United Airlines' Hemispheres magazine (best in-flight magazine I've read) has a feature called Three Perfect Days that gives travel advice for three days in a given city. It provides valuable insights and is a fun read, but they haven't covered Helsinki, so allow me to fill the void.
|Hakasalmenpuisto Park, Helsinki
I don't know anyone in Finland and did very limited research, but was still able to have a great time and see everything I wanted to see. My first stop in Helsinki was the tourist desk at the airport (ground level, terminal 2) to buy a Helsinki Card. This card is a tourist's dream, it provides free public transit, maps, sightseeing ideas, and discounted or free admission to every museum in town (I've had great experiences with this idea in Lisbon, Vienna, Budapest, and Copenhagen too). It also helps me see more when I travel, if the museum is free, why not drop in, even if only for a few minutes. The lowered inhibitions might be the best value; the excellent map is a close second.
|Cool Designs in Helsinki
From the airport, I took the Finnair City Bus to my hotel, the Crowne Plaza Helsinki. I used points to pay for the room and confirmed with the hotel that my Platinum status would be honored when paying with points (not a guarantee with Priority Club). I was upgraded to a club floor and got free internet for my stay. The club floor room was a decent size and I was able to spread out and relax; good bathroom too (never a sure thing in older EU hotels). The club lounge had cold cuts for breakfast (it's a Scandinavian thing) and light snacks in the evening. The fridge was stocked with water, Coke, and a few beers, available any time. All around it's a nice lounge (and not spending on breakfast really stretches a travel budget). I was the only tourist in the lounge and stood out a lot, but I had a vacation mindset and didn't care.
|Crowne Plaza Hotel Helsinki Executive King Room
|Crowne Plaza Helsinki Hotel
Helsinki is the World Design Capital for 2012. This is a rotating title to promote local outstanding design; there were various displays around town and at the airport promoting Finnish design. The award may be temporary, but design is a strong part of the culture. There are many stunning buildings and art pieces around town and two museums dedicated to design. It's something best experienced.
|Cool Helsinki Building #1
|Helsinki Is Very Relaxing
|Cool Helsinki Building #2 of Many
Helsinki is a small and walkable city, but they have a terrific tram system, so you don't have to walk very far. Most sights and museums are close to a tram stop. The Culture Tram is a sight on its own. Each week, a different cultural display or activity is featured. There have been opera singers, sting quartets, and a boring thing about media coverage of the poor in Africa (what I saw).
|Helsinki Culture Tram - Different Theme Each Week
|Helsinki City Streets
|Suomenlinna From The Sea
|Suomenlinna Earth Works
|Russia Guns from the 1880's at Suomenlinna
|Suomenlinna Gunner's View of Sea Lanes
|Finland's Partner in the Continuation War
|Suomenlinna Military Museum
|WWII Finnish Submarine
|Finnish Naval Building on Suomenlinna
|Main Church in Town, Boring on the Inside
|Knitted Police Car at Helsinki Modern Art Museum
|Helsinki Train Station, Cool Outside, Drab Inside
|Cool Bench Celebrating Helsinki's 200th Birthday
|Statue to a Composer
|Bank of Finland, Damage From WWII Soviet Bombing
|Fun Tapas Bar