Ease of everyday life and fast growth – Helsinki city centre combines top services with first-class brand visibility

The desire to attract employees back to the office made companies compete for inspiring premises in the heart of Helsinki. For companies, the biggest attraction of the city centre is ease – the area charms the employees with its excellent services in close proximity, state-of-the-art transport connections and international atmosphere. 

According to Henri Mikkola, a researcher at the City of Helsinki, the attraction of the city centre comes from the highest quality service offerings in Finland, good accessibility and a wide range of users in the area.

‘Central Helsinki is one of the most interesting urban areas in the Nordic countries, combining marine nature with the beautiful architecture of the Art Nouveau era. The area has a lively working and cultural life as well as top-level innovation activities,’ says Mikkola.

Finland’s most sought-after office area practically means an area of ​​a couple of square kilometres around Helsinki’s main railway station. Almost half of Helsinki’s office jobs are located in the area.

In addition to the demand for business premises, the number of visitors to the city centre has been growing sharply since the pandemic. Since 2021, the number of passengers on Helsinki’s public transport has increased by more than 20% and overnight stays by up to 73%. The number of visitors to cultural and visitor attractions has also doubled in many places, and museums have even set all-time visitor records.

“The number of companies operating in the city centre is constantly increasing.”

‘Capital cities and their centres act as trailblazers and always recover quickly from crises. In the long run, you can always count on the attractiveness and renewal of the city centre,’ says Mikkola.  

Easy and functional everyday life

According to Mikkola, the biggest value the city centre brings to businesses is ease. It is easy to come to the city centre from all directions and all services are located in close proximity to each other. Within a five-minute walk from the compact downtown area, there are as many as 5 shopping centres, 439 restaurants or cafes, and 544 grocery or specialty stores. 

In the centre of Helsinki you can find a unique range of businesses and jobs, as well as Finland’s most versatile services and the best public transport connections.

‘Good accessibility, diverse services and a comfortable workplace environment give employees the feeling that the employer wants to invest in its image and employees. In addition to high-quality workspaces, these are the factors that attract employees back to the office,’ Mikkola describes.

The researcher sees that communal spaces and services enable the networking of employees, which is even more important for companies due to increased remote and hybrid work.

‘A wide range of leisure opportunities increase the willingness to spend time near the office also during the working day, which creates even more opportunities for networking and meetings that are important for well-being.’

Mikkola also highlights internationality as one of the strengths of city centres. High-quality hotels, diverse restaurants and afterwork venues, as well as multilingual services provided by universities and innovation centres, benefit the staff of international companies as well as foreign guests and customers. 

Innovation and fast growth

Companies are also attracted to the city centre by Finland’s best growth opportunities. The number of companies operating in Helsinki and their turnovers are constantly growing. Investments in companies operating in Helsinki have also increased. Large-scale investments in particular have increased since 2018.

The positive and growth-enhancing atmosphere of the city centre is created through the multiplied effects of knowledge, learning and innovation. International growth companies also enhance the business operations of smaller companies with their innovations and research activities.

”The city centre offers the best transport connections and services in Finland.”

‘Startups and growth companies gathering in the same area will stimulate the business of all companies. Companies operating close to each other form business clusters and networks that generate various cumulative benefits,’ says Mikkola

According to Mikkola, highly educated employees and the internationally top-level research and higher education sector are also some of the strengths of the city centre.

‘These all strengthen the role of the city centre as an innovation hub that attracts new entrepreneurs, investors and research activities to the area.’

Prime location brings brand value

Operating at the prime location in Finland also brings brand value to companies. Ranking among the leading and most interesting companies in various fields increases the companies’ attractiveness and improves their position in the international competition for top talent.

‘The centre of Helsinki is clearly the most visible and desired location in Finland. Many international companies prefer to be located in the city centre for image-related reasons. Even large retail chains that require a lot of space are establishing their flagship stores in the heart of the city,’ says Mikkola.

In particular, the office premises of the city centre currently attract highly skilled expert and B2B companies, such as legal and accounting companies, IT, software, communications, consulting and gaming companies, as well as architectural, advertising, design and engineering firms.

Constantly evolving city centre

Although the exceptional times during the pandemic have changed the services in the city centre, they have not stopped the development of the area. Plans for major development projects affecting the regional structure, population and premises are underway and are expected to significantly strengthen the vitality of the city centre. Transport is also undergoing major changes.

‘Sustainable modes of transport, such as walking and cycling, have become more and more popular for a long time. Traffic will be electrified and digitalisation will also bring new intelligent platform-based service models for transport and logistics for businesses and city residents,’ lists Mikkola.

One of the most interesting phenomena in urban development is placemaking, that is, the communal development of urban spaces. Placemaking takes advantage of local phenomena and strives to make public spaces more interactive.

According to Henri Mikkola and Jalmari Sarla the centre of Helsinki is continually developing.

Researcher and placemaking expert Jalmari Sarla sees the changes in the centre of the city as part of a global development process in which metropolitan centres are shifting from consumer-centric to experience-centric.

‘When some of the stores move online, it creates new types of spaces, events and services that add communality and quality of life, which draw people to the city centre. The growing population then attracts new shops to the area. In the long run, everything is aimed at making it easier to come to the city centre and enjoy staying there for longer,’ summarises Sarla.

A focal point for growth and development – the 10 pull factors of the city centre

  1. Excellent accessibility
  2. The most diverse and high-quality services in Finland
  3. First-class visibility and brand value-enhancing location
  4. Availability of high-quality premises
  5. Corporate and startup networks that bring cumulative benefits
  6. Community-creating urban spaces and events
  7. Highly educated employees
  8. Growing venture capital investments
  9. Continuous renewal and evolving city centre
  10. Wide user base and international atmosphere


Statistics on Helsinki, 2023, 2022, 2021

Monikeskuksinen kaupunkirakenne ja keskusta-alueiden kehitys, City of Helsinki

Yritysten toimialarakenne pääkaupunkiseudulla: Henri Mikkola, 2023

Toimitilamarkkinat Helsingissä ja pääkaupunkiseudulla 2022/2023: Hanna Kaleva, Saana Kumpula, Perttu Rantanen

Pääomasijoitukset startup- ja kasvuyrityksiin kasvoivat pääkaupunkiseudulla – sijoittaminen nostanut digitaalisen talouden kasvuun: Eero Aalto, Henri Mikkola, 2023

Kasvuyritykset Helsingissä: Eero Aalto, Henri Mikkola, 2023

Suunnittelu- ja kaavoituskatsaus, City of Helsinki, 2023

Harvard Occupational Research: The Power of Proximity to Coworkers: Training for Tomorrow or Productivity Today? Natalia Emanuel, Emma Harrington, Amanda Pallais, 2023

Kauppakeskusten kävijämäärissä nousua jopa kolmannes
Ydinkeskustan museoissa tehtiin kävijäennätys

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