Saturday, September 18, 2021

How To Travel Around Finland

EuropeFinlandHow To Travel Around Finland

By plane

Flights are the quickest but also the most costly mode of transportation. The new low-cost airlines, on the other hand, offer rates that are as low as half of rail prices on routes between the north and south. In certain instances, flying through Riga may be less expensive than taking the rail. Regional flights from Helsinki are still operated by Finnair and several smaller airlines to destinations across the country, including Kuopio, Rovaniemi, Ivalo, and Vaasa. If feasible, book in advance: a fully flexible return economy ticket on the country’s busiest route, Helsinki–Oulu, costs a staggering €251, while an advance-purchase non-changeable one-way ticket may cost as little as €39, which is less than the price of a rail ticket. Finnair generally offers lower prices if you book at least three weeks before your intended trip. If you travel into Finland on Finnair and buy a combo ticket straight to your ultimate destination, you may be able to obtain cheaper domestic flights. Finnair also offers a youth (16–25) and senior ticket (+65 or pension decision) that are much less expensive and set in price regardless of when you book.

Domestic flights are offered by two main airlines:

In addition, there are a few smaller airlines that often only operate from Helsinki to one airport. Because the locations serviced are often accessible by rail, bus, or automobile, flights are typically unprofitable, and as a result, businesses and services come and go.

By train

The rather large train network is operated by VR (Valtion Rautatiet, “State’s Railways”). Trains are typically the most comfortable and often the quickest mode of transportation when connections are available. In the afternoon, there are about every hour departures from Helsinki to Tampere, Turku, and Lahti.

The following service classes are offered, with fares and durations for the popular Helsinki–Tampere service in parentheses.

Trains are usually extremely pleasant, particularly intercity and long-distance services, which may include restaurant and family cars (with a play area for children), power outlets, and free Wi-Fi access (depending on connection and kind of train). There are additional fees for traveling in first class, which is labeled “Extra” on certain trains and includes more spacious seats, newspapers, and sometimes a snack. Check particular rail services if you need them; for example, accommodations for families and wheelchair users differ greatly.

Overnight sleepers are offered for long-distance flights and are extremely affordable at €11/21/43 for a bed in a three/two/one-bed compartment, but one-bed compartments are only accessible in first class. Advance reservations on overnight trains only allow for the reservation of a seat, not a bed.

One kid under the age of 17 travels free with each fare-paying adult (check: this may have changed), and elders over the age of 65, as well as students with Finnish student ID (ISIC cards, etc., are eligible for a 50% discount. Groups of three or more get a 15% discount. If you book far in advance on the internet, you may be able to obtain a good deal.

Finland is a member of the Interrail and Eurail networks. Residents of Europe may purchase InterRail Finland passes that provide 3–8 days of unrestricted travel in one month for €109–229 (adult 2nd class), while non-residents can purchase the Eurail Finland pass for €178–320 for 3–10 days. However, you would have to go a long distance to make any of them worthwhile; for example, a full-fare InterCity return ticket across the whole nation from Helsinki to Rovaniemi and back costs €162.

Trains are generally most busy during the start and conclusion of the weekend, i.e. Friday and Sunday evenings. Trains are typically extremely crowded just before and during big holidays such as Christmas/New Year’s and Easter. If you attempt to book for these days at the last minute, you may discover that the seat you reserve is one of the least desired, that is, facing backwards, without reclining, and facing other passengers and sharing legroom.

While VR’s trains are sleek, severe winter weather and underinvestment in maintenance mean that delays are frequent, with the luxury Pendolinos being especially prone to breaking down. As with the rest of the EU, you’ll receive a 25% refund if the train is 1–2 hours late, and a 50% refund if it’s more than that. Trafi, which licenses this data under the CC-BY Copyleft license, enables real-time train traffic statistics for every railway station in Finland via a webapp or iOS app.

