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Bus

Bus is the main form of long-distance transport in Finland, with a far more comprehensive network than the train system. Buses run on time and are rarely full.

Intercity buses fall into two main categories: vakiovuoro (regular), stopping frequently at towns and villages; and slightly pricier pikavuoro (express). Because there are few motorways, even express buses aren’t that fast, averaging about 60km/h.

Ticketing is handled by Matkahuolto (www.matkahuolto.fi), which has an excellent website with all the timetables. Matkahuolto offices work normal business hours, but you can always just buy the ticket from the driver.

Towns have a linja-autoasema (bus terminal), with local timetables displayed (lähtevät is departures, saapuvat arrivals).

Separate from the normal system (though its timetables appear on the Matkahuolto website), Onnibus (www.onnibus.com) runs a variety of budget inter-city routes in comfortable double-decker buses. Most of these radiate from Helsinki and can be much cheaper than normal fares if booked in advance.

Departures between major towns are frequent, but reduce substantially at weekends. In more remote areas there may be no weekend buses at all. Schedules change during the summer holidays, when it can be much harder to move around isolated regions.

Costs

Prices refer to express services where available. Purchasing online can dramatically reduce fares, and not just with online advance-purchase offers. Return tickets are 10% cheaper than two one-way fares, provided the trip is at least 60km each way.

Children aged four to 16 pay half-fare. Student discounts require full-time study in Finland; there's a 50% discount on journeys longer than 60km. If booking three or more adult tickets together, a 25% discount applies.