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Helsinki Pride 2019 will be held between June 24th and 30th. The event is becoming more and more popular every year. While Finland is known for respecting gender equality, this makes Helsinki Pride an attractive event for the LGBT community across the globe.
Official Pride pages have comprehensive information about the event, but we are giving our readers practical tips about Helsinki, especially for first-time visitors in Finland. With our tips, your preparations will be easier and you will probably also save some time and money.
Arriving to Finland
The most common way to reach Finland is to come by a plane. There are international bus and train connections to Helsinki only from Russia because Helsinki is surrounded by Baltic sea. Flying is the most practical and also the fastest way to reach Helsinki.
Many airlines including low-cost ones fly to Helsinki from all over Europe. Helsinki can also be reached directly from the US and from many Asian countries with Finnair and also with a few foreign carriers. The best way to find a suitable flight connection is to search using Skycanner.
If you are unlucky and do not find affordable flight tickets directly to Helsinki, you may also want to consider flying to Turku by Wizzair or to Tampere by Ryanair. Turku with Wizzair can be reached directly from Kaunas, Skopje, Gdansk, Krakow and London Luton. Tampere with Ryanair can be reached directly from Bremen and Budapest. Both Turku and Tampere are about 2 hours bus or train ride away from Helsinki. A ticket from these cities to Helsinki costs 5-30 euros one-way depending on when you buy it. The earlier you purchase tickets online, the cheaper it will be. Check state's railway company VR and a low-cost bus company Onnibus for affordable tickets. Oftentimes, they also have online ticket sales.
Also, Helsinki can be easily reached by ferries from neighboring capital cities, Stockholm and Tallinn. If you are arriving from other European cities, you may wish to include to your itinerary a cruising on the Baltic Sea from Tallinn or Stockholm and reaching Helsinki by a ferry. Sometimes, there are cheaper flights to Stockholm Arlanda Airport or to Tallinn Airport compared to flying directly to Helsinki Airport. If you are considering this option, we recommend you to book cruise tickets in advance from either Tallinn or Stockholm to Helsinki. We have published separate articles about Tallinn and Stockholm ferries. These ferry connections are operated safely and they offer pleasant experiences while being surprisingly affordable.
Helsinki Airport City Connections
Helsinki Airport is 19 kilometers from Helsinki City centre. The airport is sometimes referred as Helsinki-Vantaa Airport as it is located in Helsinki's neighbouring city called Vantaa.
Airport Trains to the Centre
The airport has a railway station under the terminals. From the airport terminals, it takes about 7 minutes walking to reach airport's train station. From there, you can take either of the two different lines to Helsinki: Train I or Train P. Both lines take about 30 minutes to reach Helsinki central railway station so it does not matter which of them you take. If you wish to exit at an intermediate station, you need to choose your line more carefully.
Check Helsinki area route planner to see which connection is the best for you if you are not heading to the centre. Otherwise, just take train I or P from the airport to the end station.
Taking a taxi from Helsinki Airport to the centre is probably the most convenient way. A taxi to the centre will cost about 40 euros. We have written a separate article How to choose a good taxi from Helsinki Airport.
Public Transport Tickets
Helsinki area's public transport system has recently been divided to zones A, B,C and D. You must select at least two different zones when you are buying a ticket. The zones AB are enough for the whole Helsinki but Helsinki Airport is located inside the zone C. In other words, from the airport to the centre you will need a ticket for zones ABC. A single ticket for said zones costs 4.60€.
The same public transport ticket is valid for buses, trams, local trains and Suomenlinna ferry.Public transport ticket are not valid for long-distance trains even though they may stop in many Helsinki area stations. Be sure to take a commuter train (marked with a letter) if you have a zone ticket. Single tickets are valid 90 minutes after the validation and when the ticket expires you can still finish your on-going journey. The penalty for travelling without a validated ticket is 80 euros.
Where to Buy a Ticket?
