(Not Even) 24 Hours in Helsinki

by - 3:00 PM

Guess what the cheapest route from Amsterdam to Bangkok is. Go on, guess. With a stop in Delhi? Nope. Via Dubai? Wrong again. Switching planes in Turkey? Not even close. Want me to tell you? Well, if you've read the title of this post you won't be surprised to hear that my super cheap flight to Thailand led me to Finland's capital Helsinki first. I know, very logical, going all the way up north to get to a southeastern destination. Anyway, I ended up with an 18 hour stop-over. I arrived in Finland at 11pm and left the next day at 5.30pm, which meant I had about half a day to explore Helsinki. Sounds impossible? Yeah, maybe a little bit, but here's how I made the most out of it!

Under different circumstances I might not even have left the airport. Ever tried getting into cities like Bangkok or Moscow from the airport for a flash visit? Believe me, ain't gonna happen. Helsinki is a different story though. There's an airport shuttle that'll bring you to Elielplatsen in the city centre in not time. Plus, you get free wifi on the bus.
You already get to see a little bit of the city on your way over to Elielplatsen. I say 'a little bit' because most of it is obscured by trees. One thing that immediately stand out (because the trees aren't tall enough to hide it) is the 1952 Olympic Stadium. I almost lost my shit and forgot about the free wifi for a second when I saw it. I've wanted to visit an Olympic Stadium for ages, so I demanded we'd go there. Little did I know that it's about the only landmark far away from the city center. My dad and I decided to walk anyway, which is honestly the best thing you can do in any European city.
On our way we came across a huge park (which were actually multiple parks as I found out while researching some stuff for this post) with one of Finland's many many many lakes. You can go for a simple walk there, hire a row boat or paddle boat, or, if you're anything like me, be baffled by the absurd amount of geese.

The Olympic Stadium is right next to the City Park and well inside the city limits, but on the way over there I didn't feel like I was in an urban area at all. Trees. Everywhere. My dad and I even climbed a hill that'd put any Dutch forest to shame before we realized that was not the right way to go. With no signs pointing us in the right direction we were winging it - only to find out the Olympic Stadium was under renovation. I recommend going there when it doesn't look like this dump.

Upon return to Elielplatsen my parents decided to go to something called the 'Rock Church'. Helsinki has quite a few churches and I thought this would be one of the most amazing churches I'd ever seen because of the link to one of my favorite genres in music. It wasn't until I saw the building that I realized my mistake. The Rock Church has very little to do with rock music and all the more with actual stone. The Rock Church was hewn in a rock and that's about all there is to it. I didn't like it and neither did the people of Helsinki at first, but it might just be your cup of tea.
Personnaly I liked the Helsinki Cathedral much better. It's close to the Marketsquare and bus station and it's freaking majestic if I may say so. I spotted it from an alleyway on my way to the Marketsquare and immediately had to get closer to take pictures. Then I was drawn in by the music, the street performer playing Elvis songs on a violin. The square in front of the Cathedral is full of life. It's a perfect place for pictures and if I'd had the time I would've sat down on the endless steps that lead to the Cathedral's entrance to write.

With so little time to spend and so much of it spent on walking, my parents and I had to make some drastic decisions and choose which landmarks we'd visit before returning to the airport. So we did the sensible thing: we went for lunch.
As we were close to the harbour, we decided to get lunch at the waterfront market. It's super touristy, but the food options are endless. You can go for pizza, or be a little more adventurous and go for some authentic Finnish food. Like reindeer meatballs. I didn't particularly like those, but you never know if you never try.
While at the market I couldn't help noticing the ferris wheel that looked like the London Eye's baby brother. Or sister. I feel like someone out there is going to be mad at me for gendering that thing, but the important thing is: there is a freaking ferris wheel in Helsinki! It's right next to the Allas Sea Pool, which would be awesome to visit if time isn't an issue. I mean, it has a sea pool, regular pool, a sauna (duh, you're in Finland) and loads of restuarants. Not that I knew any of that when I first saw the ferris wheel. I was too busy whether or not I'd risk wetting myself while nothaving any clean clothes on hand, just for a nice view. The answer was YES. No matter how bad my vertigo is, in the end my answer to ferris wheels is always YES.
The SkyWheel Helsinki isn't huge, so I honestly wasn't expecting all that much. As it turned out the ferris wheel is the best thing you can do though when you want to see Helsinki, but have a limited amount of time. On the way up you get the most amazing view of the harbour, with all its ferries rolling in and islands in the distance. There's something new to look at every single minute. It just doesn't get boring. Then, once you go down again, you'll see the city and most of its major landmarks. No need to hurry and rush for pictures, you'll get three full rounds in the ferris wheel. And if you've got balls and some money to spend, you can go in a cart with a see-through bottom. I am not ashamed to admit I happily passed on that opportunity.

After the ferris wheel we headed back to the airport. There wasn't enough time for much more aimless wandering, but there'd been enough time to see a good bit of Helsinki. It might not sound like the ideal flight schedule, but if you're from Europe and want to go to Asia Finnair has some great deals; just see the long stop-over in Helsinki as a bonus! It is in no way a bad thing. You'll know what I mean when you find yourself walking through beautiful parks while eating ice cream from one of the city's countless ice cream shops ;)

x Envy

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12 Fellow Ramblers

  1. I had a chance to be on a few rather small Sky Wheels but nevertheless they still a lot of fun. Love, Iga www.igaberry.com

  2. It sounds like you got so much done in such a short space of time!

    Carla x

  3. It seems as though you made the most with the time you had!
    Can't wait for the next post :D

    -Kathie K
    Half A World Away

    1. Maybe I could've done a little more, but since it was so similar to the countries I visited last year I skipped a lot of stuff that was too similar. Hope you've enjoyed the posts so far!

  4. Sounds like you had an amazing time-and I love the photos. Maybe we should meet in Amsterdam one day?

    1. We're definitely going to meet in Amsterdam one day :)

  5. You packed so much into such a short space of time, I have no idea how you do it!
    Sounds like you had a great time on your stop-over, shame about the renovations at the stadium. You'll just have to go back one day.
    I would have passed on the see through bottom too!
    Cora ❤ http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

    1. It's easy: run from one landmark to the next and don't linger for too long XD
      I don't think I'll go back to this Olympic stadium though, I like the one in Berlin better and there's also one in Amsterdam... Or London... So many options!
      One day I'll probably go for the see through bottom and I'll regret it, but hey, life experiences you know XD

  6. Super post and being half Finnish I love to see Helsinki having a shout out. I was there this summer and it is the most beautiful city. If you haven't been, make sure you add it to your travel bucket list.

    1. Ah I'm so glad a (half) Finnish person liked my post! Helsinki is a great place to visit.


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