to 3 hours per section and you could have reduced vision due to weather conditions.

Book tickets for the ferry to Tallinn

4. Boat excursion to Vallisaari fortress island

boat view from the island|©Tuomo Lindfors
boat view from the island|©Tuomo Lindfors

A boat excursion to the fortress island of Vallisaari will allow you to discover a historical treasure located off the coast of Helsinki, which is not usually included in the circuit of the main tours of the city, but is no less worthwhile for that. This small island, once used for military purposes and as an ammunition storage site, has evolved into a natural and cultural gem.

Vallisaari, together with the neighboring island of Suomenlinna, is part of the Finnish capital's maritime archipelago, and its history dates back to the 18th century, when it was fortified to protect the capital from possible threats. Over the years, the island has played a variety of roles, from being a military base to becoming a nature conservation area. Today, it has become a destination that offers unmissable scenery.

When exploring Vallisaari you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in history through the ancient fortifications and military buildings. In addition, you can enjoy the tranquility of nature, with trails winding through forests, cliffs and panoramic views of the sea. However, one of the best features of these experiences is that you will be able to enjoy panoramic views of Suomenlinna from the south, something rare on other tours.

Interesting details

  • Price: approximately 25 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 3 hours.
  • Advantages of these tours: you will get to know a little explored destination in the surroundings of Helsinki, but which offers nice panoramic views.
  • Disadvantages of these tours: being located south of Suomenlinna and facing the open sea, weather conditions during the winter often complicate the tours around the island.

5. Private catamaran tour of Helsinki and surrounding islands

catamaran sightseeing|©Atypeek Dgn
catamaran sightseeing|©Atypeek Dgn

If you want to experience the exclusivity of a private tour, you can opt for a scheduled catamaran tour of Helsinki and its surrounding islands. This sea tour will offer you the opportunity to explore the waters of the Baltic Sea in comfort and at your own pace, aboard boats designed to accommodate up to 20 people plus crew.

This private tour guarantees a personalized and relaxed experience, ideal for small groups, special celebrations or simply for those looking for an intimate way to discover the scenic beauty of the region, which becomes particularly picturesque during the summer in Helsinki.

During the trip you can enjoy panoramic views of the coastline and surrounding islands, immersing yourself in the city's unique architecture from the maritime perspective. Nearby islands offer a variety of fascinating destinations, such as Suomenlinna, known for its Military Museum and landscapes, or Vallisaari, a natural gem with a rich military history and unique biodiversity.

The flexibility of a private catamaran tour, moreover, allows you to tailor an itinerary to suit your preferences, whether enjoying a picnic on a quiet island, exploring historical sites or taking in the sweeping views from the boat's deck.

Details of interest

  • Price: approximately 850 euros per boat, with capacity for up to 20 people.
  • Duration: about 4 hours.
  • Advantages of these excursions: you will be able to choose the itinerary and the pace of the tour according to your interests.
  • Disadvantages of these excursions: it can be an expensive alternative if you do not plan to visit the city with a large group.

How to book a tour from Helsinki?

woman in front of a computer|©KATRIN BOLOVTSOVA
woman in front of a computer|©KATRIN BOLOVTSOVA

Boat tours in Helsinki can be booked in advance online or you can book them once you arrive in the city, although you should keep in mind that if you plan to visit the Finnish capital during the summer, it is advisable to secure your place on the tours in advance, due to the demand generated by the high season.

Also, if you book in advance you can put together an itinerary that allows you to get the most out of your visit, and you can also combine any of the boat tours with some of the best tours of the city or with the hop on-hop off bus tours of Helsinki, which will allow you to discover a complete perspective of this destination through its stops at different points.

Buy a ticket for the sightseeing bus

Tips for a boat tour in Helsinki

Night boat|©michael_jeddah
Night boat|©michael_jeddah

To make the most of your boat tour in Helsinki, it is essential to take into account some tips that will make your experience unforgettable, such as checking the weather conditions before embarking, as the weather in the waters of the Baltic Sea can be inclement. The best alternative to avoid mishaps is to carry warm clothes and, if necessary, a raincoat to protect you from the rain.

Also, don't forget to research the different ship routes and choose the one that best suits your interests. Some tours focus on history and architecture, while others offer panoramic views of nature and the surrounding islands. Also, if you opt for a guided tour, get the most out of your visit by learning about Helsinki's rich history and culture with the assistance of expert local guides.

Finally, don't forget to pack a camera to take pictures. The views from the water offer unique perspectives of the city and islands, and you'll want to remember those special details. Also, if you plan to visit Helsinki during Christmas you'll want to capture the festive lighting and decorations that fill the local harbor, especially after dark.

What is the best time of year to take a boat tour in Helsinki?

Day boat in Helsinki|©Mika Meskanen
Day boat in Helsinki|©Mika Meskanen

Choosing the best time for a Helsinki boat tour will depend on your preferences and what you are looking to experience. During the summer months, from June to August, you can enjoy pleasant temperatures and long days, allowing you to appreciate the beauty of the city and its islands in full splendor. At this time, boat tours usually offer a lively and sunny atmosphere, perfect for exploring the Baltic waters.

If you are looking for a quieter experience and want to admire the snow-covered landscapes, the winter season from December to March can be enchanting. Boat tours offer a unique perspective of the snowy city and frozen islands, creating a magical setting. However, be aware that temperatures are cold, so dress appropriately and be prepared for the harsh Finnish winter.

Spring and autumn offer a balance between these two options. Spring, from April to May, brings the renewal of nature, while autumn, from September to October, offers warm colors and a calmer atmosphere. Both seasons allow you to explore Helsinki's waters with moderate temperatures and fewer tourists, an ideal proposition for a productive stay in Helsinki of 3 days or less.

What are the places I should not miss on a boat trip in Helsinki?

Suomenlinna Island from ferry|©Rixikardo
Suomenlinna Island from ferry|©Rixikardo

When taking a Helsinki boat tour, there are several must-see sites that will give you a complete view of the city and its charms from the water. On this tour, the islands of Suomenlinna and Vallisaari are not to be missed. These maritime fortresses offer a fascinating insight into the region's military history and spectacular panoramic views.

Helsinki Cathedral, with its distinctive green dome and waterfront location, is another must-see. This architectural work is best appreciated from the water, providing a unique perspective of one of the city's most prominent icons. Also, don't miss the smaller islands around the capital, which offer enchanting views and lesser known places of interest.

Also, don't miss the opportunity to live an adrenaline experience on a speedboat, which will take you through many of the sites programmed in the rest of the boat experiences, but at a much higher speed. If you are a fan of these adventure tours, you can complement this experience with a helicopter flight to get a perspective of the capital from land, sea and air.

Finally, be sure to explore the city's canals, which wind between historic buildings and modern avant-garde structures. The canals will give you a picturesque perspective of Helsinki, revealing hidden places and providing an authentic and pride-inducing experience for the locals.

Join a helicopter tour of Helsinki