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Helsinki, Finland City Info
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Helsinki, Finland, Facts

Population: City: 560,000; Total population in the Helsinki Region: 1,187,195

Language: Finnish & Swedish: Finnish, the principal language, is of Finno-Ugric origin: related to Estonian with distant links to Hungarian.

The form of Swedish spoken in Finland is Finlandssvenska (Finland’s Swedish.) In most of Finland signs and street names are in Finnish and Swedish. English is also widely spoken.

Religion: Lutheran & Orthodox

Government: Democratic republic led by a president and prime minister

Major industries: Metals and engineering equipment, telecommunications, paper products

Major trading partners: EU, USA, Russia

Time: GMT/UTC plus two hours. When it is noon in New York City; it is 7pm in Helsinki.

Temperature Range





































When to Go

The tourist summer season runs from mid-June to mid-August, marked by long hours of sunlight and cool nights.

You can expect pleasantly warm (not hot) days in Helsinki from mid-May through August. Summer nights are brief and never really dark, whereas in midwinter daylight lasts only a few hours. Precipitation in winter is mostly in the form of snow.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

January 6 Epiphany

March or April Good Friday, Easter, and Easter Monday

April 30 Great Prayer Day

May 1 May Day

June (first Mon.) Pentecost/Whitsunday

June 12 Helsinki Day

June (2 days at the start of

the summer solstice Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Day

November 1 All Saints' Day

December 6 Independence Day

December 25-26 Christmas and St. Stephen’s Day

Weights & measures: Metric

Useful Conversions of weights and measures

1 hectare 2.471 acres

1 inch 2.54 cm

1 ft. 30.48 cm

1 oz. 28.57 grams

1 lb. 0.454 kg

1 cm 0.39 inches

1 meter 3.28 feet / 1.09 yards

1 km 0.62 miles

1 liter 0.26 US gallons

1 inch 2.54 cm

1 foot 0.39 meters

1 yard 0.91 meters

1 mile 1.60 km

1kg 2.2lb

1 gallon 3.78 liters

Business Hours

Banks & Stores

Banks are open weekdays 9 or 9:15 to 4 or 5. Many offices and embassies close at 3pm June to August. Stores are open weekdays 9 to 6 and Saturday 9 to 1 or 2 and are closed on Sunday, but several of the larger stores stay open until 8 or 9 weekdays. Main stores in the town center are open Sunday, June to August, all through December, and on five other Sundays throughout the year from noon to 7. Some stores in malls stay open until 8 pm on weekdays and until 4 on Saturday. In the Asematunneli (train station tunnel), stores are open weekdays 10 to 10 and weekends noon to 10.


The electrical current in Helsinki is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC); wall outlets take Continental-type plugs, with two round prongs.

To use your U.S.-purchased electric-powered equipment bring a converter and adapter. If your appliances are dual-voltage you'll need only an adapter.

Embassies :United States Embassy (Itäinen Puistotie 14A, 00140 Helsinki, 09/171-931).

Public Restrooms: Clean and modern. Naiset=ladies; Michet = men.


The nationwide emergency number is 112.

Police. 112 or 10022.

Ambulance. 112. Specify whether the situation seems life-threatening so medical attendants can prepare for immediate treatment in the ambulance.


Ympyrätalo Dental Clinic (Siltasaarenkatu 18A, 09/709-6611) offers emergency dental care.

Hospital Emergency Rooms

Hospital. Töölön Sairaala (Töölönk. 40, 09/471-7358) is central, about 2 km (1 mi) from city center, with a 24-hour emergency room and first-aid service.

Late-Night Pharmacies

Yliopiston Apteekki (Mannerheim. 96, 09/4178-0300) is open daily 24 hours.


Post offices are open weekdays 9-5 (till 7 or 8 in some cities); stamps, express mail, registered mail, and insured mail service are available. There is no Saturday delivery.


