Helsinki (Helsingfors in Swedish) is a small capital of around half a million with the usual assortment of museums and stuff. The city is built around the sea and is a pleasant place to hang out before taking advantage of the city’s handy transport connections to Estonia and Russia.
While you’re in Helsinki, take advantage of the Helsinki Card which incorporates a public transport pass with free entry to many museums and attractions including the Suomenlinna sea fortress, Korkeasaari Zoo, Linnanmäki Amusement Park and the Stadium Tower, free city bus and tram tours.
The Helsinki card is available from the city tourist office, hotels and travel agencies and costs €46 for a 24-hour pass, €56 for 48 hours and €66 for a 72-hour pass.
Helsinki City Transport operates buses, trams, metro and suburban trains. Most public transport runs between 5.30am and 11pm, although a few tram and bus routes run until 1.30am and night buses operate later.
Tram & bus
For most travellers, buses and trams are the handiest way to get around the city. The most useful route is tram route 3T, which is designated as a tourist route with the one-hour trip passing most of the city’s tourist sights.
Metro & suburban train
Helsinki has one metro line that runs from the city centre and into the eastern suburbs. Trains run every three to five minutes between 5.30am and 11.30pm.
Station names are written in both Finnish and Swedish, which can make travel a little more confusing for some travellers.
Rautatientori metro station (Järnvägstorget in Swedish) is next to Helsinki’s main train station where you can transfer to the suburban train system. This has frequent trains but is of limited use to most travellers.
The citybike scheme is a good cheap way to get around Helsinki. You pay a €2 deposit and take a bike from one of 26 stands in the city centre and after you have finished cycling, you simply return the bike to a city bike stand and get your deposit back.
There are a few rules so people don’t abuse the system. You can only use the Citybike within the permitted area in central Helsinki, you cannot use your own lock and you can not steal or damage the bike.
You can buy single tickets from the bus driver or tram conductor and from metro stations. Single tickets cost €3.20, or €2.90 if paid by mobile phone or purchased in advance from a ticket machine. Night buses cost €5.
The systems works on a similar basis to many other European cities where you can buy tickets in advance and then validate them when you hop on a train, tram or bus. After validating your ticket you can transfer between other forms of transport for up to one hour. However, single tram tickets (€2.50) do not allow transfers.
Day tickets are available allowing access to the system for one day (€9), three days (€18) and five days (€27). Your day ticket is valid from the time it is first stamped.