HELSINKI - GETTING AROUND
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.By Tram
Trams are the most useful way of accessing Helsinki`s main tourist sites. They are clean, fast, and frequent. The HSL App from the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority both supply accurate information on routes and schedules, and tram stops are clearly marked with electronic displays that indicate how long until the next one arrives.
Note that the stops are announced in both Finnish and Swedish, so don`t let the two names for each stop confuse you.
You can`t pay with cash on board a tram, so buy your tickets in advance. Board through any door and validate your ticket at the machine.
Public buses, while not as quiet and charming as trams, are also clean, efficient, and easy to use. Board only through the front door and tap your card or show your phone to the driver.
You can buy tickets from the driver, but single tickets cost about €4 on the bus as opposed to about €2.80 if you buy in advance. You can, however, buy day or longer passes from the driver for no extra charge. Use the HSL app for routes and times.
The metro has two lines: the Matinkylä–Vuosaari (M1) and the Tapiola–Mellunmäki (M2).
They follow the same route through most of the central part of the city, so either line will usually do. The lines split for the last few stops in the east, while the Matinkyla-Vuosaari (M1) line goes a few stations further into the suburbs of Espoo in the west.
The metro is fast and is a good way to avoid bad weather. Also, venturing into the metro will introduce you to the Asematunneli, a vast underground network of shopping centers, stores and passages that can keep you warm and dry for blocks.
Helsinki has an extensive commuter rail system, but as a tourist the main reason you might take the train is to get from the airport to the city center, using the I or P ring trains, with an ABC zone ticket.
You must buy your ticket in advance from a machine, a convenience store, or on the HSL app.
Other options from the airport include taxis (about €40 to the city centre), public buses into the city and the very reasonable, comfortable Finnair private bus.
Like other large cities, Tallinn has its fair share of traffic jams and therefore it is not recommended to get a ride by car if you can avoid it. The road rules and driving style can be confusing to visitors. The one and two way roads change frequently and some signposts are not descriptive.
There is ample parking, but you have to pay for it. The locations of ticket machines, and other methods for paying for parking, aren`t always obvious.
Signs prohibiting parking are not always well visible. One thing to look out for is signs in a form or another with the word Eramaa - this is Estonian for `private` and means that parking is either prohibited or available against a fee.
No matter the weather, you’ll see Finns on their bikes. Cycle lanes are almost always separated from the traffic, with pedestrians and ice often being the cyclist’s biggest danger.
HSL runs the ubiquitous yellow City Bikes that you can rent for as little as around €5 a day from bike stations all around town. Register in advance, so you`ll be ready to ride.
In theory, you can hail taxis on the street, but it`s not common. Taxi stands are easy to find, though, or you can call a taxi, or try the TaksiHelsinki App.
Uber and Lyft exist in Helsinki, but they`re often the same price, if not more, than a traditional taxi. Taxi drivers almost always speak passable English.
HSL also operates the ferry from Helsinki`s main harbor to Suomenlinna Island. For the price of an ordinary single ticket, you can not only visit the island, but you also get amazing views of Helsinki Harbor from the deck. Don`t forget to validate your ticket before you get on board.Buying Tickets
HSL runs the trams, city trains, buses, metro and ferry to Suomenlinna Island. You can buy tickets from a ticket machine on the street, in a station, or at any R-Kioski, the Finnish convenience store.
Helsinki has a zoned transport system, but if you`re staying in the city center and not taking any day trips, you shouldn`t need anything outside the main zone (AB), other than the airport (ABC). If you`re travelling around a lot, you can buy a Travel Card and load on however many euros you like, or select any plan you need (a one-day pass, for example). Or you can buy mobile tickets with the HSL app. Download it before you arrive, so you have your tickets ready. Single-trip tickets (about €2.80), day passes (about €8 for one day; Around €12 for two days), and weekly passes (around €32) are all available. Note: Prices were accurate when this was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates.
One ticket gives you unlimited travel and transfers within the travel zone on a time-limited basis (80 minutes in zone AB). If the time has expired on your ticket, you can finish the ride you`re on with no penalty, but not change to a different type of transport. Another good option is the Helsinki Card which includes free, unlimited travel on all modes of public transport as well as museum entries and other discounts. Check out our guide to see it it’s worth buying one for your trip.
When you board your transport, you need to activate your travel card or ticket by tapping a reader. Mobile tickets are timed, so make sure you set the right time before you board. It`s an honour system, so chances are, no one will stop you for not paying. But the ticket inspectors do appear from time to time. If you get caught, the fine is usually about €80.