Travel Guide: Helsinki

This is a quick travel guide to get you to and around Helsinki with ease.  Whether you’re taking a ferry from Tallinn or flying in, Helsinki is easy to navigate and tons of natural beauty. 

After a short 2 hour ferry ride from Tallinn is Helsinki.  Ferry tickets can be purchased at the port just before departure.  Just know that if the ferry leaves at 10:30, boarding will start around 9:45 and boarding will close at around 10:15.  The ferry will leave precisely at 10:30 so don’t think you’ll be able to stroll on board 5 mins before departure. 

If flying in, you can take the train to the city center for 5 euros. You can purchase your ticket at the R Kiosk store or any of the blue self service kiosks.  The green VR kiosks will NOT be able to sell you a ticket. If you’re departing Helsinki, you can just go to the main train station and buy a ticket a few minutes before.  The trains going to the airport are clearly marked with an airplane so they’re very easy to spot. The train took about 30 mins and couldn’t be easier.

I would recommend getting a day pass for the X number of days you’ll be in Helsinki.  If you’ll be doing anything other than visiting the sites within Helsinki proper, you’ll be fine with just a 1 zone or city day pass.  I believe those are 6 euros a day and they’re valid on the trams, metros, bus, and even the ferry. You’ll mainly be using the tram service or possibly the bus to get you from one site to another along with the ferry to get you to Suomenlinna island.

One thing to note is HELSINKI IS EXPENSIVE. It really isn’t the type of place you’d want to spend a lot of time unless you have a fair amount of money to spend.  Eating any meal will be around 10 euros at the cheap end. However, I would recommend going to the old market or the farmers market which is about a 15 min tram ride.  I felt the food was better and the prices were a little cheaper (but not by much).

Walking around the city is easy enough since it’s fairly flat.  In terms of tourist locations, I would strongly recommend going to Suomenlinna island.  It’s about a a 10 min ferry ride (which is included if you buy a day pass) and it offers great views of the city.

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Suomenlinna island

The island doesn’t really close so you can take the first ferry over (which is at 6 am I belive) and take the last ferry back (I think it was 1 or 2 am).  However, just because the island is open doesn’t mean any of the restaurants or exhibits are open. But if you want a quiet place to explore and enjoy before all the tourists get there, I’d recommend going early.  The islands are a collection of 3 to 4 small islands and although you can grab a map at the information booth, you won’t really need once since you can’t really get lost. Remember, it’s an island and the only way to get off is via the ferry.

In terms of food, I’d recommend following the  lead of the locals and order seafood (mainly fish).  You’ll see smoked salmon everywhere from toast and cream cheese to smoked salmon bahn mi sandwiches.

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The city itself felt extremely safe and regardless of the hour, I never felt uneasy anywhere.  Of course, exercise common sense but I never felt self conscious about my surroundings. It’s also fairly easy to navigate with very good coverage of the city via public transport.  The trams are clearly marked with their numbers and the stops have a small screen that display how long until the next one arrives and which tram it is (if multiple trams share the same stop).  It was clearly designed with the customer in mind and is incredibly easy to use.

Overall, Helsinki won’t disappoint.  There is no doubt it’s a beautiful city.  As long as you can mentally prepare yourself for the prices I think you’ll love it.

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