Cheap flights to Helsinki depart from Manchester Airport as well as from Heathrow and Gatwick airports near London. Some flights to Helsinki may be available from other regional airports around the UK. International flights to Helsinki will arrive at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Finnair City Bus operates services between the airport and Helsinki city centre. Bus number 615 also offers connections between the airport and Helsinki’s Central Railway Station. Taxis can be hired from the taxi ranks outside the terminal. Journeys to Helsinki city centre will cost around £40.
Public transport in Helsinki falls under the umbrella of HSL (Helsinki Region Transport). The company operates a network of buses, trams, Metro trains and ferries, all of which utilise the same ticketing system. Single tickets are available from the driver on board buses. Tickets can also be purchased from ticket vending machines, supermarkets, selected kiosks and Tourist Information centres. Other kinds of tickets come on a credit card-sized smartcard, similar to the Oystercards used in London. Save money on multiple journeys by purchasing a DayTicket, valid for one to seven days. The Helsinki Card offers free admission to selected attractions, as well as free journeys on all transport within Helsinki. The cards are valid for one to three days.
Finland’s capital is a lovely destination for a short city break. Spend a few hours exploring the imposing Suomenlinna fortress, located on the eponymous island just a short ferry ride from the city centre. The massive complex houses museums, catacombs and docks, as well as art galleries, cafes and restaurants. The Seurasaari Open Air Museum offers an interesting insight into traditional Finnish culture. It also has a collection of Finnish buildings from all over the country. Visit Sibelius Park to have a look at the towering assortment of pipes that make up the Sibelius Monument. Seen from afar, the Church in the Rock looks not unlike a UFO. This futuristic-looking place of worship was hewn out of solid rock, and features a roof comprised of copper pieces.
Helsinki’s main shopping street is Aleksanterinkatu, which is lined with international chains such as Zara and H&M. Aleksi, as it is affectionately known, is also home to a branch of Stockmann, a Finnish department store. Pick up quirky homewares and colourful textiles from Marimekko, a popular Finnish design company. The flagship store is at the Kamp Gallery in the Kamppi Centre. After a busy day of shopping, visit Weeruska for hearty helpings of Finnish dishes such as meatballs with cream sauce and lingonberries, or reindeer with pickled cucumbers. Once night falls, chill out (quite literally) at the Artic Icebar, a unique bar where all the furniture is carved out of ice. The entry fee includes a complimentary, as well as free use of a cape and gloves to help warm up.