Travel to Helsinki

Flying to Helsinki

Airlines offering direct flights to Helsinki from the UK include British Airways, Finnair and easyJet. Cheap flights to Helsinki are available from no-frills airlines such as easyJet, although booking in advance is always advisable. Other airlines offering services to the city include Lufthansa, SAS, Air France, Air Berlin, TAP and LOT.

Flight times

From London - 2 hours 55 minutes; New York - 7 hours; Los Angeles - 16 hours; Toronto - 8 hours 40 minutes; Sydney - 27 hours 30 minutes.

Travel by road

Summary:

Traffic drives on the right and the legal driving age in Finland is 18 years. The speed limit is 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas, 120kph (75mph) on motorways and 80-100kph (50-62mph) elsewhere. In winter, the limit outside built-up areas drops by 20kph. It should be noted that cars entering a junction from the right always have right of way, even when the car is on a minor road. All motor vehicles must have headlights on at all times. An EU driving licence or an International Driving Permit are required to drive in Finland. EU nationals taking their cars to Helsinki should obtain a Green Card from their home insurance company. All drivers must be fully insured and accidents must be reported promptly to Liikennevakuutuskeskus, the Finnish Motor Insurance Centre (tel: (09) 680 401; www.liikennevakuutuskeskus.fi).

There are some hazards specific to Finland that drivers should be aware of. Although well maintained, Finnish roads can be hazardous in winter and all vehicles must use winter tyres from December to February. When driving through rural areas, be wary of elk and reindeer on the carriageway, particularly at dusk. Additional information is available from Autoliitto - Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (tel: (09) 7258 4400; www.autoliitto.fi), which also runs the emergency service Tiepalvelu.

Emergency breakdown service:

Tiepalvelu (tel: (09) 7258 4400).

Routes:

Most people who drive to Helsinki arrive via the car ferry from Stockholm or the E18 motorway from Turku. Other important roads leading to Helsinki include the E12 from Vaasa and the E75 from Rovaniemi.

Driving times:

From Turku - 2 hours 15 minutes; Vaasa - 4 hours 30 minutes; Rovaniemi - 11 hours; St Petersburg - 5 hours.

Coaches:

The main provider of coaches in Finland is Oy Matkahuolto (tel: (09) 682 701; www.matkahuolto.fi), which handles all long-distance and express bus travel. There is a national timetable service (tel: 0200 4000), operating daily from 0800 to 1900. Various private companies provide local bus services. International coach services run to Helsinki from Sweden, Norway and Russia - numerous companies operate on the Helsinki-St Petersburg route. In Helsinki, coaches arrive at and depart from Helsinki Bus Station, between Salomonkatu and Simonkatu.

Travel by rail

Services:

Finnish trains are clean and efficient and there are convenient international connections to St Petersburg and Moscow in Russia. In Helsinki, trains arrive at and depart from Rautatientori (Railway Square), located on Kaivokatu, off Mannerheimintie.

Operators:

National and international rail services to Helsinki are provided by Valtion Rautatiet - VR (tel: (09) 2319 2902; www.vr.fi/eng). Fast, comfortable Pendolino trains run around the country, with regular services to Turku, Tampere, Lahti, Vaasa, Rovaniemi and other Finnish cities. Many people come to Helsinki to take advantage of the convenient train service to St Petersburg and Moscow in Russia. There are two daily trains to Finlyandsky Vokzal station in St Petersburg - the Finnish-run Sibelius leaves Helsinki in the morning, while the Russian-run Repin, leaves in the afternoon (the Sibelius is slightly more modern, but the Repin offers a more interesting cultural experience). Every evening, the Russian-operated Tolstoi runs overnight from Helsinki to Moscow’s Leningradsky Vokzal station. Tickets can be purchased in advance through Valtion Rautatiet, but allow time to pick up the tickets on arrival in Helsinki.

Journey times:

From Lahti – 1 hour 30 minutes; Turku – 2 hours; Tampere – 2 hours; Vaasa – 4-5 hours; St Petersburg – 6 hours 30 minutes; Rovaniemi – 10-12 hours; Moscow – 15 hours.

Travel over water

Summary:

There are regular scheduled car and passenger ferry services to Helsinki from Sweden, Estonia and Germany. Ferries dock at five different terminals in Helsinki - the Kanava and Katajanokka terminals are on the north side of Eteläsatama (South Harbour), while the Makasiini and Olympia terminals are south of the harbour. The Länsiterminaali (West Terminal) is southwest of the centre on Hietasaarenkuja. Always check which terminal your ferry company will be using before you travel.

Ferry services:

Viking Line (tel: 0600 41577; www.vikingline.fi) and Tallink/Silja Line (tel: 0600 15700; www.tallinksilja.com/en) have regular daily services between Helsinki and Tallinn, taking between two and four hours, and daily 16-hour ferry routes between Helsinki and Stockholm, most travelling via Turku or Mariehamn in the Åland islands. Several other companies run ferries on the same routes. Finnlines (tel: 010 343 4500; www.finnlines.com) has daily ferries between Helsinki and Travemünde in Germany, completing the journey in about 27 hours and several ferries weekly between Helsinki and Rostock or Gdynia.

Nearest port:

Helsinki.

Transfer distance:

2.5km (1.5 miles).

Transfer time:

10-15 minutes.




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