10 Things to Do in Helsinki in Summer

If you go to the Finnish capital from June to September, you can't miss the variety of summer attractions, festivals and activities - read on!

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

11 min read

10 Things to Do in Helsinki in Summer

Seurasaari |©Катя

Summer in Helsinki is full of life and is the most eagerly awaited season, especially for those who love the outdoors and want to enjoy the best local activities. With pleasant temperatures ranging from 9° to 21°, the city kicks off the high season. Of course you cannot expect extremely warm waters in the middle of one of the coldest countries in Europe, but you can take advantage of the particularity of the famous white nights. This is a phenomenon that occurs around the summer solstice, causing the darkness never to be complete in the city.

You will hardly get bored as the fun is provided by boat rides and trips to the main local islands. If you want to take in the sights, you have to enjoy the seasonal sightseeing bus tour that is only available from May to October. Of course you can attend the colorful seasonal festivals and spend the afternoon in the typical Lippakioski summer cafes. Want to make the most of your Helsinki vacation, let me guide you through summer in Helsinki!

1. Enjoy a speedboat ride around Helsinki

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

A speedboat ride in Helsinki is an ideal way to start your summer. This exciting activity will take you along the coast of the archipelago and show you iconic sights. Be prepared to get a glimpse of the Suomenlinna sea fortress, from a perspective that allows you to appreciate its star-shaped wall.

It's impossible to remain indifferent to the city's seascape, especially when wonders like the Finnish submarine Vesikko and the award-winning Silo 648 appear before your eyes. The cool water of the waves and the constant jumping of the motorboat will quicken your pulse, keeping your adrenaline pumping.

Keep in mind that this is an adventure at your own risk, so you should choose certified and reliable companies, and avoid setting sail when there are strong waves or strong winds. Also, make sure that the experience includes a flotation suit, buoyancy vest and speed goggles, which are essential survival equipment.

This experience can be combined with a helicopter ride over Helsinki, in case you want to see the city from different perspectives, to see its land and sea sights and enjoy the unobstructed views.

Book a speedboat tour in Helsinki

2. Relax on the Helsinki Islands

Kaunissaari|©Polly Balitro
Kaunissaari|©Polly Balitro

Helsinki basks in its privileged geographical location in the middle of the Baltic Sea, where coasts with medieval landscapes predominate. Some of them even have small pebble beaches or soft sandy beaches that wrap around your feet, offering a relaxing experience. Check out the most paradisiacal beaches for this season!


It is an ancient island to the southeast with an interesting history, starring the anecdotes of the Viking era hidden in its forests, villas and gardens. It is within walking distance and can be reached via the Suomen Saaristokuljetus ferry that departs twice daily. Specifically, in summer it leaves every day, while if you plan to visit Helsinki in winter you can only do so on weekends.

The unique landscaping of this location is embellished during the summer, with the arrival of the Haltiala farm sheep, which can be spotted feeding in the island's fields. In addition, Vartiosaari Day is celebrated at the end of this season with children's areas, live entertainment and cultural activities. Additionally, at this time you can go hiking on the well-marked trails, or:

  • Take a refreshing dip in the cliffs, which by the way, are surrounded by birds, bats and other local animals.
  • Pick berries and mushrooms, which are plentiful in the summer and autumn.
  • Climb up to the Vartiokallio viewpoint, which offers views of the archipelago and nearby towns such as Porvoo.


Kaunissaari is an island in the Sipoo archipelago, whose attraction is its location in the open sea. You can take advantage of the boat trips around Helsinki to get to the marina, then you can move through the network of trails that interconnect the island. This coastal area has a beach, however it is not safe to swim beyond the shore. There are other idyllic options such as fishing or paddle boarding to watch the birds that nest in June.

This island is characterized by its local gastronomy, whose restaurants allow you to book a sauna experience, either cold or warm water. Another local attraction is the search for the famous orak, a protected endangered species. If you are still looking for entertainment proposals, you can stay outdoors to camp, but keep in mind that there are no services and it is a wild experience that can only be done in marked areas.

If you plan to sign up for the best excursions from Helsinki, you can enjoy the tranquility that the island offers between 23:00 and 7:00, when there are not many tourists hanging around. During this time avoid clandestine trails and respect nature.


It is a nearby island that offers a pleasant environment with a variety of outdoor entertainment options, as well as a trip back in time to the past of this archipelago. Here you can unwind from stress on beautiful beaches, enjoy a performance at the open-air theater and take a tour of one of Helsinki' s best museums with exhibits from the 18th and 20th centuries that preserve old farms, mills, sheds and houses.

