Portray of the Destination
Helsinki is a modern, cosmopolitan European city, existing in perfect harmony with nature and
all things maritime. The opportunities for visitors are endless, yet the city cannot be defined by
a single word. Nor can it be experienced in only one way. But whatever your expectations may be,
Helsinki offers something for everyone.
There are many ways in which you can start to explore the city; try a walking tour around the
city centre, passing the magnificent fortress of Suomenlinna, which will open your eyes to
Helsinki´s fascinating 450-year history. Its architecture and innovative technology is becoming
highly regarded worldwide. Nowadays Helsinki is an up-and-coming urban metropolis, complemented by
its thriving urban subculture and unique way of life.
Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe after Russia, Ukraine, France, Spain, Sweden
and Germany. It is often referred to as the "country of the lakes", given that there are more than
188,000 lakes. In addition, it has 179,000 islands, 98,000 of which are on the lakes. It shares
frontiers with Norway at the north, Estonia south, Russia east and Sweden west.
Helsinki has a total area mass of 686 km
², 186 km
² of land and 500 km
² of water. A total of 10% of Finland is made up of
water, 69% of forests, 8% cultivated land and 13% of land used for other purposes. The coastline is
4,600 km long. The highest peak of Finland is Halti, 1,328 m above sea level.
There are more than 300 species of bird in Finland, including buzzards, eagles and the
Whooper swan amongst others. Finland is also populated by bears, elk, and lynxes. It´s array of
flora and fauna is very diverse; pine trees and birch trees make up most of the country´s forests.
Europe´s largest archipelago is found on the south-east coast of Finland. The Aland islands, a
Swedish-speaking province of Finland, form part of this archipelago.
Summer in Helsinki begins in May and lasts until mid-September. Finnish summers are quite
pleasant, with temperatures reaching around 20-25 ºC, with the green countryside and extremely long
days. Nighttime consists of prolonged twilight during this time due to the Midnight Sun, when the
sun does not set for several weeks. This phenomenon lasts for more than two months, usually from
May until the end of July. On clear, sunny days, temperatures can reach as high as 30 degrees.
Isolated showers are usually short. Rain becomes more prevalent from September onwards. Autumn is a
good time to experience the Northern Lights; known in Lapland as
, due to the colours that are naturally produced.
Winter begins in November, yet is more felt in December. The
average temperature between December and February is –4 ºC, dropping as low as –15 ºC during
January, causing the sea to freeze over. This is also the time when nighttime is longest and the
(polar light) occurs, when a faint glow of light can be seen
across the horizon, lasting from November to mid-December. In February and September, the period of
daylight is the same as in the rest of the world.
When to go
The best months in which to visit Finland are June, July and August. Many Finns have a
holiday home, and usually leave Helsinki in June, when many offices are closed. If culture is what
you are looking for, the best time to go is in August, during which Helsinki´s Arts Festival is
held, attracting thousands of artists. If you are interested in taking boat trips, or shopping, the
best time is during spring and autumn. In autumn, Helsinki´s peak season, you can enjoy the famous
Helsinki Festival held during this time. If winter sport takes your fancy, December to April is the
best time to go; in Lapland it is possible to ski up until May. Finland hosts the annual Ski
Marathon, which has been held in the Lahti region for thirty years, where you can spend 2-4 days
enjoying this fantastic event, which will cost 100 euros.
Helsinki was founded in 1550 by King Gustav I of Sweden. In the mid-1600s, its trade centre
was relocated to the south of the peninsula, where the waters allowed Helsinki to benefit from the
thriving maritime trade in the Baltic regions. In 1748, Sweden built the naval fortress island of
Suomelinna in response to the growing threat of invasion by Russia. Finland eventually became part
of the Russian Empire in 1809, becoming an autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812. A plan for a
city monument was commissioned in a bid to assert the power of Russia and its Tsarist regime.
Helsinki rapidly expanded, developing into a Modern European city by the end of 1800. On the turn
of the 20
century, Helsinki´s population had exceeded 100,000, attracted mainly by its
university and thriving industry. In 1917, Helsinki was proclaimed the capital of the Independent
Republic of Finland. As the 20
century progressed, Helsinki became more widely regarded as being among the world´s
great metropolises. The 1952 Olympic Games, the European Convention of 1975, and Finland´s
accession to the EU in 1995 were huge contributing factors on the path to Helsinki´s international
status. In 2000, Helsinki was confirmed as one the nine European Capital of Culture cities.
Nowadays, Helsinki is a city reminiscent of life in the 21
century, a city characterised by its functionalism and style, with its highly modern
infrastructure and natural beauty in perfect balance.
