After leaving home for the airport at 7am, it felt as if the day had started early enough for me to still have the day to explore in Helsinki.
Wrong. The time difference and flight time got the better of me. 4.40pm came and I’d only just hopped on the FinnAir bus from the airport into the city centre. This left me with around 4 hours to explore Helsinki before I needed to head back to the airport. A mission I was ready to complete.
Having never explored Finland before, I was ready to make the most of my layover, and would recommend you do the same if you have time to spare in this beautiful city!
Here are 10 top tips and things to do during a layover in Helsinki, Finland…
1. Hop on the FinnAir airport bus into the city centre, arriving in just 30 minutes.
These buses are available for everyone to use, departing every 20 minutes from Helsinki airport and every 20 minutes from the bus station back to the airport. (€6.80 one way or €12.60 return).
2. Once you’re in the city centre, explore on foot.
The bus stop itself is right in the centre of the city so, once there, you can continue straight onwards and wander the rest by foot. Helsinki Cathedral,
Senate Square and the Kallio Neighbourhood are all worth exploring!
3. Think about the opening and closing times of your chosen hotspots.
Check your arrival time, allow for delay, add 30 minutes to get into the city (plus up to 20 minutes waiting for the bus), and the same bus time going back to the airport in the time you have. Then plan your itinerary, checking opening times for where you want to go beforehand (so you don’t waste time heading to places that don’t happen to be open!).
4. See the city from above on the FinnAir Skywheel.
You can opt for the standard experience, or upgrade for a VIP or sauna experience! Get more information on the website here.
5. Head to the Market Square and enjoy the city’s most popular food market.
Usually filled with the hustle and bustle of grafters, shoppers and tourists, all checking out the city’s most popular food market, this market was closed when I got there (Mon – Friday shuts 4pm). If you’ve been, let me know what it was like!
6. Grab a Korvapuusti at the Old Market Hall.
The Old Market Hall is a detached, one level building, meters from the waterfront filled with an array of independent stalls and eateries. There were plenty of cute cafes if you fancy a sit down with a traditional danish pastry!
7. Watch the sunset on the waterfront.
I didn’t have time to sit in the Old Market Hall, but instead I took my Korvapuusti and sat by the waterfront as the sun began to sink behind the clouds.
8. Take in the panorama at Ateljee Bar.
This popular ‘bar with the view’ sits at the 14th floor of the Sokos hotel in the centre of Helsinki, showcasing panoramic views over the capital. I can vouch for the fact the 360 was super beautiful and I can imagine even more so at sunset, so it’s totally clear why this is a favourite.
The prices were of that you’d expect for a central rooftop city bar: slightly high, but obviously, it’s the experience you’re paying for.
The bar and seating area itself is rather small and was jam packed, even on the Monday evening when I was there. So, definitely book or get down early if this is a must for you and want to get a good spot.
9. Have a bit of time to yourself at the Silent Chapel.
The chapel is a place you can come for some time out and as indicated by the name, some silence, which is exactly what I did.
10. Try to explore during daylight hours, if your flight times allow it.
Make sure the time you have in Helsinki is in the day so that daylight and opening hours are on your side. Once darkness looms everything starts to close and it starts to get chilly, so make the most of the daylight.
Despite my visit being limited due to timing and sunlight, Helsinki was a very pleasant place for a stopover. Helsinki has a very open and spacious feel to the streets and the quality of light illuminates the city and its variety of artistic architecture so beautifully.
Have you been to Helsinki?
What were your favourite spots? I’d love to know!
Love as always + happy adventuring,
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