Helsinki Airport Layover ideas
Travelling through Helsinki and needing to kill some time with children...
On the end of our Christmas in Lapland holiday this winter, we ended up in Helsinki on a snowy Sunday. With shopping in mind & having already explored Helsinki central before our Christmas holiday, we decided to head out to the main Helsinki airport, Vantaa with a few hours up our sleeves.
After checking our luggage in at the airport, we jumped in a taxi for the short drive to the JUMBO shopping centre. The taxi was 15 Euros each way and the drivers seemed happy enough to travel the short distance.
Other than buying a few items for our soon to be completed 'Sauna in a Shipping container' back home, our main plan for the outing was to visit the Flamingo Aquapark so our kids could have some physical activity before heading back to Australia. And how could we resist a water park named Flamingo...
On arrival to the Jumbo shopping centre, the Flamingo Aqua Park was well signposted and easy to find. What was nice was that there were large lockers to store all our hand luggage (the reception could also take some) and towels offered at the reception. You were provided a wristband that you could put money on for food and drinks but we didn't do this. We ate outside later.
Main entrance to the Flamingo Aqua Park
The waterpark was rather dark (it is all indoors and the day was rather dreary) but it was a heap of fun! What I love about Scandinavian water parks is that they are generally a lot more 'dangerous' and adventurous than the average waterparks back at home. You definitely need to keep an eye on your kids - one of the slides had loads of water rushing down it (no little trickles here) and it ended in a pretty fast and hard current on the bottom of the slide. This was great for the adults who could use it for some exercise swimming against but our competent 8-year-old swimmer was pretty tired at the end of the session.
There were spas to sit in, a toddler pool, lots of balls & floatation devises to keep the kids happy and a small cafe in the corner. We enjoyed the diving pool and of course, the whirlpools. Afterwards, we split up and headed for the MASSIVE saunas inside the change rooms. You could use a towel in the sauna and the locals didn't seem to mind however you decided to dress in the change rooms. Hairdryers and comfortable mirrors were positioned around the rooms.
The Sauna was a highlight - it was definitely the biggest one I had ever been into. It was a nice experience to watch the local families using the sauna but note, as you would expect, it was hot.
After the water park, we were pretty keen to eat so headed up to the first floor food corridor. And boy did we find the ultimate family friendly restaurant! It was nearly too good to be true. Called Rax Buffet, for a very low price, you could help yourself to hot dishes such as pizza, meatballs, Buffalo wings, sausages & pastas, then a large salad bar with heaps of salad dressings and condiments. There were self-serve soft drinks, water, coffee & tea and ice cream. It was satisfying for both adults and kids and was actually pretty healthy for 'fast food'. It isn't gourmet though, in case you were wondering. There are 25 of these buffet restaurants to be found around Finland, mostly in the larger shopping malls.
RAX Buffet - certainly popular with the locals
We then headed off around the shopping centre - a massive place with mostly pretty generic shops but it was the post Christmas sales so fun enough. Grabbing a taxi at the completion of the trip was easy with a taxi rank at the front of one of the car parks. Round trip was about three hours but you could obviously spend more or less time depending on what you wanted to do. We aren't big shopping centre people but for convenience, this layover option is simple & gets you out of the airport, mingling with the locals.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 am - 9 pm