For me, the beautiful park that sits between Pohjoisespalnadi (North Esplanade Street) and Etelaesplanadi (South Esplanade Street) is the heart of Helsinki. It the first place I head for when I arrive in the city.
It runs from the Swedish theatre to Kauppatori (Market Square) by the sea. The park is lined on either side with shops, restaurants and cafes, and even though the streets beside it are busy, it is a delightful place to sit or wander.
The park was opened in 1812 and immediately became a favourite place for people to promenade and be seen. On a spring or summer day it is filled with people enjoying the warm sunshine. I would love to be there in mid December to see the Christmas markets.
Be sure to spend some time in Esplanadi Park – known as Espa by the locals.