Where to Stay in Helsinki First Time: 8 Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Helsinki for tourists are the neighborhoods of Punavuori, Kamppi, Kallio, Etu-Töölö , City center (Kluuvi), Kaartinkaupunki. In this post, I will help you to find where to stay in Helsinki for the first time, for nightlife, budget, family.

Founded in the 16th century by King Gustavus Vasa of Sweden, Helsinki is the capital of Finland, on the north coast of the Gulf of Finland, facing the Baltic Sea. It turned into the capital of the Autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812 under Russian rule.

Helsinki has vibrant and modern architecture, incredible natural surroundings, artistic value, and bustling nightlife. A boat trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fortress of Sveaborg on the Suomenlinna Islands is a must when visiting Helsinki.

If you are only staying in town for a quick getaway, then consider staying in Kamppi, a central and well-connected neighborhood from where you will be able to make the most out of your time in Helsinki. 

For the young and on a budget, I recommend booking a room in Kallio. This area is amazing in terms of underground culture and general bohemian and relaxed vibe as well as for truly unique neighborhood life.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a more luxurious and stylish stay, then consider staying in Punavuori or Kaartinakaupunki. 

If you are traveling with your family and you are looking for a tranquil and quiet area, with plenty of green areas to “pitch your tent”, then choose Etu-Töölö or the city center, Kluuvi. 

If you are looking for where to stay in Helsinki for one night, I would suggest staying near the Central Railway Station. This area has good public transport, easy to travel around and to the airport.

Wherever you’ll choose to stay, just know that the Helsinki city center is quite compact, and everything is at an accessible distance or easily reachable with public transportation using the many metro stations


8 Best Areas to Stay in Helsinki 

1. Kluuvi- City centre, where to stay in Helsinki for first time

 Kluuvi- City centre, best area to stay in Helsinki for first time

Kluuvi, the hustling and bustling district in the Helsinki city center, is the real heart of the city. This super-central Helsinki area of the city oozes life from every pore. As soon as you walk through Kluuvi, you’ll be sucked into the hectic atmosphere of this district. 

The main square is an absolute must-see of the Helsinki city center. Rautatientori Square is not only defined by its impressive architecture but is also the place to be when it comes to city happenings, being summer or winter. 

If you are traveling during wintertime, you may want to try the super fun ice skating rink! Forget everything you know about city ice skating rings. Here, you will be provided with high-quality skates, and once you’ve paid, there is no time limit!

The square includes several nice cafes, where those in the group that doesn’t love skating can just relax inside with a cup of hot tea. 

You will love the lively Helsinki Central Station. Defined by its monumental and austere architecture style, the station is nothing less than impressive. Gigantic statues adorn the exterior of the Station, and nowadays they are wearing masks! 

The central station is a real piece of Finnish history. Built over 100 years ago, it is now one of the main junctions and melting pots. You will be probably surprised to know that a train leaves every day for Saint Petersburg. 

Speaking of Finnish Architecture, remember to pay a visit to the magnificent Helsinki Cathedral, one of the main attractions of the city itself. The church was originally named St. Nicholas’ Cathedral, built in the mid-19th century, in honor of the Russian Tsar Nicholas I.

If you are fortunate enough to be traveling in good weather, then take a scenic stroll through the main district garden, The Kaisaniemi Park. For a dip into nature that can be appreciated even during wintertime, then visit the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden.

Its incredible glasshouse called “Rainforest House” will protect you from a beautiful tropical environment. For an impressive orchids collection, then visit the “Palm House” glasshouse. 

Kluuvi is also one of Helsinki’s cultural hubs, being the home of the University of Helsinki and its main on-campus library, the Kaisa House.

These impressive and historical buildings can all be found around Senate Square. Another public library that is definitely worth a visit is the recently built Helsinki Central Library Oodi.

If you can’t get enough of Finnish culture, then check out the many museums and landmarks  in Kluvii: The Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki City Museum, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Finlandia Hall.

If you are one for the arts, then you won’t be disappointed by the Musiikkitalo, Helsinki Music Centre. Here you will have the chance to attend a concert by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, or the Sibelius Academy. 

For the foodies reading this guide, just at a walking distance from Kluuvi, in the Hakaniemi district, you will find the Hakaniemi Market Hall, the perfect spot to experience grocery shopping like a local! For a shopping experience, head to Stockmann Department Store and Kluuvi Shopping center.

Stay in Kluuvi if you want to stay near Helsinki Central Station with easy access to the important tourist attractions of the city.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Kluuvi:


2. Kamppi, where to stay in Helsinki for nightlife

Kamppi, where to stay in Helsinki for nightlife

The central business district of Kamppi is one of the liveliest areas in Helsinki with many contemporary bars and restaurants, and the largest shopping complex in the region, Kamppi Center. 

