Through the fields
Through the fields

(Image: Helsinki Marketing)

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Getting around Helsinki

By , , updated on

Getting around Helsinki is easy because of its efficient public transportation system. The entire Helsinki region is covered by an integrated network that is operated by HSL, the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority. HSL tickets are valid on the bus, metro, tram, commuter trains and the Suomenlinna ferry. There are also private transportation options available, such as inter-city buses and taxi services.

Getting To And From The Airport

Helsinki International Airport is located in Vantaa, thirty minutes from the city centre. Finnair buses leave every 25 – 30 minutes from Elielinaukio, which is in front of the central railway station in Helsinki, starting at 5 a.m. and ending at midnight. The last bus leaves from the airport at 00.45. One-way adult tickets cost EUR 6.80 and are valid for 90 minutes.

The local buses take slightly longer to get to the airport and single tickets cost EUR 4.60 (EUR 6.50 when bought from the bus). Bus nos. 615, 415, 617 and 561 take you to the airport from different points in the city. Conveniently, you can take bus no. 615 from the stop located across from the Central Railway Station.

The new Ring Rail Line provides a train connection between the airport and the city centre. From the Helsinki Central Railway Station, you can take either the I or P trains. The modern, low-floor trains run every 10 minutes in the daytime. The journey from the airport to the central railway station takes about 30 minutes. For more information about the bus and train schedules visit www.hsl.fi.

Tickets are not sold on board the trains, but can be bought on board buses, or through the HSL app, or from an HSL ticket machine. At the airport, ticket machines are located at the train station entrance between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, in the baggage claim hall in Terminal 2 and at bus stops. Additionally, tickets are available at the Tourist Info booth, R-Kiosks and from the Alepa grocery store. Journeys between the airport and the Helsinki city centre require an ABC ticket. 

Minibus services, including Airport Taxi (tel. 0100 4800) and Yellow Line Airport Taxi (tel.

0600 555 555), charge a lump sum for a whole group travelling from the airport to a single destination in the city. An ordinary taxi from the airport to the city centre will cost approximately 50 euros, depending on the exact destination.

City Transport System

Buses and Trams

Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) provides an integrated service throughout the city. Timetables and route maps are available from the HSL information offices free of charge. The main office, located at the central railway station, is open Monday to Friday from 7.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased from the HSL ticket machines which are located at travel transit points. HSL also has a mobile ticket app for smartphones. The free app allows you to buy tickets directly from your phone. The mobile tickets are valid on all modes of transport.

On the tram
(Image: Julius Konttinen/ Helsinki Marketing)

Ticket prices are based on zones. Four new zones (A, B, C, D) were introduced in April 2019, replacing the previous system. An AB ticket will allow you to travel within Helsinki and Espoo; note however that an ABC ticket is required for travel from central Helsinki to Vantaa. A single AB ticket (adult) costs EUR 2.80 when purchased through the app or from a ticket machine, and EUR 4.00 when purchased from the bus driver.  A day ticket is useful if you plan to make several journeys during one day or more, as you can buy a ticket that is valid from 1 to 7 days.

AB tickets are valid for 80 minutes and ABC tickets for 90 minutes; however, tickets that are bought from ticket machines are valid for ten minutes longer.

If you travel by tram remember to obtain your ticket beforehand, either from a ticket machine or through the app, as tickets are no longer sold on board.

Metro

A modern, immaculately clean metro runs from Ruoholahti in the south-west to Mellunmäki and Vuosaari in the north-east of Helsinki. The last train leaves the centre approximately at 11.30 p.m. The network remains modest with a straight-line, east to west design, which makes it extremely easy to navigate. Uniquely, the metro will also drop you off at the gates of the Rastila camping site in Vuosaaari, which is maintained by the city of Helsinki. The new Western Metro Extension has added eight stops after Ruoholahti and currently ends at Matinkylä, Espoo.

Trains

The local trains all depart from the Helsinki Central Railway Station. There are three main lines: Riihimäki via Tikkurila (Tampere line), Kirkkonummi via Espoo (Turku line) and Vantaankoski via Myyrmäki. There are both fast trains and local trains that call at every station on the way. The Helsinki Card and tickets issued by HSL are valid within the greater Helsinki area. If you are travelling beyond the municipalities of Helsinki, you will require a commuter train ticket. Tickets are not sold on board the trains but can be bought from VR offices, ticket machines, the VR webshop or through the VR mobile app. (www.vr.fi)

Taxis

Taxi regulations were eased in 2018, removing previous controls on who could provide the service and for how much.  Taxi prices are typically not cheap, but since the deregulation of pricing, fares now depend on the company or individual providing the service.  The driver’s policy on fares should be stated before the start of the journey or should clearly visible otherwise within the vehicle. If you require a taxi, phone 0100 0700, it is a local taxi service. You can also call Kovanen, a private taxi and limousine company with 24/7 customer care (tel. +358 (0) 200 6060, www.kovanen.com).

You can also call a taxi directly through the Discover Helsinki mobile app.

By car

Renting a car is a good way to explore the area surrounding Helsinki. Several major international car rental companies operate at both the airport and in the centre of Helsinki. Traffic is right-handed and headlights are mandatory at all times while driving. If you are arriving with your own vehicle, remember that winter tires are required by law from December to February.

city bikes public transport helsinki
City Bike stand in Pasila
(Image: Kuvatoimisto Kuvio Oy/ Helsinki Marketing )

Bicycles

A relatively flat landscape and excellent bicycle routes makes Helsinki an ideal place for cycling, and tours to its outer suburbs are recommended.

Helsinki has shared-use bicycles that you can borrow for a small fee. You can use the City bike for 30 minutes, or up to 5 hours for an extra charge. After your ride, the bike must be returned to one of the 345 bike stations which are located throughout Helsinki and Espoo. For those who enjoy cycling, this is an excellent way to explore both cities.

Bicycles can also be rented from various locations in Helsinki, including Greenbike at Bulevardi 32 (greenbike.fi) and Ecobike at Savilankatu 1 B, next to the football stadium (ecobike.fi).

Boat and Ferry Services

Don’t overlook one of Helsinki’s main attractions: its extensive archipelago, which is perfect for summertime island-hopping. From May to September, several boat tours operate from the Market Square. For instance, JT-line (jt-line.fi) offers a tour that takes you to Vallisaari, Suomenlinna and Lonna islands, allowing you to explore each island at leisure.  Stromma Finland also offers a combo tour which includes a sightseeing cruise with the mainland hop-on hop-off bus tour. (stromma.com

A regular ferry service to the fortress island of Suomenlinna, run by HSL, departs from the Market Square approximately twice an hour. This service operates all the year round. HSL public transport tickets (AB, ABC and ABCD) are valid on the ferry, or you can purchase 12-hour ticket to Suomenlinna for EUR 5, which is only valid on the ferry.  Alternatively, the Helsinki Card includes travel on the ferry to Suomenlinna and holders of the card can also travel for free on the boat to Korkeasaari, a pretty island that is home to the Helsinki Zoo.

Updated: May 2019

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