The most special thing during the summer is that you will see squirrels, which are shameless, funny and always ready to play. Of course, you should keep a safe distance as a precaution, but you can feed them by following the instructions given by the rangers.


During your stay in Helsinki you can't miss a trip to Suomenlinna, especially if you go in summer. You can get there in less than fifteen minutes by ferry, which departs from 10:00h to 18:00h. Here the beach is the best plan for a relaxing summer vacation, although it is only a small and private cove, where you can spend some time splashing around. I recommend you not to limit yourself, the island has a lot to offer. Starting with the Suomenlinna Museum, where the model of the last Finnish submarine is kept.

Another more relaxed possibility is to take a boat trip around Helsinki, to see the island from the sea. You can also enjoy a picnic in front of the coast and explore the beauty of the fortress, whose history, immortalized behind the walls and cannons, will leave you captivated. In addition, cultural events are held on this island in summer, which can vary from year to year, and most attractions are only open during this season.

Book a guided tour of Helsinki and Suomenlinna

3. Discover abandoned and refurbished buildings at Helsinki Design Week

Helsinki Design Week|©Petrikje
Helsinki Design Week|©Petrikje

Helsinki Design Week or Helsinki Design Week is an annual event that stars the city' s best activities in the summer season. Specifically, it usually takes place in September in late summer and early autumn. You can explore emblematic abandoned buildings, as well as learn about the process of recovery and remodeling of some of them. Their story is interesting and somewhat touching, as since 2005 they have recovered spaces such as the old customs warehouse Tulli-ja pakkahuone and the old port warehouse Jätkäsaari.

This local program has become an iconic cultural activity, which takes you on an interesting search for forgotten buildings around the city. In fact, it offers around 250 events in different parts of Helsinki, not for nothing is it the largest design festival in the Nordic countries. Note that some require registration and it is advisable to combine it with a guided tour of the local architecture, to know the most emblematic points that can capture your attention during the festival.

Book an architecture tour

4. Tour the city on the Helsinki sightseeing bus.

yellow bus|©.carleS
yellow bus|©.carleS

The tour in the Helsinki tourist bus is an activity not to be missed in this season, as it is a seasonal tour that only runs from May to October. If you are one of those travelers who love to get lost among the streets of an unknown city, do not hesitate to take advantage of the good weather and the longer days in the Finnish capital. On board this enigmatic double-decker transport you can discover places of interest and take advantage of the 360° views that will not leave you indifferent.

In addition, you can enjoy around 19 free stops, where you can hop on and off as long as the ticket is active. Generally, you can choose between a validity of 24 or 48 hours to move comfortably at your own pace. Other advantages of this tour is that it offers free WiFi, audio guide to get to know the city and air conditioning so you don't swelter in the heat. Note that it is ideal if you plan to be at least 3 days in Helsinki and can be combined with local boat tours.

Here are some of the places of interest that you can get to know:

  • Government Palace, the official residence of the president of Finland.
  • Swedish Theater, a beautiful theater with different cultural programs offered in Swedish, Finnish and English.
  • Kiasma Museum: one of the best museums in Helsinki with contemporary art collections. The entrance is included in the Helsinki Card, which gives you access to different attractions in the capital.

Book a tour on the tourist bus

5. Get to know the city by bike

helsinki bike|©Michael W Andersen
helsinki bike|©Michael W Andersen

The city takes on a unique look during the summer, so many people rent bikes to get to know its attributes. There are apps that offer audio guides or coveted routes, as well as a real-time map so you don't miss anything. In general, the experience allows you to take advantage of the special lanes for cyclists and enjoy the fresh air that characterizes the Nordic countries.

In summer it can be an ideal plan to take advantage of the good weather and the extra time of sunlight that gives you the option to pedal for longer. Of course, you can also explore urban trails and keep moving during your vacation. Additionally, Finns are fond of motor sports and eco-friendly transportation, something you will discover during your visit.

This tour is seasonal and can be enjoyed from April to October at affordable prices. You will be able to see the cityscapes, islands, forests and coastal areas. You can enjoy a Helsinki cycling vacation on your own, but if you want a carefully planned itinerary, you can join the best local tours. A customized tour can be a good option to benefit from the privacy, exclusivity and knowledge of a professional guide.

