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Car & Motorcycle

Finland’s road network is excellent, although there are few motorways. When approaching a town or city, keskusta on signs indicates the town centre. There are no road tolls but lots of speed cameras.

Petrol is expensive in Finland; check current prices at www.fuel-prices-europe.info. Many petrol stations are unstaffed, but machines take cash and most (but not all) chip- and PIN-enabled credit and debit cards. Change for cash is not given.

Hire

Car rental is expensive, but rates can work out to be reasonable with advance booking or with a group. A small car costs from €55/200 per day/week with 300km free per day, including basic insurance. One-way rentals attract a surcharge and are not always possible. Book ahead at peak times to ensure a car is available. As ever, the cheapest deals are online.

In larger towns, look out for weekend rates. These can cost little more than the rate for a single day, and you can pick up the car early afternoon on Friday and return it late Sunday or early Monday.

Car-hire franchises with offices in many Finnish cities include the following:

Road Conditions & Hazards

Conditions Snow and ice on the roads, potentially from September to April, and as late as June in Lapland, make driving a serious undertaking. Snow chains are illegal: people use either snow tyres, which have studs, or special all-weather tyres. The website http://liikennetilanne.liikennevirasto.fi has road webcams around Finland that are good for checking conditions. Select 'Kelikamerat' on the map.

Wildlife Beware of elk and reindeer, which don’t respect vehicles and can dash onto the road unexpectedly. This sounds comical, but elk especially constitute a deadly danger. Notify the police if there is an accident involving these animals. Reindeer are very common in Lapland; slow right down if you see one, as there will be more nearby.

Road Rules

  • Finns drive on the right.
  • The speed limit is 50km/h in built-up areas, from 80km/h to 100km/h on highways, and 120km/h on some motorways.
  • Use headlights at all times.
  • Seat belts are compulsory for all.
  • Blood alcohol limit is 0.05%.

An important feature of Finland is that there are fewer give-way signs than most countries. Traffic entering an intersection from the right has right of way. While this doesn’t apply to highways or main roads, in towns cars will often nip out from the right without looking: you must give way, so be careful at smaller intersections in towns.