I am traveling from Beijng to New York and an airline which I am choosing has a layover of 23.5 hours at Helsinki airport.

I'm a Chinese and don't have Finland visa. If I don't want to sleep on the chair in the airport, do I have other options? Like can I get the airport hotel without Finland visa? Or can I get some form a visitor visa in the airport to leave the airport to find hotel outside to sleep?

If I have to stay at the airport and sleep in the airport, 23.5 hours will be a long time for me.

  • Whats the best place to spend a 24 hour connection? Hotels in downtown Helsinki recommendations? American citizen, so hopefully visa not required? – user32484 Aug 3 '15 at 18:56

As a Chinese national, you can stay within Helsinki airport up to 24 hours whilst in transit without a visa - however you will need to remain in the international "air-side" area.

There are two hotels in the airport (GLO and Hilton), however both are outside of security so you will not be able to access them without a visa. There are also a number of other (cheaper!) hotels in the vicinity that can be accessed via a free shuttle bus.

Your only alternative to staying inside the airport is to obtain a visa, which will let you leave the airport during your stay. If you do this, I would suggest not spending your time around the airport, but instead heading into the city - Helsinki is a brilliant city even if you only have a day to spend, and the city is very easy to access using the 615/620 bus (around 4 euro each way), or in a few months time via the new rail link to the airport.

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    Unfortunately the rail link has been delayed until at least mid-2015. – lambshaanxy Jan 13 '14 at 0:55

So I've got bad news and good more bad news.

The bad news is that, as Doc explains, you need to get a visa or you'll be stuck in the international section of the airport, which is quite small: (~8 gates, duty-free shop, cafe and that's pretty much it -- but at least the wifi is free. Also, since Finland is a member of the Schengen area, there's no concept of a shore pass/short-term visa, you need to get the full 90-day Schengen visa and that's quite a hassle.

enter image description here (courtesy Skift)

The good worse news is that, last October, Helsinki airport opened a "relaxation area" that is on the international side of the terminal, has actual beds, and is absolutely free -- but, as Doc correctly points out, is just barely on the wrong side of passport control. Sigh.

Note that this is still considered an "experiment" and may disappear without notice if they decide not to continue it, although as of Jan 2014 it's still open.

  • According to the website this is next to gate 31, which would put it in the Schengen part of the terminal, which can't be reached without a Visa... – Doc Jan 13 '14 at 1:10
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    Crap. The airport has 8 non-Schengen gates, which I understood to be 31-38 inclusive, but the official map implies that 31 is beyond passport control and "next to 31" may thus be outside as well: finavia.fi/en/helsinki-airport/terminals – lambshaanxy Jan 13 '14 at 2:58
  • Confirmed -- it's still open, and it's on the Schengen side. Sigh. flyertalk.com/forum/finnair-finnair-plus/… – lambshaanxy Jan 13 '14 at 22:46

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