Finland is one of the beautiful destinations we’ve always wanted to feature on the blog but many people do not really visit. Maybe due to the pricey flight tickets. Ticket from Nigeria is a bit on the high side.
In this post, Yemi a globe trotter takes us through Finland. She shares with us hack to getting a cheap flight to Finland and some of the best things to do around. You can follow her Instagram page for travel inspiration.
Visa requirements: Traveling to Finland from Nigeria requires a visa. See procedures on how to apply for a visa from Nigeria here.
Flights: One major hack to buying your tickets cheaper is buying at any early date probably 2 months before. We bought ours for less than £100 each from London to Helsinki to Estonia back to London. A few days before our trip, it had spiked to £1000+. That was 50% because of the world village festival and a demand on Seats.
Most people love to go for Skiing, northern lights or just a quick weekend break. Once you’ve decided when you want to go, remember Finnair in our case is a small/ local plane. It fills up quickly which then drives demand for the last few seats.
My last tip is travelling on a weekday is cheaper. I guess most of Finnair’s passengers are likely to be working or prefer to travel on weekends and it showed in the price difference
WHERE I STAYED
We got a lovely one bedroom apartment in Malmi through the Airbnb app. We stayed there for 4 days and 3 nights. I personally like to use Airbnbs because it’s a good way to immerse myself in the local culture. As I get to live in their homes for that short stay, I learnt so much about the neighborhood. This made me feel at home.
My most preferred accommodation is hotel. The best part of the city is to stay at Helsinki city centre. They have amazing hotels such as Sokos hotel with good food and a lovely roof terrace with an amazing view. It’s also opposite the Helsinki Central train (Helsinki helsingfors) and Bus station.
EATING IN FINLAND
Average price of meal: I would say their average price for a main course meal is €30 at a restaurant and €12 for a quick meal takeaway at other restaurant. For Drinks, a glass of white wine is €10. So you have to be cautious because Finland is one of the most expensive places in Europe. Their food and drinks reflect this in their prices.
Local Cuisine: A bit of context here, Helsinki like most European countries celebrate international food just as much as their own. We mostly tried Turkish, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Korea, Philippine and Vietnamese Food. One meal I really wanted to try was Mexican food from Santa Fe. Not only did it look great, it tasted just as nice in massive portions as well. I would recommend their South Texas Steak Grill with some cocktails or Red wine any day.
Being at the world Village Festival with 200 food exhibitors, we had so much more food we tried and loved. You are probably wondering ‘what about Finnish food?’ I would recommend Sandro (Kallio). Although we were not able to go, there’s always a lovely Sunday brunch with a twist of upbeat African touch
THINGS TO DO
My friend and I look out for free walking tours when we travel. The locals guide us and it’s always entertaining. We get to meet people from other countries visiting and when we visit certain areas, it’s with a twist of local historical importance.
We visited the Helsinki Cathedral, Uspenki Cathedral (Russian Architecture), the old Market hall, the Senate Square. Learnt some information like the picture of the wolfs on the streets which mean Finnish people are not regarded as Scandinavian.
One exciting place is the Allas Sea pool, it’s an outdoor pool in the sea right next to a Sauna, Outdoor café and the Market hall.
You have to go to visit Temppeliaukio church, basically a modern church carved from a Rock. You have to go in to see how unique and incredible this church is. We got kicked out later because a wedding was about to start in the evening haha!.
Suomenlinna Sveaborg has to be one of the highlight for us, it’s about 20 minutes ferry ride from Helsinki Central to the sea Island. Helsinki is full of so much history and fun that I can find so many reasons to go back there.
Suomenlinna Sea Fortess is a UNESCO World Heritage which was built in the 18th century. There were literally no cars or vehicle on this island, it has museums, pretty cafes, restaurants and Caves. It’s absolutely worth a visit when in Helsinki but I wouldn’t recommend winter time as it can be dead silent.
The world Village festival (Maailma kylässä) has got to be the event to go and enjoy. It’s hosted once a year for two days and has about 200 exhibitors and 100 performances including talk shows and Music. We tasted food from different countries and you can trust African food was there and repping.
What I really loved was dancing to international music performed by Dobet Gnahoré, Abou Diarra and Freshlyground. Also we listened to talks from Abayomi Adebayo, Author of “Stay with me” and Discussions on “improving the status of Women through art”. We even had an Afro Sunday DJ giving us Nigerian tunes Back to Back.
CULTURE SHOOK INCIDENCES
The Northern lights is one to see which is usually during winter time with 4 hours of sunlight that is an amazing experience. Summer time is great as well because you have about 19 hours of sunlight and it’s great for solo travelling and with friends or family. It’s the third safest place in Europe and no lie, at 2am on the road by ourselves, I knew it was ok.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Before heading to Helsinki, please know everyone speaks English but they would speak Finnish first, the basic greeting are so simple to learn and It’s always nice to say this to them. There’s a small community of Africans out of the 5 million population so once you are seen by another African, they tend to greet you more.
The city comes alive after 6pm to 3am till bars are closed and they get more friendly during that time, not that they are not but everyone tends to keep to themselves which is part of their culture. There’s also a two hours cruise to Estonia which is another incredible country to go as part of a day trip but i would recommend spending a day or two.
MY BIGGEST TAKE HOME
The view was breathtaking and it was very relaxing from the usual day to day hustle. I personally enjoy being in a different space where everything is peaceful and colourful.
I would personally advise anyone visiting to get your camera ready and just be ready to explore the scenery and what the city is about.
Have you ever been to Finland? How would you describe the country? From Yemi’s story, we already love the country and we can’t wait to visit