Helsinki is the longstanding capital of Finland, located in the southern-most part of the country's industrialized region. In more ways than perhaps most other capital cities around the world, Helsinki epitomizes Finnish character and culture.
Recommended as the first port of call after tourists have dropped their bags off at their Helsinki hostels, the capital's museums hold a massive collection of Finnish artifacts and artworks from the classical and contemporary periods in the city's history.
As an introduction to the great capital itself, the permanent Realm display at the National Museum of Finland or the Helsinki City Museum are perhaps the best places to start, reflecting the development of Finland from its rural roots through to the beginning of the 20th century.
The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art and the Ateneum Art Museum also both capture significant cultural themes with their comprehensive collections of Finnish works.
Architecture in Finland is exciting, varied and famous, largely care of its internationally acclaimed architectural son, Alvar Aalto. Its architecture offers tourists an insight into the city's contemporary feel that is not necessarily evident in the Helsinki hostels.
One of the finest examples of Finnish modernity is the Church of the Rock which, carved entirely out of rock, also doubles as a concert hall. Religious or otherwise, tourists flock to see its famed copper strip roof and minimalist design.
The Linnanmaki amusement park may not be at the pinnacle of Finnish design, but as the country's oldest theme park it is one of Helsinki's many idiosyncratic features. Its giant wooden rollercoaster in particular is not something to be missed.
Further architectural attractions are the art deco-classical contrasts of the Parliament house and marble Finlandia Hall. However, the onion-shaped Uspenski Cathedral and 19th Century Lutheran Cathedral are also highlights.
Before settling down and becoming a copywriter for HostelBookers. Paul Scottyn did a backpacking tour of Finland, he checked out a variety of the country's budget accommodation, including a number of most Helsinki hostels