Free-time activities in Helsinki

Two boys play basketball

Free-time activities in Helsinki provide a great opportunity to meet new people and have fun. The city is full of sports, culture and leisure activities. Add to this Helsinki’s adult education courses and award-winning network of libraries and you will never be short of things to do.

Sports

The City of Helsinki runs a large variety of indoor sports facilities, including about 70 sports halls and fitness centres, four swimming halls, one indoor skating rink and one horse-riding stable. These spacious indoor facilities provide countless opportunities for guided and self-directed exercise. They are often available at a very low cost. Dozens of private operators supplement municipal services.

Examples of organised sports can be found at the Liikuntamylly sports hall in eastern Helsinki, where groups play football, floorball, badminton, table tennis and several athletics and track and field sports. Next comes the Töölö sports hall near the city centre, which hosts regular basketball, volleyball, fencing, boxing and gymnastics practices and competitions.

Lastly, there is the Tali sports park in northwest Helsinki, specialising in football, American football, rugby, tennis, golf and bowling. Several smaller sports halls throughout the city host similar activities. Contact the locations directly for more information.

Looking for a great presentation of all of the city's exercise and sports opportunities?

Find your favourite way to move at the website of the Helsinki Liikkuu campaign, a programme from the city that encourages physical activity for people of all ages.

Sports clubs in Helsinki

There are hundreds of sports clubs in Helsinki that host activities for adults, teens and children. They are all organised independently, however. This means you may have to do a bit of investigation to find what you are looking for. Ask locals for assistance.

Interested in joining a sports club in Helsinki?

Don’t let language be a barrier to trying out a club you are interested in – the other members will be happy to have you. Contact a sports club in Helsinki today!

Keeping fit in the fresh air

Helsinki residents spend lots of time doing outdoor sports, no matter what the weather.

In the summer, an outdoor swim and sauna is the peak of outdoor enjoyment, and Helsinki’s outdoor sports facilities are brimming with activities.

Joggers and walkers come out in droves during the autumn months, as residents of the city know that exercise is one of the best ways to keep your spirits up as daylight hours grow shorter.

And in the wintertime, hundreds of residents can be seen cross-country skiing on Helsinki’s well-groomed trails or ice skating. The outdoor exercise map shows real-time conditions on the city’s ski trails and ice rinks.

For more information on hiking, camping and spending time in Helsinki’s green outdoor areas, see our Nature at your doorstep section.

Culture

Helsinki is home to many impressive art museums and galleries, with plenty of thought-provoking street art at every turn. The Helsinki City Museum is a good museum to start with, as it chronicles the city’s evolution through five eras. For a more modern take, the Helsinki Art Museum HAM specialises in contemporary art. 

Theatre in Helsinki is primarily performed in Finnish or Swedish. Some theatres have digital tools that allow audience members to follow the shows in multiple languages. There are several dance companies putting on amazing shows in Helsinki as well.

The music scene in Helsinki is led by the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. This is followed by the Helsinki Music Centre, a state-of-the-art concert venue and meeting hall, where the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Finland’s higher education institute for music, Sibelius Academy, all give concerts. Add to this dozens of other music venues in the city.

Last but not least are the cultural venues run by the city. Helsinki’s cultural centres Annantalo, Stoa, Kanneltalo, Caisa, Malmitalo and Vuotalo are conveniently located in six residential districts. Each has a diverse array of weekly or even daily events, as well as a pleasant restaurant/cafe. You can often find your local library or adult education centre under the same roof.

Looking for something to do? Check out the city’s Events website for a list of all of the upcoming concerts, events and celebrations in Helsinki.

Life-long learning

If you are looking for free-time activities in Helsinki, one great option is to attend low-cost courses and learn something new. Helsinki’s Finnish-language Adult Education Centre (työväenopisto) and Swedish-language Arbis adult education networks offer classes for adults who wish to learn a new skill or hobby. 

You can learn an exotic language, make art or cook. Or how about brushing up on your IT skills or joining an amateur theatre troupe or weekly exercise group? Adult education centre classes are held in over 70 convenient locations throughout the city. Most take place in the evening. A growing number of these classes are available in English.

Interested in learning a fun new skill? Check out all of the opportunities available to you on the Ilmonet service, which lists all of the adult education courses in the Helsinki area.

Are Helsinki’s adult education centres a good place to learn Finnish or Swedish?  Yes, they are! Find the classes on the Ilmonet service. See more in our Daycare & Schools section on Adult Education.

Volunteering

Volunteer activities are a great way to make a difference and meet people. The majority of volunteer opportunities in the city do not require a regular commitment. Find the best fit for you at the Volunteer Helsinki website.

Helsinki is home to thousands of associations. Most of them have been created to meet the needs of different communities and interest groups. If you are looking to meet new people, joining an association is a great way to get involved.

Interested in joining or starting up a new association?

Helsinki awards special grants for groups founded by members of the international community. Ring tel. +358 9 310 36666 to learn more.

Book a room or equipment

Would you like to hold a meeting, have a band rehearsal or organise a basketball game? The city has a wide variety of facilities and equipment that individuals, groups or associations can use to host their free-time activities in Helsinki. Visit the Varaamo website to see all the locations and tools that are available. 

Libraries

Visiting a library and using its services is one of the top free-time activities in Helsinki. Residents consistently use the 37 libraries in the Helsinki City Library network in record numbers. The city is actively investing in its libraries, with the eye-popping Oodi Central Library the standout example.

The Helsinki City Library is part of the Helmet library system, a network of over 70 libraries and mobile libraries in the greater metropolitan area. Apply for a Helmet library card and you will have access to all of their services. If you are looking for a specific item, you can make a reservation on the Helmet.fi online platform and the item will be sent to your library of choice. Helsinki’s Multilingual Library has a great selection of books, magazines, newspapers and other media in over 80 languages.

Libraries are not only a place to borrow books in Finland. Computers with internet connections are available for use at no cost and library personnel offer free guidance in the use of ICT and digital tools. Many libraries have rooms for studying, playing music or holding events, such as language cafes and book clubs. Learn more about all of the tools and services available at Helsinki’s libraries today!

Where are Helsinki's libraries located?

To find the library closest to you, use Helsinki’s Service Map. You could also make a plan to visit each of Helsinki’s most stunning libraries, one by one! A book lover’s dream!