Unbelievable but true: 15 facts about Helsinki

Helsinki is full of surprises

From its numerous islands and vast underground bunker system, to its light festivals and pizza taxis, there is always something unexpected happening in Helsinki. Here are 15 strange but true facts about this quirky city.

1. Helsinki's Archipelago: Over 300 Islands within the City Limits

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, boasts a remarkable archipelago consisting of more than 300 islands within its city limits. This unique geographical feature offers residents and visitors alike the opportunity to explore picturesque landscapes, enjoy peaceful retreats, and immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding nature.

2. Helsinki Day: A Celebration of City Pride on June 12th

Every year on June 12th, Helsinki residents come together to celebrate "Helsinki Day." This official city holiday serves as a vibrant tribute to the city's rich cultural heritage and community spirit. The day is marked with a diverse range of festivities, including events, concerts, exhibitions, and activities suitable for all ages.

3. Dog Island: Off-Leash Paradise for Well-Behaved Canines

Helsinki caters to dog lovers with a unique attraction known as Dog Island. This dedicated island allows dogs to roam freely off-leash, provided they exhibit good behavior. It serves as a haven where furry companions can socialize, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors while their owners delight in watching their pets relish in the freedom and joy of the open space.

4. Low Population Density: Expansive Space in the Urban Area

Despite its significant population, Helsinki offers a distinctive advantage in terms of space and population density. With a population of approximately 650,000 residents and a metropolitan area accommodating around 1.5 million people, Helsinki spreads out over 715 square kilometers. This characteristic makes it one of the least densely populated urban areas in Europe, providing a harmonious balance between urban amenities and expansive green spaces.

5. Rainy Days in the North: Helsinki's Climate Surprise

As the northernmost capital city in mainland Europe, Helsinki's climate often surprises visitors. Despite its northern location, Helsinki experiences more rainy days than snowy ones. On average, the city receives 121 days of rainfall each year, contributing to its lush landscapes and vibrant greenery.

6. Art Nouveau Splendor: Helsinki's Architectural Showcase

Helsinki proudly showcases its architectural heritage through an impressive collection of over 600 art nouveau buildings. Each building exhibits the distinctive characteristics of this ornate style, featuring intricate details, decorative facades, and elegant designs. These architectural gems stand as a testament to Helsinki's commitment to preserving its rich cultural history.

7. Pizza Taxi: A Unique Culinary Twist in Helsinki

Adding a delicious twist to traditional taxi services, Helsinki features the renowned Pizza Taxi. This specialized taxi company not only transports passengers but also delivers mouthwatering pizzas directly to customers' doorsteps. This innovative service combines the convenience of transportation with the pleasure of indulging in freshly baked, delectable pizzas within the comfort of one's own home.

8. Restaurant Day: A Food Festival for Culinary Creativity

Helsinki's Restaurant Day is a highly anticipated food festival that takes place four times a year. During this extraordinary event, anyone can set up a temporary restaurant for a single day and serve their choice of cuisine. This celebration of culinary creativity allows both seasoned chefs and aspiring food enthusiasts to showcase their talents and offer diverse dining experiences to locals and visitors alike.

9. Underground Bunkers: A Network of Safety and Preparedness

To ensure the safety of its residents, Helsinki features an extensive network of underground bunkers. With a total of 500 subterranean structures, these bunkers were strategically built to protect the population during times of war or nuclear disaster. Connected by a vast network of underground tunnels spanning 200 miles, these bunkers provide enough space and beds to accommodate the entire population of Helsinki, offering a reassuring sense of security.

10. Temppeliaukio Church: A Rock-Carved Architectural Wonder

Tucked away in the Töölö neighborhood of Helsinki, Temppeliaukio Church stands as a remarkable architectural wonder. This Lutheran church, also known as the Rock Church, is entirely carved inside a massive rock formation. Its unique design, blending natural elements with modern aesthetics, creates a serene and awe-inspiring atmosphere. The church's exceptional acoustics make it a popular venue for concerts and events, captivating visitors with its harmonious blend of nature and architecture.

11. Historic Tram System: A Century of Electric Transportation

Helsinki's tram system holds a significant place in the city's transportation history. Since its inception in 1900, the tram system has continuously operated with electric drive. Thirteen routes cover the inner parts of the city, providing residents and tourists with a reliable and eco-friendly means of exploring Helsinki's vibrant neighborhoods. This enduring tram network serves as a testament to Helsinki's commitment to sustainable urban mobility.

12. Stadi: Helsinki's Endearing Local Nickname

While Helsinki is primarily referred to by its given name, locals affectionately use the nickname "Stadi." Derived from the Swedish word for 'city,' this Helsinki slang term adds a sense of familiarity and camaraderie to conversations. Embraced by residents, Stadi reflects the close-knit community atmosphere and the deep sense of connection and pride that Helsinki inhabitants have towards their beloved city.

13. The White City: Architectural Elegance in Helsinki

Helsinki has earned the nickname of the 'White City,' not because of its climate, but due to its stunning architectural aesthetics. Many of the city's buildings are crafted using white granite, creating a striking visual impact. The use of this pristine material lends an air of elegance and purity to Helsinki's urban landscape, enhancing its charm and reinforcing its reputation as a city of architectural splendor.

14. Päijänne Water Tunnel: A Marvel of Freshwater Supply

To ensure a sustainable supply of fresh water, Helsinki benefits from the impressive Päijänne Water Tunnel. Stretching over 120 kilometers, this tunnel stands as the second-longest of its kind worldwide. Operating at depths ranging from 30 to 100 meters, it efficiently delivers a continuous flow of fresh water to the city, catering to the needs of its residents and supporting a thriving urban environment.

15. Helsinki's Cathedrals: A Dual Tribute to History and Faith

Helsinki Cathedral and Uspenski Cathedral, two iconic landmarks, were erected simultaneously between 1830 and 1852 to pay homage to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Helsinki Cathedral, located at the Senate Square, showcases neoclassical architecture with its impressive white facade and grand staircase, serving as a symbol of the city's historical and cultural significance. In contrast, Uspenski Cathedral, situated in the Katajanokka district, exemplifies traditional Russian Orthodox architecture. Its vibrant onion domes and intricate ornamentation create a captivating sight, representing Helsinki's rich cultural diversity and religious heritage.

These are just a few of the unique and interesting aspects of Helsinki that make it a truly one of-a-kind city. Whether you're a local or a visitor, there is always something new and exciting to discover in Helsinki.


  • The Helsinki Cathedral was built in 1830-1852 and the Uspenski Cathedral in 1862-1868
    - not simultaneously.

    Riitta Andonian
  • This is so fascinating to learn about! Wish my father or grandparents taught us about our heritage when we were young. They only spoke Finn when they didn’t want us to know something. My husband’s parents stopped talking it when he was 5 years old so he could learn English for school.

    Phyllis Kleimola

Leave a comment