Midsummer weekend: Helsinki with kids
A weekend trip to Finland for Midsummer day, that was my birthday present in June 2013. My husband knows how to make me happy… Midsummer – or Juhannes – is a national holiday in Finland. I had never been to Finland before, it had even never occurred to me as a destination for a weekend trip. It turned out I was not the only one. I had never ever been anywhere in the world where I did not run into other Dutch travelers, but in Finland I saw none. In all honesty, we did not meet many travelers from other countries either, so a perfect getaway from the crowds.
Before we left we knew Helsinki would be abandoned by locals, most of whom leave for the country to celebrate Midsummer with friends and family. Yes, almost all shops were closed all weekend (so I could not buy mascara which I forgot to bring…). But other than that, Helsinki is a great place to go for a weekend city trip. Below you can find my tips on where to sleep, eat and go.
Where to go
Are you in Helsinki on Midsummer? Take bus 24 to Seurasaari Open Air Museum – which is located on an island. When you cross the bridge from the mainland you enter a cultural festival with demonstrations of traditional skills, all kinds of games for children and snacks and drinks. We walked around the island until eleven in the evening, still in daylight. What a wonderful experience! Seurasaari is supposed to be a great outdoors activity on other days of the year too.
- The Helsinki Zoo Korkeasaari is located on an island, so going there on the ferry is half the fun.
- Suomenlinna, a maritime fort, is a must-see for all and definitely if you are traveling with children. The fortress is built on an yes, yet another island close to Helsinki. There are cannons, tunnels and a submarine, what else can you wish for?
- You have to go to a sauna when in Finland. We took the children to the sauna in our hotel. Supposedly every floor has its own sauna. But there are many other places to visit to get the Finnish sauna feel. The Yrjönkatu swimming hall in 1920’s style combines sauna and swimming pool and lets you bring your children.
- Linnanmaki Amusement Park, an old-fashioned style amusement park.
- Definitely rent a bike. Our hotel offered bicycles for free, but you can also rent them at Bicyclean.
Where to sleep
We stayed two nights at the Radisson Blu Seaside hotel, which is a great place to stay with children. At check-in the children got a coloring book and they could pick a small toy from the treasure chest in the lobby.We shared a family room with the four of us with two double beds. Children have a separate section at the hotel breakfast buffet with American pancakes and all kinds of cookies (yes, very healty :-). Plus, there is a large swing at the reception, isn’t that great?
There is a tram and a bus stop just outside the hotel, walking to the city center is not advised. So rent a bike or take public transportation.
Where to eat
- Zetor, Finnish cuisine
We had lunch at Zetor, which is decorated with tractors. Yes, tractors. The children had a great time on the dance floor before lunch arrived. We had great food (reindeer, the children had meatballs) and I tasted pear cider for the first time (which is excellent);
- Bellevue, Russian cuisine
- Saaga, Lappish cuisine
Where to shop
As mentioned before, there was not a single opportunity to shop when we were in Finland. Supposedly all other 364 days of the year, Helsinki is a shoppers’ paradise.
- Stockmann department store
- When window shopping, I noticed some recurring themes such as the Moomins and the Marimekko kids collection. I have to go back!