May 16-26: Beautiful Canal Cruise: Due to low sea level, all sightseeing cruise departures may follow the City Highlights Cruise route. Read more here.

Practical information Helsinki

Important facts & useful tips for your city break

Good to know when visiting Helsinki

Welcome to Helsinki, the capital Finland! Here you will find some information and tips & tricks that help you to understand the Finnish way of life, navigate through the every day questions and enjoy your stay to the full.


If you have questions regarding our tours and services, please check our FAQ page or contact our sales team: sales@stromma.fi

Helsinki practical information

Health & safety

  • General emergency number in Finland: 112

  • For urgent and emergency care in Helsinki, please read more on the website of City of Helsinki.    

    The police station of Helsinki Police Department is in Pasila, for more information please see the website of the Police of Finland.

    Tip: The “112 Suomi” application for mobile phones can be downloaded on Android and iPhone devices free of charge from app stores. With the application you get access to health and safety related services such as transfer of caller location information when calling to the emergency number 112, the maritime rescue emergency number and the Road User's Hotline as well as helpline numbers for non-urgent help. 

  • Pharmacy in Finnish is called “Apteekki”. There are several pharmacies in Helsinki. 24 h pharmacy service is provided for example by Yliopiston Apteekki, Mannerheimintie 96, Helsinki.

  • For list of foreign embassies and consulates in Finland, please see the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

  • In general, Helsinki is a safe and well-organized city. However, as in any large city, pickpocketing is present also in Helsinki. Watch out for your belongings especially in crowded areas.

Traffic & getting around

  • Helsinki Tourist Information office, Aleksanterinkatu 24, Helsinki

    For more information, please see the website of the Helsinki Tourist Information. 

  • Helsinki is a perfect city break destination! The city has a lot to offer even if you are staying here only for a few hours or one day. We have gathered you our top tips for Things to do in Helsinki!

  • WiFi connection is widely available in Helsinki: the City of Helsinki provides a free of charge connection in the city center, also many shopping centers, restaurants and cafes provide their own WiFi connection.

    WiFi is also available on all Stromma buses and boats.

  • Helsinki has an efficient public transportation system that includes buses, trams, metro, trains, and even ferries. The public transportation network in the Helsinki region is divided in four zones: A, B, C and D. If you are mainly staying in Helsinki, you probably only need to travel on zones A and B. Please note though, that the Helsinki International Airport is located in zone C.

    For information on public transportation in the Helsinki Region please see the website of the HSL - Helsinki Regional Transport Authority

    Please note that public transportation tickets have to be purchased in advance, drivers do not sell tickets.

    Tip: public transportation is included in the Helsinki Card CITY and Helsinki Card REGION. Helsinki Card CITY covers the travel zones A and B. Helsinki Card REGION covers the travel zones A, B and C. Please note that the digital Helsinki Card does not include public transport.


  • The Helsinki Airport is located approx. 20 km from Helsinki city center. Travel time by local train (trains I & P) is approx. 30 minutes, by bus (bus 600) approx. 40-50 minutes and by car approx. 30 minutes. The airport is located on the public transportation zone C. For public transportation information, please see information above.

    Stromma Finland provides private airport transfers on request. The transfer can be arranged both with or without guide service. For bookings & more information, please see information on transfer services.

  • There are several harbors in Helsinki for ferries and cruise ships.

    Regular ferries to/from Tallinn:

    Viking Line:

    Katajanokan terminaali (South harbor/Eteläsatama)

    Address: Katajanokanlaituri 8

    Tram to/from the main railway station:
    tram 4 (stop in the city center: Lasipalatsi, stop near the terminal: Vyökatu + 400m walking)
    tram 5 (stop in the city center: Rautatieasema, stop at the terminal: Katajanokan terminaali)

    Tallink & Eckerö Line:

    Länsiterminaali 2 (West harbor/Länsistama)

    Address: Tyynenmerenkatu 14

    Tram to/from the main railway station:
    tram 7 (stop in the city center: Rautatieasema, stop at the terminal: Länsiterminaali T2)
    tram 9 (stop in the city center: Rautatieasema, stop at the terminal: Länsiterminaali T2)

    Also tram lines 1T and 8T go to the West harbor; these lines operate on limited schedule.

