A Day in Helsinki, Finland
I took the cruise to St. Petersburg the evening that I arrived into Helsinki. I just spent 12 hours sitting uncomfortably in coach from Los Angeles. After checking into my AirBnB, I slept til 3pm and only had time to get ready and head towards Helsinki Port. Needless to say, I did zero exploring that day. *You can read more about my trip to St. Petersburg here:
The journey back to Helsinki was a lot smoother than entering into St. Petersburg, Russia. The passport control was quick. I was on my way after flashing my passport and getting it stamped.
Where to Stay:
I decided to book a room at the Hostel Diana Park in the city center for €32. It was still early morning when I arrived back into Helsinki that I decided to take the 20 minute walk to the hostel instead of paying for the bus. It was a simple walk thanks to my GPS. I arrived ahead of my check in time but dropped off my bags and decided to explore a bit. There wasn’t anything special about Diana Park Hostel. I was in a coed room with 4 others. There were 2 showers on the floor and a tiny restroom. The hostel also included 2 computers in the common room, free coffee and tea in the kitchen, and a few Helsinki Guide Books.
What to Do:
The rain started coming down. I’m not a fan of the rain, unless I’m indoors under the covers. The city was still covered in Holiday Decorations: Lights strung through the streets, ornaments hung through the walk ways. It felt like Christmas except without the snow.
There wasn’t much going on in Helsinki. It feels like the city shuts down for the winter. There were no city tours or even a hop on hop off bus. I decided to do a self-guided tour and got lost along the way. Sometimes that’s just the best way to see the city.
After lunch, I decided to head back to the hostel to check in. I dropped off my things in my room and chatted a bit with my hostel-mates before venturing out to one of Finland’s islands.
Finland has several islands and Suomenlinna is one of easiest to access. It can be reached by a 20 minute ferry. The ferry departs throughout the day from Market Square port about 4 times every hour. If you purchased a day pass, you can hop on the ferry with no additional cost. I purchased a 12 hour ferry fare for €5. Tickets can be purchased at the booth in Market Square port.
I arrived in Suomenlinna shortly after 16:30 (4:30pm) and it was already getting dark. It was pouring at this point. I tucked my dslr camera away and opted to take photos with my Samsung s7. I grabbed a map of the island at the information center and determined to hit all the big landmarks. As time ticked away, the island got darker and I felt alone. My determination now became hope of surviving the night. Yes, my mind ran wild. I imagine the island to be beautiful during the summer months or even the day time. There are citizens who live on the island. I can see them walking through the streets with their families. If there is anything I could change about my walk through the island, is not going there at a different hour but to wear comfortable shoes. The roads are rocky (literally) and hiking shoes would better suffice.
I took the 7pm boat ride back to the mainland. I met another hostel-mate and we decided to grab dinner.
Where to Eat:
Buddha Bar | Annankatu 6, 00120 Helsinki, Finland
I stumbled upon an Asian Fusion Restaurant called Buddha Bar around lunch time that served Thai Noodle Boat (€12). I ordered from the menu listed on the wall and grabbed an open seat. The water and utensils were self served and the meal was delivered quickly. The food didn’t hit my standard but it kept me warm for a few minutes.
Eerikin Pippuri Kabob | Forum, Mannerheimintie 18-20, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
For dinner, my hostelmate and I ran into a kabob place located inside a mall. We didn’t know it was a mall until we sat down. We decided to order the combo which included 2 orders of swerrma, fries, salad, and a drink for €18.50. It was a steal considering the high price items in Helsinki.
Things To Know Before Going To Helsinki:
- Wear comfortable shoes. I thought cobble stones were uncomfortable to walk on. In Helsinki, some of the roads are jagged and will hurt the balls of your feet.
- Avoid traveling during the winter. The days are short and most of the attractions are closed for the season.
- Finns tend to keep to themselves. You have to put effort in meeting the locals.
- Finns do not jaywalk. They wait patiently for the light to change.
- Public Transit ends around Midnight. Taxi’s are expensive but if needed, you must call for one. Uber is illegal in the country.
→Next Stop: 2 Days in Tallinn, Estonia