One of Europe’s most progressive countries, uniquely beautiful Finland is surrounded by ethereal unspoilt forests and miles of Lapland wilderness.
Nowhere is the tug of love between Europe and Russia more evident than in Helsinki, the capital of Finland and where we spend the first three nights on our escorted tour of Helsinki, Tallinn & Riga. It was Tsar Alexander I of Russia’s decision to make it the capital in 1812 that put Helsinki literally and figuratively on the map.
The respected German architect, Carl Ludvig Engel, was tasked with redeveloping the city, and his Neo-Classical influence played a significant role in shaping its aesthetics, giving Helsinki fine buildings to cement its new position of importance. Until then, Helsinki had struggled to find its feet, since being established first as a trade town to rival Estonian neighbour, Tallinn, by King Gustav I of Sweden in the 16th century. Yet, it thrived under Russian rule, and these Russian roots are so evident in its appearance that Helsinki has often been used in place of the Soviet Union in Cold War-era Hollywood films, such as the 70s spy film, The Kremlin Letter.
While it’s difficult to imagine it as a ‘beach resort’, Helsinki does actually boast dozens of beaches lining the Baltic Sea, as Finland is an archipelago with some 330 islands. Six of these islands have the impressive Suomenlinna Fortress spread across them, still inhabited by a small community who occupy buildings designed to blend into the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. On our tour of Helsinki, you will spend time discovering the secrets of Suomenlinna and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere that shrouds the fortress.
Read more about the Helsinki, Tallinn & Riga Tour on the Riviera Travel Blog here