Where to stay in Helsinki for first time: 7 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Helsinki as a first-time visitor can be a daunting task. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Helsinki for first-timers and tourists.

I’ll provide you with my recommendation for the best and safest areas to stay in Helsinki, along with a helpful map. I’ll also share where I stayed in Helsinki and suggest some of the best hotels in Helsinki for all budgets.

Helsinki is the capital and largest city of Finland, situated in the southern part of the country, along the Gulf of Finland’s shore. It is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and high quality of life. 

The city boasts a mix of architectural styles, including neoclassical, Art Nouveau, and modernist designs. Notable buildings include the Helsinki Cathedral in Senate Square, Parliament House, and Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church), which is carved into solid rock.

You can also explore numerous museums, galleries, theaters, and music venues such as The Ateneum Art Museum, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, and National Museum of Finland.

Helsinki is home to world-renowned University of Helsinki, Aalto University, and Hanken School of Economics. Finland’s education system is highly regarded for its quality.

Despite being a bustling capital, Helsinki is surrounded by natural beauty, home to Central Park and Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, which showcases Finnish architecture and culture in a scenic island setting.

Sauna culture is an integral part of Finnish life, and Helsinki is no exception. The city has a variety of public saunas, ranging from traditional wood-burning saunas to modern urban spa experiences. The Löyly Sauna is a popular choice for both locals and tourists.

Helsinki is known for its archipelago, with numerous islands located just off its coast. The Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the most famous islands and offers a unique historical experience.

Helsinki has an efficient public transportation system, including trams, buses, and a metro system. The city is also well-connected by ferry to neighboring countries like Sweden and Estonia.

Is Helsinki safe to visit?

Helsinki is generally a safe destination for travelers with low crime rates. But, like any city, pickpocketing and bag-snatching can occur, so you should always exercise common-sense precautions such as safeguarding personal belongings and staying aware of their surroundings. 

Additionally, there are threats of terrorist attacks, public protests or demonstrations can turn violent, so it is a good idea to monitor the news and follow the advice of local authorities. Also check the weather because it can have extremely cold winters, heavy snowfall, and severe storms.

Where to stay in Helsinki for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Helsinki for first-timers and tourists are Kluuvi, Kamppi , Punavuori, Kallio, Katajanokka, Etu-Töölö, and Kaartinkaupunki. These are popular tourist areas, so you’ll have plenty of choices in accommodations, and easy access to major attractions and public transportation.

Kluuvi is an ideal area for travelers who want to be at the center of the city’s action, with easy access to shopping, dining, and cultural experiences. It is the heart of Helsinki, home to many major attractions like Senate Square, Helsinki Cathedral, and the Market Square.

Kamppi is a great choice for travelers who want convenience and access to shopping at the Kamppi Shopping Center and to enjoy the nightlife in the area. It has excellent transportation connections, including the central bus station and Kamppi metro station. 

Punavuori is a good base for those who prefer a more artistic and bohemian atmosphere. It is a trendy and hip district with boutique shops, cafes, and a lively arts and culture scene.

Kallio is a youthful and diverse neighborhood known for its nightlife, bars, and a range of dining options. It is best suited for younger travelers and those looking for a more budget-friendly stay.

Katajanokka is a peaceful and scenic district on a peninsula, with a mix of historic architecture and beautiful waterfront views. It is a great area for travelers who want a quieter and more picturesque stay, and it’s also home to the Uspenski Cathedral.

Etu-Töölö is a residential area close to the city center, offering a mix of green spaces, cultural attractions, and upscale dining. It is a good neighborhood for nature lovers and those who want a more tranquil setting while still being within walking distance of many attractions.

Kaartinkaupunki is an upscale and elegant neighborhood with beautiful architecture, boutique shops, and fine dining. It is a great base for travelers looking for a more luxurious and refined experience.

During my trip to Helsinki, I stayed at the mid-range Scandic Grand Central Helsinki in Kluuvi. It has a super central location, easy access to trains, buses and trams, and major sights such as the Cathedral. Lots of restaurants and shopping centers nearby. The breakfast areas were lovely.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Helsinki for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Helsinki first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Helsinki first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Helsinki, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Helsinki have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

7 Safe areas to stay in Helsinki for first-timers and tourists

1. Kluuvi

Kluuvi is a fantastic choice for  first-time visitors who want a central and convenient base for exploring Helsinki. You’ll have a mix of history, culture, shopping, dining, and more right at your doorstep.

Kluuvi is right at the center of Helsinki, which means you’ll be within walking distance of popular landmarks such as Senate Square, Helsinki Cathedral, and the Market Square. This central location allows you to explore the city’s main attractions easily.

In addition to the historic sites, Kluuvi is close to many cultural institutions and museums, including the Ateneum Art Museum and the Helsinki City Museum. The main campus of the University of Helsinki is located in the Kluuvi district.

Kluuvi is home to Kaisaniemi Park, a beautiful green space that provides a relaxing escape from the urban environment. The park is known for its lush gardens, walking paths, and the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden.