    Regular ferries to/from Stockholm:

    Viking Line:

    Katajanokan terminaali (South harbor/Eteläsatama)

    Address: Katajanokanlaituri 8

    Tram to/from the main railway station:
    tram 4 (stop in the city center: Lasipalatsi, stop near the terminal: Vyökatu + 400m walking)
    tram 5 (stop in the city center: Rautatieasema, stop at the terminal: Katajanokan terminaali)

    Silja Line:

    Olympiaterminaali (South harbor/Eteläsatama)

    Address: Olympiaranta 1

    Tram to/from the main railway station:
    tram 2 (stop in the city center: Lasipalatsi, stop at the terminal: Olympiaterminaali)
    tram 3 (stop in the city center: Rautatieasema, stop at the terminal: Olympiaterminaali)


    Regular ferries to/from Travemünde:


    Hansaterminaali (Vuosaari harbor/Vuosaaren satama)

    Address: Provianttikatu 5

    Public transportation to/from the main railway station:
    metro (stop in the city center: Rautatientori, stop in Vuosaari: Vuosaari) + bus 90/90A (Stop in Vuosaari: Vuosaari M, stop at the terminal: Hansaterminaali)


    International cruise ships

    Hernesaari LHB, LHC, LHD

    Tram to/from the main railway station:
    tram 6 (stop in the city center: Rautatieasema, stop near the terminal: Eiranranta + 1km walking)

    Katajanokka ERA, ERB & EKL

    ERA & ERB:
    Tram to/from the main railway station:
    tram 4 (stop in the city center: Lasipalatsi, stop near the terminal: Vyökatu + 500m walking)
    tram 5 (stop in the city center: Rautatieasema, stop near the terminal: Katajanokan terminaali + 100m walking)

    Tram to/from the main railway station:
    tram 4 (stop in the city center: Lasipalatsi, stop near the terminal: Tove Janssonin puisto + 300m walking)
    tram 5 (stop in the city center: Rautatieasema, stop near the terminal: Tove Janssonin puisto + 300m walking)

    Makasiiniterminaali EPL & EMA

    Tram to/from the main railway station:
    tram 2 (stop in the city center: Lasipalatsi, stop at the terminal: Eteläranta)
    tram 3 (stop in the city center: Rautatieasema, stop at the terminal: Eteläranta)


    Harbors & Hop On-Hop Off sightseeing

    Tip: In the summer season, the Hop On-Hop Off buses stop regularly at the Olympia terminal (Olympiaterminaali). The buses also pick up customers from the international cruise ships on certain cruise ship days. Read more about the Hop On-Hop Off sightseeing tours.

  • Taxi stands are located around the city. Taxis can also be ordered by phone or by company-specific applications. When taking a taxi at a taxi stand, the customer is allowed to decide freely which taxi they would like to choose. Price information must be visible for the customer on the outside of the vehicle. Most of the taxis accept payment by credit card; please check with the driver beforehand.

    Taxi companies in Helsinki region

    Some examples of taxi companies operating in the Helsinki Region:

    • Kovanen, tel. +358 200 6060
    • Lähitaksi, tel. +358 100 7300
    • Menevä, tel. +358 800 02120
    • Taksi Helsinki, tel. +358 100 0700

    The list of taxi service providers is non-exhaustive and does not serve as a recommendation. Changes possible.

    Children & taxi

    Please note, that according to Finnish law, children under 3 years of age need a children's car seat when traveling in a taxi. Some taxi companies are able to arrange a children's car seat when pre-booking, if you don't have your car seat with you; they might charge an additional fee for this service.

