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Finland
Helsinki

Practical information Helsinki

Important facts & useful tips for your city break

Good to know when visiting Helsinki

Welcome to Helsinki, Finland! Here you will 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.

  • As in any large city, pickpocketing is also present 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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. Helsinki Card City covers the travel zones A and B. Helsinki Card Region covers the travel zones A, B and C.

     

  • 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. The transfer can be arranged both with or without guide service. For bookings & more information, please see the here.

  • 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)

     

    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:

    Finnlines:

    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)

    EKL:
    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.

    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.

    Please note, that 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.

  • 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.

  • - 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 the electric scooters. Always pay attention to pedestrians.
    - 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 also must be equipped with front light (clear/yellow) and back light (red).

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

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

    Cash & card payments

    Both cash and credit card payments are usually accepted in shops, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, hotels, etc.

    Contactless payment 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.

    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.

  • 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

    Tipping is not compulsory or expected in Finland. 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.

  • 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!

  • Looking forward to tasting some Finnish flavors? Try these!

    Berries

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

    Fish and meat

    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 in some restaurants.

    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 cafes and restaurants.

    Chocolate & candy

    For Finnish specialities, check the Fazer and Brunberg 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 a Finnish speciality with 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 ja glögi: pastries with plum jam and hot mulled wine type of drink with or without alcohol

Culture & customs

  • Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish, Finnish being the mother tongue of the majority of the Finns. One embodiment of the bilingualism are the street signs in Helsinki – they are written both in Finnish and in English. 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.

    Would you like to learn some phrases in Finnish? 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 Rock Church, 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.

  • 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 and Brunberg. 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.

  • 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 cafes, restaurants, hotels, and other public buildings. If a restaurant has outdoor terrace, usually it is 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.

Climate & nature

  • 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. 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 alcae 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 alcae 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 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. 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 it might be windy.

    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 the 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.

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