BumblebeeMum
Helsinki Layover – 5.5 hours in transit
August 30, 2017

During our Northern Europe trip, we had to fly to Copenhagen to catch our Baltic Cruise Disney Magic from there.   We ended up flying with Finnair because I came across a promo for about SGD800 per pax – which I thought was a steal.  (Later on, I came across a Thai Airways promo for SGD600+ per pax and wanted to cry.  But it’s okay, SGD800 was still very reasonable.)

Finnair only had one flight a day from Singapore to Helsinki, arriving into Helsinki at 6.35am.  But they had a number of options to fly from Helsinki to Copenhagen after that.  The fastest connection only required about 1+ hour in transit at Helsinki aiport.  But we took the noon flight to Copenhagen, departing from Helsinki at 12 noon, so that we didn’t have to bum around Copenhagen the whole morning with kids AND luggage while waiting to check in to our AirBnB apartment.

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A lot of travellers tend to want to pick the fastest connection to save time in transit.  But I think it really depends on where you are transiting and what time you are transiting.  If the airport is in the middle of nowhere and requires many hours to get to town, or the transit is happening during wee hours at night, then yeah, I would pick the fastest transit to minimise the time spent bumming in the airport.  However in some instances, deliberately picking a flight with a long connection can allow you to squeeze in a visit of the city you’re transiting in.

In our case, picking a later flight and having that 5.5 hours in transit worked out perfectly.

  1. Helsinki Vantaa Airport was an easy 30-minutes train ride into Helsinki City Centre.
  2. Our flight arrived at 6.35am, so we had more than enough time to explore the city a little in the morning while avoiding the big tourist crowds that would flock the city later in the day.
  3. Our luggage would all be checked through to the Copenhagen flight, so we were luggage-free during those 5.5 hours.
  4. We would arrive at Copenhagen at 12.30pm (Copenhagen time), and would be able to check in to  our AirBnB apartment straight away.

Now, I would like to stress that this trip was done in summer.  If you are transiting in Helsinki in winter, do note that Helsinki is FREAKING COLD in winter.  It’s the land of Santa Claus and reindeers after all.  So if you want to exit the airport while in transit during winter, be sure that you have proper winter wear!

GETTING FROM HELSINKI AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRE

Catching the train to Helsinki city centre from Vantaa airport is super easy.  Just follow the signs to the train after you arrive.  Before you go down the escalator to the train platform, there is a ticketing machine.  At the ticketing machine, you can purchase a regional ticket bound for Helsinki city centre and it should cost 5,00€.  The machine accepts credit card payment.  I used my Singapore-issued credit card with a smart chip to purchase our tickets.  Once you have the tickets, just hop down to the platform to catch the next train.  The trains are pretty frequent and will get you to Helsinki Central Station in 30 minutes.

When you are coming back to the airport, you buy the same regional ticket bound for Vantaa for 5,00€ at the ticketing machines at Helsinki Central station.  Then go back to the same platform where you arrived at to catch the airport-bound train back.  (The airport train used Platform 1 when we were there.)

OUR WALKING ROUTE

Below is the map of our walking tour around Helsinki City Centre that we managed to complete at a very comfortable pace with the kids.

The train from Helsinki Vantaa Airport put us at Helsinki Central Station.  As we exited South from the station, we found ourselves passing by Stockmann, a huge department store in Helsinki.  However, it was too early and the shops weren’t open yet.

We cut through Esplanadi Park, which was rather deserted so early in the morning.  If you are here later on in the day, as we did during our shore excursion later on, you would see a very different picture.  Esplanadi Park is a very popular gathering space for locals and tourist alike and where many baskers gather.  You should definitely spend some time here in the afternoon to feel the vibe when in Helsinki.

At the end of Esplanadi Park was Kauppatori open market square.  We stopped here to grab breakfast.  There were tables and chairs available for dining.  But watch out for the sea gulls who would come and grab your food!  And the pickpockets who would grab your wallets / bags etc.  #TrueStory

From Kauppatorri, we hopped over to the terraces above Alla Sea Pool and chilled out on the deck chairs there to enjoy the scenery.

You can get a great view of the Helsinki Cathedral, Uspenski Cathedral, the market square, the harbour and some of Helsinki’s many islets from here.  It was an excellent vantage point!

Next, we walked over to Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral just to take a closer look.  We didn’t go inside the cathedral.

And from there, we headed over to Senate Square for mandatory photos.

And from Senate Square, we made our way back to Helsinki Central Station to catch the train back to Vantaa Airport.  Check out our gallery below for more sights we saw along the way:

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4 Comments

  • Kiki says:

    Hi.. i can tell you like to flight with thai airways 😉 how you compare it with finn air ? Btw really enjoy reading your blog. Encouraged me to brought my kids went to winter holiday in hokkaido. We did it, Thanks !

    • Queen Bee says:

      Thank you for visiting our blog, hope you enjoyed your Hokkaido winter trip!

      Yeah, I fly with Thai a lot simply because they often have super good promos. Plane wise, I think Finnair’s plane was nicer. Hahaha… It’s was like bright and white with blue lights, just makes me feel happy compared to old-school plane designs like Thai’s. But end of the day, I would still fly Thai if Thai is significantly cheaper. BUT, if you have never visited Helsinki before and want to do a stopover there, then you should totally fly Finnair if it’s just a couple hundred more dollars for the entire family (like for our case). Pay a couple hundred of dollars to visit Finland, I think it’s worth it.

  • Daddy B says:

    Hi BB Mum

    I am surprised you guys managed to squeeze in a visit to the city center with just 5.5 hours of transit. Would you recommend a stopover of say over a day or two would be better next time before picking up the next trip elsewhere?

    • Queen Bee says:

      I personally think one day in Helsinki is enough to get a good feel of the city. The thing about layover is that you won’t have your luggage with you. So I’m not sure how that would work if you plan to spend a night and would need to retrieve your luggage from your first flight.

      On hindsight, I would have taken a later flight from Helsinki to Copenhagen to give myself more than 5.5 hours in Helsinki. We came back to Helsinki later on as part of our Disney Cruise. During that time, we went on a sightseeing boat tour – which I highly recommend for Helsinki. It was something our 5.5 hours layover didn’t give us enough time to do. But I wouldn’t bother with the hassle of spending a night there.

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