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Traveling to Helsinki, Finland - seeking information please

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1. Posted by gonlaz (Budding Member 10 posts) 10y

gonlaz has indicated that this thread is about Finland

Hi There :)
I live in Orlando, Florida USA and am traveling to helsinki for a week in Cold December. If you don't mind helping out:

What is the average temperature during December?
I am an American obviously, how are we viewed there?
I have read many great things about Finland, low crime, low disease rates, good economy, beautiful city and much more! What part of the City of Helsinki is cheap, but still safe to stay in a hotel, Central, North...?
What can I do there in December? What Museums, bars, etc do you have there?
Any other tips regarding taxi's, Public Transportation?

Thank you for reading this!
Tim Barr in Orlando, Florida USA

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5596 posts) 10y

Hi Tim,
Temperatures will be low compared to Orlando that´s for sure. Just count on freezing temperatures during the night and with some luck above zero druing the day. Normally december is not that cold as january or february. But it´s not that bad, mostly it´s dry cold air, not that humid and snow is nice I think.
Finland is expensive and staying in hotels or diners in restaurants are twice as expensive as in the USA. In general of course. I guess americans are really welcome there, scandinavian people in general don´t have problems with any nations, although you would thing different with the danish cartoon thing of course. but really, it´s safe, but expensive and cold. Helsinki isn´t that big by the way, a week is more than enough. enjoy!

3. Posted by vilmalotta (Respected Member 95 posts) 10y

Hi Tim,

You've chosen the darkest time of year to visit Finland. :)
Not to worry, you'll have fun!

December temperatures in Helsinki vary somewhere between +1 and -15 Centigrade (5-35 Fahrenheit). It may get as cold as -20 C (-4 F).

Hotels can be quite expensive in Helsinki. In general a room costs between 70-180 euros/night. Hostels are cheaper. I'd recommend staying in city center, but if not possible budgedvise, choose a location near railway or metro. Public transportation is good. You'll find more info on that here and here.
Taxis all have meters and are very reliable, but not too cheap.

Helsinki have nice museums and loads of bars.
You might like to visit for example the museum of modern art, Kiasma or design museum.
I recommend visiting this site for more info.

Welcome!
Vilma

4. Posted by gonlaz (Budding Member 10 posts) 10y

Thank you, both of you!

I am encouraged, by the friendly attitudes you have. I have also heard from another Finn, he was also very cool, and informative.

Sorry about asking the American question - it is because of the war and our international policies that I ask; there are also travel warnings for our citizens in many countries. I just want to clarify, I have never heard anything negative about your area at all, I just wanted to ask :)

I am very excited about coming to Helsinki, and it will surely be different to hang out in the darkness so much, heh.

Cheers!
Tim

5. Posted by hmclehto (Full Member 142 posts) 10y

You have a week so would be an idea to take ferry over to Estonia or maybe even stay over night. Tallinn is a beautiful city and much cheaper than Helsinki. Maybe also a day trip to Porvoo, which is gorgeous old town with lots of wooden buildings. (Christmas lights, snow etc very cosy)....
In Helsinki you should also after you visited Vilmalotta's recommendations visit our Tuomiokirkko which in the centre of the city very near to the Harbour with lovely markets, even in winter. Lots of lovely cafes with home made cakes and pastries scattered all around the city.
You'll love it and Finland is pretty much safe where ever you'll go...
Any questions, just keep them coming ;)

6. Posted by gonlaz (Budding Member 10 posts) 10y

Quoting hmclehto

You have a week so would be an idea to take ferry over to Estonia or maybe even stay over night. Tallinn is a beautiful city and much cheaper than Helsinki. Maybe also a day trip to Porvoo, which is gorgeous old town with lots of wooden buildings. (Christmas lights, snow etc very cosy)....
In Helsinki you should also after you visited Vilmalotta's recommendations visit our Tuomiokirkko which in the centre of the city very near to the Harbour with lovely markets, even in winter. Lots of lovely cafes with home made cakes and pastries scattered all around the city.
You'll love it and Finland is pretty much safe where ever you'll go...
Any questions, just keep them coming ;)

Thank youfor being so kind, I do have more questions, heh :)

What you wrote here: "Maybe also a day trip to Porvoo, which is gorgeous old town with lots of wooden buildings. (Christmas lights, snow etc very cosy)...."
Did you know that up North here in America, in Minnesota, Michigan that the Finns basically started up that whole area? BIG influence there, I lived in Michigan and love that type of stuff. Wooden homes and old style cozy cabins, that's right up my alley!

About Porvoo, how far is it and can I get there from Helsinki for less than 100? I ask because, even though I will be there for a week, I will have about 800 EU or so to spend freely, so I don't know how "far" that will go?
I plan on doing more sightseeing, picture taking, etc than anything. I probably will not buy alot of stuff, unfrotunately. Some shirts, food, etc, coffee, etc. FOOD Yes, tell me about the food! I can eat basically almost anything there, yes?

Okay, I am asking such broad quesitons, let's see. How about a in town travel question?

If I stay at the EuroHostel for example, can I walk everywhere I need to go in a day? Or will I need to take the Bus? Can I get around town for a reasonable amount?

7. Posted by DocNY (Respected Member 416 posts) 10y

Greetings from a fellow American who just spent 12 days in Finland (and 7 in Helsinki) You can get a three day Finrail pass for about $120 and that entitles you to unlimited travel for three days (Consecutive or non-consecutive) which allows you to bop around a bit, but that won't get you to Porvoo which is only accessable via bus. I would recommend oluo (spelling?) and maybe heading up north if you want to wander around. seeing Helsinki itself is only a day or two worth of sights, but the clubs and bars can be very fun.