Helsinki is a fairly small, intimate city, and not overwhelming in any way. It´s small size
makes it an ideal place in which to take a stroll around the markets and café terraces. Not to be
missed are Helsinki´s small islands, which are especially enjoyable in summer.
Given that Helsinki is situated beside the Baltic Sea and has an extremely long coastline, most
of its central districts are situated beside the sea. Its a very maritime city, often referred to
as the “Pearl of the Baltic.”
The coastal situation of Helsinki makes it an ideal place in
which to enjoy the sight of ferries entering and leaving the port in summer. The sea is an
important feature of many of Helsinki´s principal attractions, including the navel fortress
Suomenlinna (given historical heritage status by UNESCO) and the island of Seurasaari, with its
parks and open-air museums. Another enjoyable activity for the people of Helsinki on a sunny day is
to visit the Hietaniemi beach (previously Hietsu), Helsinki´s main beach, situated in the district
In winter, Helsinki spends most of its days in darkness. This,
however, offers the visitor the unique opportunity to make the most of the city´s quaint streets
brimming with light, the best example of which is Aleksanterinkatu (Joulukatu). During the coldest
winter months, the people of Helsinki are often seen walking on the sea´s frozen surface, although
one should be extremely careful when doing this. There are also plenty of places where you can swim
in the icy waters near the coast, and some places even have saunas.
Helsinki is also home to the Linnanmäki theme park, which has five
roller coasters any many other attractions, which will include its first roller coaster designed by
the Swiss thrill ride company Intamin, due to open in April 2007.
Finnish food is heavily influenced by French and Russian cuisine. In a country as rich in
fish as Finland, you are never too far away from a plateful of fish; Baltic herring in marinade or
with mustard, different varieties of salmon, etc. The stream fishing season usually begins on July
20 and ends in mid-August. Another type of fish,
is a specialty in the lake regions. Other favourite delicacies
include numerous varieties of soup and dishes that are often slow-cooked. You will find numerous
open-air markets throughout the country, where you can sample the local fare, some of which
in Karelia and
in Savo. In Finland there is a wealth of meat-based dishes, all
of which delicious and low in fat, accompanied with all types of bread.
The breakfast here is quite hearty. Including
breakfast, Finns typically eat three meals a day; a light lunch, usually a salad and a cup of fresh
coffee between 11am and 1pm, a heartier meal between 5 and 6pm and another “light bite” at around
9pm. Most people eat in restaurants after 7pm, but most serve food at any time, and you will
usually see people eating at any time of day. The only places where you will find certain opening
hours are self-service buffets and cheap diners.
The most commonly consumed drinks are water,
milk and beer, although you will also find an excellent range of imported wines.
Finnish dishes are so rich that most people just
order a main course and a dessert.
- See you later:
- Thank you:
- You´re welcome:
- I´m sorry:
- Excuse me:
- Good morning:
- Good afternoon:
- I don´t speak Finnish:
En puhu suomea
Days of the week:
In the city:
Se on avoinna / auki
Se on suljettu / kiinni
- Post office:
- Train station:
- Petrol station:
- Ticket sales:
- Art exhition:
In the restaurant:
- Can I have the menu, please?:
Saanko ruokalistan, kiitos?
- I´d like some water, please:
- I´d like a beer, please:
Yksi olut, kiitos
- Can I have the bill, please?
Saisinko laskun, kiitos?
In the hotel:
- Excuse me, where can I find a telephone?:
Anteeksi, missä on puhelin?
- Hotel room:
In the taxi:
- Take me to...please. Otakaari 2 (the address):
Otaniemeen, kiitos. Otakaari 2
- What is the tariff?:
Mitä se maksaa?
- I don´t feel well. Can you call a doctor?:
Apua, en voi hyvin... voisitko soittaa lääkärin?
- How do I get to the pharmacy?:
Missä on apteekki?
- Where´s the toilet?:
Missä on vessa?
1.00 USD= 0.770604 EUR
1.00 GBP= 1.51869 EUR
1.00 AUD= 0.599691 EUR
Finland is possibly one of the most expensive countries in Europe, along with Norway and
Sweden. This said, however, Finland has the most reasonable prices in all of Scandinavia.
GMT +2, GMT +3 in summerOfficial Language
Finnish (92.3%), Swedish (5.6%), Sami (approx 1,700 speakers)Surface area
Parliamentary democracyPublic holidays
- 1 January: New Year´s Day
- 6 January: Epiphany
- April: Easter
- 1 May: May Day
- 17 May: Ascension
- 27 May: Pentecost
- 22 June: Summer public holiday
- 23 June: Summer Solistice
- 3 November: All Saints Day
- 6 December: Day of Independence
- 24 December: Christmas Eve
- 25 December: Christmas Day
- 26 December: St. Stephen´s Day
Christianity came to Finland some 1000 years ago, predominantly in the east and west of the
country. As a result, both the Evangelical Church of Finland and the Orthodox church have official
status; 86% of the population belong to the former, whereas only 1% are Orthodox. Both religions
are protected by the Finnish Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of its practice.
