Living in Finland?
Transportation in Finland
Buses and Trains: Easily Accessible
Finland is the fifth largest country in Western Europe and its relatively large area is well connected by trains, buses, and high quality roads.
Trains connect all urban areas in Finland as well as many rural areas. There are 5,919 km of railways in Finland. In rural areas where there isn’t a train connection, there is usually a bus that then connects to the closest train station. The state owned VR operates trains in Finland. VR has an online map of major train stations in the country.
Convenient Driving in Finland
Finland has excellent roads and driving is a good way of getting around the country. However, this is less true of Helsinki where parking can be challenging and the majority of locals opt for public transportation or bikes instead.
From December to February, it is legally required to have snow tires on your car. You must use headlights at all times. Because of the severity of the winters, it is recommended to also have engine heaters. Also, watch out for elk and reindeer, especially at dusk. The legal BAC limit is 0.5.
The minimum legal driving age in Finland is 18. If your driving license was issued by an EU or EEA country, or a country that is part of the Vienna or Geneva Road Traffic Convention (note that you’ll need an official translation or international driver’s license in the latter cases), then you can drive for up to two years after becoming a permanent resident in Finland. Within this time frame, you can also apply for a Finnish license.
This is done at the offices of the Finnish Transport Safety Agency’s contractual service partner Ajovarma Oy. In addition to paying a fee, remember to bring your national driver’s license, an authorized translation, and, sometimes, a statement from a doctor confirming that you are healthy. Best call ahead to confirm which documents you need.
Driver’s licenses issued elsewhere than in an EU or EEA Member State or a Contracting State do not entitle you to drive motor vehicles in Finland. You have to apply for a Finnish driving license before being allowed to drive.
If you have a car in Finland, you also have to register it with the Finnish Transport Agency (Trafi).
Getting to Finland via Plane
Finland is well connected by planes and there are 76 airports with paved runways and an additional 72 without. The Helsinki-Vantaa airport is by far the largest airport in Finland. Helsinki has a second airport: Malmi.
There are six airports in northern Finland, thus making Lapland quite accessible.
Finnair is the largest airline in Finland. It has been in operation since 1923, which makes it one of the oldest operating airlines in the world.
Finding Your Way through the City
Helsinki is the only city in Finland to have a metro and it is in fact the most northern metro system in the world. First opened in 1982, the metro network is currently being expanded due to the Helsinki West Metro Project. This project includes building eight new stations that cover nearly 14 km and are estimated to open in 2016, with an additional 5 stations and 7 km planned to be completed by 2020. Helsinki is also the only city in Finland where trams are still in use.
Public transport connects Helsinki to Kirkkonummi, Sipoo, Vantaa, Espoo, and Kauniainen in the Greater Helsinki Area. Helsinki Region Transport (HRT) consists of trams, the metro, busses, commuter trains and even a ferry. Single and day tickets for periods of up to seven days as well as travel cards with seasonal or value tickets are available for the various regions and cover all modes of transport provided by the HRT.
The Helsinki Region Transport’s website has a journey planner and it even provides assistance in planning routes that combine public transport with cycling.
Tampere and Oulu both have extensive bus networks.
Taxis of course are also a reliable alternative in the cities around the country. Fare rates are metered and regulated by the government, with prices comparable to those in other Western European countries.
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