Helsinki

The exquisite Tuomiokirkko
A Neoclassical capital city
The huge Senate Square

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Helsinki

A young city – to be discovered

Instantly loveable, Helsinki is remarkably different from the other Scandinavian capitals, and closer both in mood and appearance to the major cities of Northern Europe.
Today, cruisers will find a youthful buzz on the streets, where the boulevards, outdoor cafés and trendy restaurants are crowded with Finns taking full advantage of the short summer.

Following a devastating fire in 1808, and the city’s designation as Finland’s capital in 1812, Helsinki was totally rebuilt in a style befitting its new status: a grid of wide streets and Neoclassical brick buildings modelled on the then Russian capital, St Petersburg.

Esplanadi, a wide, tree-lined boulevard across a mishmash of tramlines from the harbour, where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, is Helsinki at its most charming. At its eastern end, the City Museum at Sofiankatu 4 offers a record of 450 years of Helsinki life in an impressive permanent exhibition called “Helsinki Horizons”.

To the north is Senate Square (Senattintori), dominated by the exquisite form of the Tuomiokirkko (Cathedral). After the elegance of the exterior, the spartan Lutheran interior comes as a disappointment; more impressive is the gloomily atmospheric crypt, now often used for exhibitions. About 50km east of Helsinki, Porvoo, one of the oldest towns on the south coast and one of Finland’s most charming, is just waiting to be discovered on an MSC Northern Europe excursion.

Its narrow cobbled streets, lined by small colourful wooden buildings, give a sense of Finnish life before the capital’s bold squares and Neoclassical geometry. The old town is built around the hill on the other side of Mannerheimkatu, crowned by the fifteenth-century Tuomiokirkko, where Alexander I proclaimed Finland a Russian Grand Duchy and convened the first Finnish Diet.

Must see places in Helsinki

Discover our excursions

8 results found

  • HALTIA NATURE CENTRE & HIKING

    ACTIVE & ADVENTURE

    HSK09

    Fans of the great outdoors will be in their element on this half-day immersion in Finland’s majestic natural beauty, with a 45-minute coach drive first taking you to the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, housed in an eco-friendly building that is heated and cooled using solar power and geo-energy. This innovative and entirely wood-built facility showcases all of Finland’s nature-given bounty under one roof in a set of imaginative displays and exhibitions. After the visit, the tour moves on to the Nuuksio National Park, where you’ll then hike along the easy Maahisenkierros trail in small groups to reach a particularly scenic vantage point. Your hiking guides will provide information on the region as you go, while the viewpoint at the end will reward you with excellent vistas of the national park and Lake Pitkäjärvi. You’ll also have a break here along with coffee prepared on an open fire, Finnish rolls and sausages hot off the grill – a welcome treat after all the fresh air and exercise. The coach will then return you to the port and your ship. Please note: the hiking trail to the vantage point is on easy, relatively even terrain; sneakers are suitable footwear for this hike. This tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair.
    • Snack included

    • Limited seats

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults£95.00Price per person

    • Children£72.00Price per person

  • HELSINKI BY BIKE

    ACTIVE & ADVENTURE

    HSK02

    Why not opt for a different kind of sightseeing tour and join us on circuit of Helsinki by bike! We will take in the best of this beautiful city, passing the most important sights and enjoying a cycle ride through the city’s leafy parks, past the main museums and along the sea front. Accompanied by a guide, we will make several stops en route, enabling you to learn more about the history and the culture of Helsinki. Pass Mannerheim Street, Helsinki’s main thoroughfare, and a quick tour past the Market Square and the Finlandia Hall. Please note: this excursions is not for children under 12 years old and for guests with walking difficulties. It is compulsory to use the safety helmet. Guides available only in English.
    • Limited seats

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      3 h

    • Adults£65.00Price per person

    • Children£49.00Price per person

  • INTRODUCTION TO HELSINKI

    CITY TOUR

    HSK01

    Leave the ship and get set to explore Helsinki – also known as the “White City of the North” due to the pale local granite of which numerous buildings are made – and enjoy some of its many delights. This tour around town will take you past the open-air marketplace at Market Square, then on to Senate Square in the oldest part of central Helsinki. Check out the views of Helsinki Cathedral in the background and the monument dedicated to the Russian Alexander II, who was known in Finland as “the good czar”, before moving on to Mannerheim Street, Helsinki’s main drag. You will also get to see the parliament buildings, the early 20th-century national museum and the super-modern Finlandia Hall concert venue before you return to the port and your ship. Please note: this tour includes walking on cobbled streets so we recommend wearing comfortable shoes. Guests using a wheelchair are advised that they must be accompanied by a paying helper to provide assistance with getting on and off the coach and that wheelchairs must be collapsible/foldable since the coach has neither a ramp nor a lift. Guests using a wheelchair who would like to participate in this tour are requested to contact the Shore Excursions’ Desk promptly once they are on board so that arrangements can be made.
      • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Easy

