Getting around Helsinki
Helsingin Kaupungin Liikennelaitos (HKL) operates Helsinki’s metro, trams and buses, as well as the ferry to Suomenlinna, but information on routes, timetables and tickets is provided by Helsingin Seudun Liikenne (HSL) (tel: +358 9 4766 4000; www.hsl.fi).
You can buy tickets on board buses and trams and at metro stations, but they're cheaper if purchased in advance on your mobile phone or from newsagents (R-kioski), the tourist office or post office. Transfers are allowed for single and multi-trip tickets within one hour of the time stamped on the ticket upon initial boarding. Tram 4 is ideal for architecture buffs, and tram 6 is designed for those interested in design, art and food.
Passes are available for anything from one to seven days. Visitors also get unlimited travel with the Helsinki Card (www.helsinkicard.fi), which also provides free entry to many museums and attractions.
There is also a Kutsuplus service (www.kutsuplus.fi/home), an on-demand minibus service which you can book via a mobile phone or computer, enabling passengers heading in the same direction to share the same route.
Taxi services are operated by Helsinki Taxi Centre (tel: +358 100 0700). Helsinki taxis can be hailed on the street or booked by telephone, but demand often exceeds supply during the morning and afternoon rush hour. A taxi is available for hire if the yellow 'TAXI' dome is lit. As a general rule, tipping is not expected.
As the public transport system is excellent and most of central Helsinki is accessible on foot, it is not necessary to take a car into Helsinki city centre. Visitors who drive in the city should be aware that parking regulations are strictly enforced and delays are common during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
The city is divided into three parking zones. Central Helsinki is designated as Zone I (I-vyöhyke) and parking rules are enforced from 0900 to 2100 Monday to Saturday. Parking is less expensive outside this central zone and rules are only enforced from Monday to Friday. On Sundays, you have to pay for parking in some parts of the city centre, so make sure you check signs.
Parking meters take ordinary coins or parking cards, which you can buy in advance from R-kioski (newsagents) and service stations. The major car parks in the centre are located at the Forum shopping centre, Mannerheimintie 20, and Kluuvi shopping centre, Aleksanterinkatu 9.
Car hire in Helsinki is available at the airport and railway station, or can be arranged through hotels, the tourist office or directly with the operators.
The minimum age for car hire varies from 19 to 25 years, depending on the hire company. An EU driving licence or an International Driving Permit is required, including one year's driving experience. A credit card is usually needed as a deposit.
With the flat topography, bicycles are a popular way of getting around in Helsinki, and the city has an extensive, 750km-long (466 miles) network of well-maintained cycle paths. Cyclists must obey bicycle traffic signals to avoid a fine.
You can hire town and road bikes by the hour or day from Bicyclean Helsinki, Luotsikatu 14 (tel: +358 4429 15331; www.bicycleanhelsinki.com).