The unit of currency is the Euro. Finland is part of the European Union.

Exchanging Money

There are exchange bureaus in all bank branches; some post offices, which also function as banks (Postipankki); major hotels; the Forex booths at the train station and in Esplanadi; and at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Some large harbor terminals also have exchange bureaus, and international ferries have exchange desks.

Prepaid Cash Cards

prepaid electronic cash cards are available that process cash transactions, made at designated public pay phones, vending machines, and McDonald's. Disposable prepaid cards can be purchased at kiosks.


Citizens of non-EU countries are eligible for tax-free returns upon leaving EU territory. Purchases must be made in shops displaying the Tax-Free sign. The minimum total sum of purchased goods must be 40 euros. Upon leaving EU territory, travelers can claim VAT that varies according to product but does not exceed 16 percent.


Tipping is not the norm in Finland, but it is not unheard of.

Passports & Visas

Entering Finland All U.S. citizens, even infants, need only a valid passport to enter Finland for stays of up to three months.

Passport Offices

The best time to apply for a passport or to renew is during the fall and winter. Before any trip, check your passport's expiration date, and, if necessary, renew it as soon as possible.

Telephones The country code for Finland is 358. Telephone numbers in Finland vary in size from four to eight digits. Business phone numbers may also have special prefix codes (020 or 010), which are country-wide but are charged at only local rates.

Directory & Operator Information

For directory assistance dial 118.

International Calls

You can call overseas at the post and telegraph office. In Helsinki, at Mannerheimintie 11B, the "Lennätin" section is open weekdays 9-9, Saturdays 10-4. The Finland Direct pamphlet tells you how to reach an operator in your own country for collect or credit-card calls. Use any booth that has a green light, and pay the cashier when you finish. You can also ask for a clerk to arrange a collect call; when it is ready, the clerk will direct you to a booth.

The front of the phone book has overseas calling directions and rates. You must begin all direct overseas calls with 990, or 999, or 994, or 00, plus country code (1 for the United States/Canada, 44 for Great Britain). Finnish operators can be reached by dialing 020-208 for overseas information or for placing collect calls.

Long-Distance Calls: When dialing out of the immediate area, first dial 0; drop the 0 when calling Finland from abroad.

Arriving & Departing

By Air

All international flights arrive at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL) (358-9-82771 or 358-9-61511), 12 mi north of city center. Helsinki is served by most major European airlines, as well as several East European carriers.

Flying time from New York to Helsinki is about eight hours, nine hours for the return trip.

Transfers Between the Airport and Town

By Bus

A local Bus 615 runs three to four times an hour between the airport and the main railway station. The fare is FM 15, and the trip takes about 40 minutes. Finnair buses carry travelers to and from the railway station (Finnair's City Terminal) two to four times an hour, with a stop at the Inter-Continental Helsinki. Stops requested along the route from the airport to the city are also made. Travel time from the Inter-Continental to the airport is about 30 minutes, 35 minutes from the main railway station; the fare is FM 25.

By Car

If you are driving, follow the signs to Tuusulan Route (Tuusulanväylä) and Keskusta (downtown Helsinki).

By Taxi

There is a taxi stop at the arrivals building. A cab ride into central Helsinki will cost between FM 100 and FM 140. Driving time is 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the time of day. Check to see if your hotel has a shuttle service, although this is not common here.

Airport Taxi (09/2200-2500) costs FM 60, FM 90 for two passengers, and operates shuttles between the city and the airport. You must reserve a day before your flight, by 7 PM for morning departures.

Getting Around

By Boat

Ships arriving from Rostock, Germany, and Stockholm dock at Katajanokkanlaituri (east side of South Harbor).

By Bus

The main long-distance bus station is Linja-autoasema (off Mannerheimintie, between Salomonkatu and Simonkatu).

Many local buses arrive and depart from Rautatientori (Railway Station Square). For information on long-distance transport, call 9600-4000.

