Local transportation and the Travel Card
The public transport is well organised in Finland. The Helsinki region has buses, trams, local trains, a metro and even ferries organised by Helsinki Region Transport (HSL). When planning your journey, HSL journey planner helps you to find correct routes and best connections.
Please note that you must have a valid ticket (either single ticket or travel card) when you enter the vehicle, and it must be valid for the whole journey. There are ticket controls every now and then and travelling without a valid ticket or with a wrong kind of a ticket can cost you a penalty fare of €80.
If you travel only randomly, it is probably best to buy single tickets. Single tickets are available from ticket machines and bus drivers. You can transfer from one vehicle to another with a single ticket within the validity of the ticket (time dependent). Day tickets can be bought from R-kiosks or ticket machines.
You can use the travel card on the public transportation in the whole metropolitan area. It is the cheapest way to travel and fastest way to pay your journey. You can load either time or cash on your card. If you don’t travel regularly, it’s probably best to load cash on your card but if you use public transportation quite often, buying “time” (period, e.g. 30 days) is the best option.
You can choose between two options: multi-user travel card or personal travel card. Multi-user card you can buy for example at R-Kioski. This card anyone can use (you can share it with your friends, for example).
A personal travel card is the option that many students prefer to have. In order to purchase a personal travel card you need to have a Travel card application filled by your school. You can get this document from the Learning Services when you enroll at the university. The personal travel card can be bought from HSL’s service points.
As a student (unless you are a doctoral level student) you are entitled to student discount when using the travel card. Please see the terms of the discount at HSL’s website.
Please note that if you are a degree student, you need to register your residence at the Local Register Office (Maistraatti) in order to be able to purchase a personal travel card. Student discount on travel card is admitted only for those degree students who have registered at Maistraatti and been admitted home municipality in the capital area. Exchange or free mover guest students or double degree students are not required to register their residence for travel card purposes.
Facilities for cycling are very good in the Helsinki metropolitan area. During the summer season, there is a comprehensive system of city bikes (shared-use bicycles that can be borrowed for a fee by anyone) available in Helsinki and Espoo. If you want to buy an own bike, check the bike shops for cheap second hand bikes. A map of city cycle ways is available at the city tourist office. When cycling, remember to wear a helmet and have a light when it’s dark!
Long distance travelling
In Finland timetables are reliable, and trains and buses do leave on time. Timetables vary slightly on public holidays, weekends and during the summer. There is a nationwide network of train and bus services. The trains and buses are clean and modern. Most of the services providers offer student discounts up to 50 %, but there are also special offers for early bookers which can be even cheaper than the student prize.
The long distance bus network in Finland is one of the densest in Europe and the buses are modern and comfortable. With a valid student card you can get a student discount for bus tickets. When purchasing and using student tickets, you must be prepared to show your valid student card (the receipt of the paid student union fee is not accepted). Unfortunately, doctoral students are not entitled to the discount.
Finnish State Railways (VR) grants student discounts on train tickets for students with an official student card. When purchasing and using the ticket, you must always be prepared to show your official student card (the receipt of the paid student union fee is not accepted). Unfortunately, doctoral students are not entitled for the discount.
For timetables, route information and bookings, see VR’s website.
Finland’s northern location next to Sweden, Norway, Russia and Estonia offers excellent and exciting travel opportunities. There are good air connections to all the neighbouring countries, daily ferry connection to Sweden and Estonia as well as to Russia in summertime. Russia can also be reached by bus, by boat and by train. Remember to check the visa and other possible permit requirements before travelling.
For information on the validity of foreign driving licences in Finland, please see Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom’s website Ajokortti-info.fi.
In Finland, you drive on the right and overtake on the left. Main roads are in good condition throughout the year and they are free of charge (no tolls). Headlights are used even during the day. Wearing seatbelts is compulsory, both front and back.
Drinking and driving: Note that driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly forbidden. The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.05%. Breaking this law nearly always results in a penalty in the form of a fine or imprisonment.
Mobile phones and driving: If a mobile phone is used when driving, the use of a hands-free device is obligatory.