Finnish Railways is in the midst of a major privatization process, and conventional operations are being challenged by the possibility for smaller operators to join markets. Nonetheless, the former state agency operates the majority of the railway network, offering excellent service in most instances but charging exorbitant fees in others. The fundamental problem with Finnish railroads is the country’s breadth and tiny population. As a result, numerous routes and stops that were formerly driven by political or territorial considerations have been stopped. While some railway business has been opened up to competition, the majority of passenger travel remains a monopoly of one firm.

By bus

There are long-distance bus links to almost every region of Finland along the major highways. The bus is also the sole mode of transportation in Lapland, since the train network does not reach to the far north. Bus connections between the major thoroughfares may be limited.

The majority of buses connecting larger towns are express buses (pikavuoro/snabbtur), which make fewer stops than “regular” buses (vakiovuoro/reguljär tur), which are almost extinct on certain routes. There are also special express (erikoispikavuoro/express) buses that run between certain major cities with few stops. When using the bus to go to the countryside, be sure not only that there are buses along the correct route, but also that there are buses stopping not too far from where you want to get off or on on the scheduled day.

Buses are usually somewhat more expensive than trains, but they may be significantly less expensive on routes with direct rail competition. Speeds are typically slower than trains, but may be extremely sluggish (from Helsinki to Oulu) or even quicker (from Helsinki to Kotka and Pori). However, buses are more frequent on many routes, so you may still get at your destination quicker than if you wait for the next train. Credit and debit cards should be accepted on the major express and long-distance services (and when purchasing tickets in advance), but cash is more likely to be required on “ordinary” coaches traveling small distances.

Matkahuolto continues to provide certain services to bus operators, such as schedules, ticket sales, and freight. Matkahuolto service stations may be found at almost every bus stop, as well as in small towns and villages, typically in collaboration with a local company. Although the personnel is usually friendly, they and their tools may be unfamiliar with local circumstances in different areas of the nation. Checking with locals (such as the local host or transportation operator) about any peculiarities may be beneficial at times.

Student discounts, like rail savings, are exclusively accessible to Finnish students or international students studying at Finnish institutions. A Matkahuolto/VR student discount card (€5) or a student card with the Matkahuolto emblem are required.

Senior discounts are available to individuals over the age of 65 or who have a Finnish pension decision.

Matkahuolto sells the BusPass travel pass, which provides unlimited travel within a defined time frame and costs 149 € for 7 days and 249 € for 14 days. It is important to note that it is accepted by most long-distance buses but not by Onnibus.

Children aged 4–11 pay about half the fee (infants are free), while juniors (12–16) get discounts of up to 30% or 50% for lengthy non-return journeys. The age limit on city buses varies from one city or area to the next; typically, minors aged 7–14 must pay a charge. In Helsinki and Turku, for example, one infant in a baby carriage provides one adult with a free trip (but entering may be difficult in rush hours).

Onnibus provides a cheaper option (down to €2 even for lengthy trips if purchased early enough online) for long-distance buses on routes between major cities in Finland, however seats must be reserved in advance online at their website since they do not take cash. It should be noted that the routes do not always service the city centers, although they may offer direct access to certain adjacent areas. Onnibuses have free unencrypted WiFi as well as a 24V DC -> 220V AC converter that allows power outlets.

Greater Helsinki, Tampere , Oulu , Lahti , and Turku] all have well-developed local transportation networks. On weekdays, public transportation networks in smaller cities are useful, but on weekends and during the summer, they are scarce. There are simple high-tech English route planners with maps to help you figure out how to utilize Matkahuolto’s local bus services.

By ferry

Lake cruises are a wonderful way to view the beauty of Finland during the summer, but many of them just make round tourist loops and aren’t very helpful for going anywhere. Most cruise ships accommodate 100–200 people (reserve early on weekends! ), and many are vintage steamboats. Turku–Naantali, Helsinki–Porvoo, and other Saimaa lines are popular.

