Nestled against the Baltic sea and its many small inlets, Helsinki continues to grow and embrace innovation. The skyline is constantly changing, yet the capital of Finland still holds onto tradition, maintaining dozens of historic buildings that help showcase the architecture of the past.
Between the modern high rises and historic structures, you’ll find a twisting maze of back-streets and alleys hiding unique dining venues and museums.
While you’ll have no problem finding things to do, you may struggle to decide where to stay in Helsinki.
The city covers over 700 square kilometres, making it one of the largest metro areas in the Nordic region. If you stay near the sea, you’ll find pricey hotels in preserved buildings. Further away, you can find three-star business hotels located near the commercial districts.
Not sure where to look? Get your accommodations search started with this guide to the best places to stay in Helsinki…
The best places to stay in Helsinki: A complete guide to the top hotels, neighbourhoods & areas for travellers
Helsinki is a walkable city and features an efficient public transportation system. No matter where you choose to stay, you should find it easy to get around, but it helps to stay near the main sites that you want to visit. This cuts down on travel, giving you more time to enjoy each destination.
The city is divided into 59 neighbourhoods and 34 districts, each with its own character. When visiting the city for the first time, you’ll want to choose one of the neighbourhoods closer to the centre and the seaside attractions.
The most central area to stay in Helsinki is Kamppi in the heart of the city. It offers access to the most notable churches and museums in Helsinki and convenient bus routes to the neighbouring towns and suburbs.
Kamppi is where more tourists choose to stay, but there are several other options. Whether you want to stay somewhere trendy or laid back, Helsinki has you covered.
A few of the best areas to stay in Helsinki include:
- Kamppi: Home to some of the best hotels in Helsinki and, overall, the top choice for where to stay in Helsinki thanks to its city centre location close to many of the top tourist attractions.
- Kallio: A trendy part of city that’s among the top areas to stay in Helsinki for travellers looking for hip restaurants & bars.
- Toolo: An area a little further outside the city centre that’s a good choice for escaping the urban of central Helsinki.
- Punavuori: Helsinki’s design district offering some of the city’s hippest architecture and some excellent boutique hotels at more budget-friendly rates than in Kamppi.
✔ Best area to stay for sightseeing and museums
Kamppi is in the centre of the city and the first place that people tend to visit especially on a time-crunched Helsinki itinerary. The downtown district includes many of the city’s most important cultural attractions, such as the Old Church and the Kamppi Chapel.
Besides sightseeing, this neighbourhood offers museum lovers a chance to explore priceless works of art. The district includes the Natural Museum of Helsinki and several other notable museums.
As the central business district, the area also has numerous bars, restaurants, and shopping centres. In fact, it’s home to the largest shopping complex in the region – Kamppi Center. The complex is also the biggest construction site in the history of the country.
If you want to experience the widest range of attractions without spending a lot of time travelling between neighbourhoods, you should consider staying in Kamppi. It’s central, diverse, and full of fun things to explore.
Attractions in and around Kamppi: Natural Museum of Helsinki, Vanha Kirkko (The Old Church), Kamppi Chapel, Kamppi Center, Helsinki City Art Museum, Linnanmaki Theme Park, Senate Square, Helsinki Cathedal, Market Square
Recommended hotels in Kamppi
As the most popular tourist district, Kamppi includes some of the best hotels in Helsinki. You’ll also find a wide range of options, from three-star boutique hotels to fancier five-star options.
- Hotel Scandic Simonkentta: A top-rated choice in the heart of Helsinki, this hotel provides one of the most convenient locations. You’re just a block from the central station and surrounded by restaurants. If you need a late-night snack, you can step right into its onsite 24-hour shop.
- Solo Sokos Hotel Torni Helsinki: This location resembles a grand 1920’s hotel, but offers modern amenities and various room designs. Choose from several styles of rooms, including art deco, art nouveau, and functionalism. The rooms are also soundproofed, helping you get a good night’s rest after a long day of sightseeing.
- Hotel St. George Helsinki: Seven minutes from the central station you’ll find this comfortable hotel with luxurious accommodations. The marble bathroom and rain shower are a couple of examples of the elegance offered to guests. The hotel is also just across from the Old Church Park.
- Radisson Blu Aleksanteri Hotel: Part of the Radisson chain, this hotel caters to business travellers and offers an onsite bar and restaurant. Enjoy Scandinavian sandwiches and local craft beers before exploring the city. You can even take your meal on the courtyard terrace and watch people passing by.
✔ Best district to stay for laid-back travellers and craft beer enthusiasts
Kallio is the trendy part of the city, home to many students, musicians, and artists. The area has a bit of a hipster/bohemian vibe. This top contender for where to stay in Helsinki was formerly a working-class neighbourhood with lots of families, but now mostly caters to the younger crowd.
The hipster influx has led many locals to flee to nearby neighbourhoods and some frown upon the changes to the district. It’s also become a much more popular area for tourists.
It offers a laid back atmosphere and a wide selection of bars, cafes, and restaurants.
During the day, you can spend your time hanging out at the affordable coffee shops or browse the goods at the local flea markets. In the evening, visit one of the bars or clubs for live music and poetry readings.
If you’re lucky, you’ll visit in time for the neighbourhood’s annual block party. Taking over most of the streets, the party is the biggest event of the year.
Attractions in and around Kallio: Pitkasilta Bridge, Hakaniemi Market Square, Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden, Kaisaniemi Park, Kallio Church, Helsinki Music Centre.
