Long flights are never fun, especially if it’s over 6 hours (at least for me). Fortunately, if you are traveling to Europe with FinnAir, you have the option to give yourself a break with a Stopover in Finland. With available flights within the U.S. from San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, your next trip to Europe or Asia can be a lot less daunting with FinnAir's Stopover.
KSOLE and I are based in Los Angeles, which isn't an available city (as of now) for FinnAir, so we took a flight out to New York. From New York, it was an 8-hour direct flight into Helsinki, Finland, and was a pretty smooth and comfortable ride. While we had economy seats going there, which were pretty spacious, we were upgraded to business class on the way home and it was best flight home I ever had. More about the complete experience later on (scroll to the bottom of this post if you can't wait).
We arrived in Helsinki early in the morning, giving us more than enough time to explore the city before we had to continue our journey to Spain the next evening. I would like to point out that the Helsinki airport was a breeze to get through, we didn’t have to wait long for luggage at all. From the airport, it was a 30-minute drive to St. George Hotel, a new hotel that actually celebrated their grand opening the day we checked in.
If you’re wondering what there is to do in Helsinki, allow me to recommend a few fun activities that we enjoyed during our stopover.
1. Enjoy the local food and coffee: there are several great coffee shops located around the city. We used Yelp to find a couple nearby coffee shops and had dinner at Holiday Bar, which is known for their refreshing poke bowls.
2. Relax at a sauna: if you do anything in Finland, let it be a sauna experience because they are big on it. The Loyly Sauna is rated #1 on TripAdvisor.com and there’s a good reason for it. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a sauna session while we were there and what makes this sauna different from what you’re used to? They offer two styles of sauna, steam and wooden, and a private dip into the sea right after. Not to mention a great patio deck where you can sunbathe with a cocktail as well. It’s the Finnish thing to do, according to locals.
3. Take a bus tour around the city: Discover local landmarks and learn about the history of Helsinki. We were offered a private bus tour since we were on a press trip, however, there is a Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour offered to the public. The double-decker bus has 18 stops where you can hop-on and off as many times as you wish.
4. Go shopping: From mid to high-end, there is plenty of shopping to do in Helsinki. Aside from the chain stores, there are also second-hand thrift stores and vintage stores. A popular outlet is Marimekko Factory Outlet, in which we were lucky enough to get a private tour of. The store features quite a few great gifts, clothing pieces, and even bedsheets.
After a day and a half of exploration, we hopped back onto FinnAir for 4 hours and landed in Sitges, spent a night there, and then spent a couple nights in Barcelona.
Now let's go back to that business class experience. If you’ve had business/first class before, you will be expecting the standard – more than enough leg room, attentive service, unlimited drinks and snacks, and decent meals. FinnAir's business class had all of this and more. With super comfortable full-flat seats, a great lounge with lots of options for pre-boarding, and since FinnAir always flies the shortest routes, you'll be leaving your flight wanting more time to enjoy it all. Before I knew it, I woke up to the captain announcing we'd be landing in 20 minutes, and I've never wanted to stay longer on a flight before (especially one that was 8 hours).
For those who enjoy squeezing more out of their trips, FinnAir’s Stopover Program is a great option. I love the idea of spending a day or two in Helsinki, before landing in your final destination and their services overall are great. It was actually my first time in Europe and I am so glad that it was with FinnAir, as the experience was beyond what I expected from any airline.
Cannot wait to fly with them again and cannot recommend them enough to all my friends. Thank you FinnAir for the best trip ever!
*This trip was sponsored by FinnAir and the tourism board of Finland and Spain, however all opinions are of my own and are always 100% honest.
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