Transportation

When it comes to moving around, Finland is top-notch! Here's basic info and useful links.

Public transportation and walking have been liberating and very easy, even in winter.
-U.S. Fulbright Scholar 2016-2017

Biking

The best way to get going in cities. Being increasingly popular all over in Finland, biking is safe and biking networks are being constantly improved. It is a highly recommended mode of transport, even during winter with the right gear. 

If you are not willing to buy a new bike, buy one used at www.tori.fi or www.huuto.net which are popular classifieds websites where you can findused bikes (and literally everything else) for a low price. Unfortunately both sites are in Finnish. 

By law you're required to have a white light pointed forward and an optional red light on the rear if you are driving in dark. Ignoring these regulations will result in a fine. If you get pedaling, learn the Finnish traffic laws.

In Helsinki there exists a comprehensive, easily accessible and very popular public City bike network. See more info: www.hsl.fi/en/citybikes.

In the Capitol region you can plan your route with the excellent Journey Planner for Cycling which counts your energy consumption in chocolate bars and pizza slices and stuff like that.

Buy a used bike! That was the best decision I made while here. I love being able to ride all over town. Fulbright scholar grantee 2015-2016

Biking in Finland in more detail:

Cars

For its size, climate, and population, Finland has an excellent road network. Most Finnish families own an automobile or two, especially in rural areas where distances can be long. Driving is expensive though. Cars are highly taxed, gasoline and oil prices are at least 2-3 times those in the United States (as of August 2016, 95 octane gasoline sets you back $5,67 per gallon). However, there are no road tolls in Finland.

Rent a car

If you are looking to travel extensively in rural areas such as national parks and Lapland, you should consider renting a car. To ensure that you won't face “unexpected” charges, read the contract as all the expenses will be listed there. Before renting, make sure that you either do get the contract in English, or if its in Finnish, you’ll have someone to read it through.

If you rent a car, bring along:

  • Driver’s license (admitted minimum 12 months prior, sometimes 24. U.S. license is OK)
  • Passport
  • Credit card (you need credit to cover the deposit sum, which will be refunded if you return the car in one piece)

Remember also to check from the dealer:

  • the required minimum age of the driver
  • possible cost for additional drivers
  • cost for fuel and mileage
  • cost for extra accessories, e.g. baby seat
  • where to call if you have problems with the car
  • travel outside of Finland ­– you’ll need a written permission from the dealer/broker.

Car rentals:

Buying or Importing a Car

Doable but will cost you.

I can’t imagine any worse idea than trying to import your car from the U.S. to Finland, or even buying one here if you are on a short term grant.

- U.S. Grantee, 2013-2014

Foreigners are permitted to bring automobiles into Finland free of any import duties or taxes for a period of one year. Moreover, Americans are permitted to purchase cars in most European countries free of any local purchase taxes or duties for a period of six months. A car insurance is mandatory.

More info on the website of the Finnish Customs.

Driving Regulations

Regulations and traffic signs differ significantly from those in the U.S. For example, you are not allowed to turn right on red in Finland. The minimum age for drivers is 18. Learn the traffic regulations prior to operating a vehicle in Finland.

Driver's License

Your U.S. driver’s license will be valid in Finland for 24 months from the time of your arrival.

Public Transport

It is nice that there are only a few providers of transportation that can get you almost anywhere in the country.
- U.S. Student Grantee 2015-2016
Christmas in Lapland was magical! And getting around the country by train is very easy and affordable. Getting around the city of Tampere without a car was also very manageable, and even free when traveling with my daughter in her stroller...!
- U.S. Student Grantee 2015-2016

Public transportation is world class but study the routes in the cities before you venture out.
- U.S. Scholar Grantee 2016-2017

Finnish mass transit is world class and you should use it. Ask for a membership card and discount rates from your local mass transit office.

Journey Planner is your guiding light in the darkness and you shan't travel without the Planner.

Get a bus pass as soon as you arrive - busses are very useful for getting around and a pass will save you money.
-U.S. Student Grantee 2013-2014

Rail

Trains are clean and comfortable, and run on time. The fares are reasonable. Tickets can be bought online.

Various discount fares, including student prices, are available for both domestic and international travel. The ticket counter staff at the railway stations will provide details. If you're traveling with a family, please note that with one basic adult ticket, one child (6 to 16 years old) travels for free. Find more information about this here. Finland belongs to the Eurailpass system, but note that you must purchase Eurailpass tickets in North America before your departure.

Buy train and bus tickets online in advance, you will save money.
-U.S. Student Grantee 2015

Intercity coaches

There is also an extensive network of between places in Finland. Like the trains, they are safe, clean, comfortable, and punctual.

Tickets may be purchased either at bus stations, online or on the bus. Student discounts are available, but you may need appropriate student ID.

Travel in Finland is really easy and things such as OnniBus are really affordable, even for those of us who don´t get student discounts.  It made it really easy to travel around and see and experience a lot of the country. - U.S. Scholar Grantee 2014-2015

 

Ships and Ferries

Finland is well served by ships to Sweden, Germany, Estonia and also St. Petersburg. Most boats leave from Helsinki and some from Turku. Tallinn is only a few hours boat ride away, whereas Sweden, Germany and Russia take overnight to reach. The shipping lanes are open throughout the year.

Fly!

In proportion to the size of the population, the Finnair domestic service is one of the most extensive in Europe. It provides regularly-scheduled, full-service flights to nearly all major population centers in Finland and continental Europe.

Although normal fares are pricey, there are discounts for both commuter and tourist travel. Students may obtain reduced fares on domestic flights. Over the past few years, there has also been an influx in the number of no-frills and discount carriers servicing Finland.

  • Air Baltic -- International flights
  • Air Berlin -- International flights
  • Blue 1/SAS -- International and domestic flights
  • Finnair -- Finland’s flagship international and domestic carrier
  • Flybe -- International and domestic cheap flights
  • Norwegian -- International and domestic cheap flights
  • Ryanair -- International cheap flights from Tampere