This area is home to Helsinki Central Railway Station, one of the most famous landmarks in Kluuvi and serves as a major transportation hub for the city.

Kluuvi is home to numerous shops and department stores, including the famous Stockmann, which is the largest department store in the Nordic countries. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for shopping, making it a great choice for shoppers.

There’s a wide range of dining options in Kluuvi, from fine dining restaurants to more casual cafes and eateries. You can easily find both Finnish and international cuisine within the area.

While Kluuvi is more known for its daytime attractions, you’re not far from other neighborhoods, like Kamppi, which offer a vibrant nightlife scene.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Kluuvi for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel Kämp, 5-star hotel located in the the heart of Helsinki in front of the Esplanade park, easy walking distance from South Harbour, Senate Square, Uspenski Cathedral , and Aleksanterinkatu shopping street. It has fabulous breakfast, private parking for those who drive, and free airport shuttle.
  • Mid-range ($$): Scandic Grand Central Helsinki, popular 4-star hotel located in the center of Helsinki, offering free bikes, 24-hour front desk, and comfortable family rooms. Easy access to the Helsinki Central Station, Helsinki Music Centre and Helsinki Bus Station.
  • Mid-range ($$): Holiday Inn Helsinki City Centre, an IHG Hotel, 4-star accommodation conveniently located right next Helsinki Central Station, easy access to the Boulevarde Shopping Street and the shuttle bus to Helsinki Airport.

2. Kamppi 

Kamppi is an excellent base for first-time visitors who enjoy vibrant nightlife and a central neighborhood that offers a mix of convenience, amenities, and attractions.  

Kamppi is home to the Kamppi Bus Terminal and Kamppi Metro Station. This makes it extremely convenient to access buses, trams, and the metro to explore the city and reach other parts of Finland.

Kamppi is known for its shopping options, with the Kamppi Shopping Center being a popular destination. You’ll find a wide range of shops, boutiques, and international brands, making it a great place for shopping enthusiasts.

This area is home to Kamppi Chapel of Silence, an unique wooden chapel provides a peaceful and contemplative space for visitors in the bustling city center. It’s a minimalist and tranquil architectural marvel.

This area hosts various cultural venues, theaters, and cinemas. The Tennispalatsi cultural center, for example, includes a cinema complex, restaurants, and other entertainment options.

You’ll also have easy access to the HAM Helsinki Art Museum,  Helsinki Jewish Congregation, and the Finnish Museum of Photography. It is also within walking distance of many central attractions, including the Helsinki Cathedral and the Senate Square.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Kamppi for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Marski by Scandic, 5-star hotel located in Helsinki city center within walking distance from the Central Station, Market Square and Esplanadi shopping district. It has Fabulous breakfast and private parking for those traveling with a car.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Mestari, popular 4-star hotel located in central Helsinki, easy access to the  Hietaranta Beach, Kamppi Shopping Centre and Helsinki Bus Station. It has superb breakfast, an onsite restaurant and parking.
  • Budget ($): Hotel Finn, great 3-star hotel located within a short walk from Stockmann Department Store, Helsinki Harbour, Senaatintori Market Square, and Central Station. You can visit the indoor Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall nearby for Finnish saunas and bathing.

3. Punavuori

Punavuori is a cool district located just south of the city center and is known for its unique character and artistic atmosphere. It’s a great place to explore, shop for design items, enjoy good food, and immerse yourself in the creative and historic aspects of Helsinki.

Punavuori is known for its well-preserved 19th-century wooden houses and Art Nouveau architecture. The district has a charming, bohemian feel due to these historic buildings.

Punavuori is part of Helsinki’s Design District, which is a hub for design and creative industries. You can find a wide range of boutiques, studios, and shops selling Finnish and international design products, including clothing, furniture, and home decor.

Punavuori offers several parks and green spaces, including the Sinebrychoff Park and Eira Park, where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors.

The district has some cultural attractions, such as the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, which houses a collection of European art, and the Museum of Finnish Architecture.

Located nearby, the Helsinki Design Museum is dedicated to Finnish and international design and is a great place to learn more about the history of design in Finland.

Punavuori has a vibrant nightlife scene with several bars and clubs. It’s a popular area for travelers looking to enjoy Helsinki’s nightlife.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Punavuori for first-timer tourists:

  • Luxury ($$$): Lapland Hotels Bulevardi, great 5-star hotel located on the boulevard with easy access to the Kamppi Shopping Centre and Helsinki Bus Terminal. It has Exceptional breakfast, family rooms, and private parking.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Indigo Helsinki-Boulevard, an IHG Hotel, 4-star boutique hotel situated on the Bulevardi avenue in Punavuori, short distance from the Kamppi Metro Station, Design District with its shops, and Stockmann Department Store.
  • Budget ($): Gella Serviced Apartments Office, 3-star self-catering apartments with well-equipped kitchens and family rooms. Easy access to Restaurants, bars and shops.

4. Kallio

Kallio is a budget-friendly area to stay in Helsinki, Finland, known for its diverse and vibrant atmosphere. It is one of the most ethnically diverse districts in Helsinki, and it has a rich cultural tapestry due to its mix of residents from various backgrounds.

