Travel suggestions for Helsinki

20 replies

MuzzH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 22 Dec 2015

Total posts 25

I have taken advantage of the Finnair RTW business class deal currently on offer (and nicely timed for the Qantas double status points deal!) and booked a trip for October (the US domestic flights are booked on separate AA tickets): SYD - MEL - LAX - ORD - LGA/JFK - HEL - LHR - HEL - HKG - BNE - SYD. Part of the deal is that I must spend at least one night in Helsinki. I have never been to any Scandinavian country so am excited at the prospect of exploring a new city.


I arrive in Helsinki from JFK at 08.50 on a Friday and then fly to LHR on Saturday at 17.00, so I have about 30 hours to explore Finland's capital.

I would welcome suggestions on:

Transport from the airport to the city - taxi, bus or train?
Where to stay in central Helsinki - clean and comfortable central to the 'must see' activities of the city (and besides I will need a walk after 2 weeks in the US!) no more than about AUD$300 per night
Any must see activities or places to shop?
Good places to eat - I am keen to try Scandinavian food and will need great coffee!

Any help, advice or suggestions would be welcome.

Many thanks!

M

David

Member since 24 Oct 2010

Total posts 992

Hmmm, it's been quite some time since I visited Helsinki, but for what it's worth:


Transport: there's a Finnair bus every 15 minutes, takes around half an hour to Central Railway Station, costs around €6 I think. It even has free WiFi but I'd rather relax and take in the scenery.

Where to stay: unsure of how this fits into your price range but I have heard good reports on the Holiday Inn at Helsinki City Centre!

Things to see and places to eat: start with the markets down by the water at the end of the 'Esplanadi' park, I loved the fresh fruit from there and also the reindeer meatballs with lingonberry jam (sorry Bambi!). Try herring, which comes in quite a few varieties. If you're buying something (non-food) from the markets, ask for the stallholders' recommendations of where to eat.

You can also slip on your walking shoes and go for a long walk around the lake, which is mostly ringed by parks. But with only 30 hours this might be too much of your time, and to be honest I'd suggest seeing things which are more unique to Helsinki. There's a section of the city with loads of design stores, some Google searching will yield more details. English is widely spoken and I found the people to be very friendly!

David

Member since 24 Oct 2010

Total posts 992

PS I love Scandinavia, and this quick visit will give you just a taste of it, I'm sure you will be eager to come back for more. Three days in Helsinki would be a good start next time, then perhaps fly to Stockholm and after a few days there, catch the train to Copenhagen. They're all very different cities.

Martin Haynes

Member since 13 Sep 2016

Total posts 17

There is now a train between HEL and the city, it's called the Ring Rail and the trains run in a loop, trains go both ways and because the airport is centrally located on the loop you can catch the eastbound I-trains or the westbound P-train, it's about 30 minutes in either direction to Central.

RR

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 17 Aug 2012

Total posts 47

I am in Helsinki a couple times a year - will be there again in 2 weeks, lovely city and people. I second the above suggestions, PLUS: easy transport is to take the train from the airport. There are two frequent trains that go in opposite directions (I and P) - take either - both end up at Helsinki mainstation, and take the same time, as it is a loop. Make sure you buy your tix in the terminal, there is a machine at the top of the escalators that lead down to the station.

Can recommend from personal experience Hotel Fabian and F6, both close to Esplanadi, and a few minutes from the waterfront. Both small boutique style. Also checkout Hotel Lilla Robers. This location is next to the design area, and the Design Museum, usually worth a visit.

Try a sauna - two new public saunas are on the waterfront, one near the markets on the harbour (2 mins walk from Esplanadi) and one past the ferry terminal (need a taxi).

Try a lunch at the Heitalahti Market Hall (Hietalahden kauppahalli) - it’s at the sea end of Bulevardi (itself a continuation of Esplanadi). The building looks a bit dilapidated from the outside, but definitely a good Helsinki lunch experience. Take a tram from the top of Bulevardi, or about 20 minutes walk. You will pass a reindeer restaurant in Bulevardi on the way!

If you walk around central Helsinki you will find many cosy bars and small restaurants, very inviting at night. Enjoy!