Many inhabited islands rely on boat links in the archipelago of land and the Archipelago Sea. Because they are maintained as a public service, the majority of them are free, including the half-day lines. Some are helpful as cruises, but there isn’t much amusement apart from the landscape. These are designed to get you someplace, so be sure you have a place to sleep when you get off.

By car

Car rental is available in Finland, although it is usually costly, with prices averaging €80/day, but costs decrease for longer rentals. Foreign-registered vehicles may only be used in Finland for a limited period, and registering them locally entails paying a significant fee to bring the price up to Finnish standards. If you decide to purchase a vehicle in Finland, check sure all yearly taxes have been paid and that the next annual inspection is due: the deadline is the same day as the automobile’s first date of use, unless the registration form specifies 00.00.xx in first date of use. In such scenario, which is only seen on extremely ancient vehicles, the inspection date is determined by the license plate’s final number. All vehicles must pass emissions testing as well as accurate brake testing, among other things. Police may take away the license plates of cars that have not completed their yearly inspections on schedule and penalize you.

In Finland, traffic is on the right, and there are no tolls on roads or motorways. Roads are well-maintained and vast, but expressways are only available in the country’s south. Drivers must be on the lookout for wild animals, especially at dawn and night. Crashes with moose (often fatal) are widespread across the nation, deer (usually survivable) cause many collisions in the country’s southern and southwestern regions, and semi-domesticated reindeer are a major source of accidents in Lapland. Bear crashes occur on occasion in the country’s eastern regions. Pass behind the animal to allow it to flee ahead. Even if you are unharmed, call the emergency number (112) to report an accident since the animal may be wounded.

VR’s overnight car carrier trains are popular for avoiding the lengthy journey from Helsinki to Lapland and instead enjoying a good night’s sleep: a one-way ticket from Helsinki to Rovaniemi with vehicle and cabin for 1–3 people begins at €215.

Here are a few odd or obscure regulations to be aware of:

  • Even in broad daylight, headlights or DRLs are required. Most people prefer to utilize headlights at all times. Headlight and DRL-related automatics are common in new vehicles, although they may not always function correctly. This is particularly true in the Finnish winter – if you don’t visually check the lights surrounding your car, you might be driving in a snowstorm with cars coming from behind at highway speeds.
  • Unless otherwise specified, always give way to the right. Because the term “minor road” only relates to exits from parking lots and the like, this also applies to smaller roads on your right. Almost all junctions are well marked with yield signs (either the stop sign or an inverted triangle). Because priority signs are usually exclusively used on highways, most routes with priority go unmarked; instead, look for the rear of the yield sign on the opposite road.
  • White numbers are used for Mondays through Fridays, white numerals in parenthesis for Saturdays, and red numbers for Sundays and holidays; “8–16” in white indicates weekdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Trams have the right of way in Helsinki at all times. Collisions cause “astonishing amounts of damage.” Do not argue with a vehicle that cannot reverse course and weighs the same as a light combat tank.
  • Regardless of whether or not there is a pedestrian, a vehicle is obliged by law to stop at a zebra crossing if at least one other vehicle has stopped (in a similar manner as if there were a stop sign).
  • If a person wants to cross the road, a vehicle is required to stop at a zebra crossing. Most pedestrians “plan” to cross the street only when there is a suitably wide break in vehicles. Being courteous and stopping in any case may lead to a hazardous scenario if the vehicle behind in the next lane does not recognize the pedestrian and passes without halting. Keep an eye on the mirrors and be prepared to blast the horn.
  • When crossing the street as a pedestrian at a zebra crossing, make it clear that you want to cross and that vehicles will stop. With a little experience, this can be done easily, quickly, and without incurring unnecessary risks. Drivers will presume that the pedestrian “does not plan to cross the road right now,” which means that vehicles will not stop.
  • Circular traffic may be very complicated. In one instance, for example, two new lanes are formed while the outside lane is abruptly forced to leave. When the lines are coated with snow, this presents a tough scenario.
  • Pedestrians strolling in the evening on unlit highways with no sidewalks or bike tracks are obliged by law to wear safety reflectors. The use of reflectors is usually advised since they enhance pedestrian visibility significantly.
  • Seat belts must be worn at all times. Children under 135cm must use suitable equipment (except when “temporary” travelling in the car, such as in taxis).