  • With over 300 islands, the archipelago of Helsinki is stunning! Especially during the summer season you'll find lots of opportunities to explore different islands at the coastline of Helsinki. Go island hopping or pick your favourite!

    Here are a some ideas:


    - The public HSL ferry runs daily all year round from the Market Square from early in the morning till late at night. Check full schedule on the HSL web site. This ferry is part of the public transport system and both public transport tickets and the Helsinki Card are valid on this ferry.

    - Private water bus connection from the Market Square during the summer season

    Korkeasaari Zoo

    Private water bus connection from the Market Square during the summer season

    Vallisaari & Lonna

    Private water bus connection from the Market Square during the summer season


    Private water bus connection from the Market Square during the summer season from Ruoholahti and Merisatama (near the Kaivopuisto Park)

    Sightseeing cruises

    If you would like to see the archipelago but are on a tight schedule, take a sightseeing cruise! The boats won't do any stops at the islands, but you can enjoy the scenery and hear the fascinating stories.

  • Helsinki is easy to explore by bike or electric scooters. If you would like to rent a bike or a scooter, there are many options to choose from, such as:

    Bikes: HSL city bikes

    Electric scooters: Tier, Voi, Lime

    To rent a bike or scooter, you might have to download the service provider's app from app stores. Always remember to follow traffic rules and conditions of the services. Please note that some options might be available only in the summer season.

    • In Finland, traffic is on the right
    • Pedestrians should cross streets at the crosswalk
    • Traffic lights should be respected
    • Cyclists must ride either at the designated bike lanes or at the car lanes. Cyclists may ride on the sidewalk only if it is allowed with a sign. Children under 12 years of age are always allowed to ride on the sidewalk. These rules apply also to electric scooters. Always pay attention to pedestrians.
    • Pedestrians should avoid walking on designated bike lanes
    • When travelling in a vehicle provided with seat belt, wearing the seat belt is compulsory
    • Wearing reflectors is advisable when walking or riding a bike or electric scooter in the dark
    • Bicycles and electric scooters must be equipped with front light (clear/yellow) and rear light (red)
  • Helsinki is in the Eastern European Time (EET) zone, which is UTC+2 during standard time. However, it does observe daylight saving time (DST) from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October when it shifts to Eastern European Summer Time (EEST), UTC+3.

Eating & shopping

  • Public holidays and *some days comparable to a public holiday might affect opening hours of shops, restaurants, museums, attractions and services as well as public transportation schedules.

    Public holidays with set dates:

    January 1: New Year’s Day (Uudenvuodenpäivä)
    January 6: Epiphany (Loppiainen)
    April 31: May Day Eve (Vappuaatto)*
    May 1: May Day (Vappu)
    December 6: Independence Day (Itsenäisyyspäivä)
    December 24: Christmas Eve (Jouluaatto)
    December 25: Christmas Day (Joulupäivä)
    December 26: Second Day of Christmas (Tapaninpäivä)
    December 31: New Year’s Eve (Uudenvuodenaatto)*

    Public holidays with changing dates:

    March-April: Easter (Pääsiäinen), incl. Good Friday (Pitkäperjantai), Easter Saturday (Pääsiäislauantai)*, First Easter Day (Pääsiäispäivä)*, Second Easter Day (Toinen pääsisäispäivä)
    2. Sunday of May: Mother’s Day (Äitienpäivä)*
    May-June: Ascension Day (Helatorstai)
    June: Midsummer (Juhannus), incl. Midsummer Eve (Juhannusaatto)*, Midsummer Day (Juhannuspäivä)
    1. Saturday of November: All Saint’s Day (Pyhäinpäivä)
    2. Sunday of November: Father’s Day (Isäinpäivä)*

  • The currency in Finland is Euro (EUR/€).

