Getting Around in Helsinki
Public transport in Helsinki is comprehensive and efficient, allowing people to commute easily from the suburbs. Most expats living in Helsinki won’t buy a car as parking is limited and expensive, and rush-hour traffic is congested. Using public transport is generally faster and more cost-effective.
Public transport in Helsinki
The city has an integrated public transport network that’s coordinated by Helsinki Region Transport Authority (HSL). Tickets can be bought from a kiosk or ticket machine, online, via text message, or onboard buses and trains. Expats who plan to commute regularly should get a reloadable travel card. HSL operate an honesty system when boarding trains, trams and the metro, but inspectors do random checks and those caught without a valid ticket face a hefty fine.
Travelling at night using public transport can be tricky because most trains and trams stop running at midnight. While there is a limited night bus network, journeys can be slow.
Helsinki’s tram network provides a scenic means of transport within the city limits and is popular with tourists. This is not the quickest way to get around the city, but it does offer new arrivals an excellent opportunity to get to know their new home.
The bus network is extensive and covers areas and suburbs further away from the city centre. The main hubs are at Eliel Square, Railway Square and Kamppi Center, and buses run fairly regularly on most routes. Schedules can change and it is best to check the HSL website when planning a journey. Commuters can buy tickets on a bus, but it’s best to have small change as drivers may refuse to accept large notes.
Helsinki’s metro line runs from the city centre to the eastern suburbs, with some services heading to Mellunmäki and others to Vuosaari. There are plans to extend the network.
Suburban trains leave from the Central Railway Station and branch out in three directions. HSL tickets are only valid within the city limits, so those travelling further afield to Espoo, Vantaa and Kaunianen need to buy regional tickets. Trains run on time, but the frequency of services depends on the route.
Taxis in Helsinki
Taxis are readily available and generally easy to find in Helsinki. Fares are set by the Finnish government and vary depending on the time of day, number of passengers and luggage. It’s best to catch a taxi from a designated rank, but queues can be long late at night. Expats can also use services like Uber and Taxify to get around the city.
Cycling in Helsinki
Avid cyclists will be pleased to know that Helsinki has an extensive network of bike lanes that are clearly marked with blue signs. Cyclists are required to stay in their designated lane and cycling is allowed on pedestrian streets as long as the bike is fitted with a bell. Expats who don’t own a bike will find plenty of outlets which offer rentals.