Since October 3rd was a monday as a public holiday this year, the first weekend in October was predestined for a city trip. Since we liked Stockholm so much, this time we decided on a combined trip Helsinki & Tallinn.
Table of contents
From Helsinki Airport to the city centre
On Friday evening we flew from Frankfurt with Finnair to Helsinki and landed about two hours later at Vantaa Airport. Unfortunately, it was already 11 p.m. due to the hour of time difference. Since we only had small carry-on luggage (the baggage drop-off would have made the ticket more expensive) and there was no passport/customs check, we were outside relatively quickly. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is located about 15 kilometres north of the centre of the capital Helsinki. There are several ways to get from the airport to the city centre. In addition to taxis and rental cars, these are also buses and trains that were available to us:
By Train: The Ring Rail Line has been in place since 1 July 2015 and connects the airport via the I line (32 min journey time) and the P-line (27 min journey time) with Helsinki Central Station. It runs every 10 minutes from Monday to Saturday and costs 5.50 euros per person.
By bus: By bus 615 you can go to the city centre to the station square (Rautatientori). The journey takes about 35 to 45 minutes and costs 5.50 euros.
By Finnair City Bus: Buses run every 20 minutes between the airport (T1/T2) and Helsinki city centre. For one trip you pay 6.30 euros per person and the bus – depending on the traffic conditions – takes about 30 minutes to Eliel Square, which is right next to the Central Railway Station.
On the outward journey we chose the Finnair City bus, because the bus stop in front of Terminal 2 was only a few meters from the exit and we were lucky that a Finnair City bus was standing there and we didn’t have to wait long.
Our hotel in Helsinki
Around midnight we arrived at our Hotel Scandic Marski, which is only a few minutes walk from the main train station. We spent three nights at Scandic Marski on an extended weekend. The location is really great, just a few meters walk from the main train station. Supermarkets, shops, restaurants etc. can be found in the immediate vicinity of the hotel.
We had asked the hotel in advance if we could get a quiet room in the newer part of the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, we were told that we had been given a degree to a larger room; this is located in the older part of the hotel. The room was indeed very spacious, but really very old and habitual. Thirty years ago, the design may have been beautiful, but nothing has been done in the room since then. The furniture was worn out, a column stood in the middle of the room, cable ducts were glued to the walls, holes were in the desk, the bed was pierced, etc. Unfortunately, we did not feel comfortable at all. In addition, the room was also located directly on the main main street, so that you have already heard the tram and the noise of the street. The free breakfast was really very good. On weekends, however, dsa Restaurant is highly frequented, so you have to look for a place for a while. The choice of food is great, there is something for everyone. The staff are also all very nice and explain to you also unknown (Finnish) specialties, which you do not know yet. The WIFI worked very well in the hotel room. All in all an OK hotel, but we would stay somewhere else next time.
The sights of Helsinki
The next morning the alarm clock threw us out of bed at 9 o’clock. A first look out from the window has already shown that we had a great day ahead: a bright blue sky and pure sun were waiting for us. It can’t be better. In most cities we are completely on foot, because such a city can be explored best. If you sit in the metro or on the bus all day and only get off at certain stations, we feel like you’re missing something. That is why it was very clear that we will also explore Helsinki on foot. Apart from that, on the one hand 30 Euros per person were far too expensive for the hop-on-hop-off and on the other hand these sightseeing tours are only offered until September 30th – so would have been too late anyway.
The White Cathedral of Helsinki & the Senate Square
We then walked along Esplanadi Boulevard towards the market square, but in advance we made a small detour to the most famous landmark of the Finnish capital: the white cathedral of Helsinki, which towers over the Senate Square. Unfortunately a part was equipped, we could still take some nice pictures. A glance into the interior of the cathedral church has shown that it is extremely simple and completely white. There are isolated statues in the corners of the church, but for example no murals and no colorful church windows. The Senate Square also houses the University and the Senate Building.
From the cathedral we walked directly to the Uspensky Cathedral, which stands out with its red bricks, green copper roof and golden dome tips and can be seen from afar. In the lavishly designed interior, a fair was just held where we could listen and watch something.
The Port & Marketplace
The next stop was the Finnair SkyWheel, which was built at the South Harbour in 2014. The 40-metre-high Ferris wheel consists of 30 gondolas. A trip currently costs 12 euros and takes about 15 minutes. Here is also the Allas Sea Pool, a small swimming pool, which was built directly into the harbour. From here we walked past the presidential palace to the market square, which is located directly at the harbour. Ferries and excursion boats leave from the market square and fishermen sell their freshly caught fish directly from their boats. Food, handicrafts and souvenirs are sold at the various market stalls. A few meters away is the Vanha Kauppahalli Market Hall, which opened in 1888, making it the first and oldest market and department store in Helsinki.
The South of Helsinki
We also wanted to look at the area in the south of Helsinki, where there was nothing “spectacular” to see. Here is the Olympia Terminal, where many cruise ships dock, St. John’s Church and Mikael Agricola Church. Through a park we went to the Hietalahti Markthalle, in front of which a small flea market was set up. In the market hall itself there are many grocery stores and food stalls where you can try Finnish specialties. From here it was only a few minutes walk to the white Old Church,which is located in a small park in the center of Helsinki.
The Main Station and the National Theatre
The weather has held up well during the day, so we could stroll through the streets of Helsinki in a relaxed way. It blew a fresh wind from time to time, but the fact that it didn’t rain was a huge advantage. Our next stop was the main train station,where we arrived last night, but we have only seen it in the dark so far. The station is the central hub of local and long-distance traffic and is designed as a kopr station. The clock tower is particularly succinct directly above the main entrance.
The Kamppi Chapel – Chapel of Silence
Not far from the main train station is the Kamppi Shopping Center and The Kamppi Chapel,also better known as Chapel of Silence,on Narinkka Square. The church is a real eye-catcher from the outside because of its shape and colour. It serves as a place of peace and quiet in one of Helsinki’s busiest neighbourhoods. It is open to visitors during the day, so we have also dared to take a look inside. And in fact, you haven’t heard of the street noise and the different soundscapes.
The Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church)
Another landmark of the city is the Temppeliaukio Church, which is simply called Rock Church by many. The modern rock church was built into a granite rock; the church walls are made of unhewn rock. All around there is a copper roof with countless windows that let in the daylight. The church has a height of 13 m up to the top of the dome. On a gallery in the back of the church you have a beautiful view of the entire interior, which impressed us very much.
The Sibelius Monument
Until the next attraction, which we wanted to look at, we had to walk a little longer. Luckily, we found a beautiful path by the water, which led through a park, past a cemetery and then took us to the Sibelius monument. The monument was erected in 1967 in honour of Jean Sibelius, who was the most famous and respected Finnish composer. With its 580 steel pipes, the monument is supposed to embody a huge organ, which the wind is supposed to make sound.
We don’t know how many kilometers we ran today, but we were definitely broken… and our feet too, so that we had a cozy evening and went to bed early. Because for our tour tomorrow to Tallinn, the alarm clock rings at 6 a.m….
Starbucks Global Icon City Mug of HelsinkiWe are collecting the Starbucks Mugs from the cities and islands we visit on our travels. Unfortunately, not every city that has a Starbucks store with an own mug. But if the city has an own mug we like to collect them as a souvenir. We only collect city mugs from the "Global Icon Series", which was released in 2008. You can see our complete collection here: Starbucks - Our collection of Mugs from the Global Icon Series
Helsinki has several Starbucks stores and also its own cup 🙂