Top choice in Helsinki

Built in National Romantic art nouveau style and opened in 1916, Finland’s premier historical museum looks a bit like a Gothic church with its heavy stonework and tall, square tower. It was given a major renovation in 2019, and its highlights include the exceptional prehistory exhibition and the Realm, covering the 13th to the 19th century. You'll also find a fantastic hands-on area for kids, Workshop Vintti.

From the 1st-floor balcony, crane your neck up to see the superb frescoes on the ceiling arches, depicting scenes from the national epic Kalevala, painted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela.

In July and August, 30-minute guided tours in English at 11.30am from Tuesday to Friday are included in admission.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Helsinki attractions

1. Parliament House

0.16 MILES

Finland's imposing parliament building was designed by Finnish architect Johan Sigfrid Sirén and inaugurated in 1931. Its pared-back neoclassicism…

2. Kunsthalle Helsinki


Housed in a Jugendstil-style building dating back to 1928, Kunsthalle Helsinki hosts up to seven major, mostly contemporary exhibitions every year. Recent…

3. Oodi

0.24 MILES

Opened late 2018 as a 100th anniversary gift to the people of Finland, the central library is as aesthetically pleasing as it is intellectually…

4. Luonnontieteellinen Museo

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5. Temppeliaukion Kirkko

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Hewn into solid stone, the Temppeliaukion church, designed by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1969, feels close to a Finnish ideal of spirituality in nature…

6. Mannerheim Statue

0.28 MILES

This equestrian statue of Finland's most famous military commander stands next to the Kiasma museum.

7. Kiasma

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One in a series of elegant, contemporary buildings in this part of town, curvaceous, metallic Kiasma, designed by Steven Holl and finished in 1998, is a…

8. Sanomatalo

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The gleaming glass headquarters of the main daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, is an iconic modern Helsinki building, designed by Finnish architects Jan…