I travel a lot in my work so Helsinki airport is pretty much my second office. I am there so often that I have developed own routines and favourites to master the place.
The general stuff
There are two terminals in Helsinki airport: T1 and T2. They are two wings of the same building. The gates between the two terminals are totally within walking distance. T2 has a seperate area for all non-Schengen flights.
The airport is modern and easy to navigate. You have great connections from the airport to Helsinki (train, busses, taxi) and to other cities as well (connection trains, straight bus).
What annoys me the most in an unfamiliar airport is that I do not know what kind of services there are within each step of the way (departure hall > safety control > gate area). Sometimes these are seperate spaces and you cannot go back. Thus, you are then stuck in a glass cubical with 100 people, dying of thirst and with a desperate toilet need (been there, done that). So I just want to clarify these things on my home base.
The arrival hall in T2 has a food store called Alepa, full-service pharmacy, Starbucks and Burger King among many other things. Arrival hall in T1 has just couple of cafeterias.
After the safety control, it is all common space between the gates and lounges, thank god. Both wings have lounge areas, food places and shops, T 2 having a larger selection. As I mentioned earlier that non-Schengen area is seperate. It has its’ own Starbucks and Burger King, restaurants and many designer shops.
At one time, I was having huge Starbucks-cravings that I got a brilliant idea of accessing the non-Schengen area just for that one Grande. I got my coffee and everything went smooth until the exiting part of the area. The officials checking my passport were quite cross with me entering the area with no intension of flying from there. Lesson learnt. So my advise: remember to get yours at the arrival hall, if you are on a Schengen flight.
Finnish habits at the airport
Queuing at the gate or next to a stand-alone plane. We Finns don’t know how to zipper up into a nice line. We can’t help it, we just have to rush to the entrance! More seasoned Finns may have been standing next to the service counter for a good 20 minutes to make sure they beat everyone else. You can read from everybody’s face and rolling of eyes that they think they should be the first one. The Finnish custom is not to use any words with this situation: just stare at the floor, avoid all eye contact and push slowly and steadily (like a train) yourself to the aircraft.
Fill your water bottle from the toilet. I know to some this sounds disgusting but we do this all the time! According to many studies, our tap water is cleaner than bottled water. Just carry an empty water bottle through the safety control and fill it up. We have even designated taps for this, so it is easy to work with the bottle. Btw, you can also hear Finnish birds singing in the restroom.
Honestly, I couldn’t take a picture of The Oak Barell to you because it was packed at 8.30 am. This is an institution and a mandatory pub visit for many Finns when they are flying. In social media, you get often a location update from this pre-flight destination.
If I have time, I always go in through T1. I like how small it is, the rest rooms and chairs just next to the entrance and a smaller safety control without a hectic atmosphere. Oh gosh, I just realized that I sound like a granny.
Immediately after the safety check, there is my favourite place to have a coffee in the airport. Johan&Nyström (near Gate 13) is a coffee-lover’s paradise and their sandwiches are delicious with unique flavors. I usually take the Avocado-peanut butter. (J&N is the featured image of this posting.)
There is a small clothing shop ARG (near Gate 14) in T1 which I often glance through. They have a lovely assortment of medium-prized modern classics with a Scandinavian colour palette. Clothes and asseccories can be found both for men and women.
If I am in rush and boarding from T2, I go straight in from T2 and head for Freshly made (near gate 27). This tiny cafeteria has fast service and a great home-made selection of food.
Ps. I have received no commercial support from the above mentioned places.