Finland's capital city, founded on June 12, 1550, is a multi-faceted town that is unique in many ways and has much to offer any visitor.
Helsinki is set apart from other big historical cities by two factors: the great physical presence of nature and the very clear grid pattern used to design the city's streets. Most big cities have a limited number of parks. In Helsinki, parks can be found behind almost every corner. Even in the most densely-built districts of the city center, significant parks liven up the landscape. Both the overwhelming presence of nature and the network of straight, symmetrical and wide streets, which make finding any address a simple task, are the creation of the city's two main designers, Johan Albrecht Ehrenström and Carl Ludvig Engel.
Helsinki is formally divided into a total of 54 districts, but more commonly the city is merely divided into the center and the suburbs. The southern districts are older (some would say more revered), and they contain most of the city's main tourist attractions.
Eira, Ullanlinna & Kaivopuisto
These three respected districts are full of parks, historical buildings and statues. Eira is known for its Jugend-style (Art Nouveau) houses, parks and beautiful boulevards. Eira centers around Engel Square, which is surrounded by beautiful buildings, including the Chinese Embassy. Ullanlinna, with its marine panorama and densely-built historical buildings is popular among stylish young adults, interior designers and architects. Kaivopuisto's lovely park features large, elegant houses and embassies and is popular among bankers and diplomats.
Punavuori & Kallio
Punavuori and the slightly more northern district of Kallio were traditionally working men's districts, though Punavuori has tried to improve its image in recent years. Punavuori is full of old buildings and popular among young graduates and a large international populace. Kallio is known for its waterways, Hakaniemi Square and the fabulous Kallio church. The district is mostly populated by young, highly educated adults and low-income families.
Töölö & Meilahti
The respectable district of Töölö is full of old apartment buildings, which are beautiful, densely packed and highly sought-after. Töölö also has many spectacular sights, including the Hietaniemi Cemetery, Sibelius Monument, Parliament Building, Olympic Stadium and the gorgeous parklands around Töölö Bay. Behind Töölö lies Meilahti, known for its old villas. Meilahti is a spacious district populated by the middle-class.
Katajanokka & Kruununhaka
Slightly cut off from the rest of the city, Katajanokka was known in the past for its ports and prison. Nowadays this architecturally significant, Jugend-style district is part of many sightseeing tours, and is populated by artists and journalists. It is also a political center. North of Katajanokka lies the peaceful and highly respected district of Kruununhaka, the neighbor of the historical center designed by Engel.
Kamppi & Kluuvi
A densely-populated district that stretches from the Central Railway Station to the Cable Factory, Kamppi features the city's most important services and excellent transport connections, but also a number of sights. For example, here you'll come across the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art and the Ruoholahti villas, historically significant wooden buildings that are some of the oldest in the city. Right between Kamppi and Kaartinkaupunki lies Kluuvi, the busiest district in Helsinki. Kluuvi is a great place to shop or eat out.
In Helsinki, history and modern life, man and nature come together in harmony to create a city like no other.