Cool Helsinki warms my heart

Helsinki is the northernmost and easternmost city I have visited in Europe. The city in winter is frozen in ice, yet there was a cool factor in the city capital of Finland and its people that warmed my heart in the 24 hour short stay.


Grand buildings on the Esplanade.

Finnair operates a bus from the airport to the central rail station in Helsinki. The cost is 6.30 euros and tickets can be purchased on the bus. There is some space on the bus for luggage, and if no space onboard, your suitcases can be placed in the bus storage areas below.

The Finnair bus leaves every 20 minutes and the trip takes about 20 minutes.

Pick up the Finnair bus to head back to Vantaa Airport at stop #30 outside the train station.


Finnair bus to and from Vantaa Airport takes 20 minutes and ticket cost is 6.30 euros.

There is 12 hours of daylight in mid-March in Helsinki, and apparently March is the least precipitation according to a chart I saw in the Finnair Blue Wings magazine.


Ice skating rink outside Helsinki train station.

Food is much more affordable in Helsinki compared to Oslo. I came across several restaurants in the shopping centers and around the train station with lunch for under 10 euros.


My favorite sign in Finland. Different meaning than an American beer drinker would attribute, but there is a contextual clue here. ‘Ale’ is Finnish for sale.

When it comes to beer my shock was learning that beer or any alcohol over 2.8% alcohol is not sold after 9pm in the markets. They lock up the alcohol.

Turns out though that 2.8% beer was under 1 euro, while 4.8% beer sold for about 3 euros in the supermarket. A six-pack of 2.8% beer has more alcohol than two 4.8% beers for the same price.

So there is a workaround to the alcohol restrictions at night.


Scandinavian microbrews at the farmer’s organic market. These beers were mostly 5 to 7 euros.

Finland has the highest rate of college educated citizens in Europe. Nearly everyone I encountered spoke excellent English.


‘Helthinki’ University of Helsinki sign. A logo on the door that caught my attention is “Designing Society through Thinking”.


This is just a taste of Helsinki.

My stay at Starwood Hotels Luxury Collection historic Hotel Kamp blew me away.


Stairway in Hotel Kamp, Helsinki.


Hotel Kamp Room 411 Living room.


A warm spot in the city with no sidewalk ice.

Helsinki is a place I would love to return to in warmer weather.

The city was fine in winter, but it gets tiring walking around with eyes focused on the ice.


The Esplanade and Hotel Kamp in center with flag.

Helsinki is an attractive city to me. I would have loved to stay longer. My wife and cats are calling me back home to California.


Other people’s hearts are locked to Helsinki too.


About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. @Michael – Cash & Points at old SPG category 5 rate of 4,800 points + $90 and I used a suite upgrade I received from the SPG Amex Stars gig last year.

    I received two suite upgrades that expire Dec 31, 2013 and this is the first one I used.

    And what an upgrade!

  2. I had a four night stay at the Hilton Strand last August. Helsinki is lovely in the summer. The hotel has free bikes you can use and Helsinki is very bike friendly.

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