If you want to see the city at its lively, smiling best, then come in the summertime. But bear in mind that during and after the midsummer festival the locals pour out to the countryside, leaving the city full of tourists, somewhat of a snoozy - but still pleasant - shadow of itself. Summer is the time for picnicking in the park, wining and dining on the terraces, hopping from one exciting event - be it a festival, street market, or an art exhibition - to the other, and seeing how Helsinkisiders really take ownership of the city spaces. In the winter the cold, icy beauty of Helsinki is something magical in itself and locals buckle down to make the most of the warm cafes and bars, good music and fairytale atmosphere. The nature around the city is amazing at any time of year and you don’t have to venture far afield to get to it. Be sure to check out some of the islands not far from the centre.