If you are a traveler on a time crunch, and you want to have a time-effective holiday in Helsinki, then Kamppi is the best place to stay. Choosing Kamppi as your base will allow you to check every item on your “What to do in Helsinki” list, as soon and easily as possible. 

This design district is located in the heart of the city and is relatively close to every landmark and an absolute must-see in the city. It is also a great place to start visiting the city every morning since it’s well connected via public transport and offers a great selection of accommodation options.

The district has plenty to offer and can be visited easily with most things always being within a walking distance. In Kamppi you can find several museums, like the Natural Museum of Helsinki, or the city Art Museum.

If you are in the mood for church visiting, the best choices are the Helsinki Cathedral and the Old Church. 

Just a short walk from the Old Church, Kamppi also hosts the Kamppi Shopping Center, where you will be able to find virtually anything you may need. 

Also, for those who enjoy a fun night out, then Kamppi is the best place to stay in Helsinki for nightlife. The night is the moment this area of the Helsinki city centre really comes to life and transforms. 

Pubs and clubs open and the area becomes the ideal party spot and destination of choice for the young and student population. Choosing the right spot for a night out in a foreign country can be hard. Where to experience the best nightlife in Kamppi such as Tavastia, Maxine, and Bruuveri.

Tavastia is an iconic rock club that has an incredibly rich and long history in the city and has hosted most of the best Finnish rock bands and artists in general. The location is small, the look is underground and the music is great. If you are looking for the true Helsinki nightlife experience, and you love live music, then you can’t miss out on this club. 

If you are looking to dance all night, then hit the Maxine club on the weekend. The interiors are modern and fancy and include a big lounge and two dance floors. The music played inside goes from classic hits to the most popular club songs, and, as far as the crowd goes, the club is mostly visited by 25+ years old party people. What makes this club special is the location. Maxine is situated on the sixth floor of Kamppi center and offers a great view of the city. 

If you are looking for a more chilled and relaxing night out when it comes to bars and restaurants that offer a great selection of beer, then Bruuveri is the place for you! This craft brewery and restaurant is the perfect pick for booth beer lovers and foodies. You will be pleasantly surprised with the interiors, defined by a refined and home-feely look. 

Stay in Kamppi if you want a party all night, shopping and sightseeing during the day.

Best places to stay Kamppi:


3. Punavuori, a cool place to stay in Helsinki

Punavuori, a cool area to stay in Helsinki

If you love art, then the hip, artsy, and trendy Punavuori is the perfect neighborhood for you. It is located in the southwest part of the city center and thanks to its position and great connections through public transportations, it can be a great base for an effortless visit to the city. 

When it comes to the style and general vibe of this neighborhood, the keywords are artistic and stylish. Punavuori is a design district of the city, and for a reason. The area was once mostly occupied by the city’s factories. 

Nowadays, most of the industrial sites in Punavuori have now been converted into modern urban spaces whose style still preserves some of the original old atmospheres, creating a unique neighborhood, where tradition and modernity come together. 

This atmosphere is perfectly embodied in the oldest garden in town, Kaivopuisto, constructed in 1834, and since then largely loved for its beautiful colors and nature. 

You could say that in the Design District of Punavuori, art is in the air. This area of the city is largely famous for the great number of museums and art galleries that it includes. 

The Sinebrychoff Art Museum or “siffi” is your Museum of choice if you are interested in the artworks of the Old Masters´ works in Finland. It is one of the most popular museums among the tourists as well as one of the most loved by the locals. 

Visit the Helsinki Contemporary museum if you are looking to witness some of the most relevant contemporary artworks from Finnish artists. 

The city offers also a number of smaller art galleries such as the Exhibition Laboratory, Art Salon Piirto, Life Art, Photographic Gallery Hippolyte and Rööperin taidesalonki.Atelier Matti Pikkujämsä, Bukowskis and many more.

To fully appreciate your time in Punavouri, take your time wandering through the streets of the district and take in all its artistic and architectural beauty. When it comes to choosing the best outdoor activities available when visiting this district, first of all, try walking the Iso Roobertinkatu, or Roba, an impressive 500-meter-long pedestrian street that embodies the chic and fashionable style and upscale atmosphere of the district.  

On a sunny day, we recommend taking a short walk through Sinebrychoff Park, one of the tourists’ most loved gardens in the whole city center as well as a preferred meet-up place for the local young people and families. 

