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Are you planning a trip to Helsinki with kids? It quickly became one of our favorite cities to visit with kids! It’s safe, easy to navigate and lots to see and do with kids. If Helsinki with kids is in your future, read on for our 3 day itinerary! We were in Helsinki for 4 days but used one of those days to go on a day trip from Helsinki to Tallinn on the ferry.
THINGS TO NOTE:
-The city is super easy to navigate, you won’t have to get into a car at all! From the airport, take the train (both trains go to the same place, one goes clockwise and the other counter clockwise) to the Central Railway Station. Download the HSL app and purchase your public transportation tickets (AB zones if you are staying mainly within the city, that’s what we did but keep in mind the airport is zone C so I purchased a one way ticket just for that right at the airport) then take the tram to your accommodation from the railway station. Super easy to use!
-English was spoken everywhere, I honestly didn’t hear any Finnish our entire time there which was surprising.
-If you use a stroller, you’ll have no issues navigating the streets of Helsinki.
-They use Euros as their currency however every place we went to accepted credit cards so we didn’t need any cash here.
WHERE TO STAY IN HELSINKI WITH KIDS
Wondering where to stay in Helsinki? Since we are loyal to Marriott (I have titanium status), we naturally chose a Marriott property. Well this was one of the best ones we have stayed in! Hotel Katajanokka is a Tribute Portfolio hotel that used to be a prison dating back to 1837. In 2002, the prison closed and the hotel took over. Many of the prison details were seen throughout the hotels and most of the rooms are the size of 2 prison cells, however we didn’t see those as we got upgraded to a larger room. The tram stopped (4) stopped right in front of the hotel, making it a super convenient location for getting anywhere in the city. I highly recommend this hotel! Don’t forget to visit the prison cell on the bottom floor to see what they used to look like. A plus to this hotel is that it’s walking distance to a playground and not just any playground but the one where Tove Jansson, creator of Moomin, used to play as a little girl!
THINGS TO DO IN HELSINKI WITH KIDS
There are so many things to do in Helsinki with kids! Depending on time of year you visit, you may have lots of daylight late into the night. We went in mid August and the sun didn’t set until after 9pm. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, it was in the high 60s/low 70s mostly and felt like fall the entire time. Summer is definitely a great time to visit! Being on the expensive side, there weren’t as many tourists here as in the other places we have visited.
On our first day, we hopped on the tram with no plan and decided to just get off wherever looks good. Well it worked out really well! You will see lots of hop on/hop off buses but don’t waste your time or money. Utilize the trams and just see the city that way. Our first stop took us to the Helsinki City Museum, which is free! Inside is Children’s Town, which teaches kids the history of the city in an interactive way. While Helsinki doesn’t have a traditional children’s museum, this was the closest thing to it.
Helsinki has an amusement park called Linnanmaki. The admission is free, but you must pay for the rides. It can get quite expensive so Milana chose a few rides. It’s a great place to visit on a summer day!
Inside of the Linnanmaki amusement park is the Sea Life Aquarium. When you’re buying tickets for the rides, you can purchase aquarium tickets at a steep discount so we did. It’s not a big aquarium, but it was nice to walk around inside for a bit.
If you’re looking for the best playground in Helsinki, you’ll have a hard time finding one! Playgrounds are scattered throughout the entire city, if you’re walking around, chances are you will find one. But unlike Sweden, they are just regular playgrounds, nothing spectacular. Still a good way to get some energy out! This is Leikkipaikka Tokoinranta, a fully enclosed playground right near a tram stop.
We also walked around a lot! It’s a very walkable city, with so much to see. Take the tram to the center of the city and just walk! Be sure to visit thenStockmann department store and head to the bottom floor for some great food and snacks!
Oodi is Helsinki’s newest library, completed in 2018. Now you’re probably thinking, why would I want to visit a library? Well let me tell you, this place is awesome! The architecture itself is worth seeing, but inside you will find lots of way to occupy your time. There are several cafes, an awesome children’s area, tons of books to read (many in English too!), a game room and comfortable places to relax. If it’s a nice day, there is also a playground outside for the kids to play on. I would add this to your list of places to visit, it’s in the center of the city and really easy to get to using many of the trams.
WHERE TO EAT IN HELSINKI
Being a very family friendly city, there are many places to eat in Helsinki with kids. We had free buffet breakfast at our hotel thanks to having status (normally 20 Euros a person) so we only ate out for dinner. They have a Moomin Cafe here and I highly recommend downloading some episodes of Moomin before you come so your kids can get familiar with it as it’s a big part of the city. The creator, Tove Jansson, grew up in Finland and it sure is a big presence here in the city!
In the summer, they have different festivals in the parks and we happened to be here during an international food one. Milana loved it and chose to eat from a Thai vendor and also chose some steamed custard buns.
There’s a restaurant called Konstan Möljä in Helsinki and I highly recommend you make a reservation before you come! They are closed on Sunday and Monday so we didn’t get a chance to eat here because you aren’t getting in without a reservation. It’s very popular and buffet style (pots of food not the typical open buffet most places have) and you can sample pretty much all of the local foods without buying an entire plate of reindeer or bear meat. Do yourself a favor and reserve a table!
A Finnish restaurant we did eat at was Salve, which I also recommend. It’s by the water and right near a tram stop. The food is awesome and the kid meals are real food, not chicken nuggets. Basically, smaller portions of the adult meals. Milana chose the salmon and loved it! I had the meatballs, which were excellent as well.
Also be sure to visit local supermarkets! It’s one of our favorite things to do on our travels, we love sampling local foods and stocking up on some in-season fruit for our time there.
On our last night, we ate at an Indian restaurant walking distance from the hotel, Ravintola Everest Katajanokka. Indian food is one of Milana’s favorites, and this one didn’t disappoint! We both had the butter chicken and it was awesome.
Helsinki is an awesome city to visit with kids and I would go as far as saying it’s a great first international trip for families. It’s so easy to navigate, the locals are so friendly and you will find lots of things to occupy your time. This was Milana’s 22nd country and definitely a favorite for both of us!