Helsinki is the capital of Finland and largest city of Finland. It`s positioned of the edge of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. It`s Finland's major political, educational, financial, cultural and research center as well as one of northern Europe`s major cities.How do I get from the airport to my hotel?
All international and domestic flights land at Helsinki Airport which is in Vantaa, 12 miles to the north of central Helsinki. If you have not booked a private transfer with us you have a few options such as taxi, commuter train, car rental or bus.
A taxi is a fast, safe and comfortable option. Regular taxis to the center cost around €40 to €50. Keep in mind the cost of a taxi is based on many factors such as the time of day (night time is higher), the number of people, and how far you are going. There are some taxi sharing options, where a company offers cheaper rides by combining parties going in the same direction, among them DriveNow car sharing.
An easy option might be to use bus #615 that runs right to the central train station of Helsinki, the trip duration is 35-40 minutes. You can also take a branded Finnair bus that spends around 30 minutes to get to the destination and takes you right to the city center. It makes a stop only in Hesperia Park and its ticket price is higher, about €6.50, while the regular bus ticket price is only about €3.
There are two electric train lines to/from the airport, and the interval of each train is 10 minutes on working days from Monday till Saturday (from 9 am to 7 pm, on Saturday - from 9am till 4 pm). The first train from Helsinki Airport to city center departs at 4 am (and at 5 am - on weekends), and the lines are closed at midnight. The ride takes 27 to 32 minutes to get to the center of town. These trains are comfortable, clean and spacious. The price for a one-way ticket is about €5, and the daytime travel card costs around €12. You can get a ticket in the special machine on a train or from the conductor.
Helsinki has direct services from all major train stations in Finland. All long-distance trains to the city terminate at the Central Railway Station which offers easy interchange to metro, bus, tram and local train lines. The train station offers bars, currency exchange, kiosks, fast food restaurants, luggage boxes and many other amenities, in addition to a central location.How do I get around Helsinki by Public Transportation?
Getting around Helsinki is easy because of its efficient public transportation system. The entire Helsinki region is covered by an integrated network that is operated by HSL, the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority. HSL tickets are valid on the bus, metro, tram, commuter trains and the Suomenlinna ferry. There are also private transportation options available, such as inter-city buses and taxi services.How do I call/hail a taxi?
Taxi regulations were eased in 2018, removing previous controls on who could provide the service and for how much. Taxi prices are typically not cheap, but since the deregulation of pricing, fares now depend on the company or individual providing the service. The driver`s policy on fares should be stated before the start of the journey or should clearly visible otherwise within the vehicle. If you require a taxi, phone 0100 0700, it is a local taxi service. You can also call a taxi directly through the Discover Helsinki mobile app.Is Helsinki a walking city?
Helsinki is not a large capital city and the best way to get around it is to walk, especially if you’re sticking to the central sights. The main harbor, Senate Square, and almost all the major museums and shops can be reached on foot without much effort.I will have a car in Helsinki, where can I park?
Driving around Helsinki by car is not recommended because parking is limited. Either walk or take public transportation. However, touring the environs by car is ideal. Major car rental companies have offices at the Helsinki airport and in the center of town.
Parking: Helsinki has several multistory parking garages, including two centrally located facilities that typically have an available space: City-Paikoitus, Keskuskatu, and Parking Eliel, adjacent to the railway station.
A relatively flat landscape and excellent bicycle routes makes Helsinki an ideal place for cycling, and tours to its outer suburbs are recommended.
Helsinki has shared-use bicycles that you can borrow for a small fee. With almost 350 bike stations, you can use the City bike for 30 minutes, or up to 5 hours for an extra charge. After your ride, the bike must be returned to one of the bike stations which are located throughout Helsinki and Espoo. For those who enjoy cycling, this is an excellent way to explore both cities. Bicycles can also be rented from various locations in Helsinki as well.
Ferries depart from the eastern end of Eteläesplanadi (no terminal) heading for the offshore islands of Suomenlinna and Korkeasaari (Zoo).
There is a regular ferry service to the fortress island of Suomenlinna, run by HSL, that departs from the Market Square approximately twice an hour. This service operates all the year round. HSL public transport tickets (AB, ABC and ABCD) are valid on the ferry, or you can purchase 12-hour ticket to Suomenlinna, which is only valid on the ferry.
While the capital city of Helsinki is quite safe for travelers, keep in mind that just like any other large city, Helsinki has its share of petty thieves during the busy summer travel season. Watch your wallet, and be careful at ATM machines, since credit card skimming appears to be on the rise. Avoid leaving personal possessions unattended.
If you plan on enjoying the nightlife in Helsinki, single travelers should avoid Kaisaniemi Park in downtown Helsinki, as well as Central Station in the Finnish capital at night. There is a tendency for criminal activity at those locations.
Violent crime is rare but, as in other large cities, assaults do occur. You should remain vigilant of your surroundings at all times.
There are only a few places in the center of Helsinki that allow you to pay in foreign currencies. Some stall keepers at the Market Square might also accept foreign money, but you would have to ask. The official currency in Finland is the euro (EUR).Can I see the Northern Lights in Helsinki?
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, can be seen in Finland mostly in Northern Lapland. In the very south of Finland, where Helsinki is, it is statistically only possible to glimpse the Northern Lights around one night a month. If it happens to be cloudy, you won`t see them, and you would have to get away from the city lights to have any chance of witnessing them.What is the weather like? When is the best time to visit?
