Helsinki became recently a common layover city for travellers between Europe and the United States. If you are on a long layover (like mine – 20 hours), you don’t have to wait at the airport for your next flight. Even if you only have a few hours to spend in Helsinki, you can still explore the captial of Finnland and make some unforgettable memories.
- TRANSPORTATION – It is quick and easy to get from Helsinki Vantaa airport to the city centre. The train takes only 30 minutes, and it costs 4,5 Euros each way.
- VISA – Finland is in the Schengen Area so US citizens do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
- TIME – 6 hours layover is a safe bet. 30-40 minutes train ride each way, 2 hours to go back through the airport security and that will leave with with over 2 hours of exploring!
Helsinki remains a slightly mysterious Nordic city, that combines outstanding architecture and museums, unbelivably good food and unsullied nature. Here are just a couple of ideas for you to enjoy this beautiful place.
1. Helsinki Railway Square
Unveiled on 10 October 1939, the bronze statue is located in the Helsinki Railway Square, in front of the Finnish National Theatre. The statue, along with most of Helsinki’s public artwork, is owned and maintained by the Helsinki Art Museum. The Aleksis Kivi Memorial is a statue dedicated to the Finnish author Aleksis Kivi (1834–1872), designed and sculpted by Wäinö Aaltonen. If you are a theater lover, check one of the performances at the The Finnish National Theatre (the oldest Finnish speaking professional theatre in Finland.)
2. Helsinki Cathedral
Visit Helsinki Cathedral – the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral of the Diocese of Helsinki, located in the neighborhood of Kruununhaka in the centre of the Senate Square. The church was originally built from 1830–1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. It was also known as St Nicholas’s Church until the independence of Finland in 1917. It is a major landmark of the city, and possibly the most famous structure in Finland as a whole when viewed globally.
3. Senate Square
The Senate Square presents Carl Ludvig Engel’s architecture as a unique allegory of political, religious, scientific and commercial powers in the centre of Helsinki. Senate Square and its surroundings make up the oldest part of central Helsinki. Landmarks and famous buildings surrounding the square are the Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, main building of the University of Helsinki and the Sederholm House, the oldest building of central Helsinki dating from 1757.
4. Market Square
Located at the South Harbour at one end of the Esplanade Park, the Market Square is Helsinki’s most international and famous market. The booths here sell traditional market foods and treats, as well as handicrafts and souvenirs. There are also heated café tents where you can comfortably have a steaming hot coffee even on the coldest days in winter. The Helsinki Baltic Herring Market, one of the oldest ongoing event traditions in Finland, is arranged here every October. It has been held since 1743. Try here fried sardines, moose meatballs and other Finnish delicatessen.
5. Helsinki Harbor
Enjoy drinks and food at the Helsinki Harbor. Try Finnis Long Drink (gin, lemon, tonic), take a ride on the Sky Wheel, take a dip at the waterfront pool and wnjoy the sunset!