Another popular destination within Punavuori is the Telakkaranta, once a shipyard dock and now a renovated and unique urban area. Moreover, for those among you interested in unique architecture, pay a visit to the Mikael Agricola Church by the popular designer Lars Sonck.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Punavuori:


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4. Kallio, where to stay in Helsinki on a budget

Kallio, best place to stay in Helsinki on a budget

With its bustling cultural life, bohemian aura, and underground vibe, Kallio is the district for the young and wild. Nowadays, this area of Helsinki is home to the city’s artistic and counterculture scene, mostly inhabited by artists, students, and tourists. It’s the liberal, creative and diverse heart of the city and has plenty to offer. 

In the past, the area was an accessible, working-class neighborhood, however, in the last decades, it has unfortunately undergone a rapid process of gentrification. Even if living here is not as affordable as it used to be, it still is the best place for a budget hotel! If you are looking for a fancier option at walking distance from Kallio, try the Hilton Helsinki Strand!

The area has so much to offer in terms of both activities and things to see. The only question remains: What to choose? When it comes to visiting Kallio, what you want to do is just take a stroll through its streets and discover what the area has to offer. 

When it comes to outdoor activities that can be relaxing and fun. If you are in the mood for a walk in the park, try visiting the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden or the Kaisaniemi Park

For a short walk in the most artistic street in Kallio, visit the  100 meters long Suvilaht’s Graffiti Wall. When visiting the city in the summer, you may want to stop for the annual Kallio Block Party in August. 

For the music festival addicts out there: book a ticket for the Flow Festival, where music and art come together in a truly unique experience that appeals to both tourists and locals. Many internationally popular artists have performed here over the years, such as Björk or Iggy Pop.

Kallio also is the perfect spot to purchase unique and thoughtful gifts for friends and family back home, or even for you to remember the city. In fact, this area is rich in small boutiques, handmade tokens shops, and flea markets that those who go for retro and vintage will love.

In Kallio, art is everywhere you look. Even when going for a drink, this neighborhood nightlife will amaze you for its artistic and cultural vibe. On a Friday night, try for something different and have a drink with live music or even while attending a poetry reading.  

After a long day of exploring the city, you may want to choose an activity that relaxes both your body and mind. In this case, try the traditional Finnish experience at the Arlan Sauna in Kallio. This typical sauna is both relaxing and designed to make everyone feel 100% comfortable and at ease. Just enjoy the natural steam and quaint wooden interiors to sit back and just unwind.

When it comes to where to eat in Kallio, it is safe to say there are plenty of bars and restaurants. It doesn’t matter which your food preferences may be, whether you’re vegan or whether you are craving local Finnish cuisine, Asian, middle eastern food, in Kallio you will find what you are looking for without any problem.

Best places to stay in Kallio:


5. Etu-Töölö, best place to stay in Helsinki for nature lovers

Etu-Töölö, where to stay in Helsinki for nature lovers

When visiting Helsinki, If you want to settle down in a quiet and elegant neighborhood, away from the fuss but still close to the city, then consider looking for a room or apartment in the Etu-Töölö district. 

Etu-Töölö is a mostly residential neighborhood, characterized by a tranquil atmosphere loved by both locals and tourists. When you are traveling with your family, it is the best place to stay!

The architecture and urban landscape of this district will strike you for its uniform style that credits art nouveau, modernism, and classicism influences. Moreover, choosing Etu-Töölö as your base to visit the city can be extremely convenient because of the central location of this area. 

If you are wondering what to do to enjoy yourself and make the most out of your stay in Etu-Töölö, then let this list help you plan your trip!

Etu-Töölö hosts the house of the national Parliament, and apart from its clear political significance, this building is an example of monumental architecture that you want to include in your trip! Its style swings between Roman and Greek neoclassicism and the Kalvola red granite facade is nothing less than impressive.

If you are looking for a classic trip to the museum, then visit the National Museum of Finland. The museum showcases everything in the national history from prehistoric ages to the 19th century. However, the museum itself is a piece of the city’s history, as well as an example of the traditional national-romantic architecture style.

Especially if you are traveling with kids, or if you are interested in discovering more about the Finnish natural surroundings, then pay a visit to the Natural History Museum. This museum offers a really interesting and innovative take on the natural history of the country, counting several captivating exhibitions such as the “History of Life”, “World Nature” or “Story of the Bones”.

The iconic caved into solid rock Temppeliaukio Church is an absolute must-see in Helsinki. This completely unique church includes an actual ice-age crevice functioning as an altar, and it is often used as a concert venue because of its great acoustics.

For a tranquil day at the park, surrounded by stunning nature and the sound of the ocean, then visit the popular Töölönlahti Bay, and enjoy a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, relaxing near the water with a drink or a coffee in hand. 

Another popular green space in Etu-Töölö is the Hesperianpuisto Park.

