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Travel Tuesday: One Day in Finland - What to Do with Kids during a Quick Trip to Helsinki

The #FabFam went to Scandinavia (Sweden and Finland) for spring break this year.  You can see more in my posts about our two days in Stockholm and about our time with in Sweden's Arctic Circle at the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi.  Today I am sharing about our quick jaunt to Helsinki, Finland. 

We got the idea to add Helsinki to our itinerary from a friend, who told me that there are overnight cruise boats between the Swedish and Finnish capitals.  When I looked into this, I discovered it to be really cost- and time-effective, as you travel overnight (while you sleep), and the cost offsets a night in a hotel room (which is not cheap in Scandinavia).  In our itinerary, we had just enough time to spend one day in Helsinki.  While we'd definitely need more time there to do it justice, it was a great way to introduce ourselves to this very family-friendly city. 
When we were doing research on what to do with the kids during a quick trip there, we came across this is a great post with lots of things to do with kids in Helsinki.  Some of the top recommendations included Suomenlinna Fortress (Sveaborg), Vessiko submarine, Seurassari Open-Air Museum, the Natural History Museum, they Heureka Interactive Center, Horseshoe Finnish Toy Museum, Linnanmaki Amusement Park, Korkeasaari Zoo, and the Botanical Garden (Kasvitieteellinen puutarha).  Keep reading to see what we did, and more about how to get to Helsinki from Stockholm. 

The boys had a lot of fun on the Viking cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki (but were really cold when we stepped outside for this photo)

As I said earlier, we took the overnight Viking Line cruise between Stockholm and Helsinki.  This was such a great choice!  Not only was it cost-effective, but it was also really fun.  The boys loved being on a boat, there was no shortage of delicious food options, and the staff was incredibly friendly.  The kids especially loved the video game room and the kid's activity room, where the staff had a fun variety of activities planned every half an hour. 

The view from our Viking cruise ship as we departed Stockholm for Helsinki
My oldest went a little heavy on the bacon at the breakfast buffet

The buffet restaurant had a huge variety of food, with a mix of traditional Scandinavian fare and other international offerings.  The hostess even remembered us and gave my youngest a high-five when we returned for our next meal. 

When we arrived in Helsinki we hopped onto public transportation, which we found to be really convenient.  Young kids are often free or discounted, and the staff on the buses and cable cars were very friendly and helpful to us in figuring out where we were going. 

In March it was still pretty chilly in Helsinki, so we layered up.  Fortunately coat racks are common at indoor activities and restaurants. 

With limited time, we wanted to get the most out of our day in Helsinki.  A Finnish family we met on the boat recommended that we visit The National Museum of Finland (Kansallismuseo)

I highly recommend visiting Kansallismuseo for your first visit to Finland.  It is a really comprehensive museum that covers many aspect of Finnish history.  It was interactive and held the attention of both the kids and us adults.  Speaking of kid-friendly, there is one level of the museum that is a "workshop" full of hands-on interactive activities combined with "quick history" lessons.  I had to coax the kids out of here when we needed to get lunch at the museum's on-site café, as they were having so. much. fun.

One of the many activities in the workshop was building with wood and faux bricks

My youngest was glued to the model kitchen, where he pretended to have his own brand of coffee and a coffee shop

There was a throne and a crown (along with history of leadership in Finland over the years).  I mean, I wasn't NOT going to sit in it.

Helsinki Cathedral as seen while wandering back to the ship

Because we had so much fun at the museum (we wanted to see every exhibition, and even got to have lunch there), we didn't have time for much else.  No regrets - it just means we'll have to go back someday!  Do you have any must-visit spots in Helsinki that we should add to the list for next time?

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