Winter driving may be dangerous, particularly for drivers who are not accustomed to driving in cold weather. Winter tyres (M+S) are required from December 1st to the end of February, with studded tyres permitted from November 1st until after Easter (and “when circumstances require”, with a liberal interpretation). The most hazardous weather occurs around zero degrees Celsius (°C), when slippery but almost undetectable black ice develops on the roadways. Many Finnish vehicles feature an engine block heater (lohkolämmitin) that is used to pre-heat the engine and potentially the inside of the car, and many parking lots provide electric outlets to supply them. It is worth noting that, particularly in the Helsinki region, the majority of vehicles are fitted with steel-studded tyres, which allow for more dynamic driving and shorter braking distances on frozen roads than standard traction tyres (M+S) used in several other European nations.

Speeding fines in Finland are calculated depending on your income, so be cautious: a Nokia VP who had cashed in some stock options the previous year was once fined $204,000! Non-residents are typically fined €100–200 since their tax records are unavailable. Speed restrictions in towns are 50 km/h, 80–100 km/h outside of towns, and no more than 120 km/h on highways. From around mid-October to April, highway speed limits are reduced to 100 km/h, and most 100 km/h restrictions are reduced to 80 km/h.

GPS navigator software that warns about fixed safety cameras is lawful and is loaded by default in many mobile phones. Warning signs are needed by law before fixed cameras (often at the beginning of the supervised road).

A blood alcohol level of more than 0.05 percent is deemed drunk driving, and 0.12 percent is considered aggravated drunk driving, so reconsider that second beer. Random roadblocks and sobriety tests are used by Finnish police to rigorously enforce this. There is no practical method to reject the sobriety test, which is performed using a portable breath alcohol analyzer.

If you’re traveling late at night when gas stations are closed (they typically shut at 9 p.m.), always carry some petrol money with you. In Finland, automated petrol stations seldom accept international visa/credit cards, however you may pay using Euro notes. Distances of 50 km or more between gas stations are not uncommon in sparsely inhabited parts of the nation, so don’t risk with those final litres of gasoline.

By taxi

The beginning price is set at €5.50 no matter where you travel in the nation, increasing to €8.60 at night and on Sundays. The per-kilometer fee begins at €1.43/km for 1 or 2 people and rises to €2,01/km for 7 or 8 passengers (in minivans). In the countryside, you pay for the distance to where you wait, but this is deducted if you are returning to the taxi’s origin (more or less). A 20–25 km trip (say, from the airport to downtown Helsinki) may easily cost €30–40. The price of very lengthy trips may occasionally be negotiated.

Taxis may be any color or form, but they will always carry a yellow “TAXI” (occasionally spelt “TAKSI”) sign on the roof. It is difficult to hail taxis on the street, so either locate a taxi station or order by phone (any bar or restaurant will assist you with this – expect to pay €2 for the call). In cities, you contact a call center; in rural areas, you may wish to phone a taxi business directly.

A standard cab can transport four passengers and a modest quantity of baggage. If you have a lot of baggage, you should book a “farmari” cab, which is an estate/wagon vehicle with a larger luggage area. There is also a third kind of taxi available, the tilataksi, which is a vehicle that can easily transport approximately 8 passengers (many also equipped for wheelchairs). Tilataksis are typically designed to transport people in wheelchairs. The fares are the same, but you may have to wait a little longer (a wheelchair or other special service will rise the price though).

In the Helsinki area, Uber is a less expensive – but seemingly unlawful – alternative to legally regulated taxis. A few drivers have been convicted, but the Supreme Court has yet to hear a case. Customers seem to face little legal danger.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, anticipate lengthy lines at taxi stands in city centers. The same is true at ferry terminals, train stations, and other such locations. It is not unusual for strangers to share a cab if they are traveling in the same general direction.

