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 the 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 for our Finnair stopover in Helsinki, the 4 odd hour flight went smoothly with Finnair. We have nothing but good experiences with Finnair in the past have spent around 60 hours on Finnair planes in the last few years to date.
This stopover flight meant 9 hours at the airport, that is a long time especially for kids in tow. The boredom sets in the complaining and moaning start 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 which makes a Finnair stopover in Helsinki pretty easy for us.
Use your Helsinki Stopover to explore the city
Having spent 3 days in Helsinki in 2013 (we made the most of our Helsinki stopover then) we decided to head into the city for a Helsinki layover 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 attractions.
A direct train service opened between Helsinki airport to city central station in July 2015. This makes a Helsinki stopover so much easier. Helsinki Central Railway 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 Finnair stopover in Helsinki. The line when opened was still 1 stop away from Helsinki Airport.
The Helsinki airport provided a free shuttle bus to the nearest station Aviapolis which was 5 minutes away. This made our Finnair stopover in Helsinki so much easier. Helsinki airport to city centre is now a breeze. The first time we were in the Finnish capital to get from Helsinki airport to the city centre cost us 60 Euros. The train line will be completed to the airport by next year (2016).
UPDATE: As of 2017 the train now runs directly to Helsinki Airport
This new Helsinki train 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 and trains run every 10 minutes in the daytime. All trains are modern and low-floor, providing easy access with luggage, prams or wheelchairs. (As our large luggage was checked through for us we took the opportunity to use the Helsinki Airport lockers for our carry on bags to store) The journey takes between 27 and 32 minutes to complete as it’s a loop line, perfect to head into the city to get the most of your Helsinki layover.
If you have a stopover in Finland’s capital do some sightseeing in Helsinki?
When you arrive on at Helsinki Central Station you are only a few hundred meters away from the 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 the 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 and for us was one of the best things to do in Helsinki.
Another of the best things to do in Helsinki is going for a 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 is 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 loved the stuffed toys especially the husky dogs that were on sale and Bec bought some wooden crafts. You will find some of the best food in Helsinki, reindeer and fish on lots of the menu’s on the market, The food is good priced meals and great quality food. I always say when near the sea eat the seafood. If your going to eat food in Helsinki this is the place to have it. We had a plate of Calamari and seasonal vegetables which were fantastic. If you have more time on your Helsinki layover you may want to go and seek out some of the finer foods Helsinki has to offer! A new addition to the harbour square landscape is the SkyWheel Helsinki. The Helsinki SkyWheel is 40-meter and provides a 360° view of what to see in Helsinki city and the islands in Helsinki Harbour
The seafood is a must try on a Helsinki stopover
Our girls were horrified that they were killing reindeer to eat but as we explained it to them people think it is strange that we eat Kangaroo. Willow hated the fact that they had animal pelts on sale, I think we have a little environmentalist on our hands there. 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 with the fine-dining restaurant showcasing local Finnish produce and a bar that serves their beers and snack food. It would be a great way to spend some time on your Helskini layover.
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. The steps seem to be the place to be on a warm day with people sitting on them enjoying the sun. It looks like one of the most fun things to do in Helsinki.
Popular landmarks and famous buildings of the Finnish capital all surround 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.
Enjoy a Helsinki City Tour if you have the time
Alternatively like all major cities, there is the Helsinki hop on hop off bus.This type of tour is amazing for giving you an overview of the Helsinki city area. Helsinki hop on hop off bus tour easily whisks you around the sites in a few hours or longer if needed. It is a great way to see as much as you possibly can on your Helsinki stopover. If you have long enough you can get out see the sights you like then get back on the bus.
Head back to the Helsinki central station and the airport from here. The Helsinki train station will be about 200 meters away. This will have filled in at least 4 hours on this Helsinki stopover. You could fill in a few hours 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 Helsinki Central Railway Station has two large sculptures out the front which makes this train station famous in its own right.
Helsinki is the queen of the north, It is a progressive and liberal city to visit. with something to see for everyone. Grab a Helsinki Guide and see this city on a stopover or stay over.
Hop on Hop off Bus Helsinki
See Helsinki’s top attractions and landmarks with your 24-hour ticket for this Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus Tour. Hop off and back on as often as you please at any of the stops on the route as you explore more. Enjoy multi-lingual commentary on board. Over 20 stops at the best attractions in Helsinki
For the latest prices CLICK here
Travel Tip: The Helsinki Airport Lockers are a great way to store your bags so you only have to take the essentials in to the city with you. We used the Helsinki Airport Lockers on our 9 hour Helsinki stopover and we highly recommend using them. There were all diferent size lockers, they were easy to find and they were a good price.
If all else fails the Artic bar at Helsinki airport is great for a drink on your Finnair stopover in Helsinki. The bar has views out over the runway, comfortable couches with USB charging stations for all your electronic equipment. We have spent a little time there watching the world fly by while on our own Helsinki stopover. I have included two more posts below for you to read when you are heading to Helsinki or on a long haul flight!
How to get to Helsinki
- Helsinki is the capital city of Finland. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is 17 kilometres from Helsinki City Centre. 17.2 million people travelled through Helsinki airport in 2016.
- The main carriers at Helsinki Airport are Finnair. Budget carrier Air Baltic flies to neighbouring coutries and beyondThe airport is a hub for CityJet (on behalf of SAS), Jet Time, TUIfly Nordic.
- You can check the prices of international flights to Helsinki with cheapOair. Domestic flights can be booked through Expedia.
- Helsinki airport to city centre train is available from terminal 1
- You can book a Helsinki Airport to city transfer with Suntransfers who we have personally used on many occasions.
- You can reserve a rental car and have it waiting for you at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport
Getting around Helsinki
- The same tickets can be used for travelling on buses, trams, the Metro, commuter trains and the ferry to Suomenlinna.
- You can also transfer from one vehicle to another with the same ticket.
- A day ticket is your key to getting around in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
- Day tickets are available for unlimited use on public transportation for 1-7 days. They can be purchased from ticket machines, from the Tourist Information or from the Helsinki City Transport service point in the Helsinki Central Railway Station.
- The Helsinki Card includes free public transport and many other discounts. Check for day ticket prices here
Where to stay in Helsinki
- Reykjavik has accommodation options for every budget from Hostels, to apartments and hotels rooms.
- Hostels in Helsinki can start from as little as 23 Euro a night for a shared dorm room.
- You can search Airbnb for there Iceland offerings. If you have never used Airbnb before get yourself $50 credit by signing and booking a stay right HERE
- Hotels in Reykjavik generally start from around $147.00 a night for a double room 3 star and increase incrementally as the luxury rating rises towards the 5-star average price of $314.00.
- You can compare and book your stay on Agoda, Hotels.com, Hotels Combined and Priceline