Hard to get internet there except at the library, Wayne's coffee and M-bar.

It's a very expensive city just so you know.

The highlight of Helsinki if its not too cold is the sea fortress Summalinna (sp?)

Food is good but pricy - try to find a place which translates as the Three Crowns for a good cheaper meal, best find I made.

A day or two in Talinn, Estonia or a side trip via the ferries (cruise liners in reality) to Sweden are cheap and fun.

I enjoyed a lot of the countryside especially up near rovemini and the arctic circle - good hiking and at that time of year it's supposed to be brilliant for winter sports.

best to you.

8. Posted by gonlaz (Budding Member 10 posts) 10y

Okay, I hope I do not become too much of a bother here, but as I read I have other questions, I will try to post as many as I can at a time.

How safe is the Kallio district?
I ask because I do like to drink beer and would like to try other liquors offered that are native to your area, but I don't like to spend 10 bucks for a drink here in America and doubt I will want to there either, does that make sense? I read where bars here are more small and pub like, in atmostphere, is that correct? we will probably go lots of places but I don't want to spend all money drinking, heh. can I buy hoegarrden there? Wittekirke? These are two of my favorite beers, and I drink them regularly here

Do you all have "blues" bands that play there anyway? Jazz perhaps?

Another guy sent me the wikitravel page on helsinki and it was very informative.

Question about going ot Estonia, I only have a passport for Helsinki, how do I travel to Estonia without a visa, even for a day? I have this same question for going to St. Petersburg.

I think since I will be there a week, I will go to see as much as possible. Also, I would like to go to church, although I am not so arrogant that I expect to find one speaking English only, is it possible to find a English speaking Church Service?

I will be with a female traveler, Isn't there a mid range or so, hotel, with rooms and private bathrooms, that I can book? I notice that, what I would call "traditional" hotels, they mostly have shared bathrooms, are there private rooms with private baths that I can get for no higher than 100 US per night? So far, it's hard to find

[ Edit: Edited at Sep 21, 2006 9:55 AM by gonlaz ]

9. Posted by gonlaz (Budding Member 10 posts) 10y

Quoting DocNY

[quote]Greetings from a fellow American who just spent 12 days in Finland (and 7 in Helsinki) You can get a three day Finrail pass for about $120 and that entitles you to unlimited travel for three days (Consecutive or non-consecutive) which allows you to bop around a bit

Do I need the Finrail, versus say, their bus line?

I would recommend oluo (spelling?) and maybe heading up north if you want to wander around.


How much, generally speaking for a guy like myself who is not a very active type, so I won't be doing any hiking or skiing, etc, am I looking at, to go up North and wander around? I mean transportation? Or is that included in the Finrail pass?

seeing Helsinki itself is only a day or two worth of sights, but the clubs and bars can be very fun.

Any specific bar names that you remember? Will the ice bars be open in december?

Food is good but pricy - try to find a place which translates as the Three Crowns for a good cheaper meal, best find I made.

Do you remember at all, anything about the Finn name for this place? If not, I will ask around, no problem.

A day or two in Talinn, Estonia or a side trip via the ferries (cruise liners in reality) to Sweden are cheap and fun.

Okay, I am interedt in Talinn already, how cool is it?

I hope you do not mind me asking you so much, but I figure if you know things, I would like to also know them :)

Thanks again!

10. Posted by miqqo (Budding Member 9 posts) 10y

Hi!
For local transportation you might want to choose a 3 day ticket that already pays off after half dozen rides or a week ticket, if available.

No reason to travel to suburbs but certain historical / cultural sights may interest some. Namely Hvitträsk and Tarvaspää in Espoo, and the Tuusula-Järvenpää area for its national hero-artist neighbourhood with their big wooden homes from the late 19th centyry.

Outdoors folks will find the Nuuksio national park well worth the regional bus/train ticket (3.5 €), 30 minutes from the city center. Pack with you the park's map, some coffee in a container, sausages and mustard and matches. Great daytrip if weather is nice. 75% probability of no or very little snow in december this near the coast so snowshoes not required. If there is lots of snow get the gear from Suomen Latu's rental office (http://www.ulos.fi/hilavitkutin/hilavitkutin.cgi?S060202)

Blues/jazz bars: Storyville for one (right behind the house of parliament). Check whats going on in Kuudes Linja, Soulkitchen, Liberté. World class stars may show up. Rock: Tavastia, Semifinal, Nosturi. Kallio is full of small interesting bars to visit. Avoid chain diners & bars in the city center, well they are sterile standard style anyway and seldom offer particularly good food.

About safety:
- crime: no concern, just have common sense
- city areas: no part of the town is unsafe in the night. Kallio has some reputation but in reality the drunks are harmless. Don't socialize or provoke with them either.
- traffic: watch out for cars, especially on safewalks. Taxis are the worst.
- climate: the slush on streets will destroy any leather shoes

For some reason I find all these places serve very good fried herrings among other great finnish food for ok price (not fine dining) :
- Three Crowns (Kolme Kruunua in Finnish)
- Sea Horse (aka Sikala)
- Salve (the oldest restaurant i hear)

For a very good French lunch cuisine go to Four Seasons, south of city center.

Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) fortress just off the city harbor is worth a visit. Several cafe's and museums open daytime on the island. Great pizzas in Pizzeria Nikolai.
Link: http://www.suomenlinna.fi/index.php?menuid=27&lang=eng