    Currency exchange services are provided for example by:

    • Change Group, Pohjoisesplanadi 21
    • Forex, central railway station, Kaivokatu 1
    • Tavex, Pohjoisesplanadi 25-27

    The list of currency exchange providers is non-exhaustive and does not serve as a recommendation. Changes possible.


    ATMs are located around the city. They are marked either with “OTTO” or “NOSTO” signs. Major credit cards are accepted.

    Cash & card payments

    Helsinki and Finland have wholeheartedly embraced the cashless trend. However, it's worth noting that most establishments, including shops, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, hotels, etc., typically accept both cash and credit card payments.

    Contactless payment by card is possible when the amount to be paid is maximum 50 €. Larger amounts have to be confirmed by entering the card's PIN code on the payment terminal.

    Please note that companies might have restrictions in accepting large banknotes (usually larger than 50 €). Also, 1 and 2 cent coins are not used in Finland. Payments can be made using these coins, but the amount to be paid is always rounded up or down to the closest 5 cents when paying by cash.  

  • Some grocery stores located in Helsinki city center:

    • S-Market, basement of Sokos department store, Mannerheimintie 9 (open 24h)
    • S-Market, Kasarmikatu 19
    • K-Market, Eteläesplanadi 20
    • K-Supermarket, Elielinaukio 2F
    • Food Market Herkku, basement of Stockmann department store, Aleksanterinkatu 52
    • Lidl, shopping center Citycenter, Kaivokatu 8

    Opening hours vary; usually grocery stores are open from around 7-10 a.m. to around 9-11 p.m. Some grocery stores are open 24h, for example the S-Market in Sokos mentioned above.

    Tip: When buying vegetables or fruit in grocery stores in Finland, customers are required to weigh the products by themselves at the scales provided near the vegetables. The scale prints a label with the weight and price of the products. This label is necessary at the cash register. One exception to this practice is Lidl, where the weigh-in is done at the cash register.

    Some shopping opportunities in Helsinki city center:

    • Citycenter, Kaivokatu 8
    • Forum, Mannerheimintie 14-20
    • Kamppi Helsinki, Urho Kekkosen katu 1
    • Kämp galleria, Pohjoisesplanadi 33
    • Sokos, Mannerheimintie 9
    • Stockmann, Aleksanterinkatu 52
    • Torikorttelit, Sofiankatu 4
    • Vanha Kauppahalli (Old Market Hall), Eteläranta
    • Kauppatori (Market Square)
    • Lots of shops and boutiques along the streets Aleksanterinkatu, Pohjoisesplanadi and Eteläesplanadi

    Opening hours vary; usually shops and boutiques are open from around 8-11 a.m. to around 6-9 p.m.

    Shop like a local: bring your own bag

    While stores and shops here have plastic and paper bags for sale, embracing the local vibe means bringing your reusable textile bag. It's a small step that not only lets you shop just like us but also contributes to reducing plastic waste.

  • All kinds of cuisines are represented in Helsinki. Quite often restaurants also cater to allergies and special diets, and they offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten free etc., options.

    Meal times

    Special lunch menus are usually available around 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner time starts around 5-6 p.m. Especially on weekends brunch is served in many restaurants.

    The culture of self-service

    Especially in cafes and fast food restaurants self-service is very common in Finland. You order at the counter and choose your seating freely. Each restaurant and cafe has their own practice whether your order will be brought to you or if you should pick it up from the counter; check with the staff if you are not sure. The same applies to bringing your dishes to a collection point when leaving.

    Restaurants with seating and table service usually have a sign at the entrance asking for you to wait to be seated.


    Tipping is not compulsory or expected in Finland. However, it is acceptable to leave tip if you are happy with the service and tips are appreciated throughout the service sector, but service charge is always included in the total price of the service you order.

    Separate checks - an ebodiment of Finnish equality

    One intriguing aspect of Finnish restaurant culture that you may encounter is the unique approach to separate checks. While in some cultures, sharing the bill or inviting the entire party is customary, Finns value the autonomy of covering their individual expenses. When the check arrives, you'll likely be asked by the attentive waiting staff whether you prefer to settle the bill together or opt for separate payments.

