Travel to Finland in Winter

I'm a) cheap; and b) more interested in dining and year-round activities, so I want to go to Finland when its at its most reasonable prices. I was thinking Nov or Dec, but maybe even Jan or Feb. So that brings me to 2 questions.

First, how much of life shuts down in the winter months? Will museums be open? Its a major city so I assume all but touristy stuff will still be operating.

Second, does airfare get cheaper during those months, or is there an ideal time to buy my tickets in advance?

Thanks

Posted by ARedLetterDay
People's Republic of Austin
2 posts

Actually, Finland will in general be cheaper in July-August as there is little business travel during those months and hotel tariffs are cut in half.

Posted by rob
8 posts

Wow! Thanks for that tip. I wouldn't mind saving money and having great weather!

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
6885 posts

Airfares from the US to Europe in general are higher in summer, and that would apply to nearly all destinations, since they're using the same hubs. There's no ideal time to buy, but I don't expect you'll see any sales advertised until fall.

Posted by rob
8 posts

Thank you Laura. I'll keep my eyes open or maybe just try to learn this year and plan for next year.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10268 posts

The only thing that gets cheaper in Finland on a seasonal basis are the hotel rooms, as noted above. Otherwise, it's still pretty expensive by most European standards, if a little cheaper than it's other Nordic neighbors.

Posted by rob
8 posts

This trip has evolved somewhat. First, I got amazing ticket prices on SkyScanner.com which culls data on secondary airports and airlines. Saved nearly $200 per person.

Now, we've realized how close St Petersburg is, we want to do an overnight trip for dinner. We're trying to figure out Visa info. We've seen that via Ferry you don't need a visa but there's question whether the ferry will be running due to freeze. And if not, I guess we'll get a visa and take the train.

The other thing we're planning is to go inland to have a dinner - this whole trip is about dinners!

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
8546 posts

You may want to check on how much daylight you have. So you know how much (actually, little) time you have to see things outdoors, to help you figure how much you can do in a day.

Posted by Val
Long Beach, USA
208 posts

Hi,

I am not sure where you are flying from and if your itinerary is set in stone...
But last year I flew to Oslo and flew out of Copenhagen because I got a great price with Norwegian.
It was super easy to go to Finland in the middle. I had been there before but it was my first time in the late Fall (late November/early December) and I loved it! In Oslo, I joined some locals and had a beer on a patio when it was -12 celcius. It was wonderful! I did not find Helsinki as ''alive'' but it was fine. All museums were open from what I can remember in Oslo so I don't see why it would be different elsewhere. I did see some nice Christmas market in Turku (Finland). I have a soft spot for Finland since I have many friends from there....but I have to say Copenhagen was the best for the Christmas feeling! And not as cold as other places I went to during the trip.

I hope you can do the ferry to St-Petersburgh....it makes things so easy instead of bothering with the visa! And it is a wonderful city. Make sure to book accomodation in advance though.

I bought my ticket about 4 weeks before going...like I pretty much always do.

Posted by rob
8 posts

I don't get to travel often so some very basic questions are coming up. Back when I didn't have to pay for my trips (as a kid) I loved staying at B&Bs...a family that opens up a few rooms and feeds you a light meal in the morning. I like them because of access to information by locals instead of a business that's focused on other things.

So now that I'm searching for B&Bs I find all sorts of sites offering what they call B&Bs but that sound like hotels or rented apartments...but I want the family touch. Are there any suggestions for finding this more quaint form of housing in Helsinki? Thanks.

Posted by Todd
Colorado
16 posts

I went to Helsinki last year in December. It was a great time to go. There had been a snowfall right before I arrived and even with the city streets snow packed, everything functioned well. I took the Finnair Bus in from the airport which takes you to Central Station...my hotel was a very easy walk from there. During December, there is a Christmas Market located right in front of the Lutheran Cathedral. I went to the market at night and it was pretty cold. However, I walked into a tent at the market that was serving salmon dinners and other local favorites. I got inside the tent and it was warm and friendly with many locals enjoying a Christmas tradition with family. The food was AWESOME. Warmed me up for my walk through the market and down the esplanade where I had plenty of excuses to stop in the cafes along the way. Really enjoyed being there at that time.

Posted by rob
8 posts

Thanks Todd. I'm glad to hear that because everyone seems to think we're crazy to go in December. The update on my trip is - we booked flights at a great price via skyscanner.com and tripsta.com. Found amazing lodging via airbnb - a private full apartment for $62 a night right downtown, but not right above loud bars. I've booked meals at Olo (the reason we're going), Demo and over in Estonia for one night, dining at Neh. We will be well fed! From everything I can see, with the exception of the trip to and from the airport, we'll be able to walk everywhere. We like to walk and have good cold weather clothes, so hopefully that's true.

Posted by rob
8 posts

My trip is just a few short weeks away now. Since my last post we've booked our AirBnB private apartment downtown for around $60US per night. Booked a one night trip to Tallinn. Three Michelin starred dinners. Been conversing with the Slow Food Helsinki group who has turned us on to a number of shops and events including a food festival on 10 December. Figured out the Christmas market, St. Lucia Festival, and so much more.

What a food lovers trip this is going to be! oh yeah, and we may find a museum, gallery or such to fill in between meals ;)