Only thing what we recommend is to download HSL App to buy public transport tickets. The app is really handy and functional with its recent updates. After downloading the app, just provide your basic personal information and your payment card and then you are ready to buy your ticket/s. You should purchase day ticket (1-7 days) depending on your needs as is it cheaper than buying single tickets many times. Mobile roaming in the EU area is cheap but if you have a non-EU SIM in your phone, you may buy a local prepaid SIM Card for example from R-kioski. One of them is located inside Helsinki Airport's Terminal 2 on the arrival floor. Don't expect tickets to be sold inside public transport carriers.
Our Hotel Recommendations
Good Quality Hotels
The best hotel location for Helsinki Pride visitors is the city centre close to the railway station. Centrally located hotels are also the most expensive ones but almost everything is then in walking distance. Hotels in Finland usually include breakfast so you can expect to have a very good breakfast buffet in 4-star and 5-star hotels.
Check the following hotel options:
- Hotel Kämp is an old-style 5-star hotel very well-located. This is for people who want to have the best.
- Clarion Hotel Helsinki is one of the newest and a really modern 4-star hotel close to West Harbour. You need a 10 minutes tram ride to reach the city centre.
- Sokos, Radisson Blu, Scandic and GLO are all good hotels chains, which have many 4-star hotels in the city centre. Sokos Hotels is a Finnish hotel chain so you may prefer trying this local choice.
- Hotel Helka is a great independent hotel 10 minutes walking from the central railway station but just next to central bus the station.
Check all Helsinki area hotel prices here.
Hotels in the downtown may become expensive during Helsinki Pride so you may consider to have a good quality hotel a little further:
- Pasila area is only a 5 minutes train ride from Helsinki centre. All trains to Helsinki Central Station pass Pasila and the cheapest zone ticket AB is enough. In Pasila area, you may want to stay in Sokos Hotel Pasila or Holiday Inn Expo.
- GLO Hotel Sello is in a shopping mall Sello in Espoo city. A train ride from the mall to Helsinki city centre takes only 12 minutes and the cheapest ticket for zones AB is enough.
Check all Helsinki area hotel prices here. If a hotel is close to a metro or commuter train station, reaching Helsinki centre is usually fast. Helsinki area has a good bus network too but buses are slower than rail transport.
AirBnB is totally legal in Finland and apartments, like Finnish homes, are of good quality. There are also hostels in Helsinki centre.
What to Do in Helsinki?
There is a lot to do in Helsinki in addition to Helsinki Pride. You may want to visit one of the public saunas. There are tens of islands close to Helsinki. Suomenlinna island is maybe to most popular one but why not to try also Vallisaari.
If the weather is good you may want to swim in the sea but the water temperature is usually about 17 to 21 degrees celsius in July. Lakes in Espoo and Vantaa may be a little warmer. In Vantaa, you may want to visit Kuusijärvi for swimming and try a traditional smoke sauna. Swimming inside is also possible in many swimming halls and Yrjönkatu public swimming hall is one of the most famous halls in Helsinki. Women and men swim there at separate times and no swimsuit is required. If you want to visit a naturist beach in Helsinki, there is one located on the island called Pihlajasaari. Visit Helsinki City's official website for more information.
Finnish National Museum and the newest public library Oodi are worth to see and totally free. In National Museum, you will learn a lot about Finnish history. The library Oodi is not just a library but a meeting point for local people and you can have many kind of activities without any charge. You should not miss visiting this very uniquely designed library!
Helsinki has plenty of shopping malls. The weather is not always the nicest one what makes big shopping malls practical - no need to stay outside. The newest mall is called Redi that can be reached by a metro (station Kalasatama). In the central bus station (Kamppi, there is a big shopping mall too. The most well-known department store is called Stockmann that is 5 minutes walk from the central railway station.
Helsinki is a lively and safe city. The weather is not always the nicest so expect to experience anything between cold rain and hot sunshine. As all Nordic countries, the price level in Helsinki is high compared to many other European countries. Luckily, Helsinki is still cheaper than Scandinavian capitals. Don't forget to have a day trip to Tallinn in Estonia where there is extremely beautiful Old Town.
What are your plans in Helsinki? Comment below. You may want to share this to your friend.