Helsinki is located on the shore of the bay, famous for its fresh air and beautiful landscapes, coupled with interesting “northern” architecture. The city’s proximity to Saint Petersburg, simple visa formalities and inexpensive tickets make the place a popular tourist destination for Russians.
Founded in 1550, the “daughter of the Baltic” became the capital in 1812 and during the same period was rebuilt by the Russian tsars as a kind of miniature likeness of St. Petersburg. In fact, it was this role that the city played in many films of the Cold War period. Check liuxers for customs and traditions of Finland.
Despite its capital status, Helsinki is a calm city. For some, even too much. Our compatriots who book, for example, the popular “New Year ‘s Eve in Helsinki” package, are often disappointed: the holiday begins and ends at midnight. Everyone watches the fireworks and goes home. But a lonely girl can fearlessly sit here until late at the bar, and then return in the middle of the night to the hotel: Helsinki is quiet and peaceful.
How to get to Helsinki
Travelers who want to get to Helsinki have a lot of choice – roads lead there by land, air and water. Planes fly directly to the capital ‘s Vantaa airport, and trains arrive at the station from Moscow and St. Petersburg. The largest number of options is offered by the Northern capital – after all, it is only 400 km from the destination. Regular buses run between the two cities several times a day, and a ferry crossing is organized for lovers of sea travel. You can also visit a neighboring country by private car – the distance is short, and the roads are good.
The public transport network in Helsinki is represented by metro, buses, minibuses, trams, ferries and trains. Tickets and travel cards are common for all modes of transport. With the choice of means of transportation and route planning will help the official (site planner website).
An hour trip with an unlimited number of transfers costs from 2.80 EUR. It is more profitable to buy day tickets for a period of 1 to 7 days at a price of 8 to 32 EUR. The Travel Card will help you save money: a trip by tram will cost 2.50 EUR, on other modes of transport – 3.20 EUR. Prices on the page are for August 2022.
The fine for a ticketless trip is 80 EUR.
The metro of the Finnish capital consists of 2 branches and 17 stations. Opening hours: 5:30-23:30, on Sunday it opens an hour later.
Tram number 3 passes by all the main attractions, and along routes number 4 and 6 there are many original buildings and interesting places.
The tram is the best way to travel around the city center. Buses run during the day and at night. Most of them depart from the station square. They stop, just like trams, by raising their hands – the entrance is only through the front door. When approaching your stop, the main thing is not to forget to press the button on the handrails.
On average, a taxi ride around the city costs 20-30 EUR.
Cycling is a good way to see the city and feel its spirit. The total length of bike paths is about 750 km. By registering and picking up a two-wheeled friend at one of the CityBike stops, anyone can ride within the center. Often hotels include bike rental in the room rate.
- Center of Helsinki
Most hotels in Helsinki meet the category 3-4 *, even if this hotel is not officially categorized. Large five-star hotels of international chains will provide luxury service. Among them are the Hotel Kamp or the hotels of the Radisson and Hilton chains. All the amenities are here: private beaches, swimming pools, spas, tennis courts, gyms and much more. As for the simpler categories, it is worth noting the four-star Scandic Grand Marina or Glo Hotel Art – the latter is located in a real castle. However, the rooms won’t be cheap either.
A double room in a 3 * hotel will cost from 87 EUR, and a suite in the best Kamp 5 * hotel – from 296 EUR.
Budget accommodation options – hostels and apartments – are “sorted out” by tourists long before the date of the intended trip.
That is why any accommodation in the Finnish capital must be booked in advance, otherwise you will not be able to find anything on the spot except for a five-star choir. The most budget hostels in Helsinki are Cheap Sleep and All Right. A great option with a high level of comfort would be apartments with a kitchen Helsinki Central Apartments – here you can accommodate the whole family, but you will have to cook on your own. If there is an option to choose a hotel in the center or the suburbs, you should give preference to the central one: the price for a room may be approximately the same, but this way you will save on transport.
Rent a Car
Rental services in Finland are provided by both international companies – Avis, Sixt, Europcar, Alamo, CarTrawler, and local ones – Scandia Rent, Netrentm, Transvell Oy. There are offices at the airport, near railway stations and ports, as well as throughout the city, especially in large hotels. You can make an order in advance via the Internet or rent a car already on the spot. The technical condition of the cars is good, but the cost is higher than the average European one. The highest tariffs are in summer and winter, in spring and autumn they are reduced. Daily rental of an economy class car will cost from 100 EUR, executive – from 270 EUR.
When parking, pay attention to the signs – there are streets where parking is free on weekdays, but paid on Sundays and holidays.
You can only park in designated areas. Parking in the center and around it is paid on weekdays, in business districts – and on Saturday. All central streets and surrounding areas are divided into 3 zones with parking prices from 6 to 12 EUR per hour – with a decrease in cost as you move away from the center. It is convenient to drive around the neighborhood by car, but traffic jams happen in the capital itself, especially on the days of demonstrations and city events.
Communication and Wi-Fi
Mobile communications in Helsinki are supported by cellular operators Elisa (Saunalahti), Sonera and DNA. For calls to Russia, it makes sense to purchase a local SIM card. This can be done in branded communication stores and ubiquitous R-Kioski points. Elisa and Sonera have good coverage, while DNA offers the best prepaid rates for travelers.
You can use the Internet for free in the center of Helsinki almost everywhere. Wi-Fi is available in transport with a corresponding sticker, at the main post office, in shopping centers, McDonald’s and numerous cafeterias.
Helsinki Guest Card (website with English version) entitles you to free bus tours and canal walks, unlimited free travel on public transport and ferry to Sveaborg Fortress (Suomenlinna), free admission to major museums and attractions, including maritime Sea Life Center, Zoo, Eureka Science Center, Linnanmäki Amusement Park, Amos Anders Art Museum, Haltia Nature Centre, Ferris wheel. In addition, this card is entitled to discounts in shops, cafes and restaurants.
Any card is valid from the moment of its first use. Always show your Helsinki Card at the box office, museum entrances and restaurants when ordering.
Cards are available for 24/48/72 hours and cost respectively 51/63/74 EUR. For children from 7 to 16 years old, a 50% discount, kids under 7 years old travel by transport and go everywhere for free. In this case, you need to print out the confirmation and present it at the points of sale of cards – at the Turinfo and Stromma offices located at the airport, near the Central Railway Station and around the city.
Despite the short summer, guests of the capital and the townspeople themselves have time to taste the delights of beach life. There are 29 beaches in Helsinki – most on the adjacent islands, 4 on the banks of the Vantaa River. The artificial sand “Hietaniemi” is a 20-minute walk from the center. It is good to relax here with the whole family – a convenient entrance to the water and shallow water. Volleyball and basketball courts are equipped for adults, there is a golf club and a tennis center, cafes and bars work. Families with children also like to visit the Mustikkamaa beach, not far from the zoo. There are gazebos for barbecues and sports grounds, showers and toilets.
All Finnish beaches are carefully checked for compliance with European standards and norms, so they are clean and tidy.
Aurinkolahti beach is located in the eastern part of Helsinki. Its name is not without reason translated as “sunny bay” – the embankment of soft sand, surrounded by fashionable new buildings, has a Mediterranean flavor. It is clean and has everything you need for a beach holiday. Pihlajasaari nudist beach in Seurassaari is more suitable for sunbathing than for swimming – the bottom is rather rocky. It is located a few kilometers from the center, you can get there in 10 minutes by ferry. On the shore there are all amenities, a camping site, a public grill and a sauna. Entrance to the beach is paid – from 3 EUR.