Worth a Trip: Kuusisaari, the Art Island
The upmarket island of Kuusisaari has two excellent private galleries in elaborate villas: Didrichsen Taidemuseo and Villa Gyllenberg, both showing the collections of their one-time owners. Both have a good permanent collection of golden-age Finnish art as well as local and international 20th-century art, supplemented by changing exhibitions. A combination ticket for the two galleries costs €18.
Bus 194 or 195 from Kamppi bus station or 50-minute summer ferries from the kauppatori will get you to the island. The galleries are under five minutes' stroll apart. It's also an easy walk from Seurasaari, so there's plenty out here for a day trip.
Worth a Trip: Tuusulanjärvi
The views from the narrow stretch of road running along Tuusulanjärvi (Tuusula Lake), 35km north of Helsinki, inspired some of Finland’s greatest artists. Museums here include composer Sibelius’ home, Ainola; painter Pekka Halonen's studio and home, Halosenniemi; and the Lottamuseo, commemorating the Lotta women’s voluntary defence force.
Mäntsälä-bound buses from Kamppi bus station travel here on weekdays. You could also make a bike tour of it, taking the train to Kerava and back from Järvenpää.
Worth a Trip: The Åland Archipelago
The glorious Åland archipelago is a geopolitical anomaly: the islands belong to Finland, the spoken language is Swedish, but they have their own parliament, flag and stamps. Åland is the sunniest spot in northern Europe and its sweeping white-sand beaches and flat, scenic cycling routes have great appeal. Outside the lively capital, Mariehamn, a sleepy haze hangs over the islands’ tiny villages and finding your own remote beach among the 6500 skerries and islets is surprisingly easy. A lattice of bridges and free cable ferries connect the central islands, while larger car ferries run to the archipelago’s outer reaches. Several car ferries head to Åland, including those that connect Turku and Helsinki with Stockholm. Bikes are the best way to explore and are easily rented.
Worth a Trip: Porvoo
Finland’s second-oldest town is an ever-popular day trip or weekender destination from Helsinki. Porvoo (Swedish: Borgå) officially became a town in 1380, but even before that it was an important trading post. The town's fabulous historic centre includes the famous brick-red former warehouses along the river that once stored goods bound for destinations across Europe. During the day, old-town craft shops bustle with visitors, but staying on a weeknight will mean you could have the place more or less to yourself. The old painted buildings are spectacular in the setting sun. Frequent buses depart for Porvoo from Helsinki's Kamppi bus station.
Tripping to Tallinn
The short ferry trip to Tallinn, capital of Estonia, offers so much more than the booze cruise that many Finns use it for. The city's charming Vanalinn (Old Town) is one of Europe’s most evocative medieval districts, best enjoyed with an afternoon of ambling, particularly around Raekoja plats, dominated by its Gothic town hall complete with minaret-like tower that you can climb to see the lie of the land. Wander a little further to Saiakang (White Bread Passage), with the 14th-century Püha Vaimu Kirik (Holy Spirit Church) at one end.
If you’ve worked up an appetite by now, head to Ö, an ethereal dining room that highlights Estonian produce. For heartier fare in a medieval atmosphere, Olde Hansa is fun. There are plenty of good places to wet your whistle, such as comfy purveyor of local brews Hell Hunt. Don’t worry about the name; it actually means ‘gentle wolf’.
Check out Tallinn Tourist Information Centre for a range of accommodation options.
Handily, euros are the currency here, and Estonia is a Schengen country, so there are no entry requirements to visit from Finland.
For more info on Tallinn and Estonia, head to shop.lonelyplanet.com for a downloadable PDF of the chapter from Lonely Planet’s Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania guide.