  • Tap water in Finland is of high quality and it is safe to drink it. Tap water is commonly served also in cafes and restaurants. Instead of buying bottled water from grocery stores you can simply just fill your own water bottle with tap water!

    Tip: City of Helsinki maintains public water posts around Helsinki area. The water quality is high and it is safe to drink the water. One of these green water posts can be found at the Market Square. Read more information about the water posts here.

  • Looking forward to diving into Finnish cuisine and tasting some Finnish flavors? Try these!

    Berries & mushrooms

    Late summer and early autumn are time to enjoy sweet fresh berries. Strawberries, blueberries, lingonberries and cloudberries are delicious and rich in vitamins! The long northern summer days make the berries full of taste.

    Another source for wild flavours are mushrooms. Chantarelles and many other edible mushrooms emerge from the forest floor, offering a unique taste of nature's bounty. Whether sautéed in a hearty dish or delicately incorporated into a creamy sauce, these mushrooms bring an earthy richness to Finnish cuisine.

    Fish & meat - and a few words about the Stadin Silakkamarkkinat

    Salmon soup at the Market Square is a perfect lunch! You could also try fried vendance.

    Reindeer and venison play their part in the Finnish cuisine. You might even find bear meat on the menu in some restaurants.

    Tip: If you happen to visit Helsinki in early October, make sure to visit the Stadin Silakkamarkkinat - Helsinki Baltic Herring Market at the Market Square. This traditional, nearly 300 year old festival offers a fantastic opportunity to savor the best fish dishes from the entire Finnish coastline and the Åland islands.

    Coffee & cinnamon roll

    A cup of coffee and a sweet cinnamon roll are a perfect snack for the afternoon. Finnish coffee is traditionally light roasted and we drink it a lot. Nowadays international coffee culture is alive in Finland too and a wide variety of different types of coffee is available in cafes and restaurants.

    Tip: Are you taking a sightseeing cruise during your visit? Pop in the Ships's café for your cinnamon roll!

    Chocolate & candy

    For Finnish specialities, check the Fazer, Brunberg and Panda chocolates. If you dare, some "salmiakki", black salty licorice, is truly a Finnish taste experience.

    Rye bread & Karelian pastry

    Rye bread is rooted deep in the Finnish culinary traditions. Have it at the breakfast, as a snack or complement your lunch soup with it.

    The Karelian pastries are an eastern Finland speciality with a thin rye crust and tasty rice porridge filling. They are often served with a spread made of butter and boiled eggs. 

    Specialities & special occasions

    Visiting Finland around special occasions? Remember to check these specialities!

    • February 5/Runebergin päivä - Runebergintorttu: a pastry dedicated to the Finnihs poet J. L. Runeberg. The pastry is flavoured with almonds and rum or arrack and decorated with rasberry jam and sugar icing.
    • The Shrovetide - laskiaispulla (shrovetide bun): a sweet bun filled with jam or almond paste and whipped cream
    • Easter - mämmi (Finnish Easter pudding): a dessert made of rye malt
    • First of May - munkki & sima (doughnuts and mead): deep fried doughnuts rolled in sugar and a non-alcoholic or low alcohol drink made by fermentation, which usually contains raisins
    • Midsummer - uudet perunat ja silli (new potatoes and herring): potatoes from the new crop and herring
    • Late summer/early autumn - season for crayfish and crayfish parties
    • Christmas - joulutorttu, pipari ja glögi: pastries with plum marmelade, gingerbread and hot mulled wine type of drink with or without alcohol

