Dubbed the “White City of the North”, Helsinki is small in size but large in spirit.
The capital of Finland sits on its southern tip, a short hop across the waters from Russia’s St Petersburg, and is arguably the number one up-and-coming destination in Northern Europe.
The city’s magic lies in its ability to retain a small-town feel. There are no high-rise buildings and the market square is still surrounded by 19th-century architecture.
Its green parks and waterways, fresh sea winds with seagulls flying over the busy market square, and many open-air cafes add to the city’s charm.
As for things to do, the ballet, opera, symphony, theatre and visual arts all combine to make it a true capital of culture.
The Ateneum, National Museum, Cable Factory and Amos Anderson museums all display a changing stream of exhibitions. Other highlights include the incredible Rock Church (blasted from rock) and nearby Suomenlinna Island, with its remarkable fortress and a host of museums.
Meanwhile, nightlife continues to improve, as does the restaurant scene, making the most of the fresh fish and ubiquitous vodka.
And if you’re planning a trip in the near future, then November would be a great time to sample the city’s reputation for world-class winter sports.
From November 2nd to 4th 2012, Skiexpo, the largest winter sports fair in the Nordic countries, takes place at the Helsinki Fair Centre. Virtually every type of skiing and ice sport is represented over this weekend show.