Recommended hotels in Kallio
Kallio doesn’t have a lot of hotels. While you’ll mostly find hostels and apartments in this area, there are a few options. Just keep in mind that the vacancies fill up quickly, often months before the travel date.
- Hilton Helsinki Strand: Located across the bay from the downtown area, this hotel allows you to easily travel to the heart of the city. You can explore the central area during the day and retreat to the laid back Kallio neighbourhood in the evening. If you find that the local bars are full, enjoy a nightcap at the hotel bar and lounge.
- Scandic Paasi: As expected in this neighbourhood, this hotel features stylish designs, with contemporary furniture and décor. Some of the rooms have private balconies with views of the district. Near the hotel, you’ll find Hakaniemi Harbor and boat access to Korkeasaari Zoo.
- Scandic Hakaniemi: The boldly coloured rooms at this hotel stand out and perfectly reflect the unique design elements of the neighbourhood. It’s also just a short walk from the metro station and provides views of the local Hakaniemi Market Square.
- Scandic Kallio: Despite the name of this hotel, it’s really located just outside the Kallio neighbourhood. It’s a little further away, but offers lower rates and more vacancies, making it a great backup option if everything is booked.
✔ Top area to stay for nature lovers and fans of fine dining
If you want to get away from the urban settings found in the previous neighbourhoods, you should enjoy Toolo. This district is known for its natural surroundings and exceptional cuisine.
In Toolo, you’ll find the top restaurants and green spaces in the city. This is considered one of the best places to visit in Helsinki for authentic Finnish cuisine and five-star dining.
While this neighbourhood is further from the attractions in the city centre, it has its own cultural landmarks. You can visit the Opera House, Finlandia Hall, or the Olympics Stadium to explore the rich cultural traditions of Helsinki.
The Toolo neighbourhood starts just behind the Parliament House. The streets are wide and many of the buildings were erected in the 1920s or 1930s. This district also stretches out for several kilometres, making it a little more challenging to explore entirely on foot.
Attractions in and around Toolo: Olympics Stadium, Finlandia Hall, Opera House, Sibelius Monument, Hietaniemi Cemetery, City Winter Garden
Recommend hotels in Toolo
The Toolo neighbourhood includes a lot of villas and apartments for rent. Luckily, it also has a few hotels near the edge of the district and closer to the downtown area.
- Scandic Park Helsinki: This hotel faces Toolo Bay and has its own onsite restaurant with a unique menu. You can choose from a variety of organic dishes with a contemporary twist. For breakfast, you have 101 options and free coffee.
- Crowne Plaza Helsinki: Across from the Finnish National Opera, you’ll find this elegant, ritzy hotel. It has its own restaurant, gym, and sauna, giving you plenty of reasons to stay indoors. Thanks to the location, you can also quickly reach many of the top Helsinki attractions.
- Original Sokos Hotel Presidentti Helsinki: While this hotel isn’t inside Toolo, it’s near the boundary between the outer district and Kamppi. Located three minutes from Kamppi Shopping Center, you can spend your day shopping and then come to the hotel to unwind at the onsite pub or bistro.
- Hotel Helka: This hotel is also just outside the district and near the downtown area, but still outside of Kamppi. It’s a convenient spot if you want to explore Toolo and the main Helsinki attractions near the centre of the city. It also offers comfortable beds and friendly staff.
✔ Best neighbourhood to stay for architecture buffs and adventurous foodies
Punavuori, along with Eira and Ullanlinna, makes up the design district of Helsinki. In this area, you’ll find some of the most interesting and unique architecture.
Located in the downtown part of Helsinki, these neighbourhoods also provide convenient access to the rest of the city. With the hotels in this area, you can stay near the sea, nature, or the inner city.
The district once housed many of the city’s factories. A lot of the old industrial sites were converted into commercial spaces and now contain trendy cafes, shops, and restaurants.
The area also has many design shops, especially along the main narrow streets near the centre of the district.
Some of the more odd and creative culinary experiences are also found in this district. As the restaurants tend to appeal to the trendy crowd, this area is a good choice for where to stay in Helsinki if you’re looking to discover original gastronomical delights.
Besides dining venues and original architecture, this district is known for Kaivopuisto – the oldest park in the city. The park is in Ullanlinna, which is one-third of the design district.
Attractions in and around Punavuori: Kaivopuisto, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Swedish Theatre, Design Museum, Forum Shopping Centre
Recommended hotels in Punavuori
This trendy artist district has a variety of boutique-style Helsinki hotels, apartments, and hostels. Some of these spots are very close to Kamppi and offer much lower rates compared to other hotels in Helsinki, particular those in the central district.
- Hotel Indigo Helsinki-Boulevard: Located near the border of Punavuori and Kamppi, this Helsinki hotel provides a convenient spot for checking out more of the city. It’s a boutique hotel about one kilometre from the main metro station. As you may expect in this trendy district, the hotel has modern décor and an in-house bistro.
- Original Sokos Hotel Albert: In the centre of the design district, this hotel stands out for its luxurious accommodations. It’s an elegant spot with friendly staff in a quiet part of the neighbourhood. It’s also near several vintage furniture shops and vinyl record stores
- Hotel Klaus K: This hotel sits 350 feet from the Esplanadi Shopping District and features stylish rooms with luxurious beds. The eclectic design matches the aesthetic of the design district, with rooms decorated using inspiration from an epic Finnish poem. The hotel also offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner options at the onsite restaurant.