Parking can be a challenge
(Image: Jenni Pietikäinen/ Helsinki Marketing)
As a visitor to the city of Helsinki, you might find it challenging to find a place to park, such as when you want to go sightseeing and shopping, as the cost of parking can be quite high. In this article, I will provide a basic outline of how the parking fee system works, as well as the best spots where you can find a place to park your vehicle.
Parking fees in Helsinki are based on zones. There are three zones, of which zones 1 and 2 cover the inner city. Basically, everywhere along the streets of Helsinki belong to zone 1, for which the fee for parking is four euros per hour. Within zone 2 the fee is two euros per hour.
Signs are located at each parking area and these indicate the time periods during which one is required to pay, so always check the information on the sign, as there are times when no payment is required. However, keep in mind that illegal parking can lead to a fine of 60 to 80 euros, so be sure to check properly!
You may often see a sign such as the one pictured above. What this means is that parking is only restricted during the time periods stated there. When calculating the total amount of the parking fee, remember that you only pay for the time which you have parked within those restricted hours.
As pictured in the sign, the first line in black always refers to weekdays. The second line, in black and in brackets, refers to Saturdays. The third line, in red, refers to Sundays. Outside of these time intervals the parking is free of charge. Payment can be made directly using the machines located near to the street parking places. Some of them accept coins, but nowadays many accept payment by credit card.
There are also a few places where you can park free of charge. One good spot is located near to the Helsinki Olympic Stadium in Töölö. While there is no security presence, it is nonetheless quite safe to park there, even overnight, and is notably in close proximity to an active police station. According to many statistics, Finland is one of the safest places in the world to park.
Of course, common-sense guidelines always apply, so do not leave your most valuable assets openly visible in your vehicle. From the Olympic Stadium, you can get to the center easily in around five minutes by tram. Tram numbers three and four go directly into the heart of the town.
Another nice spot to park for free is at Hietaniemi beach. I would strongly recommend parking there as the area itself is very beautiful, especially in the summer. In addition to the beach, which is one of the most popular in the city, you can also enjoy the many activities happening there or to simply enjoy the large surrounding park.
A third option for free parking is at shopping malls located outside of the center. For instance, the newly opened shopping mall REDI is offering free parking for up to four hours, or ten hours for two euros. From there you can take the metro to Helsinki and within ten minutes you will be in the city center.
Alternatively, if convenient parking is your primary concern as opposed to the cost, then I highly recommend that you choose underground parking, which is operated by EuroPark and located under the city center. There is a huge parking area and from there you can go by elevator directly into the shopping malls at Kamppi, Forum and Stockmann. You will find the main entrances here.
For further information, the City of Helsinki has prepared a helpful and detailed guide on city parking.