Travelling via public transport is easy in Finland and is also the most reliable and safe means of getting around. The train network offers the core of transportation taking customers to bigger cities quickly and conveniently. Buses usually go to the smaller village in rural areas.
Buses are a good way to travel as they cover nearly 90% of Finland. You can find all the bus timetables on Matkahuolto, which also lets you buy tickets. Onnibus.com is a good alternative to cheap tickets. During the summer and outside of peak holidays, when there is no school, the frequency of buses is dramatically reduced.
Buses are better for travelling from village to village, while trains are more convenient and cheaper for fast travel between the big cities. You can also take a bus in a city. There are two kinds of intercity bus services
- vakio (vuorot): stopping frequently at towns and villages
- pika (vuorot): travelling swiftly between cities
You can also travel longer distances with buses. They are comfortable, reliable and punctual. There is little difference in travelling by train, though travelling by bus tends to be slower, and therefore is the cheaper means of transport. Students receive a 50% discount for coach and bus tickets if the journey is 80 km or more (a student card is required).
Finnish trains are operated by VR, formerly known as Valtion Rautatiet. Finnish trains are a great option when you have to travel long distances. Long-distance trains (InterCity (IC) or Pendolino) have restaurants and toilets on board, and also Internet facilities, but be prepared for delays, especially in winter and autumn.
From Helsinki, you can reach nearly every part of Finland and even other countries. The north end of the train tracks ends in Kolari, the gateway to Lapland. There are also direct trains to St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Finavia is the national company that takes care of Finland's 21 airports. Finnair is the principal domestic carrier and runs a comprehensive network from Helsinki. They fly to tens of destinations worldwide and all domestic airports.
The main airport is the Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. Airports in Lapland offer direct routes to Europe during peak seasons, mainly in winter.
Domestic flying is not often worth it as trains are a fast and environmentally friendly way to explore Finland.
Boat / ferries
Finland is a big country with nearly 200 000 lakes, thousands of islands and hundreds of kilometres of shoreline. You can catch a regular ferry to Estonia, St. Petersburg, Germany, Åland and Sweden. These ferries are often big car ferries and, depending on the distance, it can take longer than a day to reach your destination.
Finland's ferry authority, Finferries, takes care of around 40 routes over the lakes and to the many islands. These ferries cater for mainly car traffic but pedestrians are also allowed to use them.
Most services are conducted by cable ferries, yet the bigger vessels freely navigate throughout Finland. Keep in mind that the ferries mainly operate in the open water due to the climate in the winter.
If you are travelling in Finland, these ferries can be more than just transportation - a lake cruise, for example, can be a beautiful experience, showing the beautiful landscapes of Finland.
Innercity public transport
Most of the cities have at least some sort of public transport system. In rural areas, it this can be as infrequent as one bus to town in the morning and one back in the afternoon. The bus is usually the same one that school children take to get to and from school. In bigger cities like Tampere, Turku and Oulu, buses are more frequent.
Capital city region
People living in the capital city region are spoiled for choice with lots of good quality public transport options. Helsinki has the most extensive network of transport: trams, an underground network and ferries complement the train and bus networks.
Surrounding cities like Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and Sipoo mainly have bus and train services which are usually frequent and on time.
A new addition to traditional transport is the new city bike system. Nearly 3500 bikes will be in Espoo and Helsinki by the summer of 2019. It is a relatively good and cheap way to get around during summer time.
Check out HSL (Helsingin seudun liikenne) that operates all the public transportation for more information.