I visited Helsinki years ago and at the time, it turned out to be one of my favorite cities in Europe. I can't help but remember the kindness of the restaurant owner I came across, as well as the amazing shopping I had done.
I was excited to go back and show my best friend around on a layover. We opted for a full day in Helsinki before flying to Copenhagen to catch our connection flight back home. I was excited to go back to the city again, though I'm really trying to avoid going back to places I've been. I would love to visit new places with that time instead. I was willing to make an exception since it was only one day.
We landed in Helsinki at around 5:30 am. It was too early to go out to the city, so we waited for the Arrivals Lounge to open so that we can have breakfast and rest a bit from the long flight. The lounge was just OK, with very limited food options, but there was also a sauna, luggage storage facilities and it was nice to have an accessible place to chill before customs.
There is train station right at the airport which made things a lot easier and with the help of Google Maps, we made our way to the first stop: Helsinki's newest central library, Oodi. I know what you're thinking. Why would you go to the library on a layover? The answer is simple: it is the because of the design of this place. It is a beautifully crafted space and definitely worth a stop. In fact, attracts over 2 million visitors a year!
Do note that the interiors is worth visiting as well. It was pretty interesting to see a library offer lots of appealing activities, such as a 3D Printing machine.
We walked around the Kansalaistori Square and took some pictures in front of the Finnish parliament building, which is right across.
We then made our way to our next stop. We didn't have much on the list. More so, we wanted to take it easy and enjoy the city. My friend also wanted to stop by Kamppi Chapel, so we did.
We walked around everywhere, which also took most of our time.
We headed to the Flying Cinema Tour of Helsinki. I was actually quite excited for this stop, since FlyOver Canada in Vancouver was pretty epic.
Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the quality of the Flying Cinema Tour in Helsinki. We got tickets for the Tour of Finland and found the experience to be very boring. It was nothing like FlyOver Iceland and FlyOver Canada, both which I've tried before and loved. Those were worth every penny, but the one in Helsinki, was not. The effects were also not great and we had the theatre to ourselves (which says a lot).
However, what made up for it is that in the Market Square right in front of the attraction, we found many local vendors selling souvenirs and authentic Finnish food. Some vendors even sold reindeer meat. There were also fresh berries being sold and I only wished I could take some back home with me!
On the way back to the train station, I stopped by a local supermarket (a must for me, in every destination I visit!) to grab some snacks. We passed by a few cathedrals and the mall. There are also a few museums in Helsinki, but museums aren't particularly of any interest to us. We passed by some of the shopping streets, such as Mannerheimintie. We also explored a bit of the Design District.
That was it for our short stay in Helsinki, but it was enough to give my friend a taste of Helsinki. Once we got back to the airport, we made our way back to the lounge to collect our luggage, grab a late lunch and continue on our journey to Copenhagen!
How do you plan your time during layovers? Do you usually go out or stay at the airport?