Stylish and dynamic, Helsinki offers visitors renowned design and wonderful architecture. Its magnificent boulevards and diverse neighbourhoods offer plenty of spots to dine, shop and relax. There are great areas where to stay in Helsinki with a wealth of accommodation options for any budget.
Where to stay in Helsinki: Best areas
1. Kluuvi, where to stay in Helsinki for first time
The centre of Helsinki is the Kluuvi district. Here you will find the Helsinki Central Station and the University of Helsinki. There are large department stores like Stockmann and Sokos, and shopping streets like Aleksanterinkatu have every type of shop imaginable.
Largely a commercial area, Kluuvi’s landmark building is the Central Station. Intercity and local trains connect the capital with destinations across the country. Trains from Saint Petersburg in Russia also arrive at and depart from the station.
Kluuvi is also an impressive cultural destination. Some of the attractions found here include the Helsinki Music Centre and the National Theatre. The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art and Ateneum Art Museum are also in the district.
Kluuvi has stunning libraries, must-sees for literature lovers. At the main campus of the University of Helsinki you will find Kaisa House, the institution’s main library. The district is also home to the architectural wonder Helsinki Central Library Oodi, which opened in 2018.
If you need an escape, venture into Kaisaniemi Park and the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden. The gardens boasts a striking outdoor space that covers about four hectares. There are also ten impressive greenhouses, a welcome escape during the city’s cold winter.
This area is the place to stay in Helsinki if you want easy access to the city’s top attractions and the city centre’s main neighbourhoods.
Close to Kluuvi is Senate Square. The sprawling public space is dominated by Helsinki Cathedral, one of Finland’s most famous buildings.
The main building of the University of Helsinki is also found there, along with the Government Palace. You are also within walking distance of ferries to Saint Petersburg and Tallinn.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KLUUVI
2. Kamppi, best place to stay in Helsinki for nightlife
Kamppi is known for its shopping. The bustling district is home to large shopping centres like the Kamppi Shopping Centre and the popular Hietalahti flea market.
It also hosts diverse boutiques and dining spots, whether you are in the mood for hipster flare or LGBTQ+ friendly venues.
See landmark buildings like the Tennispalatsi and Lasipalatsi. in Kamppi. The functionalist ‘Tennis Palace’ and ‘Glass Palace’, respectively, were built in the 1930s.
A venue for the 1952 Olympic Games, the Tennis Palace houses the HAM Helsinki Art Museum and the country’s largest multiplex cinema. You can also see a great art collection at Amos REX at the Lasipalatsi.
Situated in the heart of downtown Helsinki, Kamppi is also the heart of Finland’s music scene. With several live music venues in the area, it is also where you will find recording companies and festival headquarters.
Urho Kekkosen katu is known as Rock and Roll Street given the number of musicians and industry professionals that dine at the street’s restaurants.
Kamppi is close to great attractions, making it a convenient hub when you stay in Helsinki. The historic Hietalahti Market Square and its market hall plus picturesque spots along the seaside are nearby.
You can also shop at boutiques that line Fredrikinkatu or admire old, historic wooden houses on Kalevankatu
If you want to be close to the action of the city’s nightlife, Kamppi is the place to stay in Helsinki. The friendly neighbourhood is always ready for a party.
It also offers a great combination of contemporary spaces to eat and drink plus more traditional attractions like museums.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KAMPPI
See also: Best things to do in Helsinki
3. Kaartinkaupunki, where to stay in Helsinki for families
Urban and trendy, Kaartinkaupunki is in the southern area of Helsinki’s city centre. With lots of office buildings, this is a place to work. At the same time, top hotels and popular restaurants are found throughout the neighbourhood.
It also offers fantastic museums and recreational areas.
The neighbourhood’s name is from the old Russian army barracks found at Kasarmitori Square. Market Square features the famed statue of Havis Aamanda and Old Market Hall, one of the city’s top attractions and in operation since 1889.
For an escape during your stay in Helsinki, walk along the harbour or explore Esplanade Park. The lush oasis attracts office workers and tourists alike, and Christmas lights twinkle throughout the park during the holiday season.
For a meal or live music, visit Pieni Roobertinkatu.
Other gems include Erottaja Rescue Station, a nineteenth-century building known as Finland’s most beautiful fire station. It is also the oldest station still in operation in the country.
Rikhardinkatu Library is another architectural highlight in Kaartinkaupunki, which is also home to the Museum of Finish Architecture and the Design Museum.
Kaartinkaupunki is one of the best places for families looking for accommodation during their stay in Helsinki.
The slower pace means you will find plenty of family-friendly accommodation in this largely residential area. Plus, there are lots of parks and green spaces for children to play and have fun during their visit.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN HELSINKI IN KAARTINKAUPUNKI
4. Punavuori, coolest place to stay in Helsinki
Punavuori offers a genuine neighbourhood feel during your stay in Helsinki. With cool shops and great restaurants, the area offers a relaxed atmosphere that would not be out of place in Brooklyn.
During the summer months, the friendly neighbourhood comes alive with bustling cafes and lively patios.
Situated southwest of the city centre, there is a community vibe in Punavuori. The name dates from the 17th century and means ‘red mountain’, a reference to the reddish-toned rocks that are found in the area.
The area was the first real suburb of Helsinki and was home to sailors, fishers, workers and students. Today, it is a popular choice among families with small children as well as young professionals.
From art nouveau buildings to neo-Renaissance homes, the architectural landscape of Punavuori is diverse and rich. You will also find former industrial buildings that have been beautifully transformed to house apartments and offices.