      • Duration
        3 h

      • Adults£55.00Price per person

      • Children£42.00Price per person

    • HELSINKI BY BOAT

      SCENIC ROUTE

      HSK04

      Considering some 73% of the total surface area covered by the Finnish capital is water – interspersed with countless larger and smaller islands – it seems fair to say Helsinki is a rather watery city. In addition, this relaxing outing gives you a chance to board a pleasure boat, cruise through the archipelago and simply enjoy all the beautiful views. The route taken around Helsinki’s urban islands will take you past amazing waterfront saunas and opulent villas amid stunning natural beauty, all accompanied by a refreshing cup of coffee and an entertaining narrative on Helsinki’s history provided by your friendly guide. Once your pleasure cruise has ended, a stop will be made at an open-air market for a chance to stroll through the colourful stalls. Your return to the ship then ends your tour. Please note: guests using a wheelchair are advised that they must be accompanied by a paying helper to provide assistance with getting on and off the coach and that wheelchairs must be collapsible/foldable since the coach has neither a ramp nor a lift. Guests using a wheelchair who would like to participate in this tour are requested to contact the Shore Excursions’ Desk promptly once they are on board so that arrangements can be made.
      • Snack included

      • Limited seats

      • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Easy

      • Duration
        2:30 h

      • Adults£59.00Price per person

      • Children£42.00Price per person

    • SAVIJÄRVI MANOR HOUSE & HELSINKI PANORAMA

      SCENIC ROUTE

      HSK03

      Treat yourself to a taste of rural life and a chance to see the main sights of Helsinki on a half-day tour dedicated to presenting some of the best Finland has to offer. Situated only a short drive to the east of Helsinki in the middle of the unspoiled countryside, the Savijärvi Manor House will transport you back to the time of its construction in the late 19th century. Soak up the calming ambience, see how life was lived many moons ago and savour a refreshing cup of coffee or tea. Leaving the tranquillity of Savijärvi behind, your next destination will then be Helsinki itself. Look forward to a panoramic city round-up that includes such iconic landmarks as Mannerheim Street, Helsinki’s main thoroughfare, the parliament buildings and the main open-air marketplace at the aptly named Market Square. A short stop will be made at Senate Square in the centre of Helsinki’s oldest quarter for you to enjoy views of Helsinki Cathedral in the background and of the popular monument to the Russian czar, Alexander II. Your outing then ends with your return to the pier and your ship. Please note: this tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelcha
      • Drink included

      • Limited seats

      • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Easy

      • Duration
        4 h

      • Adults£62.00Price per person

      • Children£45.00Price per person

    • HELSINKI HIGHLIGHT AND FINNISH TAR PRESENTATION

      SOMETHING SPECIAL

      HSK11

      A coach-based look at Helsinki’s beautiful inner city and impressive architecture begins this half-day tour, followed by a unique presentation of products containing wood tar at a tiny island, linked to the mainland by a causeway. In addition to taking in the city’s key landmarks, the route also includes views of the amazing Rock Church, so called because it was hewn out of solid rock, and the imposing Sibelius Monument in Sibelius Park. Your ultimate destination will be Tervasaari Island, a place now used for recreational purposes but that once housed numerous wood tar warehouses. You’ll be visiting Restaurant Savu, which occupies space in one such former warehouse and is the venue of the following presentation of tar-based products such as string, but also less likely items like schnapps, syrup and sweets. The visit will be rounded off with complimentary coffee and tap water, a taste of savoury and sweet treats and a chance to shop for tar-based souvenirs before you return to your ship, passing Senate Square on the way. Please note: this tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair; guests have to climb approx. 15 steps to reach the Restaurant.
      • Long route by bus

