seeing every church in finland, or, a day (and a half, ish) in helsinki

Our second-to-last stop (not done yet, folks) on our grand adventure was Helsinki, Finland!

Where we stayed: Hotel Fabian

What we did: Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki Cathedral, Kamppi Chapel, Luomus Natural History MuseumTemppeliaukio Church

Where we ate: Cafe EsplanadFriends & BrgsPiece ‘n Love

On Thursday morning, we took our earliest flight yet from Stockholm to Helsinki.  While the 4am wake-ups might be tough, these early morning flights are the best way to maximize sightseeing time!  Not to mention—they’re (usually) cheaper than midday flights.

Our first stop after dropping our bags off at the hotel was Cafe Esplanad.  And y’all—what a first stop it was!!!!! If you’re looking for a breakfast pastry or midday snack, you absolutely must make a stope here!  I had a cinnamon roll on Thursday morning and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

On a sugar high Properly nourished, we headed to our first stop on what we’d come to call “The Grand Church Tour of Helsinki” because we had four things on our agenda for Helsinki and they were, in order, a cathedral, a cathedral, a chapel, and a church.  Uspenski Cathedral was not far from the café and super easy to get to.  It also helps that it’s built on a hill so you literally can’t. miss. it.  It’s an absolutely breathtaking Eastern Orthodox church—the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe.

Next, we headed to the Helsinki Cathedral, a Lutheran church located right in the center of town.  The great thing about Helsinki is that its tourist area is small enough that you’re never more than a thirty minute walk from one end to the other!  The Helsinki Cathedral is very different from the Uspenski Cathedral—less ornamental, but stunning nonetheless (especially from the outside!).  Plus, the view of the town from the top of the stairs up to the cathedral is incredible as well!

We next stopped at Kamppi Chapel, also known as The Chapel of Silence.  It’s a very small chapel located right in the heart of the bustling city.  It’s amazing just how silent and peaceful inside, and it’s the perfect place for some quiet reflection in a beautiful, calming atmosphere.

As we were on our way to our next stop, we stumbled upon Luomus and were intrigued—so we headed inside!  A random, totally unplanned stop to be sure, but one I’m so glad we added!  Luomus is the Finnish Museum of Natural History and I was blown away by all the exhibits, especially Story of Bones and Finnish Nature!  Not all the exhibitions have descriptions in English, but it was still a fascinating and beautiful museum to visit.

For lunch, we went to Friends & Brgs.  The burgers (and shakes!) were delicious, but be prepared for a bit of a wait if you go at a peak time!

Our last site of the day was Temppeliaukio Church, or Rock Church, or Church in the Rock.  The architecture of each of the churches was so distinct, each uniquely stunning in their own right!  The Rock Church was no exception.  The church was excavated directly into rock, and the ceiling is made of a copper dome.


I knew I couldn’t leave Finland without getting a keychain for my collection, so we did a little bit of souvenir shopping that afternoon—Kankurin Tupa has an entire Christmas shop in the lower level that’s open year-round!  We also purchased some beautiful and super unique necklaces at Aarikka.  Jewelry makes such a wonderful souvenir because you’re reminded of your travels every single time you wear it!  I’ve worn one of the necklaces I bought nearly every day since I bought them nearly a week ago!

For dinner, we ate delicious pizza at Piece ‘n Love, which was recommended to me by one of my friends and apartment-mates, Sophie! How can you not love a place called Piece ‘n Love??  If you go, you absolutely can’t leave without getting the brownie for dessert.

We stayed both nights in Helsinki at Hotel Fabian.  We chose it entirely based on its name because hello, when your last name is Fabian, how can you not stay at Hotel Fabian?  This might have been our favorite hotel of the whole trip—the staff was so warm, welcoming, and helpful, the breakfast was delicious, and the decor was the definition of on. point.!

Friday morning, we woke up and headed to the harbor for our fifth and final country: Estonia!

Read about the first three stops of our trip here: Overview | Stop #1: Aarhus | Stop #2: Bergen | Stop #3: Stockholm

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