Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook

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Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland


Northern European Itineraries

Contributed by Sabine Rautenberg

 

Helsinki, Finland’s beautiful capital, is a harbor city at the southern tip of this Nordic country. Natives often refer to it as “Daughter of the Baltic.” With over 300 islands and miles and miles of sea shore surrounding Finland’s largest city, you are guaranteed to marvel at the breathtaking scenery all around.

Helsinki Cathedral

AMBIENCE

Helsinki is a major metropolis with a laid-back feel. Finland’s political and cultural center is located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, the Baltic’s easternmost arm. One of the world’s northern-most capitals, you can expect summertime temperatures in the mid-60s. The Finnish are a warm and welcoming people, and while their language seems especially foreign to English ears, do not worry—they speak English, too. The country’s average income is high, so Helsinki isn’t exactly a cheap city to visit. Tourist season is in full swing from early June to late August, and famous sights include the Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress, Helsinki Cathedral, Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, and Temppeliaukio Rock Church.

HISTORY

Helsinki was founded in 1550 by King Gustav Vasa of Sweden. Then known as Helsingfors, it was a small market town for over 200 years. In 1748, the Swedes built Sveaborg fortress as a defense against the Russians, elevating the town’s status. Russia defeated Sweden in the Finnish War in the early 19th century, annexed Finland, and made it an autonomous grand duchy. Helsinki became the Finnish capital in 1812 and grew rapidly. Finland declared its independence from Russia in 1917 and sided with Germany during World War II, which lead to heavy bombardment of Helsinki by the Russians. The city recovered quickly, and hosted the 1952 Summer Olympics.

FACTS

Size: 276 sq. mi. (715 sq. km.) (city) / 1,146 sq. mi. (2,970 sq. km.) (metro)
Climate: Temperate Oceanic Temperatures: 52°F (11°C) to 71°F (22°C)
Population 614,074/1,376,925 Busy Season Summer
Language: Finnish, Swedish Money: Euro ()
Time Zone: Eastern European Transportation: Walking, bus, tram, taxi
Phones: Dial 001 358 from the US, dial 112 for emergencies
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