The Bad Tourist’s Guide to Helsinki


Or, sightseeing with minimal effort…

I’m a self-proclaimed Bad Tourist, but I suspect everybody has those days… You know, when you’re just tired, or feeling lazy, and your brain feels overloaded with trivial bits of information… And the guide book is nagging at you, telling you to pull yourself together because there’s so much to see: the white church, the other church, Rock Church, some Empire architecture, Jugend architecture and world-famous architecture

And all you’d really want to do is kick back and relax, maybe have a drink…

Helsinki sightseeing

Well, today is your lucky day. The 40-minute tour on the Spårakoff Pub Tram lets you do just that: you can go sightseeing while sipping beer (or cider or soft drinks)… This 1959 tram tours Helsinki from mid-May till the end of August, Monday-Saturday.

If you’re more into champagne than beer, how about the bird’s eye view from the Finnair Sky Wheel black and yellow luxury cabin? The Veuve Cliquot VIP Experience lasts 25 minutes and sets you back 195 euros. If you find that too steep, the 15-minute economy option only costs €12(but don’t even think of bringing your own bottle…)

Helsinki sightseeing

Who wants to spend the day in a stuffy museum when the sun is shining?

Wouldn’t you rather go to a park and have a picnic? Actually, you can do both. Suomenlinna World Heritage Site is 15 minutes away by ferry and still within Helsinki city limits. This means that the same day ticket that is valid on buses, trams, trains etc is also valid on the ferry…


This old fortress is actually a cluster of interconnected islands, with lots of areas where you can sunbathe and have a picnic. There is a supermarket, a church, 6 museums, the old fortress walls, about a 100 or so old cannons, several restaurants and coffee shops.


A word of warning: some areas are restricted as there are about 800 permanent residents, Finnish Border Guard outpost and the Naval Academy… While Suomenlinna residents might be used to (but not happy about) tourists occasionally wandering into their gardens, the Border Guard and Naval academy may be less understanding… However, restricted areas are clearly marked with signs in at least 3 languages, so there is no danger of ending up in jail for trespassing…

Speaking of jail…

Hotel Katajanokka

Hotel Katajanokka is a former prison (1837-2002)…

Hotel Katajanokka

Restaurant Jailbird is located in the basement, and while the decor pays tribute to the past with ironic references to prison life, the food is standard Scandinavian cuisine.

So, there you have it, how to cheat at sightseeing… I hope you enjoyed our little tour.


Linking up with BonnieCamilaAmy and Jessi for

Travel Tuesday


  1. Camila
    19 August 2014 / 10:29 pm

    Oh I like this! I'm becoming more and more of a bad tourist – I love to go new places and see new things, but I'm terrible at planning and I like to spare my budget! I like to relax and walk around and feel the culture! Great post 🙂

    • Tiina L
      20 August 2014 / 8:10 am

      I think the best way to get to know a place is just walking around without any plans, taking time to explore whatever comes along… while paying close attention to personal safety, of course,

  2. Sammy Dorn
    19 August 2014 / 11:03 pm

    A tour while drinking beer!? Yes please!

    • Tiina L
      20 August 2014 / 8:12 am

      Unfortunately, the tram tour is just for summer… although people can also book it for special occasions, i.e. weddings or birthdays.

  3. Val S
    20 August 2014 / 4:10 am

    I'll have the Veuve Clicquot Experience, please. If only…

    • Tiina L
      20 August 2014 / 8:13 am

      I wish the tram served champagne… but it is owned by a brewery, so…

  4. Anna I
    20 August 2014 / 1:36 pm

    Thanks for visiting my blog 🙂 I agree, sometimes the best way to experience somewhere new isn't to plan a busy schedule but to just wander around and explore!

    • Tiina L
      21 August 2014 / 8:52 am

      Everyday life is often so hectic and scheduled that I just want to relax when I'm on holiday, and not making plans is the nest antidote for stress..

  5. Jessi Phillips
    20 August 2014 / 9:10 pm

    Great tips on exploring Helsinki! I love wandering round a new place – you never know what's around the corner! 🙂

    • Tiina L
      21 August 2014 / 8:53 am

      Well, as Helsinki is my home town, I thought I'd offer a less cliched way to do the touristy stuff…

  6. Amy @ Amy and the Great World
    23 August 2014 / 9:22 am

    Sometimes I think the best way to be a tourist is just to wander around and soak up the new place. You certainly got lovely pictures being a "bad tourist" 😉

    • Tiina L
      23 August 2014 / 9:28 am

      It was an interesting experience: trying to look at my home town through the eyes of a tourist, yet at the same time provide 'inside information' that only locals have.

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