Culture & customs

  • In Finland, you'll find a culture that's wonderfully unique, built upon values that may appear reserved but are deeply meaningful. Let's take a gentle stroll through the Finnish mentality and customs, so you can fully embrace your experience here.
    Finns are often perceived as reserved, but this is a facet of their sincere respect for personal space. While they may not chat incessantly with strangers, the warmth they share when they do open up is truly genuine.
    Punctuality is a virtue. Arriving on time isn't just a suggestion; it's a cherished tradition in Finland. Whether it's a meeting, a guided tour, or a dinner reservation, punctuality shows respect for others' time and is appreciated by all.
    When entering a Finnish home, you'll notice that the removal of shoes is customary. This isn't just about cleanliness; it's a gesture of trust and respect.
    When meeting someone in Finland, the customary way to greet is with a handshake. It's a simple yet sincere gesture that symbolizes openness and equality, a beautiful reflection of Finnish values.
    In summary, Finnish customs and manners may seem reserved, but they are rooted in profound respect for personal boundaries and a genuine desire to connect.
  • Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish, Finnish being the mother tongue of the majority of the Finns.

    In the Saami native region, located in the Northern Finland, the Saami languages have legal status based on the Saami Language Act. English is widely spoken in Finland as are other foreign languages.

    Helsinki - Helsingfors

    One embodiment of the bilingualism are the street signs in Helsinki – they are written both in Finnish and in English. Many cities in Finland also have a Swedish name, for example Helsinki is known in Swedish as Helsingfors.

    Finnish language 101

    Would you like to learn some phrases in Finnish to use them for example as a delightful icebreaker? Let’s start with these:

    Hello – hei
    Good morning – hyvää huomenta
    Thank you – kiitos
    Please/here you are – ole hyvä
    Excuse me/I’m sorry – anteeksi
    Welcome – tervetuloa
    Good bye – hei hei

  • Finland has freedom of religion. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Orthodox Church of Finland have a special status of national church in Finland.

    Some of the most prominent religious landmarks in Helsinki are:

    • Helsinki Cathedral. Senate Square (Evangelical Lutheran Church)
    • Temppeliaukion kirkko, a.k.a. the Church in the rock, Lutherinkatu 3 (Evangelical Lutheran Church)
    • Uspenski Cathedral, Kanavakatu 1 (Orthodox Church)

    All the churches mentioned above may be visited. Please check their opening hours in beforehand since they may vary according to services and religious events.

    When visiting a church it is considered good manners to cover shoulders and for men to take off their hats.

  • The Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site, popular attraction for visitors and home to hundreds of locals. The fortress islands can easily be visited every day of the year, the many museums and restaurants on the islands have their specific opening hours though. Catch the public HSL ferry or a private waterbus, they take approx. 15-20 minutes from the Market Square to the fortress.

    When visiting Suomenlinna, please take into consideration that the fortress is both a culturally important site and home to many people. To make your visit a success, please follow the instructions created by the Governing Body of Suomenlinna.

  • It's always nice to bring home something to remember your visit to Helsinki. Finnish design is world-famous and brand names such as Marimekko, Moomins, Iittala, Arabia, Fiskars and Tom of Finland are well known around the world. If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to check the Finnish chocolate brands Fazer, Brunberg and Panda - among many others. See the tab "Groceries, shopping & opening hours" for tips where to go souvenir-hunting.

    Whatever you decide to take with you as a souvenir from Finland, make sure that you have checked the regulations for import in the country you are travelling to. Also be especially careful when dealing with objects that might be of cultural importance or CITES-related.

  • Sauna is an ages old Finnish tradition. Finland is renowned for its rich sauna culture, and there are several places also in Helsinki where you can explore and experience this cherished Finnish tradition. Check for example:

    Allas Sea Pool

    Located next to the Market Square, the Allas Sea Pool offers a unique opportunity to combine a sauna experience with swimming in heated pools overlooking the harbor.


    Situated by the sea in the Hernesaari district, Löyly combines modern architecture with traditional sauna culture.

