Helsinki Layover - Help!
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Mar 2, 2013 6:53 AM Last Post By: Alingsas2
Jan 28, 2013 4:16 PM
Helsinki Layover - Help!Hi guys,
My girl and I are headed to India on 21st Feb and we have a 5 hour layover in Helsinki. I know it's not a lot of time, but I have never been to Finland and being someone who has travel in their bones, I think 5 hours of sitting doing nothing in an airport, in a place I have never been, will be torture! We initially planned to get the bus to town and back but the consequences of missing our Delhi flight would be very expensive so we got a few quotes from tour guides (so we could be driven to and from the airport) and the cheapest was 200 Euros. That's about double what we're willing to spend on what would essentially be a 2 - 3 hour trip. Our options seem to be:
- Abandon the idea of seeing anything and mooching around the airport for 5 hours.
- Find a new way to see the city
- Go for a walk nearby - is there anything to see?
Anyone have any suggestions? Is it worth trying to see anything? Anyone know any cheaper tour guides? Taxis?
Jan 28, 2013 5:49 PM
1Helsinki is not a cheap place. To be honest I think you would be risking to much to go out the airport and with such a short window of 5 hours between flights. My knowledge on Taxi fares would be out of date, so I do not know if it would be cheaper, but I doubt it. Probably around the same price.
And the next question is why? You would be ticking a box only that you have been to Helsinki, but not seen anything apart from some street fronts.
Jan 29, 2013 1:03 AM
2I wouldn't do it, but here is some information in case you want to consider it. Don't spend 200 euros on a tour.
Do you have carry-on luggage, or will your luggage be checked through? It can eat up some time if you need to get luggage off a belt and check it again. Also, do you need a visa for Finland, or would you otherwise expect processing delays at the airport? If yes, maybe don't consider this any further.
But assuming it takes you a brisk 20 minutes to get from the arrival gate through whatever passport/customs checks and out of the arrivals area, plus half an hour each way to and from Helsinki, plus that you want to be back at the airport two hours before your Delhi flight, that leaves you and hour and forty minutes for doing something. (FYI, in dozens of trips to the airport I have never encountered significant traffic on the way to or from, even during holidays, snowstorms, etc.)
A taxi to the center will run you something like 40 euros each way and is a little faster than the bus. The Finnair City bus is only just over 6 euros each way and leaves every twenty minutes--the schedule is in the link above. So if your timing is good you can save yourself a lot of money. The bus stops at the main rail station, in the center. From there you can wander for a bit before getting the bus back. Again, I would not do this with such a short time--not because of the possibility of missing my flight, but because I'd find it a waste of energy.
Jan 29, 2013 2:16 AM
3The popular misconception is that you count your 5 hours form arrival time to taking off time. If this is the case I would suggest you need to take 2 hours of your waiting time at least. So in reality you will only have 3 hours not really enough time to do much. The other problem with booking a tour is that what if your flight in is delayed and you cannot make the tour which you will have paid for.
I would suggest not making any plans, and see how much time you have on arrival as already suggested if you find enough time then take a taxi to Helsinki for a bit to eat.
At the airport although not that scenic is easy to stretch legs with a walk it is not too built up.
The other thing to remember is that in the dates you have mentioned it will be very cold and you will need additional winter clothing which I am sure you are not taking with you to India.
Jan 29, 2013 10:50 AM
4A lot of people do this. It helps that central Helsinki is very compact and the airport is relatively small - meaning shorter lines. You can get a taxi one way for around €40 and I suggest you do this at least on the way back. You might get the Finnair bus or the city bus 615 on the way downtown - the 615 has the advantage that the ticket is good for 80 minutes on all city transport.
Head for Kauppatori market place by the sea, which will be frozen at that time. A lot of sights are nearby, like the Russian-built Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, the much photographed Senate Square and the Lutheran Cathedral, the Sofiankatu museum street, the Presidential Palace, and of course the colourful market itself (may or may not be open). The Esplanadi park street next to the market has a good choice of restaurants. All this is within a short walk.
As #3 says, the weather is a factor. I don't know where you're coming from, but I don't suppose you're taking winter clothing to India. Without gloves and hats even 5 minutes outside can be brutal. The temperature's likely to be anything from fridge temperatures to a good deal colder than a freezer. If the weather is -20C and windy, you will do better to stay at the airport if you have no suitable clothing. The Fly Inn restaurant on the airside used to be surprisingly good for an airport (I haven't been there for years), with some great reindeer dishes.
Jan 30, 2013 10:45 PM
5Do not attempt to go to Helsinki city center. It's possible but why an earth would you want to hurry like that. 200 euros for a tour, what the f***?
If you want to leave the airport you can easily kill some time in nearby Jumbo shopping center. And that clothes matter is very relevant.
Feb 4, 2013 7:07 AM
6The airport is about 20 km or 14-15 miles from town in the suburban town of Vanda. Local forest and some suburban development can be seen from the airport area, with Tikkurila possibly the closest suburban centre near the airport (Tikkurila is the municipal centre of Vanda), possible to reach by local bus in perhaps ten minutes if you don't want to travel as far as to Helsinki.
Helsinki's city centre is quite compact and most of the sights are within walking distance.
Feb 4, 2013 7:13 AM
Feb 11, 2013 1:22 AM
8Vantaa may be officially a city but in practice it's a suburb of Helsinki. I would not recommend Tikkurila as there is very little of interest there, and still less would I recommend any nearby Vantaa malls - good God, what kind of traveller would suggest such a thing? Either dash into Helsinki for a quick look-see (which, unlike other posters, I know to be feasible - maybe I'm better informed) or stay at the airport.
Feb 12, 2013 1:57 PM
9One thing worth noting: to leave the airport, you will have to stand in line for passport control twice: once to enter and once to exit the Schengen area. Otherwise I presume you can avoid this by staying in the non-Schengen transit area inside the airport, if you're arriving directly from the UK. This may take just a few minutes or it may take longer.
Feb 12, 2013 11:15 PM
10It's never taken me more than a few minutes to get through passport control in Finland. If you're able to scan your own passport you can skip the lines, though this actually slowed me down very slightly when I did it a few days ago - Helsinki just doesn't get the long, shuffling queues of New York or London airports.
Feb 15, 2013 1:37 AM
11#8 It's nice to hear you're one of those people who knows how to travel correctly. If and when dashing into Helsinki is not too feasible at all you're suggesting not to do anything.
Good God, what kind of a traveller would suggest such a thing? I'd also always like to start exploring a new country from its capital's centre but when that's not possible I want to do something, anything just to leave a boring and expensive airport.
I fail to see what kind of correct travelling it is not to catch some fresh air and at least see something no matter how untouristy that might be. Apart from the mall and some suburban Finland there's the Finnish Aviation Museum quite near the airport but outside of it.
But hell no, never leave the airport for hours unless going to a city centre.
Mar 2, 2013 6:53 AM
12I didn't "recommend" Tikkurila, as I haven't been there (perhaps at its train station, inside a train). But it is possibly the suburban centre within shortest distance from the airport. There's a number of shops there, and Heureka science centre a bit further south from there.
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