Biking is the best way to get going in cities. Increasingly popular all over in Finland, biking is safe and biking networks are constantly being improved. It is a highly recommended mode of transport, even during winter with the right gear.
If you don’t want to buy a new bike, buy one used at www.tori.fi or www.huuto.net which are popular classifieds websites where you can find used 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 riding in the dark. Ignoring these regulations will result in a fine. If you get pedaling, learn the Finnish traffic laws.
Helsinki has 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 Journey Planner for Cycling.
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
More information about biking in Finland:
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, while gasoline and oil prices are at least 2-3 times those in the United States. 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 it’s in Finnish, ask 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)
- Credit card (you need credit to cover the deposit sum, which will be refunded when you return the car)
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.
Importing or Buying a Car
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.
Information about buying a car can be found from Trafi Website.
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.
As the U.S. is part of the Vienna Convention of road traffic, U.S. drivers licenses are valid in Finland provided the holder is here with tourist status. If you only have a temporary living arrangements in Finland you can use your American driver's license until it expires. After the holder of the license has permanently settled in Finland, the license is valid for two years or until the license expires.
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.
Many Finnish cities have Journey Planners.
Get a bus pass as soon as you arrive - buses are very useful for getting around and a pass will save you money. -U.S. Student Grantee 2013-2014
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 children aged 7 to 16 years are entitled to the child discount. Finland belongs to the Eurail pass system, but note that you must purchase Eurail pass tickets in North America before your departure.
Buy train and bus tickets online in advance, you will save money. -U.S. Student Grantee 2015-2016
There is also an extensive network of coaches 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 couple hours boat ride away, whereas Sweden, Germany and Russia take overnight to reach. The shipping lanes are open throughout the year.
- Viking Line (Sweden, Estonia)
- Tallink Silja (Sweden, Estonia)
- St. Peter Line (St. Petersburg)
- Eckerö Line (Estonia)
- Finnlines (Sweden, Germany)
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
- Blue 1/SAS -- International and domestic flights
- Finnair -- Finland’s flagship international and domestic carrier
- TUI Airways -- International and domestic cheap flights
- Norwegian -- International and domestic cheap flights
- Ryanair -- International cheap flights from Tampere and Lappeenranta