Public Transportation in Finland
There are several ways to travel around in Finland. This also heavily depends on where you are in Finland also! Here are a few methods of travelling in Finland I have discovered in my time living in Finland. For some context, I have lived in Uusimaa (Helsinki and Espoo, not in Vantaa) and in Oulu and Raahe, these are two smaller cities/towns in northern Finland.
In Helsinki the best way to get around are by using the HSL services. HSL (Helsingin seudun liikenne) Is the regional travel authority in Helsinki and the Uusimaa area.
With their services you can ride:
· Metro (Vuosaari/Mellunmäki) to Matinkylä (extension coming soon to further Espoo)
· City Bikes
· Boat (to Suomenlinna)
· Regional Trains (Helsinki-Vantaa airport to Helsinki City Centre for example)
The HSL app is a very easy way to travel around Uusimaa and the app is an easy way to see the quickest and easiest way to find your destination. It is simple to use, it is in Finnish, Swedish and English. It also displays the tickets needed and prices clearly, and if you are a student in Finland, you get student discount for season (30 day+) tickets. Currently, the 30-days student ticket is 35.90 euros for A-B zone, which covers Helsinki central area and Otaniemi campus.
In the summer, City Bikes are a great way to get around Uusimaa for short (under 30 minutes) journeys. You can pick a city bike up from the station with a city bike pass and cycle to the city bike station nearest to your destination. It’s easy, fun and healthy.
Getting from the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport to Helsinki City Centre is very easy with HSL. You can simply take a HSL regional train from the airport to the Helsinki central railway station (Rautatientori).
My experience using HSL services has been very pleasant. When I lived in Niittykumpu in Espoo it was very easy to get to campus via the metro since Aalto-University has a metro station. Getting from most places in Espoo, Helsinki and western parts of Vantaa to campus is fairly easy and can be made in under an hour.
VR is the national operator of trains in Finland. My experiences with VR vary, the trains in Finland are slow, if you are from countries such as Japan, Germany, or the United Kingdom you will find Finnish trains very slow. However, they are very affordable and comfortable. For example, if you book a month in advance (and depends on season) you can get to Oulu for 17.50€ with a student ticket or 25€ to Rovaniemi! Which for the same distance in the UK for example could be over £80!
Like mentioned Finnish trains are slow, but they do make up in comfort, a lot of leg room, nicely padded seats, Wi-Fi, restaurant carriage and certain stops are longer so you can stretch your legs. The “VR Matkalla” app is simple to use, can easily buy tickets, reserve your seat, and manage your booking within the app. If you’re a student, you can buy the student ticket but make sure to take your frank app /Finnish student card onboard because they do inspect them and if you don’t present the student card/app you will be fined or removed from the train.
Most cities have their own version of HSL app. For example, in Oulu I used OUKA and Waltti. Waltti app is used in some major cities in Finland, such as Jyväskylä, Oulu, Rovaniemi and Vaasa to name a few. The Watti app is very similar to HSL letting you see what the city’s transportation authority has to offer. In Tampere, app called Nysse Mobiili is used for buses and trams.
Overall, travelling within Finland is easy and simplistic. There is always help stations in most Finnish cities and maps to read. Most content in Finland is in Finnish, Swedish, English, and occasionally Russian also.
Safe Travels in Finland!
- Owein, Second-year Bachelor's student in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture