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Transport in Finland
You may have heard or maybe even experienced yourself that Nordic countries including Finland are expensive. Unfortunately, it is true but a good thing is that during the past 10 years, public transportation in Finland has become a lot cheaper. It is now possible to travel long distances much more affordably than before. The simpler regulation has led to the competition of transportation companies.
Finland is more than 1000 kilometres long from the south to the north. To see the whole of Finland during a single trip, it is advised to reserve at least 2 weeks. Summer and winter in Finland are different so at least two trips are needed to experience these beautiful seasons.
Forms of Public Transportation
In Finland, you can travel by bus, train, aeroplane or ferry.
Buses in Finland
The long-distance bus network in Finland is comprehensive. You can take a bus almost anywhere but point-to-point connections are not always available. Connecting buses at the hubs in bigger cities are needed but the whole trip can be booked into a single ticket. It is similar to having connecting flights but you need much less time between the rides. Travelling by bus is a slow way of moving because the speed is limited to 100 km / h.
The quality of buses in Finland is good. All the buses are in good condition and they are safe. Low-cost companies may have a little simpler decoration but there is not much quality difference between the bus companies. Taking any bus is a good choice. Some of the bus companies may offer free WiFi. Normally, there is not any catering available so better to take your own snacks with you.
There are a few low-cost bus companies. Onnibus and Nanobus are a few examples but also traditional bus companies have lowered their prices a lot. A ticket to any bus can be booked from a single place: Matkahuolto. Sometimes, the Matkahuolto website does not show the lowest prices but you need to visit the bus companies´ websites to avail of the offers.
A good price from Helsinki to Turku by bus is less than 10 euros. If the price gets much higher, it may be wiser to book a train which is a more relaxed way of travelling.
Trains in Finland by VR
Finnish trains are operated by the state owned company, VR. Trains are comfortable but they are not as fast as bullet trains. Maximum speed is only about 200 km / h but quite often, the trains drive even slower.
We would say that travelling by train is the most comfortable way of travelling in Finland. Trains are modern, spacious and quiet. There is often a restaurant car on the train to have small snacks or drinks including alcoholic ones. Long-distance trains have private cabins to sleep in. It is even possible to take your car inside a train if you are heading from the south to Lapland.
VR uses dynamic pricing. For example, the cheapest ticket from Helsinki to Turku is about 6 euros but the most expensive can be almost 30 euros. Booking a train to Lapland with your cabin and a car may become expensive without a great bargain. That is why we recommend booking train tickets early enough and avoiding travelling during the school holidays.
The bus network in Finland is wider than the train network but it is still possible to reach all the major cities by train. As with the buses, you may need to connect a train.
Travelling from the south to Lapland takes time by bus or train. Of course, a train can still be a good choice because it is possible to travel during the nighttime and sleep in a cabin. If you prefer faster travelling, flying is the best option.
Helsinki is the flight hub of Finland and every flight starts or ends to Helsinki. Finnair is the flag-carrier of Finland having routes to airports all over Finland. There are also a few smaller airlines having connections to the smallest towns to where Finnair does not fly itself. Norwegian Air competes on the most popular routes with affordable tickets.
Flying in Finland is moderately cheap as long as you book your tickets early. Finnair tends to be the most expensive airline but it has good sale campaigns now and then. It is advisable to follow Finnair´s website a few months before the intended travelling.
Flying is the best option if Helsinki is the origin or the destination and the distance is more than 500 km. Book ticket early.
Ferries in Finland operate mainly international routes. Big cities, like Helsinki, operate a few ferry routes inside the city to reach islands. Other domestic ferry routes and meant mainly for travellers.
Where to Find Cheap Tickets?
Check perille.fi which compares bus, train and taxi prices with a single search.
Flight ticket prices are good to be bought from any reliable online travel agency or directly from Finnair or Norwegian.
International Public Transport to Finland
There are no international trains routes to Finland except trains from Moscow and St. Petersburg. There are two main reasons for this: the geography and the western neighbours have a different rail system. Also, bus routes in Finland are mainly domestic. There may be a few border crossing lines mainly to Russia but they are rare exceptions.
The best and simplest ways to arrive in Finland are to take a flight to Helsinki or a ferry to Vaasa, Turku or Helsinki. Especially, Helsinki Airport is a busy hub.
Finland has a well-working public transportation network. That applies to long-distance connections and local public transport companies inside cities. Ticket prices have become cheaper and travelling around Finland is not that expensive as it used to be.
The most flexible way to reach many cities in the short period of time is to rent a car. Roads in Finland are in good conditions and the driving culture is peaceful. Even inexperienced drivers feel good about driving outside the cities.
Have you been to Finland? Did you use public transport, comment below!