The mean annual temperature in efficient, elegant Helsinki hovers around 43°F (6°C), but this does not mean visitors need expect a chilly welcome. The funky Finns, known for their hip and happening sense of style, design and association with high technology, know how to warm hearts and minds in their modern, cosmopolitan capital.
The city, spread across a cluster of promontories and peninsulas, is 450 years old, its clean, wide avenues lined with buildings echoing centuries of architectural excellence from Gothic through to art deco and cutting-edge contemporary.
It all fits together in total harmony with nature, which invades the urban environment with green spaces, when it is not blanketed in snow.
Trees, flowers, hares, squirrels, pheasants and even the odd elk are often spied in the myriad parks in the centre of the city, the whole surrounded with crisp, unpolluted air and the bright blue Baltic waters.
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