Join a private tour in Helsinki

6. Take advantage of outdoor activities in Helsinki

Botanic Garden at Kaisaniemi Park.|©From Manhattan to Havana
Botanic Garden at Kaisaniemi Park.|©From Manhattan to Havana

For pleasant summer days, there is nothing better than outdoor activities. There are options for all tastes and ages, where you will be surrounded by the natural beauty and the best activities in Helsinki. Here are the must-see options for this season:

  • Art District: the vibrant energy of Helsinki is heightened in the colorful streets of this area, which brings art to life and is filled with murals, art galleries and eye-catching exhibitions.
  • Helsinki Zoo in Korkeasaari: this zoo is a must-see, as the money from the entrance fees is used to protect endangered species. Here you can see animals by continent and conservation centers. The entrance fee starts at 20 euros.
  • Kaisaniem Botanical Garden: noted for the fresh air you breathe among its plants and flowers, sometimes concerts and outdoor festivals are organized.
  • Helsinki canal tour: a relaxing activity that allows you to navigate through Korkeasaari Island, Hevossalmi Strait, Villinki Island, Vartiosaari Island, the Suomenlinna maritime fortress and the Degerö Canal, built in the late nineteenth century. In addition, on board the audio guide commentary enriches the experience.

Book a boat tour on Helsinki's canals

7. Attend Helsinki's festivals

Flow festival Helsinki|©pedroko_75
Flow festival Helsinki|©pedroko_75

The colors of summer are contrasted with energetic events, so it is not surprising that the offer of festivals and outdoor activities increases considerably in this season. Mostly, activities revolving around music are organized during these dates, among them:

  • Art Festival or Helsinki Festival: held every year at the end of the season, among the ovations you can hear the performances of the local orchestra, contemporary music shows and other cultural manifestations.
  • Flow Festival: from folk to indie, you can enjoy different musical genres and a varied artistic program.
  • World Village Festival: this is a free festival that takes place between May and June in the villages of Helsinki.

8. Don't miss the Midsummer festival of St. John

Midsummer in Seurasaari, Helsinki|©Ninara
Midsummer in Seurasaari, Helsinki|©Ninara

Midsummer is an annual astronomical event, which takes place on June 21 throughout Finland. It takes place when the sun is at its highest point and there is more light than any other day of the year, and is even believed to be a gateway to nature, which encourages new beginnings.

In the capital you will find many activities and a lively atmosphere. However, the highlight is the feast of St. John in Finland. Previously, it was held on June 23, but long ago they were unified to create one big celebration.

During this day it doesn't get dark at all, which gives the festival a special charm and makes it one of the best activities in Helsinki to kick off the summer. Generally, bonfires or kokko are lit to ward off evil spirits, while others choose to relax in the typical saunas and wait for the midnight sun.

Also, prepare your best suit because you might get married. Many couples choose to get married in both public and private ceremonies, to take advantage of the magic of the solstice.

9. Check out Lippakioski, Helsinki's famous summer cafes


In summer, the famous summer cafés or Lippakioski sprout up, characterized by small kiosks that have become a tradition since 1920. They can be identified because they are wooden booths where they sell traditional sweets and sodas. You will find them in different picturesque areas such as Arabia, Hakaniemi and Harju. There are at least 19 options in the city, so there's no excuse not to make a quick stop and explore the local traditions.

It's one of the best things to do in Helsinki this season, as other kiosk formats have emerged in recent years. For example, the R-kioski which is a national chain that retains the old format and sells mostly newspapers, food and drinks.

There are also gourmet kiosks where I recommend you try the Grillimakkara sausages or pastry kiosks to try the famous Korvapuusti cinnamon rolls. If you prefer to stay somewhere a little cozier and with places to sit, the Moomin themed cafes are ideal, as they are inspired by the comic book by Finnish writer Tove Jansson.

10. Have fun at Helsinki's Linnanmäki amusement park

Linnanmäki, Helsinki.|©Visa Kopu
Linnanmäki, Helsinki.|©Visa Kopu

Linnanmäki is a popular summer amusement park, which is only open from April to September. Its legacy has spanned almost a century, with tempting offerings for all ages. Enjoy the adrenaline rush on its carousels, train rides, turbulent roller coasters and interactive zones for children. Other entertainment options include shows, theatrical performances, shooting games and souvenir stands.

In September you can take advantage of the iik!week Horror Festival whose haunted atmosphere is suitable for those over fifteen. I recommend you wear costumes to stick to the theme, note that the entrance fee starts at 47 euros.