Picture: Discover Helsinki
There are several companies arranging Hop-on hop-off sightseeing tours in Helsinki.
Most of the buses have a stop at the Senate Square or nearby, although the routes vary. City Tour, for instance, shows you the best sights in Helsinki.
If you are interested in a personified private tour for a smaller group, Kovanen offers you a luxuriously comfortable and easy way to experience Helsinki with a driver-guided tour, tel. 0200 6161, www.kovanen.com.
The See Helsinki On Foot brochure gives you five walking routes around Helsinki. The brochure can be downloaded at www.visithelsinki.fi.
A guided bike tour is a nice and eco-friendly way to discover Helsinki. Bike Tours Helsinki, among others, arranges sightseeing tours by bike.
See www.biketourshelsinki.com for more information.
Helsinki has no skyscrapers, so the only way to get a bird’s-eye view of the city is by private plane.
You can also hire a private plane to fly to other parts of Finland and even abroad – certainly worth considering for urgent trips to the Baltic States or Russia.
Espoo And Vantaa
If you wish to travel beyond the Helsinki area by public transport, you need a regional ticket.
It costs EUR 5.50 and is valid for one hour and twenty minutes.
Timetables and route maps for buses and trains to Espoo and Vantaa are available free of charge from the HSL offices.
Tikkurila, home to the Finnish Science Centre Heureka, is also accessible by local train.
To visit the Serena Water Park, take bus no. 355T from Helsinki bus station. Alternatively, take bus no. 21 from Espoo Leppävaara railway station.
To go to Nuuksio National Park, take bus no. 85 from Espoo Center.
Flamingo Leisure World is the largest entertainment centre in Scandinavia with a shopping centre, cinema, spa, nightclub and various restaurants.
It is located in Vantaa, quite nearby the airport.
You can take the buses 415 or 614 from Helsinki bus station, although there is a short walk from the bus stop to Jumbo. You can ask the driver for instructions.
Beyond Greater Helsinki
Finland has an excellent public transport network.
There are three competing airlines on the domestic routes, Finnair, SAS and Norwegian. The train services are efficiently run by the Finnish State Railways (VR).
The network links Helsinki to all the major cities in Finland, including outlying towns in Lapland.
National bus services are coordinated by the Matkahuolto company. In practice, all population centres are accessible by bus.
There is also a budget bus company called OnniBus that offers cheap inter-city fares starting from just 1 €.
Nearly 300 cruise ships with up to 400,000 passengers visit Helsinki every year. The cruise quays are located in Hernesaari, West Harbour, South Harbour, and Katajanokka.
In summer, a more exotic form of transport is available in the form of dozens of vintage steamboats! Although many have relinquished steam in favour of a modern engine, a few genuine old-timers continue to ply the waves. The lakes used to be a major transport route in Finland. Every summer, this tradition is revived – you can sail from Helsinki deep into the north by steamer.
The best way of travelling to Turku, Tampere and Hämeenlinna is by rail. For Porvoo, the bus is most convenient. For travellers heading for Lapland, there are daily flights to Rovaniemi, Ivalo and other destinations.
If you plan to tour Finland, a thorough travel guide and a book of timetables are essential. Tailored excursions are also easy to arrange by contacting a travel agency.
St. Petersburg in Russia is now nearer to Helsinki than ever before – the new Allegro train connection will take you to St. Petersburg in three and a half hours. The train has four departures a day, and border formalities are operated conveniently aboard the moving train.