Helsinki, Finland – Where the Streets Have Two Names

Finns speak Finnish. It makes sense then that the official language of Finland is Finnish. But it is also Swedish. Just about five and a half percent of the population speaks Swedish as their native language.

This is not a large amount of the population. Despite this, the street signs in Helsinki are written in both Swedish and Finnish. Luckily, there are more exciting things to look at while in Helsinki. Three churches of Helsinki really stand out.

Helsinki Cathedral is of course the most well-known. Situated in Senate Square, the cathedral boasts a large dome and enough columns to make you think you’re in Greece. The view from the steps of the Cathedral is amazing and on sunny days, the square below is bustling with locals and tourists alike. Depending on the time of year, and the fact that entrance is free, you might have to fight slight crowds.

On a little island in Helsinki, just off the main part of the city lies the Uspenski Cathedral, an impressive red brick structure. Opening hours are limited, but entrance is free. Even if you find yourself getting there after 4 in the afternoon, the exterior is beautiful and really shows off the Russian influence in Helsinki.

Finally, my favorite, simply because it is so different. Temppeliaukio Church. The church is literally built into a large rock quarry. I wasn’t sure what to expect and while trying to find the church, eventually realized that I was walking on top of it. When I finally made my way inside, I was amazed by the stone walls. Not because they were carved stone, but because they were actual rock walls. Temppeliaukio Church is also free, but has some very strange opening hours depending on the season and the day of the week so be sure to check ahead if you want to get inside.

More Helsinki Tips

There are more tips in our What to do in Helsinki post.

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About Marcus Cederstrom

I was born in Sweden and moved to the US just before my 6th birthday. I grew up in the United States eventually graduating from the University of Oregon. After graduation and about 17 years in the US I made the decision to move back to Sweden. I have been living in Stockholm since the summer of 2007. Since graduation I have traveled throughout eastern Australia as well as in Sweden and Europe.