    Kotiharjun sauna

    Authentic wood-burning neighborhood public sauna in Kallio district. Tradition since the 1920s! Here you can also experience the vihta tradition (read more below).


    Many hotels offer their quests the opportunity to use the hotel sauna. Ask at the reception!

    Public swimming halls (Uimahalli)

    All swimming halls also have saunas as part of their facilities.

    Going to a sauna - what do I need to know?

    When visiting a sauna, it's essential to be aware of the established norms and rules to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience. While specific guidelines may vary from one establishment to another, here are some general expectations:

    • typically, public saunas are segregated by gender unless otherwise indicated by the establishment
    • children under 7 years old are permitted to dressing rooms and saunas of the opposite sex
    • some establishments might provide family dressing rooms
    • prior to entering the sauna or swimming pool, it's customary to take a thorough shower and cleanse oneself
    • usually wearing a swimming suit is not allowed in the sauna (unless informed otherwise)
    • maintain hygiene by using a sauna seat cover or sauna cloth. These can be either single-use or washable. If you don't have your own, inquire about availability at the entrance.
    • in sauna, the higher you sit, the hotter it becomes
    • "heittää löylyä" refers to the act of throwing water to the sauna stove to produce steam and increase heat
    • after your sauna session, it's customary to take another shower to cleanse and cool down
    • afterwards it is a good idea to rehydrate by drinking water or other non-alcoholic beverages

    Remember that specific sauna rules may vary, so it's advisable to review the rules and information provided by the establishment either on their website or at the entrance. Embracing these guidelines will help you fully appreciate the traditional Finnish sauna experience while respecting the practices of the venue you visit.

    Finnish sauna master class: vihta

    "Vihtominen" is a traditional Finnish sauna practice that involves using a "vihta" or "vasta" (depending of the dialect area) which is a bundle of leafy birch tree branches. The vihta is used during your sauna session to enhance the experience.

    Once inside the sauna and as you begin to warm up, dip the vihta in water to moisten the leaves. Then, gently whisk or pat yourself with the vihta. This practice is believed to have several benefits, including improving circulation, exfoliating the skin, and releasing a pleasant, fresh scent.

    Vihtominen is considered an integral part of the Finnish sauna tradition, offering a sensory element to the sauna ritual. The aroma of the birch leaves, combined with the mild exfoliation, contributes to a revitalizing and authentic sauna experience.

    Unfortunately vihta is usually not available or even allowed in public saunas due to maintenance reasons (Kotiharjun sauna being an exception!). Should you be so lucky to get an invitation to visit a private family sauna, especially in the country site, you might get a pleasant surprise though!

  • Recycling is strongly recommended in Finland. Whenever possible, at least bio waste, paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, metal, and hazardous waste should be sorted from the mixed waste.

    Tip: did you by a drink from a kiosk or grocery store? Bring back the bottles and cans to the return machine in any grocery store and you can cash back the deposit you paid when you originally bought the drink. The return machine prints you a ticket with a bar code, bring this ticket to the cashier of the store and they will give you the amount in cash.

    Don’t leave any trash or cigarette butts behind you on the streets, parks, beaches or in the forest and don’t throw them into the sea. There usually is a trash bin close by.

    When taking your dog to walk it is considered polite to pick up the dog's waste and take it to the nearest waste container. Carrying small waste bags (preferably biodegradable) for this purpose is advisable.

  • Smoking is not allowed indoors in public tansport vehicles, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and other public buildings. If a restaurant has an outdoor terrace, it is usually divided to sections for smokers and non-smokers. Smoking is usually allowed outdoors – for example children’s playgrounds and some outdoor event areas being the exception. You must be 18 years of age to buy cigarettes or cigarette related products.

