Heading home to Australia from Barcelona with just flying time is a mission in itself. With a flying time of just over 24 hours with Finnair is long enough without 9 hours to kill at Helsinki Airport. A Helsinki stopover it is. Leaving Barcelona at 10.20am and arriving in Helsinki at 3.10 pm the 4 odd hour flight went smooth with Finnair. We have nothing but good experiences with Finnair in the past having spent around 60 hours on Finnair planes in the last few years to date.
Now 9 hours at any airport is a long time especially with kids in tow. The boredom sets in the complaining and moaning starts which can make your transiting time seem even longer. Willow and Marley are pretty good at airports. The girls pull their galaxy tablets out and sit working hard on their Minecraft worlds.
Having spent 3 days in Helsinki in 2013 we decided to head into the city for a Helsinki stopover from the airport. A few hours spent in the city just to offset the time spent sitting at the airport. Having flown through the capital of Finland before I can also tell you it is expensive. Prices for food and drinks are high, money better spent seeing some of Helsinki’s sights.
A direct train service opened between Helsinki airport and Helsinki central station in July 2015.This makes a Helsinki stopover so much easier. Central Station is otherwise known as Helsingfors Central Station. We arrived a few days after it opened. I had been monitoring the situation with the leading up to our transiting at Helsinki. The line when opened was still 1 stop away from Helsinki Airport. Helsinki airport provided a fee shuttle bus to the nearest station Aviapolis which was 5 minutes away. The train Line will be completed to the airport by next year.
UPDATE: As of 2017 the train now runs directly to Helsinki Airport
The new station was shining steel and rock. Brand new and it looked it. My kids loved the huge escalators going down around 100 meters to the platform . Crafted out of solid rock, Aviapolis station is one of the new underground stations on this line. Trains are frequent on the line Trains run every 10 minutes in the daytime. All trains are modern and low-floor, providing easy access with luggage, pram or wheelchairs. The journey takes between 27 and 32 minutes to complete as it’s a loop line.
Once in Helsinki we recommend:
You are only a few hundred meters away from esplanade area of Town. Esplanade is a boulevard that runs from the city to the harbour area of Helsinki. Have you been to Paris? Esplanade reminds me of Boulevard de Rochechouart in Montmartre. The middle of Esplanade is a pedestrian zone. The zone has bars and ice cream stands, buskers and more taking in the streetscapes of Helsinki. Beautiful tree’s, grass and chairs, a great place to relax on warm Finnish summer day.
Alternatively, you can walk down the sidewalk browsing the shops that line the street. One of the most famous is The Stockman apartment store. This store occupies a whole block in central Helsinki. Stockman is an iconic department store in the northern Baltic/ Scandinavian regions of Europe with outlets in Estonia, Latvia, and Russia.
At the bottom of the esplanade are the Market Square and harbour area. Most days you will find a market operating selling local crafts and souvenirs, take away food, fruits, and vegetables. My girls bought loved the stuffed toys especially the husky dogs that were on sale. Bec bought some wooden crafts. You will find reindeer and fish on lots of the menu’s in the market, good price meals great quality. I always say when near the sea eat the seafood. We had a plate of Calamari and seasonal vegetables which were fantastic.
The seafood is a must try on a Helsinki stopover
Our girls were horrified that they were killing reindeer to eat. Willow hated the fact that they had animal pelts on sale, I think we have a little environmentalist on out hands their. Helsinki like most other cities these days has its own giant Ferris wheel at the harbour. We did not go on it but it would provide excellent views of the harbour and islands that lie just kilometres off Helsinki including the UNESCO listed Suomenlinna which we visited in 2013.
If you like a beer the award-winning Bryggeri Brewery is located nearby. The brewery features a regular line of beers plus seasonal brews. The brewery has a beer garden, the Fine-dining restaurant showcasing local Finnish produce and a bar that serves their beers and snack food.
Just up the street from Bryggeri Brewery you will find Helsinki Senate Square a huge building that dominates the area in its brilliant white colours. Senate Square and its surroundings are located in the oldest part of central Helsinki.
Popular Landmarks and famous buildings of Finnish capital surrounding the square. These include Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, and the main building of the University of Helsinki. Senate Square usually has some exhibition or activity to see from art to sporting events to music. Alternatively like all major cities, there is a hop on hop off bus service for tourists in Helsinki that would easily whisk you around the sites in a few hours for a better overview of Helsinki.
Head back to the train station and the airport from here. The train station will be about 200 meters away. This will have filled in at least 4 hours on this Helsinki stopover. You could fill a few more depending on the time you have between flights at Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Take some time to check out the front of Helsingfors Central Station. The Station has two large sculptures out the front which make this train station famous in its own right.