5 mistakes to avoid on a long weekend in Helsinki

5 mistakes to avoid on a long weekend in Helsinki – or, if you’d prefer, I act like a plonker so you don’t have to.

Well, it wouldn’t be venturing into the unknown if it was all smooth sailing, would it? In my four-day trip to Helsinki, I made no less than five faux pas.

I simply dare you to aim for the lofty heights of my ineptitude.

Helsinki is a fantastic city, made all the better for the classy, down-to-earth locals (where are these hipsters I hear so much about?). Luckily for me, I relish risk while on the roam, but if you’re of a more sensible persuasion, here are five things to bear in mind before you alight the plane.

1) Not bringing a sleeping mask

My first two nights were sleepless (until about 4am; or 2am bodyclock time). The reasons were plenty, but had I paid attention to the fact that Finland is known for its late summer sunsets, I might have brought a sleeping mask and woken a touch more rejuvenated. This was taken at midnight, by the way:

2) Booking a hotel in the wrong part of town

Talking of rejuvenation, our Radisson Blu Royal Hotel was almost perfect; but doing it all again, I’d have picked a location nearer the water.

Read more about why I didn’t have more time to research hotel locations here...

3) Looking for a coffee on a Saturday morning in Helsinki’s answer to Canary Wharf

The location we did pick was in Kampi, Helsinki’s business district. London readers will know the eerie desertedness of Canary Wharf on a Saturday; so I’m absolutely certain that would explain why, on our first morning, it took us an hour to find a cup of coffee. Once we navigated our to the city centre, there were coffee shops aplenty, THANK GOD.

A little extra:  Where to go for breakfast in Tokyo: Sawamura Bread & Tapas

Amy + jetlag – coffee = grumpy.

4) Not realising Helsinki in July = no locals

Like Paris in August, the Helsinkians are up and out of the capital for the month of July. And no wonder: with 188,000 lakes and 76% of its landmass covered in forest, there’s a lot of summer fun to be had in the Finnish wilderness. With fewer locals come fewer restaurant options; so be sure to phone ahead to see if the restaurant has space for you.

5) Not bringing my passport to travel to Estonia for the day

Seems obvious, right? Not to a Bear of Very Little Brain like myself. Having booked a day return to Estonia on the ferry, daddio and I rocked up sans passports. We hot-footed it back to the hotel via a taxi driver who said we were his third riders back to hotels that morning.

With its contagious, laissex-faire, sea-faring attitude, Helsinki is a fabulous destination for a long weekend so don’t be alarmed by my sparse coverage and seemingly negative stance – I’ll explore the city in all its enjoyable glory in my next post.


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