Helsinki is the main air hub.
Airports & Airlines
Finland is easily reached by air, with direct flights to Helsinki from many European, North American and Asian destinations. It’s also served by budget carriers from several European countries. Most other flights are with Finnair, Norwegian or Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).
Most flights land at Helsinki-Vantaa airport, 19km north of the capital. Winter charters serve Rovaniemi, Lapland’s main airport, and other smaller regional airports. Other international airports include Tampere, Turku and Oulu. The website www.finavia.fi includes information for Finnish airports.
Departure tax is included in all flight tickets.
Finland can be reached by land directly from Russia, Norway and Sweden.
There are several border crossings from northern Sweden and Norway to northern Finland, with no passport or customs formalities.
There are nine main border crossings between Finland and Russia, including several in the southeast and two in Lapland. They are more serious frontiers; you must already have a Russian visa.
Buses link Finland with Sweden, Norway and Russia.
The linked towns of Tornio (Finland) and Haparanda (Sweden) share a bus station from where you can get onward transport into their respective countries. A possible, if remote, crossing point is the Lapland villages of Kaaresuvanto (Finland) and Karesuando (Sweden), separated by a bridge and both served sporadically by domestic buses.
Three routes link Finnish Lapland with northern Norway, some running only in summer. These are operated by Eskelisen Lapin Linjat (www.eskelisen.fi), whose website has detailed maps and timetables, as does the Finnish bus website Matkahuolto (www.matkahuolto.fi).
All routes originate or pass through Rovaniemi. The two northeastern routes continue via Inari to Tana Bru/Vadsø or Karasjok. The Karasjok bus continues in summer to Nordkapp (North Cape). On the western route, a Rovaniemi–Kilpisjärvi bus continues to Tromsø in summer.
Daily express buses run to Vyborg and St Petersburg from Helsinki and Lappeenranta. These services appear on the website of Matkahuolto (www.matkahuolto.fi).
Car & Motorcycle
Vehicles can easily be brought into Finland on ferries or overland, provided you have registration papers and valid insurance (Green Card).
The only international trains are to Russia. Fares fluctuate; book well in advance for the best deals.
The Man in Seat Sixty-One (www.seat61.com) is an up-to-date source of information for train travel. Eurail (www.eurail.com) and InterRail (www.interrail.eu) are also good resources.
Finland's only international trains are to/from Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia.
High-speed Allegro train services (known as Sapsan trains in Russia) run daily from Helsinki to the Finland Station in St Petersburg (3½ hours, four daily). The evening train is usually cheaper. The Tolstoi sleeper runs from Helsinki via St Petersburg (Ladozhki station) to Moscow (14½ hours, one daily). Fares include a sleeper berth, with upmarket sleeper options available.
All trains go via Lahti, Kouvola, Vainikkala (26km south of Lappeenranta) and the Russian city of Vyborg. At Helsinki station tickets are sold at the international ticket counter.
You must have a valid Russian visa; immigration procedures are carried out on-board.
There are significant discounts for families and small groups. See www.vr.fi.
Arriving in Finland by ferry is a memorable way to begin your visit, especially if you dock in Helsinki. Baltic ferries are big floating hotels/shopping plazas, with duty-free stores, restaurants, bars, karaoke, nightclubs and saunas. Many people use them simply for boozy overnight cruises, so they can get pretty rowdy on Friday and Saturday nights.
Services are year-round between major cities. Book ahead in summer, at weekends and if travelling with a vehicle. The boats are amazingly cheap if you travel deck class (without a cabin) – they make their money from duty-free purchases. Many ferry lines offer 50% discounts for holders of train passes. Some offer discounts for seniors, and for ISIC and youth-card holders. There are usually discounts for families and small groups travelling together.
Ferry companies have detailed timetables and fares on their websites. Fares vary widely according to season.
Operators include the following:
Eckerö Line Finland–Sweden, Finland–Estonia
Finnlines Finland–Sweden, Finland–Germany
Linda Line Finland–Estonia
St Peter Line Finland–Russia
Tallink/Silja Line Finland–Sweden, Finland–Estonia
Viking Line Finland–Sweden, Finland–Estonia
The daily Stockholm–Helsinki, Stockholm–Turku and Kapellskär–Mariehamn (Åland) routes are run by Tallink/Silja and Viking Line. Tallink/Silja doesn’t offer deck tickets on the Helsinki run, but shared cabins are available. The cheapest crossings are typically to/from Turku (11 to 12 hours). Note that Åbo is Swedish for Turku.
Eckerö Line sails from Grisslehamn, north of Stockholm, to Eckerö in Åland. It’s by far the quickest option, at just two hours. There’s a connecting bus from Stockholm and some other Swedish towns.
Finnlines runs a cargo ferry connecting Naantali, near Turku, with Kapellskär via Långnäs in Åland two to three times daily (nine hours).
Wasaline sails from late June to early August from Vaasa in Finland to Umeå, Sweden (4½ hours).
St Peter Line connects Helsinki with St Petersburg three to four times weekly. A significant added benefit of arriving in Russia this way is a visa-free stay of up to three days in St Petersburg. Canal cruises from Lappeenranta also allow you to do this.
Several ferry companies zip between Helsinki and Tallinn in Estonia. In winter there are fewer departures and the crossing is slower due to the ice.
Eckerö Line runs car and passenger ferries (two to 2½ hours, up to three daily), as do Tallink/Silja Line (two hours, eight daily) and Viking Line (1¾ hours, five daily). Linda Line runs small passenger-only hydrofoils (1½ hours, three daily).
Finnlines runs six to seven ferries a week from Helsinki to Travemünde (29 hours).