By Car

Ring Roads One and Three are the two major highways that encircle the city. Mannerheimintie and Hämeentie are the major trunk roads out of Helsinki. Mannerheimintie feeds into Highway E79, which travels west and takes you to the Ring Roads. Hämeentie leads you to Highway E4 as well as Roads 4 and 7.

By Train

Helsinki's main rail gateway is the Rautatieasema (train station; city center, off Kaivokatu, 09/707-5700 information).

By Bicycle

Well-marked cycle paths run into the heart of Helsinki, making cycling safe and fast. Bikes can be rented at some youth hostels. The Finnish Youth Hostel Association (YHA; Yrjönkatu 38B, 00100 Helsinki, 09/694-0377, FAX: 09/693-1349,

Tours By Boat

All boat tours depart from Kauppatori Market Square. The easiest way to choose one is to go to the square in the morning and read the information boards describing the tours.

A ferry to the Suomenlinna fortress island runs about twice an hour, depending on the time of day, and costs FM 10. Ten-trip tickets issued for city public tranport can be used on the ferry, too.

From June to August, private water buses run from Kauppatori to Suomenlinna. Call 06/633-800 for information and schedules.

Travel within the City

The Helsinki City Transport tourist ticket entitles you to unlimited travel on all buses, trams, subways, and local trains in Helsinki. It is valid for one, three, or five days and costs FM 25, FM 50, or FM 75. For timetable and ticket information related to Helsinki's comprehensive, punctual, and generally efficient public transport system, call the 24-hour line, 0100-111.

By Bus, Streetcar, Local Train, or Subway

Tickets may be purchased at subway stations, R-kiosks, and shops displaying the Helsinki city transport logo (two curving black arrows on a yellow background). Standard single tickets valid on all transport, and permitting transfers within the whole network for within an hour of the time stamped on the ticket, cost FM 10 and can be bought on trams and buses. Single tickets bought beforehand, at the City Transport office in the railway station tunnel or at one of the many R-kiosk shops, for example, cost FM 8. A 10-trip ticket sold at R-kiosks costs FM 75. Most of Helsinki's major points of interest, from Kauppatori to the Opera House, are along the 3T tram line; the Helsinki City Tourist Office distributes a free pamphlet called "Helsinki Sightseeing: 3T."

Helsinki's subway (Metro) line runs from Ruoholahti, just west of the city center, to Mellunmäki and Vuosaari, in the eastern suburbs. It operates Monday-Saturday 5:25am-11:18 pm, and Sunday 6:30am - 11:20 pm.

By Taxi

There are numerous taxi stands; central stands are at Rautatientori at the station, the main bus station, Linja-autoasema, and in the Esplanade

By Train

Helsinki's suburbs and most of the rest of southern, western, and central Finland are well served by trains. Travel on trains within the Helsinki city limits costs the same as all public transport.

By Car

Ring Roads One and Three are the two major highways that circle the city. Mannerheimintie and Hämeentie are the major trunk roads out of Helsinki. Mannerheimintie feeds into Highway E79, which travels west and takes you to the Ring Roads. Hämeentie leads you to Highway E4 as well as Roads 4 and 7. From either route, you will find directions for Road 137 to the airport. For specific route information, contact The Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (Autoliitto ry, Hämeentie 105 A, PL 35, 00550 Helsinki, 09/774-761)

Car Rentals

. It is cheaper to rent directly from the United States before coming to Finland. Some Finnish service stations also offer car rentals at reduced rates.

Road Conditions

Late autumn and spring are the most hazardous times to drive. Roads are often icy in autumn (kelivaroitus is the slippery road warning), and the spring thaw can make for kelirikko (heaves).

Rules of the Road

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. You must always use low-beam headlights outside built-up areas. Seat belts are compulsory for everyone. You must yield to cars coming from the right at most intersections where roads are of equal size. There are strict drinking-and-driving laws.


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