Helsinki is much warmer than many people think, thanks to the currents of the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Average temperatures during January and February are around 23°F. Located in the southern part of the country, Helsinki`s snowy season is much shorter than other parts of the country. The city also experiences a heat island effect, which results in slightly higher temperatures. Like much of the country, Helsinki experiences long summer days and very low sun during the winter. The average summertime temperature is 70°F.
Each season in Helsinki has its own distinct appeal, with plenty to see and do. The winter months in Helsinki showcases the city`s strengths: snow sports, nightlife and saunas. There are also some great festivals this time of year. The winter months are also a great time to seek off-season deals. Of course, it gets dark early in winter, th sun starts going down by mid-afternoon. Spring in Helsinki is short, but it is also the perfect time to beat the crowds. The summer months brings stunning shorelines, inner-city beaches and parks. Fall is a great time to visit when the days are longer than in winter, prices are relatively low, and fall is also when the city host some fun festivals.
Many people recommend visiting June to August as the best time to visit Helsinki even though it is peak season, the weather is beautiful and mid-summer allows for much longer days.
Finnish is the official language of Finland and is spoken by the majority of the population. Swedish is the other official language, which is spoken by approximately 6% of the population. Most Finns speak English so you can absolutely get by without speaking the Finnish or Swedish language. Like other countries in the world, speaking at least some Finnish phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals. We suggest you get a good English-Finnish/Swedish guidebook or app and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.Can I drink tap water in Helsinki?
According to UNESCO’s World Water Development Report the water in Finland is the cleanest in the world. So it is safe to drink tap water in Helsinki.What is the food like?
The city of Helsinki is Finland`s hub for both national and international cuisine. Restaurants bring a variety to their menus with typically Finnish dishes, many of which marry Scandinavian recipes with influences from Russia and the Baltic.
There are some excellent staples of Southern Finland and dishes that are popular throughout the entire country. Some of these dishes include: Runebert Tort, small circular rum cakes topped with icing and jam; Pea Soup, the finnish equivalent of this recipe includes port and mustard; Baltic Herring, fish is hugely popular in Finland due to its proximity to the Baltic Sea; Grilled Sausages, a summer tradition; Pulla, Finland1s take on cinnamon buns; Lingonberry Pie, pies and cakes made with lingonberries are a local favorite; Crayfish; Salted Licorice, one of the most common treats in Finland; Blini, pancakes with savory fillings; and Cabbage Rolls.
What are the best areas for shopping?
Finland has taken a bold, creative lead in the highly competitive world of interior design. Popular items to buy are ceramics and glassware, hand-woven articles, hand-carved wood, cheerful fashions, and rugs.
Textiles and jewelry also have a distinctive stamp of Finland. Popular souvenir items include decorations made from reindeer skin, costumed dolls, baskets, and pungent berry liqueurs made from yellow cloudberries, cranberries, and Arctic brambleberries.
There are major shopping neighborhoods in the center of the city. This includes the Explanadi, which offers the finest of Finnish design, the street is fun to window shop even if you don`t buy anything, as the prices are high. Bordering the water is Market Square, an open-air market selling everything from produce to handcrafted souvenirs and more. The other main shopping section is called Central, beginning at Esplanadi and extending to the famous Helsinki Railway Station. Many big names in Finnish can be found here, none more notable than the Stockmann department store. Many other shopping complexes are in this area, including the Forum. One of the main shopping streets here is Aleksanterinkatu, which runs parallel to Explanadi.
Other shopping streets located in the center of town include Iso Roobertinkatu and Bulvardi. Two newer additions are the shopping at Kamppi Shopping Mall in the heart of the city, and a smaller but choice competitor Hakkoniemin Kauppahalli.
Tax Refunds: Tax-free shopping is available at stores that display EUROPE TAX-FREE SHOPPING signs in their windows. It`s available to all visitors who reside outside the European Union. The value-added tax (usually 16%) on articles bought in these shops is refunded to you when you leave Finland. The minimum tax-free purchase varies from country to country.
Most banks are open Monday to Friday 9:15am to 4:15pm. Most businesses and shops are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to 2pm. Larger stores are usually open until 7pm Monday to Friday and as late as 6pm on Saturdays. With a few exceptions, nearly every place is closed on Sunday. Many shops in the center of Helsinki are open until 8pm on certain nights, especially Monday and Friday, and in midsummer, when daylight seems to go on, some shops remain open till as late as 9pm.
R-kiosks, which sell candy, tobacco, toiletries, cosmetics, and souvenirs, are open Monday to Saturday 8am to 9pm and Sunday 9 or 10am to 9pm.
Friday and Saturday nights can get extremely overcrowded, so if you plan to go out, you need to show up early at a club, or you may not get in. The older crowd sticks mainly to bars in popular first-class hotels.
If you plan to go to theater, most of the performances are presented in Finnish or Swedish. However, music is universal, and the Helsinki culture is rich in music to enjoy. The major orchestral and concert performances take place in Finlandia Hall. Operas at the Finnish National Opera are sung in their original languages.
There are several small-stakes casinos located in Helsinki nightclubs (usually just roulette). For more serious gambling, head to the Gand Casino Helsinki, the only bona fide casino in Finland.
Dial tel. 112 for medical help, an ambulance, police, or in case of fire.
Doctors: To summon a physician in an emergency, dial tel. 112. For private medical advice that's available 24 hours a day, dial tel.