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Best Things to Do in Helsinki with Kids (2024)

Helsinki is a clean, walkable city that offers a host of affordable activities for families. From free transportation for small children to nearby islands perfect for picnicking, the Finnish capital makes it easy for visitors with kids in tow to enjoy a relaxing holiday. 

What Not to Miss in Helsinki with Kids - Kids Are A Trip

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Tucked away in the northeast corner of the EU, Finland is home to the happiest people in the world. With 188,000 lakes and 74 percent of the country covered in forest, it’s easy to see why. “Everyman’s right” in Finland means you can walk freely in nature, anywhere you want. Pick the berries, eat the mushrooms, and drink from the clear lake. The country is yours to explore.

Interest in Finland’s four major tourism regions—Helsinki, Lapland, the Finnish lake district, and the coast and archipelago—is growing in the United States. Americans are increasingly intrigued by Europe’s most heavily forested country, where Northern Lights dance in the sky over reindeer below. It’s a magical destination the whole family can enjoy with beautiful parks, markets, and museums.

How to Get Around Helsinki

Kids aged six and younger can enjoy free travel on buses, trains, and trams in Helsinki, as long as they are in a stroller. And guess what? Their accompanying adult travels free as well! 

Helsinki public transportation is easy and reliable—the Finns are known for their punctuality. 

Helsinki tram transportation

But, once downtown in this vibrant seaside city, you can walk almost everywhere you need to go. You’ll see the locals out walking, biking, scootering, rollerblading, and even skateboarding. When it’s not too cold outside, sightsee on foot or hop on one of the 2,500 city bikes available to rent.

Once you’ve covered the downtown attractions, it’s time to head out on the water! The sea surrounds Helsinki on three sides and there are 300 islands in the archipelago, many of which are recreational areas accessible by ferry and bus.

The Helsinki Ferry terminal next to Helsinki’s Market Square makes it easy to access many of the islands around the city.

Fun Things to Do in Helsinki with Kids

1. Market Square

The best place to start your Helsinki sightseeing adventure is right in the heart of the city, down by the water.

Helsinki finland port

Stroll on to Market Square to shop in the open-air market that sells local delicacies, fruit, and souvenirs. Then, head indoors to shop at food stalls in the Old Market Hall, built in 1889. 

There are stalls inside the market hall that sell high-quality food, plus there are restaurants and cafés to enjoy. The salmon soup at the sit-down restaurant called Story is perfect on a chilly day.

2. Helsinki Cathedral and Helsinki City Museum

A short walk will take you to the striking Helsinki Cathedral, located in the heart of Helsinki. Surrounding the cathedral is Senate Square, a great place for people-watching.

Helsinki Cathedral Senate Square

Afterward, head across the street to the recently renovated Children’s Town exhibition, inside Helsinki City Museum. This museum is open every day and admission is always free. As the second most popular museum in Finland, Helsinki City Museum is one of the city’s most popular attractions. 

Kids can learn a bit about the city’s history while playing with the interactive exhibits. There are wooden planks to walk, a boat to explore, costumes to try, and a puppet theatre. Adults interested in learning more about Helsinki’s history can continue to other floors for more informative exhibits.

3. Moomin Café

When in Finland, visiting a Moomin shop is a must. Helsinki is the birthplace of Moomins, the famous Finnish cartoon characters, so don’t miss your chance to enjoy a cappuccino with Moomintroll and friends. 

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There’s a small play area inside this fun café and hot beverages come with a chocolate powdered Moomin friend sprinkled on top. You can walk here from the Helsinki City Museum.

4. Oodi Library

When you’re ready to stretch your legs again, stroll over to Oodi, Helsinki’s central library, an architectural marvel that opened in 2018. In front of the building, kids can play on the fun playground and you can take photos with the “My Helsinki” sign. 

Oodi Library Finland

Inside, you can browse children’s books and comics, watch a movie, play board games, or grab a bite at one of the two cafés. Don’t leave before taking in the view from the third-floor balcony! There are tables and chairs if you’d like to have a picnic outside.

To sneak in a bit of shopping, swing by Stockmann’s, the largest department store in Helsinki. Buy some Finnish candy to try (there’s a whole aisle dedicated to black licorice). Then, let the kids loose in the play area on the sixth floor.

5. Linnanmåki Amusement Park

At night, head to Linnanmaki Amusement Park. Admission to this amusement park is free, but you will need to purchase a wristband or tickets for individual rides. If you’re with small children, it’s best to just buy tickets as you go.

If you have older children you’ll probably want to buy a ride wristband. There are several cool carnival rides, including a 66-year-old wooden roller coaster.

6. Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

The Seurasaari Open-Air Museum is meant to give visitors a taste of what life in Finland would have been like in the countryside between the 18th and 20th centuries. It offers visitors the opportunity to spend time outdoors, while also walking about and exploring the 87 separate buildings that operate as a part of the museum.

You will need to take Bus 24 from the city center to reach the museum (about a 45-minute ride). The cost of admission is relatively low, with adults paying €12 and children under 18 given free entry. Guided tours are available and there is a cafe and restaurant on-site for visitors.

7. SkyWheel

The SkyWheel Helsinki is a rather unique kind of Ferris wheel, diverting from the traditional path while also maintaining what Ferris wheels are known for.

