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Helsinki's capital assets
There are few better summer cities than the Finnish capital, blessed with fresh Baltic breezes, an exciting archipelago, spacious parks and a wealth of cultural attractions.
Finland's capital region comprises the city of Helsinki and those of its direct neighbours, Espoo and Vantaa. The central city area occupies a number of promontories clustered around the South Harbour, with its lively outdoor Market Square close to the elegant Lutheran Cathedral and historic Senate Square, and the West Harbour, from which cruise ferries to Tallinn in Estonia shuttle regularly.
Especially in summer, the city is characterised by this seaside aspect, with promenades and cycle tracks following the shoreline from leafy park to park. Many of the main attractions are located on the Helsinki archipelago, including the fabulous sea fortress of Suomenlinna, the outdoor museum of traditional buildings at Seurasaari, and Helsinki Zoo at Korkeasaari. Other islands such as Vallisaari and Lonna, once exclusively military domains, have opened up in recent years, adding a new dimension to the summer attraction portfolio. A regular flotilla of ferries and tourist cruise boats departs from the Market Square between these beautiful islands.
Although many attractions are within easy reach on foot, a comprehensive and efficient public transport system, consisting of trams, buses, a metro and local trains, makes it easy and affordable to get around. Hop on and off the city's tram routes, or rent a city bike, and admire the city's stunning architecture, such as Oodi, the Helsinki Central Library and the art nouveau streets of Eira and Katajanokka, or browse the design shops at one of the many malls, including Mall of Tripla in Pasila.
Nature is never far away, and two of Finland's 40 National Parks - Nuuksio and Sipoonkorpi - are within reach. Drawing on the fresh natural ingredients of Finland's lakes and forests, Helsinki has also achieved a reputation as a centre of culinary quality. Excellent restaurants of every description provide options for the relaxing, delicious conclusion to a perfect Helsinki day.