Finland’s capital, Helsinki, together with its neighboring cities of Espoo and Vantaa, is the biggest urban concentration in the country, with a combined population of about a million. As Finland’s busiest port, Helsinki spills across a group of Baltic islands and promontories, and its smart new suburbs extend into the surrounding forests and countryside.
Helsinki is one of Europe’s most modern and culturally progressive cities, yet remains in touch with an intriguing history stretching back over 450 years. It is a city of bustling, colorful market squares and halls, of outdoor summer concerts and sports events, of seaside parks, of excellent cafes and restaurants for every taste and budget, top-notch hotels and cutting-edge art in fine museums. It is also a pleasantly compact city, with many of the attractions in the central districts, within easy reach of one another.
Attractions range from the fabulous island fortress of Suomenlinna in the entrance to the South Harbour and the Open Air Museum of traditional buildings on the island of Seurasaari, to the startling Kiasma housing the Museum of Contemporary Art and the unique ‘Church in the Rock’. History abounds in the magnificent Senate Square, with its neo-Classical Lutheran Cathedral, in the nearby Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral, and in the art nouveau details of the Railway Museum and National Museum.
Excursions from Helsinki might include a coastal steamer trip to the Old Town of Porvoo, a leisurely cruise around the local archipelago, a trek through the National Park at nearby Nuuksio, or a day-trip to the Estonian capital, Tallinn, just 90 minutes by hydrofoil across the Gulf of Finland. Helsinki is also a good starting point for Baltic cruises to St Petersburg to the east and Stockholm to the west.
Most visitors to Finland arrive in and depart from Helsinki, and Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, 19 kilometres to the north of the city, is the biggest international airport in the country, with flights to destinations throughout Finland, Europe, North America and the Far East. There are daily cruise ferry connections between Stockholm and Helsinki, operated by the Silja-Tallink and Viking Lines. Rail connections operate from Helsinki to all Finnish rail destinations, including Lapland. Express bus services also cover the country from Helsinki.
All the conference hotels are within walking distance from the conference venue. However, if you want to use local transportation, please visit HSL/HRT web site for more information on the underground, trams, Suomenlinna ferries, busses and local trains. A day ticket is a good option, if you need to make several journeys during one day. Day tickets are available from most locations selling public transport tickets.
Please note that you can buy tickets from the driver on busses and trams, but it is cheaper to get the tickets in advance from kiosks or the HSL/HRT service centers. There are also ticket automats (subway, Suomenlinna ferry harbor). The drivers do not have to accept bank notes larger than 20 €.