SkyWheel Ferris wheel

SkyWheel guarantees a beautiful view of Helsinki, with opportunities for fun pictures with your friends and family while inside. It offers unique VIP experiences, with both a SkySauna and a VIP experience, reinventing the idea of what a Ferris wheel should be.

8. Flying Cinema

For those who want to see a lot of Helsinki in a limited time, Flying Cinema tours might be for you. This 12-minute virtual tour offers a combination of special and visual effects to whisk viewers around the city, giving the impression of the city’s beauty without moving an inch. Similar to the FlyOver experience in Iceland and Las Vegas.

9. Science Centre Heureka

The Science Centre Heureka was built as a means of informing visitors of scientific methods and concepts, a goal that the science center continues to offer today.

The Finnish Science Centre includes displays, interactive exhibits, educational programs, and more. Perfect for those with any kind of interest or curiosity surrounding science!

10. Sea Life Helsinki 

Sea Life is a large aquarium, consisting of many tanks of varying sizes, housing a wide variety of sea life from around the world, and allowing you to view a maximum amount of sea life with minimal travel! There’s also a chance to more closely observe sea life through the discovery pool, with experts on hand to offer a unique learning experience. 

Day trips from Helsinki

11. Suomenlinna Sea Fortress 

To reach Suomenlinna, you’ll need to take a ferry. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Suomenlinna is located on six linked islands off the coast of Helsinki. (If you have a little one in a stroller, both you and your child can travel on the ferry for free!)

Suomenlinna is a popular place for Finnish families to picnic in the summer, thanks to its cooler temperature. There’s a grocery store right off the ferry as well, which is convenient for buying lunch supplies.

Suomenlinna is a bastion fortress with an irregular shape and a unique history of defending three realms: Sweden, Russia, and Finland. But today, it’s just a beautiful place to walk around. 

Sea Fortress Suomenlinna

Eight hundred and fifty people live on the islands, so you can watch Kindergarteners playing in the schoolyard or visit Helsinki’s smallest library.

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For those who would like a break from military history during their day trip, children will enjoy the Suomennlinna Toy Museum, a collection of antique toys from the early 1800s up until the 1960s. A stop in the museum offers travelers a different taste of Suomenlinna, where a comparison of current and classic toys can be made. 

If you are looking for a guided tour, there are daytime walking tours led by actors, or nighttime tunnel and cave tours by flashlight. Make reservations in the Suomenlinna Visitor Center.

12. Korkeasaari Zoo

Another fun day trip by boat is the 130-year-old zoo on the island of Korkeasaari. The boat trip from Market Square only costs less than 5 Euros each way (free rides for kids).

If you’re visiting in winter, though, you’ll have to take Bus 16 and walk over the bridge to the island, as the boat only operates in the summer. 

The zoo itself is open every day of the year, but some attractions, like the fun playgrounds with in-ground trampolines, sand, and water play areas, close in the winter months.

Korkeasaari Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world and offers an enjoyable three-kilometer walk around the island to visit its 1,000 animal inhabitants. I’d recommend bringing a stroller to enjoy the two- to three-hour trek around the island the Helsinki Zoo sits on. 

When you’re ready to stop for lunch, there’s a café and a dining room where you can picnic while watching bears. There’s also a rustic hut with a grill if you’d prefer—just bring your fire starter and sausages.

13. Vallisaari Island

The island of Vallisaari has only recently opened to the public, having been left in its natural state until 2016. Now you can visit by ferry from Market Square and picnic or dine in the island café.

14. Tallinn, Estonia

If you’re traveling to Tallinn from Helsinki, it’s a super easy two-hour ferry ride, non-stop, across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki Ferry Terminal to Tallinn Port. Several boats depart every day year-round, with more services in the summer months.

Tallinn Estonia old town

You can book tickets through the boat company, Tallink Silja. When buying ferry tickets, make sure to book well in advance. 

There are plenty of things to do in Tallinn and families will be content to spend the day exploring. On a day trip to Tallinn, we recommend wandering along the walls of the Old Town, admiring the interior and exterior of Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, and exploring Tallinn’s Town Hall and historic square. Don’t miss a chance to sample local food at  Rataskaevu 16 or III Draakon.

Where to Stay in Helsinki with kids

Hotel U14 is walking distance to the Market Square, shopping, and the water. The property serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and has a gym on-site. Rooms are extremely comfortable and kids stay free. CHECK RATES HERE

Lapland Hotels Bulevardi has easy access to transportation and the Esplanadi. Some rooms have their own sauna which is always a hit with kids. Families rave about the hotel’s breakfast. CHECK RATES HERE

Bob W offers short stay apartments in the city center. These are perfect for families who want room to spread out or are traveling with older kids. Our favorite is the Bob W City Center.

Where to Eat in Helsinki with Kids

Konstan Möljä – we took the kids here for traditional Finnish food. Evening dinner is a traditional buffet and families will feel welcome.

Daddy Greens Pizzabar – if the kids are keen on fish or reindeer, why not head to a pizza place? Their Iso-Roba location is convenient to the city center. Niska Helsinki is another option for pizza.

Kappeli – lovely restaurant/café on the main promenade. Perfect place for lunch with a view.

Looking for more fun in Finland with kids? Check out How to Plan a Road Trip to Finland