Free entrance to Helsinki museums: mission (im)possible

You probably know that there are over sixty museums on Helsinki art menu. As different as our tastes are: refined Sinebrychoff Art Museum that lullabies visitors with old European masters in heavy golden frames; bold pushing the limits Kiasma; imposing Suomenlinna fortress where hats, picnic blankets and thoughts get blown off with the sea wind… Each fits a specific mood, each has own charm.


Yet, sometimes (okay, often) I notice a glimpse of shock on the faces of tourists when they see the entrance fees for the main Helsinki art attractions. Cannot blame them. Actually, every time when I travel outside Finland I bring back museum tickets: not only they serve as perfect bookmarks but also as an undeliberate reminder that Louvre and Prado cost me the same 13-14€ just with Venus de Milo and Velasquez included. No wonder, statistic reveals that Finns, themselves, are not exactly the museum-goers.

However, there is good news. Quite a few of the capital region museums have free entrance days. After checking the situation for the year 2016 (because things do change even in such hasteless city as Helsinki), here is what we have:


The Design Museum of Helsinki (Designmuseo)

Free admission on the last Tuesday of the month from 17 to 20.

Regular price: 10/8/5€

Check out the 2d floor of The Design Museum, it hosts temporary exhibitions
That is the second floor, where all the temporary exhibitions are held Photo: Ksenia Kosheleva

Why to visit?

Come here after you walked the streets of the Design District, checked all window displays downtown and picked at each and every Moomin-related object. This museum is the best place to brush up all the impressions. Finally, all those “made in Finland” stripy dresses, caramel-bright candleholders and curvy functional chairs will line up in front of you in chronological order and you can consider the design jigsaw puzzle complete. Some of the gems are available for take-away in The Design Museum shop.


Sinebrychoff Art Museum (Sinebrychoffin Taidemuseo)

Free admission on the first Wednesday of the month from 17 to 20. The admission to the 2nd floor of the museum – the admirable collection of Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff – is free everyday, from Tuesday to Sunday.

Regular price: 12/10€

One of the Dutch masterpieces in Sinebryhoff Art Museum. The painting is still waiting to be attributed.
One of the Dutch masterpieces in Sinebryhoff Art Museum. The painting is still waiting to be attributed. Photo: Sinebrychoff museum
My fav painting in Sinebrychoff's collection is Watteau's The Swing, 1712 (on the left)
On the left is my favourite painting from the collection: Antoine Wattau’s “The Swing” (1712) Photo: Ksenia Kosheleva
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Perfect way to celebrate art – The South Park cafe in a museum park. Photo: Ksenia Kosheleva

Why to visit?

The second floor is undoubtedly the crème de la crème of the museum, where Dutch, Italian and French masters in gilded frames share the space with decorative sphinxes and griffins. This elegant time machine snatches you away from Helsinki, where contemporary art and functional furniture rule the day, straight to the times of the Renaissance and the First French Empire. Later, to shake off the time travelling illusion you can sledge in the lovely Sinebrychoff park (winter) or treat yourself with the most precious northern sunshine and a cup of coffee in the South Park café terrace (summer).

The Finnish Museum of Photography (Suomen Valokuvataiteenmuseo)

Free admission on the last Wednesday of the month from 17 to 20.

Regular price: 8/5€

Why to visit?

First of all, it is the only museum in Finland that specializes in photographic culture and boasts to have a particularly strong accent on Finnish photography. On the top of the great temporary exhibitions, it offers hazy retro portraits, soul-stirring city sketches, bold and nostalgic fashion snapshots. Even the innocent example of the photojournalistic forgery from the 60s: Elvis Presley cut and pasted into the streets of Helsinki. Cute. Secondly, the museum is located in one of the most hip places of Helsinki – the Cable Factory (Kaapelitehdas). Worth stepping out of your comfort zone and getting on a tram


Museum of Technology (Tekniikan museo)

Free admission every Thursday from 9 to 19 but, at the moment, the museum has a free entry everyday from Tuesday to Sunday.

