Always rated highly in lists of the world's most liveable cities, Finland's waterfront capital is a joy to visit. Its proximity to the sea and forests, as well as the city itself being made up of one-third green space, highlights how in tune with nature its residents are. However, it also rightfully has a reputation as a centre for innovation. With a well-educated population of just over 600,000 and a can-do policy guiding the city's urban planning, Helsinki is the envy of city planners around the world.
With Finland's independence in 1917, architects embraced the Nordic Classicism of the 1920s, before moving on to Functionalism over the ensuing years through the work of architects such as Alvar Aalto, who left a legacy of great architecture that's fully appreciated and protected by the city. Across the bay that sparkles like diamonds in summer and is a slate of ice in winter, is a striking structure from further back in Helsinki's past, the former island fortress, Suomenlinna. Built in 1748, today it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features museums, gardens and parkland that buzz with people during summer.