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Finland - Traveling

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Entry requirements

Organizing your trip

Means of transport recommended in town

Efficient and integrated bus, metro and tramway services, suburban rail lines and ferry services to Suomenlinna Islands are operated in Helsinki.
Taxis are available on the taxi stations in all big cities and one of those stations can always be found next to the railway station. Taxi drivers are reliable and usually speak English but the cost may be quite expensive.

Means of transport recommended in the rest of the country

Finnish trains are spacious, comfortable and clean. The Finnish railway company VR operates an extensive rail service around Finland. There are 6000km of rail networks with modern rolling stock. The Pendolino fast train runs at a maximum speed of 220kph and operates on all main routes. There are also night trains and car-carrier trains, regional trains, InterCity trains and express trains. Rail travel is fairly cheap and efficient.
There are over 40,000 daily bus departures and timetables are adapted to fit rail, air and ship services. In Lapland, buses are the major means of public surface travel.
The airline company Finnair has a wide service of domestic flights. The longest distance Helsinki-Ivalo (1125 km) takes only 1.5 hours.
Rail companies: Finnish railways (VR)
Airlines
Name Type Domestic flights International flights
Finnair Major yes Yes
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) Major yes Yes
Blue1 low cost yes Yes
Ryanair low cost no Yes

Traveling by yourself

Recommendation: The main roads are in excellent condition and are passable at all times. However, during the winter months icy road conditions are common and therefore winter tires (either studded or non-studded) are a legal requirement from the beginning of December until the end of February. When driving at night (particularly around dusk) incidents of moose or reindeer being struck by vehicles are common, causing severe damage to the vehicle and injury, sometimes fatal, to the occupants.
It is relatively easy for foreigners to drive a car in Finland. There are usually no big traffic jams (excluding Helsinki area) and some street signs, especially sights, are written in English too.
Road maps: Finnra road map
Find an itinerary: Mappy

Visiting

Different forms of tourism

Historical: Museums and examples of ancient architecture remaining from the reign of the Swedish Empire. Castles are found for example in Turku, Hämeenlinna and Savonlinna.
Cultural: Museums, concerts, cinema, etc. During the summer there are a lot of different international music festivals such as Savonlinna Opera Festival, Pori Jazz and Provinssirock.
Nature: Landscape of lakes, rivers, forests, meadows and fells. Midnight sun, polar night and northern light. See also the UNESCO world heritage sights in Finland.
Religious: Many churches and cathedrals scattered all across Finland reflecting the strong Finnish Lutheran following, as for example the Orthodox monastery of Valamo.
Thermal: Original Finnish sauna can be found everywhere. There are also many spas.
Beach: 187 888 lakes, tens of thousands of summer cottages, long coastline with plenty of beach and holiday resorts by the Baltic Sea. The most well-know is perhaps Yyteri beach with six kilometers of sand and dunes.
Winter sports: Lots of alternatives. See a detailed list here.
Outdoor activities: Click here for specific information.
Shopping: Finland is a country of modern design such as Marimekko, Iittala and Arabia. Helsinki offers a wide range of possibilities for shopping for everyone. Click here for more information on Finnish fashion, design and shopping in Helsinki.
Tourism organizations: Finnish Tourist Board

Living conditions

Health and safety

Health precautions: No specific vaccination required.
For further information on sanitary conditions: Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

Time difference and climate

Map of the time zone: Helsinki (GMT+2 in the winter, GMT+3 in the summer)
Summer time period: From the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
Climate: Summer is warm with average temperatures around +20°C. July is the warmest month with temperatures up to +30°C. Winter, which lasts from November to mid-March approximately, may be very cold with temperatures up to -30°C.

Eating

Food specialties: Even if eating out has over the years become much more common in Finland, proper home-cooked food is still appreciated. Typical daily meals are meat balls, minced meat in sauce, meat loaf, macaroni casserole, steaks, and broiler in various forms. The potato still plays an important role in the Finnish diet, even if it has partly been replaced by pasta and rice. Rye bread has maintained its daily position at the Finnish table. Click here for more information on the gastronomy.

Some seasons and festivities such as the Christmas Eve, the First of May and Easter all have a traditional menu. These menus are served in Finnish homes, schools and many restaurants.

Drinks: Finns drink coffee anywhere and at anytime. More coffee per person is drunk in Finland than anywhere else in the world. In general drinking habits mainly follow Scandinavian and European practices. Consumption of alcohol at lunchtime is less common in the business world than it used to be.
Dietary taboos: None

Speaking

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