When visiting the capital of Finland, you will want to squeeze in a little museum-hopping as there are a plethora of museums located throughout Helsinki. Being the most populated city in Finland, you will find the streets can get rather crowded, so drop your extra bags in a Helsinki luggage locker before you hop on the metro and check out the sights.
From the National Museum of Finland to the Finnish Museum of Photography there is definitely something that will pique your interest. Art museums are abundant in Helsinki including the Helsinki Art Museum and Sinebrychoff Art Museum. One of the more interesting things is the ancient European art collections in the more distinguished art galleries.
Whether you are into Finnish history, Finnish architecture, or natural history, there is a museum that will grab your attention and make you want to come back time and time again. Helsinki, Finland has many awesome museums to make museum-hopping great fun.
National Museum of Finland
Just a 10 minute walk from Helsinki Station, the National Museum of Finland is in the city centre right next to the Parliament House. Filled with Finnish history including bullet holes in the door of the museum from the Civil War era to the murals on the ceiling depicting the epic Kalevala poem. There are a number of artifacts, antiques, and paintings dating back from pre-history to the present day.
The museum teaches you about the history of Finland including folk culture and the Finno-Ugric culture. About half a million of the artifacts in the museum are from the Stone Age through the present day. The permanent exhibits are fun to see, but sometimes the temporary exhibits are the most interesting.
The entrance hall is where the painted ceilings by Akseli Gallén-Kallela are located. While you have to pay an admission fee to enter the main museum, you can go into the entrance hall for free. Many of the temporary exhibitions also charge a separate fee.
Address: Mannerheiminitie 34, Helsinki
Finnish Museum of Natural History
You know you have reached the Finnish Museum of Natural History when you see the life-size statue of a moose outside the entrance. The giraffe figures enjoying coffee on the balcony are also a dead giveaway that you have reached your destination.
The natural history museum is home to several dioramas of nature in Finland and around the globe. The dinosaur bones and skeletons are a big draw. The biological side of Finnish history is fully covered and the museum is very popular with young children. There are guided tours and a few interactive exhibits that are great fun.
Address: Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13, Helsinki
Seurasaari Open Air Museum
This unique open-air museum is the best place to see old-world Finland is located on Seurasaari Island on the western side of Helsinki. Filled with several old buildings that have been restored to retain their historic significance, this open-air museum may be a bit pricey but is well worth the cost of admission.
The buildings depict the life of peasants, crofters, and Finnish gentry during the 18th through the 20th century. You can sign up for a guided tour and follow a guide dressed in period-appropriate clothing and national costumes. Get a feel for the traditional old-world way of life as you poke around in about 90 different traditional buildings that came from all over Finland.
Drop by the Café Antin Kaffeliiteri for a delicious cup of coffee and a sweet treat. There is a quaint museum boutique in the Old Country Shop building where you can find handicrafts, jewelry, and books to give as gifts or keep as a souvenir. Note: This is a seasonal museum.
Address: Seurasaari, Helsinki (Seurasaari Island)
Espoo Museum of Modern Art
Affectionately called EMMA, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art is an iconic landmark and is the largest art museum in Finland. The museum is in the Tapiola district and the Exhibition Centre WeeGee, a former printing house. With the biggest exhibition space in Finland, EMMA is an amazing place to see.
The permanent collection includes pieces by Finnish artists as well as other Nordic artists. Modern and contemporary art is simply wonderful to see hanging in EMMA’s galleries. The Espoo City Museum or Futuro House and KAMU. You can visit both museums with the same admission ticket.
Address: Exhibition Centre WeeGee, Ahertajantie 5, Tapiola Espoo
Finnish Science Centre Heureka
Sometimes the science center is called Heureka. This is the perfect place to go when you are curious about science and technology. Kids especially love to visit the Finnish Science Centre because of all the interactive exhibits that grab their attention and promote learning.
The science center has planetarium films, themed exhibitions, and educational programs. There are events going on year-round, so check their calendar of events when you are planning your trip. The planetarium is one of the largest in Europe with the most technological advancements. Sit back and be immersed in breathtaking visual displays including the northern lights.
Address: Tiederavintola, Tiedepuisto 1, Vantaa
Finnish Museum of Photography
With over 3.7 million photos at the Finnish Museum of Photography, you will be amazed at the beautiful photos of landscapes throughout Finland and abroad. Landscapes are not the only images on display, everything from portraits to natural disasters and phenomena to war have been captured on camera.
There is a section for professional photographers and one for amateur photographers, both highlighting historical events in poignant ways. The most recent addition to the museum includes photos taken by those fleeing Ukraine after Russian forces invaded early in 2022.
Address: The Cable Factory, Kaapeliaukio 3, staircase G Helsinki
Opened in 2018, Amos Rex is one of the newest art museums in Helsinki. The museum was named after Amos Anderson who was a Finnish newspaper publisher, businessman, and patron of the arts. Home to one of the biggest private Finnish art collections, it is a great place to check out modern and contemporary art pieces.
The building itself is also drawing attention and it is called Lasipalatsi or Glass Palace. The building is unique in that the galleries are located underground while the curved domes of the building announce that you are here. Located in the city centre, Amos Rex has become a popular meeting place for the art culture of Helsinki.
