I apologize in advance as this post is super old! I’m preparing to delete my old blog and wanted to migrate all my old travel posts over to ensure I didn’t lose any content. For what it’s worth, all of the landmarks and restaurants that we visited on our trip are still in operation today. If you ever find yourself in Helsinki or with an extended layover there like us, I standby my thoughts on opinions below. Cheers!
July 1, 2016 – Helsinki Craft Beer Festival
Our trip to Finland was an unplanned surprise after we missed our connection to Budapest but nonetheless, we were excited to explore this Nordic country. Since we had packed for warmer climates we were immediately struck by how cool it was for July. We also didn’t realize how late it stays light outside during the summer months. We got to our hotel around 9PM but it felt like 6PM so we freshened up and set off to see the city.
A quick 10 minute walk brought us to the city center where we immediately stumbled upon the Helsinki Craft Beer Festival. We purchased some souvenir beer mugs and wandered from stand to stand in search of local brews. The festival didn’t feel much different than the ones we frequent in Chicago with live music, food trucks and tons of young people out enjoying the city.
By the time we got around to thinking about dinner, it was almost midnight, though it was still light out, and we struggled to find a restaurant with an open kitchen. Eventually, we more or less gave up and decided to eat at Stone’s Beer & Burgers. I think the food was a bit over priced for the taste and quality but at that point, we were so hungry it didn’t matter.
July 2, 2016 – Exploring Helsinki
Since our flight to Budapest didn’t depart until that evening, we had all day to explore Helsinki. We went first to the Helsinki Cathedral which sits high in the city center. We then walked along the water front to Old Market Hall, the cleanest and most picturesque indoor market with fresh meats, vegetables and local foodstuff.
We continued our walk down through Kaivopuisto Park and Havsparken along the waterfront on the southern tip of Finland. It was a clear and crisp day and there were quite a few boats on the water. On our return trip, we stopped for some rest and a refreshment at Roasberg Cafe in the busy city square.
To get back to the airport, we caught the Finnair Airport Shuttle right outside our hotel which is a cheap and efficient way to get to and from the Helsinki Airport from the city [11.50€ per/person round trip].
Accommodations & Country Specific Details
Stay: Scandic Park Hotel
We were placed in the Scandic Park Hotel by Finnair after we missed our connection and we really enjoyed our stay. The rooms were modern and simple but clean and comfortable. The hotel is just outside of the city but only a quick and easy 10 minute walk to the heart of downtown Helsinki. They also have a huge complimentary breakfast spread in the morning.
To Helsinki: By air through Finnair.
Around Helsinki: As previously mentioned, you can take the Finnair Airport Shuttle to and from the airport. It has multiple stops including one directly outside the Scandic Park Hotel. Since Helsinki is a relatively small city, it’s easy to see on foot.
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Language: Finish or Swedish but easy to find English speakers.
Outlet Adapter: The standard voltage is 230 V. The standard frequency is 50 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type F.
Passport/Visa Requirements: U.S. Passport valid for at least six months from date of travel. No visa for visits under 90 days required.
Weather: We visited Helsinki in early July when there is sunlight for almost 19 hours a day. The air temperature is pretty mild – around the 70’s – but during the day when the sun is warmest, it is pretty comfortable out.