85.6% of the population are Lutherans, whereas only 1.1% are Christian OrthodoxArrival / Departure
Travelling to Finland is relatively straight-forward. The state airline, Finnair, operates
flights and direct connections from many major European cities.
Many other airlines offer direct flights to Finland, arriving at Helsinki-Vantaa International
Those who prefer to travel by car can cross the Baltic Sea by one of many daily ferries
leaving ports in Sweden, Germany and Estonia.
On arrival in Finland, you will find a vast train network, the most famous of which is the
Pendolino, the Finnish high-speed train, and coaches serving every part of the country. The
airlines Finnair and Blue 1 operate from 22 airports throughout the country.Safety
The crime rate in Helsinki and Finland is relatively low. Street muggings and petty crime are
practically non-existent, yet they still occur. For this reason, as in any other destination, it is
advisable to take precautions; keep valuables hidden in your car. To contact emergency services in
Finland, dial 112.Visa
Finland is an EU country. For EU citizens and most other European nationals a valid ID card
or a passport is sufficient for entry into the country.
Citizens of the following countries
require a visa to enter Finland:
· Costa Rica
· New Zealand
Citizens of the following countries require a visa:
· Bosnia and Herzegovina
· Russian Ferderation
· Saudi Arabia
· Republic of South Africa
To obtain a visa, contact your nearest embassy.Clothing
Helsinki winters are very cold, and although most buildings have central heating, you should
wear warm, waterproof clothing outdoors, when temperatures drop to less than -10 ºC. If you are
planning to do winter sports, you should buy the appropriate clothing before arriving in Finland.
Since autumn can be very wet, therefore waterproof clothing is
essential. In summer, your regular clothing will be fine (tops, trousers, shorts, etc.), but it can
get quite chilly in the evening, so you should take a jumper or cardigan.Electricity
The current in Finland is 220V (230V), 50 Hz. The Continental style plug (two pins) is used.Radio and Television
- YLE TV1, state television channel
- YLE TV2, state television channel specialising in children´s programmes and sport
- YLE Teema, digital channel specialising in culture, science and sport
- YLE 24, information digital channel
- YLE FST, Swedish-language digital channel
- TV Finland, satellite channel
- YLE Radio 1
- YLE Radio Suomi
Public telephones are operated with coins, phone cards or credit cards. Phone cards can be
bought at kiosks. The international code of Finland is +358 and the area code for Helsinki is 9.
To make international calls from Finland:
-Dial the international prefix (00, 990, 994 or 999)
-Dial the country code (i.e, +44 for UK)
-Dial the rest of the number, omitting the initial 0
For enquiries regarding international numbers and tariffs, dial 020208.
To make a call to Finland from overseas, dial the international
prefix as described above, followed by the code for Finland (358), then the area code, omitting the
initial 0, then the number.
-To make a local call in Finland, use the area code 0
-To make a
long distance call, dial 020222
-Tariff information: 9800-8353
-General enquiries: 020222
-Mobile enquiries: 9800-7000
Calls can be made from post offices as well as in public phoneboxes
112Tourist health care services
+358 (0)9 10 023Newspapers and Magazines
Helsingin Sanomat is the only newspaper published in both English
Hufvudstadsbladet is a Swedish-language
Kansan Uutiset and
Kauppalehti are newspapers published in
Finnish only, covering both national and international news.
If you are looking for a business/financial newspaper,
Taloussanomat is the most well-known.
Post offices are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm (some open til 8pm.) Some are also
open on weekends. The yellow boxes are used for paid postage. Stamps can be bought at post offices,
bookshops, kiosks/newsagents and hotels.
Post office in Helsinki:
Elielinaukio 2F, FI-00100, Helsinki.
Tel. +358 (0) 200 71000
Health Care Services
No vaccinations are needed to enter Finland. However, it is recommended that you take a
supply of vitamins during the winter months and insect repellent when visiting in summer. Finnish
and UK health authorities have an agreement allowing UK citizens access to free medical treatment.