Address: Mannerheimintie 22-24, Helsinki
Originally called the Museum of Applied Arts, the museum opened its doors in 1873. Now, the Design Museum has become an internationally renowned museum specializing in Finnish design. Head to the Design District in southern Helsinki to check out some of the best illustrations of Finnish art, fashion, and household items.
The exhibits rotate often so there is always something new and interesting to see. Rising artists are able to showcase their work at the Design Museum, so grab your friends and spend a lazy afternoon in the Designmuseo. If you have a Museum card, you can enjoy free admission on the last Tuesday of the month during the winter.
Address: Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki
Museum of Finnish Architecture
The very distinctive art nouveau architecture found in Helsinki makes the city unique and a wonderful place to spend a few days. The Museum of Finnish Architecture is in the Kaartinkaupunki district and is on the same block as the Design Museum.
Learn how the architecture in Finland has evolved through the years from the classic wooden buildings that are iconic to Finland to the more modern versions being constructed today. The museum hosts several lectures, workshops, and walking tours that take you through the older parts of Helsinki.
Address: Kasarmikatu 24, Helsinki
If you can only visit one place to do some museum hopping, Suomenlinna Museum is the place to go. With six museums in the fortress called Suomenlinna: Military Museum’s Manege, Ehrensvard Museum, Toy Museum, Customs Museum, and Submarine Vesikko. A Museum Card is accepted at all six of the museums in Suomenlinna.
The Suomenlinna fortress is about 270 years old and has a storied past that is revealed when you take a guided tour through the fortress. The main museum takes you back through time to learn more about the past of Helsinki. The permanent exhibition at the main museum teaches you about the historical events that occurred in and around the city.
The Military Museum’s Manege covers the proud Finnish military history. While the museum is small, it is filled to the brim with military relics and antiques from World War II to the Great Northern War. The displays of the different military uniforms are interesting to see.
Address: Suomenlinna C 74, Suomenlinnakeskus, Helsinki
Museum of Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma
A part of the Finnish National Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma is the place to go when you want to find some of the best modern and contemporary artists in Finland. The Ateneum Art Museum and Sinebrychoff Art Museum are also a part of the Finnish National Gallery, but National Gallery's Kiasma building is the more popular museum.
The Kiasma Library and Kiasma Theatre are inside the museum. At the theater, you can see contemporary art come alive on the stage. The art workshops for adults and color play for young children are a big hit. You can also sign up for guided tours to get more of your experience. Kiasma is a gathering place for artists and art lovers.
Address: Mannerheiminaukio 2, Helsinki
Finnish Nature Center Haltia
The building housing the Finnish Nature Center Haltia is the biggest wooden public building in Finland. Located on Lake Pitkajarvi, this nature center sits on a picturesque spot giving you a terrific view of the natural beauty of the area.
The Finnish Nature Center Haltia is in the Nuuksio National Park with several hiking trails leading away from the center. Immerse yourself in nature and spend a day outside the city breathing in the fresh air and taking in the natural beauty of the area.
Address: Nuuksiontie 84, Espoo
Ateneum Art Museum
Like Kiasma, the Ateneum Art Museum is part of the National Gallery. The Ateneum Art Museum is housed in an impressive palace-like building that sits across from the central train station. Ateneum is the oldest building of the National Gallery. See classic examples of Finnish art by Helene Schjerfbeck and Albert Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
Ateneum has the biggest collection of classical art and works to preserve Finnish art while promoting new artists throughout Finland. Sign up for a guided tour or enjoy one of the workshops offered at the Ateneum Art Museum. The museum is undergoing renovations but will be fully operational in early 2023.
Address: Kaivokatu 2, Helsinki
What are the best free museums in Helsinki?
Helsinki may not be the most budget-friendly city but there are still some museums that offer free admission, although special or temporary exhibitions usually are not free. Finding free museums in Helsinki is not difficult, especially when you know where to look. Many of the museums in Helsinki do offer free admission for children, just ask when you are getting your tickets.
We recommend you consider Helsinki City Museum – Helsingin Kaupunginmuseo, Tram Museum - Ratikkamuseo, Children’s Town - Lasten Kaupunki, Museum of Contemporary Arts Kiasma (free admission on the first Friday of the month) and Museum of Finnish Architecture (free admission on the first Friday of the month).
Which are the best museums in Downtown Helsinki?
Downtown Helsinki or the city center is the heart of the city filled with office buildings, restaurants, shops, and attractions. There are even some terrific museums in downtown Helsinki that you can easily walk to when you are exploring the area.
Visit Kiasma Museum, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, and the Helsinki Art Museum.
Are there any cheap museums in Helsinki?
When it comes to cheap museums in Helsinki, you may have a bit harder time unless you are able to take advantage of the free or discounted admission on the first Monday of the month. The only downside is that the museums are usually crowded on the first Monday.
Why not take a look at the Museum of Finnish Architecture? Other considerations are the Museum of Contemporary Arts Kiasma and the Finnish National Gallery.
Enjoy museums in Helsinki, both indoors and outside
While you are visiting Helsinki whether it's for business meetings or shopping on holiday, you have to spend some time museum-hopping as there are so many fabulous things to see and experience. Remember to take advantage of the free museums so you do not break the budget.
The Seurassari Open Air Museum and the Suomenlinna Museum are two of the most interesting and popular museums in the city. Finland's proud military heritage and historic details come to life when you visit these museums.