Why to visit?

All that industrial jazz – the first Finnish computer, operating traction elevator, model of a mining shaft and an electrical power station – you can find on the city island with the, arguably, longest name – Kuninkaankartanonsaari. But don’t let the perspective of 20 minutes bus ride put you off – the location comes with the picturesque Old Town Rapids, 19th century industrial landscapes and a historical fact – this is exactly where the Swedish King Gustav Vasa founded Helsinki in 1550. Boyfriends and kids-friendly.


Meet the most intense museum day…Friday

The Natural History Museum (Luonnontieteellinen keskusmuseo)

Free admission on the first Friday of the month from 13 to 16 (wintertime 01.9-31.05) and from 14 to 17 (summertime 01.06-31.08).

Regular price: 13/6€

“Night in the Museum” Finnish style. Natural History Museum. Photo:
Don't miss out the elephant in the hall
Don’t miss out an elephant. Photo: Ksenia Kosheleva

Why to visit?

Walking in this museum is like watching 3D screenshots from Discovery channel: the cranes dancing on the bog, bears posing in the forest, owl dining on… wait, you don’t really want to find out. The attention to diorama’s details is admirable: cranberry shrubs, forest mushrooms of different levels of edibility and you can swear you almost heard the buzz of mosquitoes. The museum is not limited by Finnish nature: there is a bunch of zebras, giraffes, a blood-chilling scene of hunting in savannah and a welcoming elephant downstairs. Besides, visitor of any age cannot overestimate the thrill of meeting a very well-preserved Giganotosaurus – he is waiting to be Instagramed somewhere on the 3d floor.

 Kaisaniemi Botanic garden (Kaisaniemen kasvitieteellinen puutarha)

 Free admission to the Glasshouses on the first Friday of the month from 13 to 16 (wintertime) and from 14 to 17 (summertime). The entrance to the territory of the park is always free of charge.

Regular price:9/6/4.

Peace of mind is guaranteed in Kaisaniemi Botanic garden
Just imagine: this place is only 10 minutes walking from the Central Railway Station. Photo: Ksenia Kosheleva

Why to visit?

The elegant evergreen glasshouses bloom and scent with somewhat 1300 plants from all over the world, including the gigantic Santa Cruz water lily that is traditionally stealing the show. And it is so welcomimg warm inside… The tropical temperatures of the rooms might sound as a questionable argument in favor of the visit, but if you come to Helsinki, let’s say, from October to May – you will eventually consider it a crucial one. As for the garden, it is one of the most poetic and calm places, a walking distance away from the hustle and bustle of The Central Railway Station. Walk through the gates in in the evening to smell rhododendrons and peonies, just be aware that you are all the time watched by the sneaky city bunnies lodging in the bushes.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Free admission on the first Friday of the month from 10 to 20:30.

Regular price: 12/8€

Kiasma is just so...different?
Kiasma is just so…different? Photo: Ksenia Kosheleva

Why to visit?

Bold, pushing the limits Kiasma is more than a museum – it is a mixture of contradiction, ambiguity, bewilderment and challenge smartly packed in a spacious light-catching building by Steven Hall – the only permanent museum’s showpieces. As for the rest, you never know what exactly you are going to get upstairs, because the artworks here tend to defy easy categorization. Better, think of Kiasma as a big Kinder Surprise chocolate egg, filled with quality contemporary art. You might end up with a strong allergic reaction or… become hooked on a feeling. Just go for it. I personally love Kiasma for being an impressions rollercoaster where emotions flip back and forth and your mind is constantly at work. Don’t forget to dig for the most artsy souvenirs in the Kiasma museum shop.

The National Museum of Finland (Kansallismuseo)

Free admission every Friday from 16 to 18.

Regular price: 10/7€

The ceiling frescos are hard to photograph but easy to admire
The ceiling frescoes that are easy to admire but impossible to capture. Photo: Ksenia Kosheleva

Why to visit?