First class health care is available throughout Finland. State facilities are financed by
government taxes, and health insurance is compulsory for all Finnish citizens, covering the cost of
care in private facilities, prescriptions and ambulance transport. Finnish water is pure and
Approximately 120 flights arrive in Helsinki-Vantaa airport everyday. The airport is situated
about 19km from the city centre and can be reached by car or taxi in about 25 minutes. You can also
take bus number 615 which stops at the central train station or take the airport shuttle link.Public Transport
Central Helsinki is serviced by trams, consisting of ten lines. One underground train (metro)
connects the east of Helsinki with the city centre. Just one ticket is valid for trams, buses, the
underground train and even the ferry that travels via the Suomenlinna fortress. Tickets can be
bought in many ways; you can buy them from the driver/conductor, from ticket machines and even by
sending a text message to the company (to do this you will need to possess a Finnish SIM card)
Tourist cards allow unlimited use of Helsinki´s public transport system and are valid for
periods of one, three or five days. They can be bought from ticket machines, tourist offices, or
from vendors in Helsinki Central Station. Benefits of the Helsinki Card include:
-Free entry to Helsinki´s principal museums and monuments
-Free use of the ferry to the Suomenlinna fortress and Helsinki Zoo
-Free audio tour of the city (in 11 languages)
-Free entry of Helsinki´s main casino
-Travel guide with free maps
-Discounts on tours taking place between June and August
Finland´s other major cities are well-linked with Helsinki by rail. There are also daily
services to St. Petersburg and Moscow. Central Station is considered a national monument in
Finland has an excellent network of long-distance buses. It is one of the most extensive bus
networks in Europe, covering 90% of Finland´s road system, and more than 40,000 buses leave daily.
Its timetables are adapted to coincide with ferry, air and rail services.
The central bus station is situated in the city
centre, in Simontaku 3, with regular buses and Express coaches, which leave Helsinki for other
major cities every hour. The building was renovated in 2006.Car
The traffic in Helsinki flows smoothly and there are rarely major jams. The city centre can
be reached from the outskirts of the city in less than half an hour, making it even quicker than
using public transport. Given the vast and efficient range of services available (bus, underground,
trams, trains and ferries), it is recommended that you use these rather than travelling by car. On
the other hand, the road network is excellent, any mode of transport is ideal.
If you wish to travel to the airport by car, take the Tuusula
highway (A-45) from the centre of Helsinki. If you are coming from the east or west, you should
take Kehä III
(E18 or 50) and follow the directions that you will come
Hiring or renting a car in Helsinki is not recommended, given that parking at peak times is
extremely difficult. However, travelling by rented bicycle is an ideal way to explore the city,
since Helsinki has an excellent system of cycling paths throughout the whole city. You can borrow a
bicycle free of charge, paying a small deposit which will be refunded on its return. If you would
really prefer to rent a car, there are numerous car rental companies throughout Helsinki, some of
Tel: +358 (0) 403 062 444
Aeropuerto Helsinki-Vantaa. Terminal Internacional, Vanita. 01530.
Tel: +358 20 555 21 00; Fax: +358 20 555 21 01
Lacara Rent-a-Car: Hämeentie 12, 00530 Helsinki, Finland
Tel. +358-9-719 062, Fax: +358-9-736 105
Netrent: Car rental Netrent HELSINKI
Tel: +358 20 155 00 00
The port of Helsinki is situated in the centre of the city, with its main terminals only a
short distance from the centre. Helsinki receives more than 200 ferry crossings during the summer.
If you wish to arrive at Helsinki from Europe by
car, you will have various options; one is taking a ferry from Germany to Helsinki, another is to
drive to Tallinn (Estonia), and catch a ferry from there.
Helsinki´s ferry terminals
The Terminal Olympic is south of the port,
welcoming Silja line ferries from Estocolmo, Sweden.
Ferries en route to Tallinn leave and dock at
Terminal Makasiini, Terminal Kanavaranta
Ferries en route to Germany are served by the
Tel. +358 (0)9 173 331, Fax +358 (0)9 1733
Superfast Ferries operate 6 sailings weekly all
year from Rostock to Hanko
If you are driving from Sweden, you can catch a ferry from one of
the two main companies that serve Estocolmo, namely Viking Line and Silja Line, which sail
daily to Helsinki and Turku.
-Viking Line Sweden:
Danvik center, Hästholmsvagen 28, SE-13130 Nacka.
Tel. +46 (0) 8 452 4100, Fax +46 (0) 8 452 4110
Destination Tourism Office in Spain Spanish embassy in the destination Taking pictures
There is no law prohibiting photography in Finland.See climate
10-20 €A coffee
3 €The Bus
2 € single, 40 € for a 30-day ticket, valid throughout HelsinkiThe taxi
30 € from the airport to the city centreThe Underground
2 € single, 14-day 21.40 €, multi-user 14-day 34.60 €The train
6 € Helsinki tourist ticket, 10 € regional tourist ticket, Helsinki single 2.20 €, regional 3.60 €, single to Espoo 2.20 €, Vantaa 2.40 €