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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Finland

the fp is getting-around

Getting Around Finland

Air

Finnair (www.finnair.com) and SAS (www.flysas.com) run an excellent network of domestic services. Look out for discounted äkkilähdot (last minute) fares.

Road

Side of the road

Right

Road Quality

In forested areas, heed the signs warning of elk and reindeer crossing the carriageway - many drivers are injured in collisions with deer every year.

Petrol stations are often unmanned but you can operate petrol pumps using banknotes and credit cards.

Car Hire

Car hire is available in larger towns and cities from a variety of local and international firms. The minimum age varies from 20 to 25 years depending on the company, but all firms require a minimum of one year's driving experience.

Taxi

Available in every city and from airports and major hotels. Taxis have a yellow ‘taksi’ sign that is lit when the taxi is vacant. They can be booked at taxi ranks or hailed from the street. In Helsinki, you can call Taksi Helsinki on +358 100 0700. Fares are more expensive at night and at weekends; tipping is not customary. Taxis run by Yellow Line (tel: +358 600 555 555) operate to and from Helsinki Airport.

Bike

You can hire bikes in most towns from tourist offices or camping grounds. HSL city bikes (kaupunkipyorat.hsl.fi; tel: +358 9 425 788 10) are available in Helsinki and Espoo and accept most credit cards.

Regulations

Speed limits are 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas, 80kph (50mph) on non-urban roads and 80-120kph (50-75mph) on motorways. Seat belts must be worn by all passengers and headlights must be kept on at all times.

Traffic entering from the right has right of way, even when joining a major road from a minor road. Cars towing caravans may not exceed 80kph (50mph). From 01 December until 31 March, snow tyres are a legal requirement; you can hire them from rental firms.

Further information can be obtained from Autoliitto (Automobile and Touring Club of Finland) (tel: +358 9 7258 4400; www.autoliitto.fi)

Documentation

In Finland, the legal driving age is 18. A National driving licence or an International Driving Permit and insurance are required.

EU and Swiss driving licenses are both eligible to use in Finland.

Urban travel

Larger towns have efficient and integrated bus services, and Helsinki also has a metro and tram service, suburban rail lines and ferry services. Local transport in Helsinki (including the ferries) is covered by a single ticket system with a zonal flat fare and free transfers between services. Multi-trip tickets are sold in advance, as are various passes.

You can buy tickets from the driver, ticket machine or via mobile phone text message (Finnish service providers only). Tramline 3T runs past most of the main tourist attractions - a free brochure in English is available covering the stops along the route.

Helsinki Card: This handy discount card (www.helsinkicard.fi) is available for 24, 48 or 72 hours. Once purchased, it allows unlimited free travel on public transport (including the Suomenlinna ferry) and free entry to numerous museums and other sights in the city. Several other large cities offer similar transport cards.

Rail

Finnish trains are spacious, comfortable, clean and quiet, thanks to special booths where people can make mobile phone calls. Valtion Rautatiet - VR (tel: 0600 41902, in Finland only or +358 800 166 888; www.vr.fi) operates an extensive rail service around Finland. The main lines are Helsinki-Turku, Helsinki-Tampere-Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä-Kuopio and Helsinki-Seinäjoki-Oulu-Rovaniemi.

Prices vary according to the standard of the train; regional trains are cheapest and fast Pendolino trains are the most expensive. Sleeping berths are available on night trains and seat reservations are compulsory on IC and Pendolino services. Children under four travel free and tickets for children aged 4-16 have up to a 40% discount. Special discounts are available for groups, students, and seniors.

There are trams available in Finland but they are mostly available in inner-city Helsinki. The Helsinki Region Transport (www.hsl.fi/en), also called the HSL, has an extensive tram network. The service is easily accessible as it has 11 lines, connecting different areas of the inner-city to each other.

Rail Passes

Interrail One-Country Pass: Offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month within Finland. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence except for one outbound and one inbound train. Travellers under 27 years receive a discount of up to 25% on the standard adult price. Children 11 and under travel free when accompanied by an adult using an Adult Pass. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Available from Interrail (www.interrail.eu).

Eurail Finland Pass: Offers travel for three, four, five or eight days in one month within Austria. Travellers under 27 years receive a 20% discount on the standard adult price. Children aged 4-11 can travel for free on their first day of travel. Available to non-EU nationals from Eurail (www.eurail.com).

Water

Many of Finland's inland waterways are serviced by waterbuses and ferries. Popular routes include the Silver Line (www.hopealinja.fi), which operates between Hämeenlinna and Tampere and Tampere and Viikinsaari island, and the Poet's Way (www.runoilijantie.fi), which runs between Tampere and Virrat.

Lake Päijänne Cruises (www.paijanne-risteilythilden.fi) runs services on the Päijänne Waterway, between Jyväskylä and Heinola, Lahti and Suolahti. Roll Cruises (www.roll.fi) offers cruises around Kuopio.

There are also regular car ferry services around the Lake Pielinen area. All ferries have restaurants or canteens and accommodation on overnight trips is provided in small private cabins.

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