If you are traveling in the summer and are looking for an alternative way to spend the day in Helsinki, then try laying in the sun or bathing at the Hietaranta beach. For those who enjoy a more adventurous holiday, here you will also have the opportunity to engage in some water sports.

Stay in  Etu-Töölö if you are a nature lover and want to be surrounded with green space in a calm and relaxed atmosphere.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Etu-Töölö: Hotel Helka


6. Kaartinkaupunki, where to stay in Helsinki for families

Kaartinkaupunki, best place to stay in Helsinki for families

Located just south of the Helsinki City Centre and east of Punavuori is the family-friendly district of Kaartinkaupunki. This residential area is packed with many green spaces, parks, a market square, nice shops, and several office buildings.

For locals and tourists, the design district of Kaartinkaupunki is the place to find love in. This neighborhood is located in the heart of the Helsinki city center and is characterized by a romantic vibe and pleasant architecture style that will make you feel at home. 

Among the must-see of the area, you can’t miss out on a morning grocery shopping in the Market Square or Old Market Hall. If you are tired of bars and restaurants, between the Market Square and the Old Market Hall, you will find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, to reasonably priced typical Finnish food, to fresh fish. 

After purchasing everything you need for the perfect picnic in the park, walk to the iconic Esplanade Park (Esplanadi) for a lunch to remember! This iconic park is one of the main landmarks of Kaartinakaupunki and is a great attraction all year long.

Even during wintertime, this park has so much to offer, just wear your thickest coat and enjoy the beautiful Christmas lights that illuminate the park around Christmas time!

A truly beloved landmark of this district is the Havis Amanda statue, along with a unique obelisk, The Stone of the Empress, the most ancient public memorial in the city.

For an incredible view over the city, ask for a guided tour and climb the 43m above the city tower of the Erottaja Rescue Station. Once you are there, you may also want to visit the Fire Museum!

Kaartinakapunki has plenty to offer when it comes to the fine arts. If you love to experience the local art wherever you go, then this is the neighborhood for you! For those who love art and are in the mood for a show, the Svenska Teatern occasionally offers the possibility to attend plays in Swedish with English subtitles!

Yet, If you are up for a more informal experience then take a walk through Pieni Roobertinkatu street and check out its many live music venues.

Kaartinakapunki also hosts the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum. The two venues are located near each other, so, if you are interested in architecture, it is going to be easy to just pay a visit to both museums!

For an alternative trip to the museum, visit the Rikhardinkatu Library. This incredible public library includes more than just books. It hosts around 500 pieces of artwork and organizes several exhibitions along with poetry and music events.

Best places to stay in Kaartinkaupunki:


7. Katajanokka, where to stay in helsinki for a cruise to Stockholm  

Katajanokka, where to stay in helsinki for a cruise to Stockholm  

If you are planning to take the cruise to Stockholm or Estonia, Katajanokka is the best area to stay in Helsinki. The upscale neighborhood was once home to the former president of Finland.

Located on the East side of Helsinki is the residential and island of Katajanokka. It is linked to the mainland by four bridges and also within walking distance to Market Square.

The area around the bridges and Katajanokka channel is called Kanavaranta. It has plenty of restaurants nearby. The luxurious restaurants are known to serve some delicious seafood.

The most prominent attraction on this island is perhaps the Uspenski Cathedral, the 19th-century Eastern Orthodox cathedral, designed by the Russian architect Alexey Gornostaev. It has golden cupolas and a red brick facade structure and is one of the biggest Orthodox Churches in Western Europe.

Katajanokka is also home to the Merikasarmi complex of the Foreign Ministry, the former district prison of Southern Finland which is home to the Best Western Premier Hotel, and the Finnish headquarters of Stora Enso

You can also find Wanha Satama, a 19th-century warehouse, and the SkyWheel Helsinki, providing sweeping views of the harbor. Finnish icebreakers are located in the harbor of the island.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Katajanokka:


8. Ruoholahti, for culture experience

The new area of Ruoholahti is located to the south of Helsinki city center, and close to Lauttasaari island. 

The Ruoholahti neighborhood has been transformed into commercial and residential zones since the 1990s from an industrial port. It attracted numerous tech companies to move to this area.

Ruoholahti is home to a former Nokia cable factory, the Cable Factory. The Cable Factory is the biggest cultural center in Finland. It has 3 museums including the Hotel and Restaurant Museum, Theatre Museum, and the Finnish Museum of Photography.

It also has restaurants Hima & Sali, theatres, art schools, and galleries. Located next to the building is the Dance House Helsinki.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Ruoholahti:


Thank you for reading this guide about the best areas to stay in Helsinki, I hope that I could help you make the right decision about your time in Helsinki! Now all you have to do is set the date,  book your ticket and always remember to travel safely!

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