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  • Mar 24th, 2017 2:31 pm
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Deal Addict
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Mar 10, 2003
4708 posts
517 upvotes
Toronto

Helsinki?

Heading to Scandinavia again this year - Stockholm, Bergen, Reykjavik - which I've either been to already or is a well known tourist destination (Thanks Iceland!), meaning not much to think about! But I've got three days in Helsinki, and have no idea what to do there. Any suggestions? Should I be practicing my Finnish? All of the Swedes and Norwegians I met were largely fluent in English.
9 replies
Deal Guru
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Apr 26, 2004
10141 posts
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Mississauga
Pretty much everyone in Finland speaks fluent English. A lot of them can speak 3 or 4 languages. I imagine there's a strong impetus to learning multiple languages when you live in a wealthy country and your native tongue is so unknown by most of the world.
Deal Addict
Jul 24, 2003
1084 posts
42 upvotes
Take a day (or two) trip to Tallinn Estonia with a ferry. Especially when you've been to other Scandinavian countries. Old town Tallinn is quite a medieval gem. Everything is considerably cheaper than Finland too. (It's much cheaper to stay in Estonia too)

Couple pointers if ure considering taking the ferry to Tallinn:
- book early online for cheaper tix. The prices increase as getting closer to departure date
- there are different ferry companies and ferry terminal
- take the earliest ferry and u will be able to make it on time to the free walking tour in Tallinn, which I recommend

If you want something even more different and can fork out a visa to Russia, St. Petersburg is only a 3.5 hours train ride away from Helsinki as well.
Deal Fanatic
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Sep 6, 2002
7104 posts
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Toronto
I've been to Helsinki a few times, I have Finnish friends but I suppose there isn't a lot of "must see" attractions. There's the Helsinki cathedral and some church in a rock that's sort of cool.

Finnish people on the other hand are awesome people, beautiful girls, all speak English and all love to drink. I mean REALLY love to drink. Turku is a nice little town that's not too far away. Agreed on the other comments Tallinn is a very impressive medieval city and worth a stop. St. Petersburg is now connected by rail (I havn't been but it's on my to do list) and the ruble isn't doing well so it's a good time to visit. The visa is frustrating and somewhat pricey. If you can take a boat to St. Petersburg you can dodge the visa fee for a few days.

There is the artic icebar but I just googled and its now closed.

I'd say focus on trying to meet some locals, they have a good sense of humor and not only is their English good, they seem to understand our sense of humor and jokes. I'd go again but it's for the people.

Plus you got Darude and the famous Sandstorm song.
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Member
Apr 1, 2013
411 posts
67 upvotes
BC
You can do Helsinki on your own easily. There is a tram #2 or #3 go thru all the major attractions. There is Rock church which is quite nice.
Newbie
Sep 8, 2013
86 posts
21 upvotes
Winnipeg
I was in Helsinki-Stockholm last month. I had a pleasant time and the I found the Finns really friendly. Public transport is easy to use but I walked everywhere. I did a last minute daytrip to Tallinn riding with ferry operator, Tallink-Silja--You will need your passport. The ferry ride was a neat and comfortable experience. On the evening ride back to Helsinki, they had a cover band playing at the bar.
Newbie
Jan 16, 2017
9 posts
2 upvotes
Not too much to do there, there is a nice market downtown to kill an hour. I stayed at the Best Western Prison Hotel and that was the highlight of my stay here a few years ago...Best deal on food was an Indian restaurant downtown....
Sr. Member
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Jul 25, 2008
689 posts
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Toronto
I have relatives in Helsinki and Turkuu, so I visited them 2 years ago... great city to live in but not very fun to visit unless you get the time to go to Northern Finland. I suggest spending a day in Helsinki but take an overnight cruise to Estonia.
Deal Addict
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Oct 25, 2009
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Moncton
Talamasca wrote:
Mar 20th, 2017 4:21 pm
Pretty much everyone in Finland speaks fluent English.
Source? Many residents of Southern Ontario can't speak English. Many Finns who don't travel and mostly deal with locals, in health care or car repair for example, will have poor to non-existent English.

That said, I didn't bother learning a single word of Finish and did fine. Although the women I met in Helsinki were Swedish, a sacrifice I was willing to put up with. :)

By the way, while you are in Finland, ask people if they put their vodka in the freezer. Finlandia is a fairly mellow vodka (that I quite enjoy), and I've always drunk it warm. So I wonder if it is an American custom (I can't imagine the Russians drink it cold).
Toronto is a very small part of Canada
Deal Guru
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Apr 26, 2004
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Mississauga
MonctonMan wrote:
Mar 24th, 2017 4:23 am
Source? Many residents of Southern Ontario can't speak English. Many Finns who don't travel and mostly deal with locals, in health care or car repair for example, will have poor to non-existent English.
I watched a doc on it at a film festival. The info is easily found in Google too.

Every Finnish child starts learning two other languages at an early age (English and Swedish) and will often learn one or two more in their version of high school and this has been going on since the 60s at least. Yes, if you don't use it regularly, it'll get rusty, but the majority of people there will have at least a working knowledge of English. I was in Iceland last year (which has a similar educational system) and everyone there, even in small villages, spoke fluent English.

Not sure why Southern Ontario got a mention. Those that don't speak English are immigrants from other countries that tend to stay in their own ethnic enclaves. Finland doesn't have this issue as the country is extremely homogenous.

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