There are even wooden housing blocks that evoke memories of the neighbourhood’s working class roots.
The Design District has a great collection of boutiques as well as bars and restaurants. Other highlights in Punavuori include the pedestrian street Iso Roobertinkatu, the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, the St. John Church and the Mikael Agricola Church.
Punavuori is also home to one of Helsinki’s most popular parks, Sinebrychoff Park. The park shares its name with a local beer brewer.
If you are visiting Finland’s capital for the first time, Punavuori is one of the best places to stay in Helsinki. This popular neighbourhood is close to the city centre and has a good array of accommodation.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN PUNAVUORI
5. Kallio, where to stay in Helsinki on a budget
This relaxed district east of the city centre was once a working-class neighbourhood. The vibrant and relaxed area is renowned for its wide array of cafes, restaurants and bars. It is also home to wonderful boutiques and so much more.
Once neglected and run-down, Kallio has been transformed over the past several years into a trendy area. It rival’s fashionable areas of Europe’s major cities, from Hackney in London to Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Neukolln in Berlin.
There are plenty of hip bars for a fun night out, or you can enjoy a drink at Karhupuisto and its outdoor Bear Park Café during the summer. There are also popular coffee shops close to the park.
Unique boutiques and shops line the streets of Fleminginkatu, Helsinginkatu and Vaasankatu. A delightful market hall is the highlight of the market square of Hakaniemi, where you can buy everything from vintage stamps and jewellery to fresh produce and bread.
In August, the streets of Kallio come alive with music and other artistic performances during the Kallio Block Party. Another popular music and arts festival is the Flow Festival, which is hosted each year at a former power plant in nearby Suvilahti.
Along with great shopping and entertainment, Kallio offers visitors great architectural wonders like the Art Nouveau Kallio Church and a typical Finnish experience at the Kotiharjun Public Sauna.
Kallio is a great area to stay in Helsinki if you are travelling on a budget. With a chill bohemian feel and artist community, the accommodation is more limited than in other central areas but on the other hand is more affordable.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN HELSINKI IN KALLIO
6. Etu-Töölö, quiet area with green spaces
Etu-Töölö is renowned for its architecture. Elegant streets are lined with beautifully designed buildings in this neighbourhood, which exudes a humanist spirit. There is a mix of classicism, functionalism, art nouveau and modernism influences throughout the urban landscape.
Must-see sights include Parliament House and Temppeliaukio Church. You will also find the stunning Kunsthalle Helsinki here, along with Finlandia Hall. Nearby is the National Museum of Finland, while Lallukka is home to artists of all stripes. The Olympic Stadium is also found in the district.
Diverse cafes and restaurants cater to virtually any taste, and many offer an international menu. Enjoy a meal before a concert at Finlandia Hall or after exploring this historic district.
Along with welcoming family-run Japanese and Chinese restaurants there is the celebrated Elite restaurant on Runeberginkatu.
Located in central Helsinki, large apartment blocks dominate this part of the city. Still, there is a serene feeling here and nature lovers will feel at home.
Explore leafy destinations like Hesperian Park and Hesperian Esplanadi, or sunbathe on the sandy Hietaranta Beach during the summer.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN HELSINKI IN ETU-TÖÖLÖ
7. Katajanokka, Helsinki’s best-kept secret
Not many visitors know about Katajanokka, an island full of charm and a local favourite yet a great place to stay in Helsinki. Situated on the eastern shore of the city centre, the Katajanokka Channel sits between the district and the mainland.
Four bridges bring visitors and locals into this quaint place, where icebreakers move with grace and power just off the shoreline during the winter.
In the warmer summer months, terraces along the shoreline offer a picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. This burgeoning foodie destination has also become a hotspot for dining in the Finnish capital.
From a hotel in a former prison to the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe, Katajanokka has plenty of unique things to see.
Visit the SkyWheel Helsinki for a panoramic view of Helsinki and the surrounding area or relax at a sauna and go for a swim at the Allas Sea Pool.
Along with Uspenski Cathedral, another architectural highlight in Katajanokka is the Stora Enso Headquarters. The modern building was designed by renowned architect Alvar Aalto. On a nearby island is the Helsinki Zoo.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KATAJANOKKA
8. Ruoholahti, maritime heritage close to the city centre
In the 1910s, several small islands were connected to create the seaside district of Ruoholahti. Connecting the city centre and Espoo to the west, it sits in the southwestern part of Helsinki.
The area is connected to the rest of the city by the Helsinki Metro.
Ruoholahti is home to a small canal, adding to the area’s distinctly maritime vibe. Once home to industrial innovators like Nokia, this corner of Helsinki has been transformed in recent years.
Bike routes and walkways line the Ruoholahti Channel, and you will also find restaurants along the shoreline.
The Cable Factory, or Kaapelitehdas, is the largest cultural centre in Finland. There you’ll find the Finish Museum of Photography, the Hotel and Restaurant Museum and the Theatre Museum plus Hima & Sali restaurant.
If you want to stay active, enjoy laser tag at Megazone Helsinki or go wall climbing at KiipeilyAreena.
The Länsisatama neighbourhood and West Harbour are also found in Ruoholahti, making it a gateway for travellers visiting Helsinki by passenger ship from Saint Petersburg and Tallinn.
If you’re looking for a place to stay close to the port, Rouholahti is the best place to stay in Helsinki.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN HELSINKI IN RUOHOLAHTI
- ($$) Holiday Inn Helsinki West – Ruoholahti, an IHG Hotel
- ($$) Radisson Blu Seaside Hotel, Helsinki
- ($$) Clarion Hotel Helsinki