    Alcoholic drinks (max. 5,5 %) can be bought from kiosks and grocery stores between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Alcoholic drinks stronger than 5,5 % can be bought only from Alko, which has the monopoly in Finland. Alkos are closed on Sundays and public holidays. You must be 18 years of age to buy alcoholic drinks of max. 22 %. You must be 20 years of age to buy alcoholic drinks of stronger than 22 %. Providing alcohol to minors is illegal. On request you must be able to prove your age with a legal document. The age limits apply also in restaurants. Bringing your own alcoholic drinks to restaurants is not allowed.

    Using, buying, possessing, producing, selling, importing, and exporting illegal drugs is punishable.

  • The end of November, all December and the few days in the beginning of January are filled with traditions and special events. Check the Things to do in Helsinki -page for ideas for how to best enjoy the festive season!


Climate & nature

  • Please see here for sustainability tips for travelers. As part of our commitment to sustainable tourism, we would like to present this Sustainability Code of Conduct created by the Travelife sustainable travel certification scheme. 

  • Wildlife is present everywhere, also in the center of Helsinki. It is quite possible to see squirrels, rabbits, and many different kinds of birds. Due to the nearby forest area Keskuspuisto (central park), an occasional fox and deer have been seen in the city center too. If you have good luck, you might spot a grey seal fishing in the waters of the Baltic Sea.

    Some tips to make your encounters with the wildlife more comfortable:

    • Watch out for the seagulls and don’t feed them – they get quite bold and cheeky when they want to steal your snack or ice cream (this applies especially to the Market Square and Esplanade Park areas). Also Barnacle geese are well presented in Helsinki – watch out especially if there are chicks around, adult geese might defend them fiercely.
    • Ticks are tiny external parasites that feed on the blood of other animals and humans. If you spend time in the forest, parks of grassy areas in the summer time, it’s a good idea to check in the evening that no tick has found you. If a tick bites into your skin, you should try to remove it carefully – check the nearest pharmacy for advice and equipment.
    • If the summer is hot, blue-green algae might start to appear in lakes and also in the sea. This usually happens around July-August. You should not swim in water contaminated with blue-green algae since it may cause symptoms of poisoning.
    • The only venomous snake in Finland is the viper, but don’t worry, it’s very unlikely that you will encounter one if you are staying in the urban areas. The same applies to bears and wolves, we do have them living in the Finnish forests, but the best place to spot bears in Helsinki would be the Korkeasaari Zoo.
  • The city of four seasons

    The weather in Helsinki changes from season to season. The coldest months are usually December, January and February, if visiting Helsinki in this season make sure you bring your warm winter clothes with you (wearing layers and wool is sincerely recommended).

    March, April, May, October and November can be anything from warm to chilly to rainy – be prepared for anything. June, July, August and September are usually warm to even hot. But remember, Helsinki is located next to the sea so quite often the mild sea breeze keeps the temperature pleasant.

    Winter and snow

    If you would like to enjoy the snow during your visit to Helsinki, your best bet are January and February. It is quite dark in the winter, the shortest day being in Helsinki less than 6 hours around the Winter solstice, but that just makes especially the Christmas season with all the lights and decorations more atmospheric.

    In winter the road conditions can be icy, remember to watch your step! If the snow fall has been heavy and you see building walls being marked with barriers, be careful – there might be heavy load of snow on the building rooftop waiting to be removed.

    Summer and white nights

    The white nights can be experienced end of June, the Summer solstice being around June 20-21. Since Helsinki is located in Southern Finland, the sun does go down also in the summer, but it does not get dark. In Northern Finland the sun does not go down at all.

    The summer season is beautiful in Helsinki. Bring your summer clothes and sun block with you and enjoy the bustling city!

  • Finland is famous for the Northern lights or the Aurora borealis. They are a magnificent wonder of the nature. Unfortunately, Helsinki isn’t the best place to see them, since the city is located quite south and there are lots of city lights interfering with the view. It is best to travel to Northern Finland for better chances to see the Northern lights. This being said; sometimes - and if you are very lucky - it is possible to see pale Northern lights also in Helsinki during the dark and clear nights in autumn and winter.

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