Hello friends, in February I massively failed my “2020 resolutions” of blogging twice a month. Regardless, March is the month of redemption! With that said, welcome back to the Euro-Trip (#2) Series. Last time we met James, Eric, Ryan and I were adventuring through Stockholm. Some of us were blowing up toilets, some of us were starving (okay we were all starving), and all of us were stoked to continue the trip. After a poor nights rest (thanks construction/man with sleep apnea/ extremely bright airport), we were touring Helsinki, Finland!
Finland was one of the countries that utilized the Euro, and thankfully J and I had ordered €400 prior to leaving for our trip to cover out time in Finland, Malta, and Belgium. Yup we only had a fraction of €400 for our time in Finland.
Since we were clearly on a budget, we made our way into the city center via public transport. I actually just did a copious amount of research on how to get from the airport to Helsinki. Mainly because J and I are returning this March to visit Eric who’s doing his masters program there! But also because I had not written this post yet and couldn’t remember how we had done it on this trip.
Getting to Helsinki from the Airport
James and I purchased bus tickets, directly on Bus 415 (one of a couple that operates to the city center) for a whopping €10 total. You can purchase tickets directly on the bus (slightly more expensive) or at a ticket machine.
The bus ride was just under an hour, and journeyed through the beautiful Finnish country-side. I was amazed when I saw the Finnish children playing outside in the freezing cold. Unsurprisingly we all passed out on the bus ride as we were exhausted.
Touring Helsinki – The City Center
When we arrived into Helsinki we had to wait a little before we could check into our Air BnB, so we decided to kill some time by window shopping. Of course being the poor college students we were – we did no actual shopping and enjoyed the warmth the stores offered. Once we got our fill of browsing we decided we would try to see some of the sites in the city.
First we visited the Temppeliaukio Church, also known as the “rock church”, located in the heart of Helsinki. It is a Lutheran Church that was designed by two architects directly into deep rock. For just €3 you can enter the Church!
The next site we visited was the Kamppi Church, also known as the Chapel of Silence. This Church is shaped as a horseshoe and meant to be a place for calm and silence in the busiest parts of Helsinki.
After visiting the Chapel of Silence we made our way to our Air BnB, checked in and dumped off our bags before heading over to the market square to get tickets for the Soumenlinna Ferry.
Soumenlinna Fortress, founded in 1748, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located off the coast of mainland Finland, spanning over 8 inhabited islands, this fortress is a major tourist site. For just €7 each James and I purchased round trip tickets to visit Suomenlinna Island.
The boys and I spent some time venturing across the fortress, discovering old canons and and huddling for shelter to escape the chilly snow.
On our second day in Helsinki we woke up early to visit some of the other sites. I got pretty sick that morning and was struggling to make it around town. We started off taking in the impressive views of Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, Uspenski Cathedral.
Following Uspenski Cathedral we made our way over to Helsinki Cathedral. This Church was originally built in 1830 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. At this point my nauseau was unending and I had to make my way back to the AirBnB to rest while to boys continued to explore.
Kaisaniemi Botanical Gardens
Once the boys made their back to the AirBnB to get me after a few hours of rest, we made our way back out together. We ventured towards the Botanical Gardens to explore the gardens and take in the beautiful views.
You can visit The Botanical Gardens all year round, and is one of Finland’s top tourist site.
Another site we made sure to visit on our tour of Helsinki was the Presidential Palace. The Palace is one of three official residences home to the President of Finland.
Touring Helsinki – The Food
After we made it back to the island after our tour of Suomenlinna we went back to our AirBnB to shower and change for dinner. We decided to try out a local ‘mom and pop’ Finnish buffet. Get reservations, you’ll need them! Somehow we convinced the owner to still seat us.
For €19 each we had unlimited Finnish delicacies at our fingers, and boy did we eat. Amongst all the things we ate, anchovies and lamb were the surprising favorite. We also indulged in reindeer, elk and moose meatballs, traditional breads, and linggon berries. When James and I return to Finland in March I think we’ll definitely be paying this place a visit if we can.
Marks & Spencer
Once we had finished our second day exploring, we made our way to Mark and Spencer to grab some grub before heading to the airport. James and I got some bread, turkey and cheese to make some cold cut sandwiches. We also got some dessert consisting of wafers and chocolate cookies for just €9.50.
After we collected some food from M&S we decided we had enough of touring Helsinki and made our way back to the airport via Bus 15. We planned to spend another night in the airport (because these Nordic countries are pricey). When we got to the airport we went through security and found a “relaxation room” to set up shop for the night. While the room itself was quiet and had make-shift beds for us to lie on – it was all glass. Not the best environment when Finland is experiencing midnight sun, but we made do with what he had. There you have it folks, our adventures in Helsinki came to a close as we ventured on towards Oslo, Norway!