Theresnormissin

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 14 Oct 2016

Total posts 129

Helsinki is an amazing city (love Scandinavia) but it’s been some years since I’ve Last visited. Did you take advantage of the promo offered through AustBT? We’re planning some travel and I wouldn’t mind the chance to get back there as part of our wider plans but can’t see it on the finnair website.

jianga

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 07 Feb 2015

Total posts 142

Have a look at Helsinki Cathedral at Senate Square, one of the most recognisable icons in the city. While you're there, take a walk through the National Library of Finland (opposite the west side of the Cathedral). It has very beautiful interior. From there, it's an easy walk to Market Square and the Old Market Hall, which is a great place for lunch. There's a shop there called 'Story' in the middle of the hall. They have very nice food and coffee. And agreed with others above, try a Finnish sauna, it's a must!

jianga

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 07 Feb 2015

Total posts 142

Oh forgot to mention Temppeliaukion Church (The Rock Church) very fascinating architecture. It's not in the city centre but a short tram ride (you can buy 1-day ticket which is very cheap). Or just walk (about 30 mins each way) and enjoy the city scene along the way.

boghraty

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 30 Jul 2017

Total posts 10

Was there a few weeks ago.
For getting to/from the airport, the new rail link to Helsinki Central is definitely the way to go.
I stayed hotel Klaus K, which was very new and minimalist and Scandinavian, though the room was rather small. Breakfast was included and was all locally sourced. Location was unbeatable. On balance, I'd still recommend Klaus K since Helsinki doesn't have too much variety with hotel accommodation.
My favourite restaurant there was Ravintola Aino, which is near the esplanade and does Finnish food. The salmon soup was one of the best things I've ever eaten.

rowwdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 21 Mar 2013

Total posts 11

Glo hotel was quite cool. An old convent I believe, but now an art hotel. Great Italian restaurant around the corner with nice Nordic design. Design museum was interesting, as was Suolmenlinna.

townaz

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 31 Jan 2018

Total posts 15

I would tend to agree with rowwdy, the GLO Hotels are great. I have stayed at the GLO Hotel Kluuvi previously along with the the two Radisson Blu hotels in the city centre, which are a good option as well.

flyingdr

Member since 22 Dec 2017

Total posts 7

Sorry to be a pedant, but Finland is not part of Scandinavia. It is Nordic but not Scandinavian.

s4077786

Member since 31 May 2018

Total posts 2

Helsinki isn't really in Scandinavia. Finland is a Nordic country, not Scandinavian. I suggest the F6 hotel. It's in a great spot.

Last editedby s4077786 at Aug 16, 2018, 09:11 AM.

flychrisfly

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 09 Jun 2011

Total posts 40

The Helsinki 'eye' (ie, the Ferris wheel) has one car that's a sauna so you can mix saunas and sightseeing :) Also, there is a sauna at HEL with access from the Finnair non-Schengen lounges.

petri.ojala

Member since 26 Nov 2016

Total posts 1

If the weather is nice, you'll probably enjoy a walk along the coastline as well. Start from central market place (Kauppatori, touristic place) and follow the coastline towards Eira, Mattolaituri (nice place for a glass of champagne while watching people and small boats pass by), to Kompassitori, Cafe Carusel, Birgitta, and finish at Löyly Helsinki for some nice architecture and sauna.

October is well into the autumn and almost early winter so the weather can be pretty chilly and unpredictable -- small chance of snow, even!

If you're into fine-dining, there are plenty of reasonably priced options. Grön has been ranked as the best restaurant in town for a few years and received Michelin-star recently, Restaurant Ask never fails, among the new ones is Ravintola Nolla (Zero) that focused on minimizing waste (chefs are of Spanish and Portuguese origin and have worked at Ravintola Olo). Finnjävel was replaced with Restaurant Ultima (as planned, not because Finnjävel was unpopular, they announced the closing date when Finnjävel was opened).

As far as hotels go, you may also want to check Haven and St. George, both downtown and often have pretty good prices despite being top hotels. St. George was just recently opened. GLO's are best bang for buck, though.

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