To be fair, two hours is not enough to take in everything that museum offers: after all, you need to cover the distance from the 12th to the 19th century on foot. However, make sure to do two things (both are actually free of charge): look up in the entrance hall – to see the epic ceiling frescoes by renowned Finnish painter Akseli Gallén-Kallela and study the museum building from the outside. It is a gorgeous example of The Finnish National Romantic style – somewhat of a medieval castle with a stone bear guarding the entrance. By the way, the building also hosts another museum – The Museum of Cultures (Kulttuurien museo), which shares the same free admission hours. Tough choices…

Museum of Finnish Architecture (Arkkitehtuurimuseo)

Free admission on the first Friday of the month.

Regular price: 8/4€

Why to visit?

Museum focuses on post-1900 architecture and boasts to hold quite an archive, that is, by the way, open to public. One of the temporary exhibitions (well, it is until 2020, so temporary is a loose definition) is about the history of Finnish architecture in the 20th century. However, if you really-really-really want to see this very architecture at its absolute best (and this is my most insistent advice) – get a map and simply walk from The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma to The Olympic Stadium. It is the most architecturally diverse part of Helsinki that will leave your phone camera out of battery in no time.

Helsinki museum tickets often come in a shape of stickers - cute and artsy
Most of Helsinki museum tickets come in a shape of stickers – very artsy and lots of fun. Photo: Ksenia Kosheleva

HAM: Helsinki Art Museum (Helsingin taidemuseo)

Free admission on the last Friday of the month from 16 to 18. Some of the exhibitions, though, are always free of charge.

Regular price: 10/8€

Why to visit?

Helsinki Art Museum is a place with a vibe: it encourages selfies and hashtags in social media, offers plastic stools for contemplation and shares the building with the biggest movie theatre. The recent museum’s reopening was a much-anticipated event in the city’s art life and definitely worth waiting: the updated version came with a new glass-domed gallery and an old superpower for picking up excellent exhibition – never hit or miss, rather “great” or “wow”. Also, HAM is the official guardian for 450 public sculptures and 3500 artworks scattered around the city, so its presence in Helsinki is kind of omnipotent. More about HAM here.

Always free

Helsinki City Museum (Helsingin kaupunginmuseo)

Helsinki City Museum is a bit of a city secret that you just need to discover. Even with such an official status and central locations (there are five museums in one) it remains homey and personal. All five buildings are united by the same inspiring free entry policy, but each has its own twist and presents Helsinki through different retro lenses. Two museums are currently under reconstruction but feel free (literally) to visit Hakasalmi Villa, Worker Housing museum and Tram museum – it is a different kind of date with the city. Just to make it even more tempting, Korjaamo Culture Factory, where the last museum is located, serves art, food and bubbly atmosphere all year round.

Mannerheimintie 13b

Kristinkuja 4

Töölönkatu 51a

Museum Card


And for the hardcore museum-goers Helsinki has a very special offer – a museum card. It costs 59€, can be purchased online and valid for one year starting from your first museum visit. The card gives a chance to visit 200 museums for free (think of it!) The museums on the list are from all over Finland, including not only Big Helsinki but Joensuu, Porvoo, Turku, Jyväskylä and dozen of other cities. Have you been to Gold Prospector Museum in Lapland? Neither have I. Yet.

#helsinki #finland #финляндия #хельсинки

7 Comments Add yours

  1. freebutfun says:

    …and many of the museums are free each year on Helsinki Day, June 12th! You may want to have another try then!

    1. kosheleva says:

      True, some do! And some celebrate Helsinki Day in their very own way 🙂 For example, Ateneum does not have free entrance days at all, BUT during 02.06-17.06 it reduces entrance price from 13€ to 9€. Thank you, @freebutfun!

      1. freebutfun says:

        I went last year to Ateneum on Helsinki day but maybe it was only the Tove Jansson exhibition that had free entrance? But even the lower entrance fee is welcomed by many, I’m sure! 🙂

      2. kosheleva says:

        Maybe… but that exhibition was awesome, I loved it a lot! PS. by the way, you have a very useful blog))

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