Despite being the capital of Finland, Helsinki has only 900,000 inhabitants. Interestingly, Helsinki has only been the capital for 200 years, as it was decided in 1812 by Russian leaders that the city of Turku was too close to rivaling Swedish capital Stockholm, therefore Helsinki was selected. Any conflict between the two has now dissipated, and the countries now have a strong partnership.
Most of the architecture in Helsinki dates to the 19th century onwards due to a fire in 1812 which ravaged the city. Many landmarks bear a striking resemblance to Russian architecture, due to being under Russian rule of over a hundred years.
The Senate Square contains the Lutheran Cathedral, one of the most impressive buildings in the city, as well as the Government Palace and University, which were constructed in the early 19th century in neoclassical style.
Towards the seafront there are more noteworthy constructions: the City Hall, Presidential Palace, and Orthodox Cathedral. The seafront is of interest itself due to the array of houses it contains built in the style of southern-European villas.
There are few monuments still standing that were built before the fire, however the areas of Kruununhaka and Hakaniemi still have the odd building dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
The surrounding areas of Helsinki have much to offer in terms of natural beauty; try travelling around some of the many islands, the main two being Serurassari and Suomenlina.