      • No guide available

      • Snack included

      • Best seller

      • Limited seats

      • Duration
        4 h

      • Adults£89.00Price per person

      • Children£62.00Price per person

    • HELSINKI, SIBELIUS & INSPIRED JEWELLERY

      SOMETHING SPECIAL

      HSK10

      Not only is Helsinki Finland’s capital, but also inextricably linked to the composer Jean Sibelius. This half-day tour starts with a drive-by look at the main sights of the city such as the shipbuilding docks, the Neo-Classical Senate Square, the mid-19th-century Lutheran Cathedral, Finlandia Hall, the Finnish National Opera and the Olympic Stadium, host of the 1952 Games. The Sibelius Park is next, home to the Sibelius Monument, after which you will visit an exclusive jewellery studio in the Arabianranta quarter. When Sibelius was labouring over his Fifth Symphony around 100 years ago, he likened the process to forging precious metal. This served studio owner Mika Tarkkanen to design his unique “Jean Sibelius Collection” of gold and silver jewellery. You will get to meet the artist himself, enjoy a glass of sparkling wine and then watch the resident goldsmiths at work using time-honoured utensils. You will have a chance to browse the collection and perhaps make a purchase before the coach then returns you to the ship. Please note: guests using a wheelchair are advised that they must be accompanied by a paying helper to provide assistance with getting on and off the coach and that wheelchairs must be collapsible/foldable since the coach has neither a ramp nor a lift. Guests using a wheelchair who would like to participate in this tour are requested to contact the Shore Excursions’ Desk promptly once they are on board so that arrangements can be made.
      • Long route by bus

      • Drink included

      • Lunch or dinner included

      • Wheelchair and disabled-friendly tour – Wheelchair guests must be accompanied by their own helper to get on/off the coach. Wheelchairs must be foldable as the coach is not provided with ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements.

      • Best seller

      • Limited seats

      • Duration
        4 h

      • Adults£85.00Price per person

      • Children£62.00Price per person

    • WINTER WONDERLAND EXPERIENCE & HELSINKI

      SOMETHING SPECIAL

      HSK12

      Whatever the season, this half-day tour gives you a chance to visit the amazing, year-round Winter Wonderland Experience in the middle of the Finnish capital city. Only a short coach ride after leaving the ship will see you reach the only igloo hotel to be open throughout the year, complete with a huge ice bar and opportunities for husky sledging, tandem skiing and tobogganing. On arrival you’ll be kitted out with thermal over-clothes, after which you’ll move on to the hotel’s igloos, have a drink served in a glass made of ice and view the frosty decorations. But you’ll also get to have a go at tobogganing, sledging and tandem skiing, to meet the friendly huskies and enjoy a short dog-powered sledge ride. There’ll be time for you to look for a Lappish souvenir before you move on to a sightseeing drive around Helsinki, including a visit to the Rock Church, hewn out of solid rock, and a photo stop at Senate Square. The tour then comes to a close with your return to the ship. Please note: the visit to Winter Wonderland includes walking on uneven and snowy ground. This tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair.
      • Drink included

      • Limited seats

      • Duration
        4 h

      • Adults£95.00Price per person

      • Children£72.00Price per person

    The excursions in the programme above are intended to provide MSC Cruises guests with an idea of the different tours which can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise. 
    Shore excursions programmes and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.
     
    Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

    Finland

    Eccentricity and mystery
    Eccentricity and mystery

    Drawing strong cultural influences both from its easterly neighbour, Russia, and from the West, Finland remains one of Northern Europe’s most enigmatic countries.

    It’s a land best known for its laconic, pithy people with a penchant for kicking back in a sauna au naturel, and for its quirky and bizarre annual festivals – indeed its strangeness is a good part of the country’s charm. The Finnish landscape is mostly flat and punctuated by huge forests and lakes, but has wide regional variations. A cruise to Finland will take you to the south whose scenery may be least dramatic, but this is more than compensated by the capital, Helsinki, with its brilliant fin-de-siècle architecture and superb collections of late modern and contemporary artworks, as well as the former capital of Turku, with some great museums and nightlife.

    Stretching from the Russian border in the east to the industrial city of Tampere, the vast waters of the Lake Region provide a natural means of transport for the timber industry – indeed, water here is a more common sight than land, with many towns lying on narrow ridges between lakes. North of here, the gradually rising fells and forests of Lapland are Finland’s most alluring terrain and are home to the Sámi, semi-nomadic reindeer herders.