There may be “Kimppataksi” minivans openly offering rides with strangers at airports, train stations, and other places where numerous people are traveling in the same direction at the same time. They are as pleasant as regular taxis and will depart as soon as possible.

Unlicensed taxis (pimeä taksi) may be found in major city centers, especially at night and on weekends, however they should be avoided. You may misplace your wallet/purse/phone, get scammed, or even be attacked. Despite the fact that such crimes are uncommon in general.

By thumb

Hitchhiking is feasible, though rare, due to the severe environment, which does not promote hanging about and waiting for vehicles. Many middle-aged and elderly individuals hitchhiked when they were younger, but in recent decades, improved living standards and tales of abuse have had a deterrent impact. Getting out of Helsinki is the most difficult job. Spring and summer have lengthy daylight hours, but in the winter and fall, you need prepare ahead of time. The route between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg has a significant proportion of Russian drivers.

By bicycle

Most Finnish cities have excellent bike lanes, particularly outside of the city centers, and riding a bike may be a fast, healthful, and ecologically friendly way to get about. You may frequently locate appropriate peaceful paths in the countryside, although it may take some work. Not all major highways allow for safe riding. There are maps for cyclists in various locations.

Off-road riding is considered part of the right to access, although bicycling may cause erosion or other damage, so select your route carefully and unmount your bike at vulnerable parts. There are certain routes that are specifically designed (also) for off-road motorcycles, such as those found in national parks.

Children under the age of 12 may use the pavement where there is no bike route, as long as they do not cause undue disruption to pedestrians. Bikes on bike paths must yield to vehicles crossing roadways.

The roads are usually well-paved, but gravel roads are sometimes necessary. You won’t need suspension or grooved tyres if you don’t go off-road.

Be aware that a decent bike route may suddenly stop, forcing you out among the vehicles; bike network construction efforts are not properly coordinated. Directions for bicyclists are often overlooked during road construction.

Because of the relatively moderate geographical relief, excessively steep terrain is seldom an issue, although in the winter months, wind chill necessitates greater protection against cold than walking. Winter bike routes are adequately maintained in certain municipalities but not in others. It is generally too hazardous to ride a bike amid the vehicles in the winter (some locals do, but they know the circumstances). In the dark, a headlamp and a rear reflector are required.

Due to the lengthy distances, bicycle visitors should plan ahead of time and be prepared to use public transportation for the less fascinating parts. Long-distance coaches are well-equipped to transport a few bicycles. Fares vary by business and distance, but are usually approximately half the price of a regular ticket. It is not necessary to pack the bike, but getting on at the bus station and arriving on time may assist find space for the bike.

Trains accept bicycles for €5 if there is adequate room (varies by train type, some trains need prior booking; on IC trains, a 50c token is also required; tandem bikes or bikes with trailer fit only on certain trains, €10). If the shipment is small enough, packed bikes are free (requires taking the bike apart, exact dimensions vary by train type). It is essential to load the bikes on trains to Russia (100 cm x 60 cm x 40 cm). Bikes may be unloaded for free on trains in the Helsinki area, although they are not permitted during peak hours (7:00–9:00 and 15:00–18:00).

Ferries typically accept bikes for free or at a low cost.

It should be able to rent a bike at your location. At least in Helsinki and Turku, municipalities are experimenting with offering bikes for short trips at a low cost.

Bikes are often stolen, at least in cities, therefore carry a lock and use it, and avoid leaving the bike in dangerous locations.

By boat

Finland is an excellent boating destination because to its many lakes, extensive coastline, and several archipelagos. Rowboats and the smallest motorboats are not included among the 165,000 registered motorboats and 14,000 yachts owned by residents. On every sixth Finn, there is a boat. If you stay at a cottage, chances are you’ll have access to a rowing boat.

Yachts and motorboats may be chartered in most major cities along navigable waterways. You may also wish to hire a boat or kayak to travel down a river or explore the archipelagos.