Here's some of the things you can experience in Helsinki for free + the bonus is that you end up hanging around in the places and neighbourhoods where the locals hang out.
TOP 3 libraries in HelsinkiThere are some very atmospheric libraries in Helsinki and they have great services, the staff in the libraries is knowledgeable and helpful. Even if you are not able to borrow the books, you can still soak up the atmosphere, read magazines there and books while there.
1. Kallio Library
2. Rikhardinkatu Library
3. Library 10 ('Kirjasto 10')
More libraries in Helsinki (and in the capital city area) here: www.lib.hel.fi
Photo by hugovk on Flickr
TOP 3 Galleries1. Laterna Magica is a photo gallery that also works as secondhand books store. Located in the lovely Kruununhaka neighbourhood in central Helsinki.
Address: Rauhankatu 7. And how to get there: walk!
2. Galleria Alkovi is a window gallery in Kallio area.
Address: Helsinginkatu 19. Trams: 3B, 9, 8; tram stop: Helsinginkatu. Metro stop: Sörnäinen.
3. Helsinki Contemporary. You should not miss this one either, especially since it's so conveniently located! Address: Bulevardi 10.
And remember also Helsinki City Museums (7 of them), they're all free!
TOP 3 Parks for picnic (in the summer...)1. Alppipuisto Park is a great neighbourhood park in Alppila, next to the Linnanmäki Amusement Park. In the summer you get to enjoy free festivals in the park too. Trams: 3B, 9, 8.
2. Sinebrychoff Park, very central. Just be aware that there is an automatic watering system in use that goes off after 10 p.m.
3. Tervasaari is peaceful little island connected to the Kruununhaka neighbourhood in central Helsinki.
|Alppipuisto Park in summer 2013 during a free festival.|
And if not for free, then at least some cheap shopping can be done in...:
TOP 3 Flea Markets1. Fida Hakaniemi (Address: Hämeentie 5 a. Trams 3B, 6, 7, 9. Metro stop: Hakaniemi) and Fida Sörnäinen (Address: Hämeentie 31. Trams: 6, 7, 8. Metro stop: Sörnäinen)
2. Reuse Centres. There are two shops in Helsinki. Since you probably won't be shopping for furniture, visit the other that is more central. Address: Lönnrotinkatu 45, take tram number 6 (or walk).
3. Emmaus Vallila. Do some shopping in the Vallila neighbourhood. Address: Mäkelänkatu 54, trams 1 and 7.
+ in the summer the legendary Hietalahti ('Hietsu') open air market, next to the Sinebrychoff Park.
|Hietalahti open air flea market|
Photo by Helsingin kaupungin matkailu- ja kongressitoimisto / Carolina Laaksonen