December in Helsinki – 15 things to do

Spending December in Helsinki? Well, having lived close to Helsinki all my life, here are some of my takeaways and things you should know.

Here are 15 things to do when spending December in Helsinki

december in helsinki things to do

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This is my 7th post in my digital Advent Calendar! Hope you enjoy it and happy holidays 🙂
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1. Visit the Christmas Market near Helsinki cathedral

Helsinki Christmas Market (Tuomaan Markkinat in Finnish) is super cosy and right in the centre of Helsinki. Here you can find homemade ornaments and even a carousel.

Tip: See #4 for more information on what is happening near Helsinki Cathedral!

2. Try local Christmas beer

What is a common thing to do in Finland? To drink beer. Oviously. And for the past years smaller breweries have become more and more popular. You will find plenty of choices in Alko or grocery stores – and of course in bars as well.

3. Walk along the shopping street Aleksanterinkatu

The main shopping street is Aleksanterinkatu in Finnish. There are usually Christmas lights put up and quite a lot of people (in Finnish standards).

And while you are near Stockmann be sure to look at the chrismtas window, which takes us to the fourth tip on this list:

4. See the Christmas window at Stockmann in December in Helsinki

I remember when I was a kid I loved to go see the Christmas window at the shopping mall Stockmann. These days I just rush by but still enjoy that they put so much effort into it every year.

helsinki in december
Photo by Tapio Haaja.

5. See Lucia walk down the massive stairs

On December 13th you can see Lucia walk down the stairs of Helsinki Cathedral with live lights in her hair. Common to go if you have kids.

Wait, what is Lucia? Every year a young woman is chosen by the public to bring light and to be ‘Lucia’. Lucia is is crowned on December 13th in Helsinki and will go on a charity tour around hospitals and schools.

6. Have a Christmas pastry

Ooh I love these – a pastry shaped like a star with some plum jam in the middle, yum! They are best served straight from the oven but if you cannot do this, be sure to taste one at a cafe!

7. Have a nice hot Finnish sauna

Are you spending December in Helsinki and it happens to be cold? Then a hot sauna is just what you need. Löyly is a nice and modern sauna but there are plenty of saunas – if you are visiting someone in Helsinki they might have a sauna since a lot of people have their own sauna in Finland.

Did you know? I tried going to a – what they called – Finnish sauna in Busan, South Korea. And it was nothing like a real hot Finnish sauna.

8. Drink hot glögi

This hot spicy beverage can be found in different forms in different countries. Still it is a must-drink every Christmas, with or without alcohol.

9. See the city from above.

Is there any place that you would not want to see from above? Seeing Helsinki from above is a great way to understand the vibe of the city a bit more. There are some rooftop bars around Helsinki, for example Torni and Clarion hotel have rooftop bars so be sure to visit them.

helsinki from above in winter

10. Visit a Finnish cafe

Fazer’s cafe is a classic destination if you want some Finnish coffee at a Finnish cafe. Or maybe have some bagels at Arnold’s cafe?

11. Celebrate Finland’s Independence Day in December

Did you know that Finland has been independent 101 years in 2018? This is always celebrated on December 6th and is a national holiday. There is a big ball at the President’s house that you can watch on TV if you are not invited for some reason (I am still waiting for my invitation…). 🙂

december in helsinki
Photo by Tapio Haaja.

12. Have some Christmas ham and casserole

We love our (sweetened) potatoe, carrot and swede casserole for Christmas in Finland. Have some. Especially the potatoe one is go-ood.

13. Go ice skating in Helsinki city centre

Romantic? Yes! (If not too many kids…)

14. Walk along a Christmas path

There are some Christmas paths you can take to amp up the Christmas spirit. See more information on MyHelsinki’s page here.

15. Christmas at the Fortress – Visit Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna is the fortress on an island to which you can take a ferry. They offer tours, music, concerts and museums as well as you can visit a restaurant or cafe when you get hungry.


That was the whole list. Congrats if you made it through, great job and thanks for reading! If you want more you can always try a musem such as Amos Rex art museum, go clubbing or have a nice dinner in one of the many restaurants in Helsinki.

Any thoughts?

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