Kallio is home to the Hakaniemi Market Hall, a traditional market with fresh produce, food stalls, and local delicacies.

You’ll find a wide array of bars, nightclubs, and live music venues, making it a popular destination for those looking to experience Helsinki’s social scene.

Kallio offers green spaces and parks, including the Kallio Church Park, which provides a peaceful retreat from the urban hustle and bustle.

Kallio is known for its street art and graffiti, with many colorful and creative murals adorning the buildings in the area.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Kallio for first-time travelers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hilton Helsinki Strand, 5-star waterfront hotel, a short walk from Hakaniemi Market Hall and Hakaniemi Metro Station. It has an Indoor swimming pool and fabulous breakfast according to 2000 guests’ reviews.
  • Mid-range ($$): Scandic Paasi, 4-star accommodation conveniently located right next to trams and buses stops and within 15 mins walk from Senate Square and Helsinki Market Square, as well as 2 mins walk from Hakaniemi Harbour for boat to Korkeasaari Zoo.
  • Budget ($): Scandic Hakaniemi, 4-star modern hotel located in Hakaniemi, easy access to the Helsinki Airport Bus stop and Hakaniemi Metro Station for train to the Central Station .

5. Katajanokka

Katajanokka is a picturesque and historic district located on a peninsula, Katajanokka offers a unique blend of stunning architecture, beautiful waterfront views, and a sense of tranquility despite its proximity to the city center.

Katajanokka is known for its well-preserved 19th-century buildings and beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. The district’s architectural heritage gives it a charming and elegant atmosphere.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Katajanokka is the Helsinki Cathedral, located on the northern edge of the peninsula. It’s a neoclassical masterpiece with its distinctive green domes and is a must-visit attraction.

Katajanokka Church, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, is another architectural gem in the district and is known for its stunning interior.

Katajanokka is connected to Helsinki’s Market Square by regular ferry services, making it easy to access other parts of the city and the nearby islands.

Located on the waterfront, Allas Sea Pool is a popular year-round swimming facility with saunas, pools, and great views of the sea and Helsinki’s skyline.

Just a short walk from Katajanokka, the Uspenski Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral known for its distinctive red brick and onion domes.

Katajanokka Terminal serves as a gateway to ferry services to destinations such as Stockholm, Sweden, and Tallinn, Estonia.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Katajanokka:

  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Katajanokka, Helsinki, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, 4-star hotel situated on Katajanokka Island in central Helsinki, 10-15 mins walk from Uspenski Cathedral, SkyWheel Helsinki, and Helsinki Cathedral.
  • Mid-range ($$): Scandic Grand Marina, 4-star historic accommodation located on the waterfront of Katajanokka, 6 mins walk from Market Square and the Presidential Palace.
  • Mid-range ($$): Noli Katajanokka, great hotel offers rooms with views of the sea and the city.

6. Etu-Töölö 

Etu-Töölö is part of the larger Töölö district, which is known for its central location, green spaces, and cultural attractions. Etu-Töölö is home to the National Museum of Finland (Kansallismuseo) and the Finlandia Hall, which is a prominent concert and congress venue designed by architect Alvar Aalto.

The district boasts lush green spaces and parks. The Sibelius Park, dedicated to the famous composer Jean Sibelius, is a beautiful spot with a monument in his honor. The Töölö Bay Park and the Hesperia Park are also nearby and provide excellent opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxation.

Hietaniemi Beach, often referred to as “Hietsu,” is a popular urban beach along the coastline of Etu-Töölö. It’s a great place to swim, sunbathe, and enjoy the sea during the summer months.

Etu-Töölö is primarily a residential area, featuring a mix of historic and modern apartment buildings. It is known for its leafy streets and elegant architecture.

Töölö Sports Hall, sports and event venue, hosts a wide range of sporting and entertainment events, including ice hockey games and concerts.

Etu-Töölö, along with the broader Töölö district, is appreciated for its combination of culture, nature, and urban living. It’s an attractive area for those who want to be near the city center while still having access to green spaces and cultural experiences.

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Etu-Töölö for tourists:


7. Kaartinkaupunki

Kaartinkaupunki is a district in the southern part of the city center of Helsinki. It was one of the first planned districts of Helsinki in the early 19th century, designed in a neoclassical style, and many of its buildings date back to this period.

Esplanadi Park is a green oasis in the heart of the city and runs through Kaartinkaupunki. It’s a popular place for leisurely walks, picnics, and outdoor events. The park is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Kasarmintori Square is a central gathering place in Kaartinkaupunki and is often used for outdoor events and markets

Best places to stay in Helsinki in Kaartinkaupunki:


In conclusion, Kluuvi, Kamppi , Punavuori, Kallio, Katajanokka, Etu-Töölö, and Kaartinkaupunki are the best places to stay in Helsinki for first-timers and tourists. These areas offer plenty of accommodations for all budgets and easy access to major sights on foot and by public transportation.

If you are interested in other Scandinavian/Nordic cities, you can continue read these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Helsinki. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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