Helsinki, Finland

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Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is sometimes overshadowed by its larger Scandinavian counterparts, Copenhagen and Stockholm, but the city has its own singular style and appeal. A lively arts and music scene thrives amid splendid Art Nouveau buildings and classic cafés.

The city's modern architecture is especially exciting: Buildings by Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen should be at the top of your must-see list. Finland’s design output, too, goes far beyond familiar Marimekko prints. Wander into the shops in the city’s Design District or check out the exhibits at the Design Museum (Designmuseo). If the weather is good, you’ll want to hop a ferry to a nearby island or enjoy the catch of the day at a harbor-facing restaurant.

If you are lucky enough to be here in the summer, it's a magical time of the year, when the days last for up to 19 hours and the entire city sparkles from the sun reflecting off the water.