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Public Transport in Finland: Getting Around in the Land of a Thousand Lakes

Juha Niemi Barona
Tram in Helsinki, Finland

Finland is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history – and impressive public transport system and train networks. With a population of just over 5.5 million people spread across an area of 338,000 square kilometers, it’s no surprise that getting around can sometimes still be a challenge – but mostly, the public transportation in Finland is something to be proud of.

Here, we’ll look at the public transport in Finland, including the differences between the country’s big cities and smaller towns.

Getting around the major cities in Finland

Public transport is readily available and accessible for those living in Helsinki, Finland’s capital. The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) operates an extensive network of buses, trams, metro lines, and commuter trains that connect the city center to the suburbs and surrounding towns. The HSL website provides comprehensive information on routes, timetables, fares, and ticket options, making navigating the city easy for visitors and locals. You can quickly get to the city center, no matter if you live in the suburbs, so owning a car is not needed while living and working in Helsinki. 

Other major Finnish cities, such as Turku, Tampere, and Oulu, also have public transport networks that operate similarly to Helsinki’s. Buses are the primary mode of transport in these cities, although trams and commuter trains are also available in some areas. 

Traveling in smaller towns and rural areas in Finland

Public transport options can be more limited in smaller Finnish towns and villages. While buses are still the most common form of transport, fewer routes and less frequent services may be available.

In some sparsely populated areas, owning a car may be necessary as public transport is unavailable. So, unlike in the bigger cities, owning a car might be necessary depending on the distance between your home and workplace.

Buses in Finland can take you anywhere

Long-distance buses are a popular mode of transportation in Finland. You can take a bus almost anywhere, but point-to-point connections are only sometimes available. Several bus companies operate in the country, including Matkahuolto, Onnibus, and ExpressBus, which provide regular connections between cities and towns nationwide.

One of the most convenient aspects of traveling by bus in Finland is the extensive network of routes available. Many larger cities, such as Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, and Oulu, have multiple daily departures to other major destinations in the country, which makes it easy to plan a trip around a bus schedule and avoid the hassle of driving.

A bus stop in the countryside in Finland.

Day-tripping in your free time

There are various ways to spend your free time since you can easily change the scenery from one city to another. There’s no need to pay for accommodation because a bus can take you home after spending the day in another town. When you’re not working, you can meet friends, participate in an event, or go sightseeing outside your hometown. You don’t have to settle for what your hometown has to offer, even though you’ll find a lot to see and do in the bigger cities.

Helsinki–Tampere route is one of Finland’s most popular long-distance bus routes, and it connects the capital city to the third-largest city in the country. The journey takes approximately two hours, and multiple bus companies serve it. The Helsinki-Turku route is another popular option, with buses departing several times a day and taking around two and a half hours to reach the city.

In terms of amenities, long-distance buses in Finland are generally well-equipped. Most buses have free Wi-Fi, comfortable seats, restrooms, and charging ports for electronic devices. Buses are limited to driving 100km/h, so the train is your option for faster traveling.

Reach your destination faster with a train

Finland’s train lines are an essential part of the country’s public transportation system, providing convenient and reliable transportation between cities and towns. The state-owned company VR Group operates the train network in Finland and has been running trains since 1862.

Helsinki–Tampere and Helsinki–Turku routes are also accessible by train, which is a faster way to travel between the cities than a bus. The Pendolino high-speed train operates both routes.

Helsinki–Tampere is one of the most popular train routes in Finland. Because it’s such a pleasant way to travel, it’s part of many Finn’s weekly or even daily way to work. It serves you well, whether you take to route weekly to get to your office or once in a while for free time day tripping.

You can also choose a slower train, which stops in smaller towns along the way. 

For those looking to travel even farther, long-distance trains connect Helsinki to other major cities in Finland and beyond. For example, direct train service between Helsinki and Oulu in northern Finland takes approximately 7 hours. 

Trains provide comfortable traveling conditions

One advantage of train traveling in Finland is the comfortable and modern trains themselves. The Pendolino trains, which are used on many long-distance routes, feature spacious seats, free Wi-Fi, a playroom for children, and a dining car where passengers can purchase snacks and drinks. There are also charging points for electronic devices, making it easy to stay connected during the journey. If you still aim for a better traveling experience, you can pay more for the extra class or a working cabin. Quiet working cabins are a considerable option for someone who wants to work or participate in a meeting on their way.

If you choose an overnight train, you can travel safely in your own cabin with a bed, private toilet, and shower.

Finland’s train network is an efficient and convenient way to travel between major cities and towns. Whether you are exploring the beautiful coastlines of Turku, experiencing the vibrant culture of Helsinki, or venturing into the wilderness of northern Finland, the country’s train lines are a reliable and comfortable way to get around.

Fast train on tracks in Finland

Finnish public transport prices

As you may have heard, Finland is not the cheapest country to live in. However, Finland’s public transportation has become much more affordable during the last ten years. In most cities, you can travel without a ticket if you are transporting a child aged 0-6 in a pram, stroller, or wheelchair. Everywhere in the country, the pricing also includes lower prices for students, pensioners, and children. 

Depending on your needs, you can choose between a single, day, or seasonal ticket. If you use public transportation more than a couple of times a week, the cheapest option is usually the seasonal ticket, which allows you to travel as much as you need. 

In all of the cities, the single tickets are a bit more expensive at night-time, and when buying the seasonal ticket for the first time, you need to pay a few euros for the travel card.

Helsinki and Tampere are divided into travel zones, and the cost of the seasonal ticket depends on the number of different zones you have to cross.

Public transport in the Helsinki area

The monthly ticket in Helsinki has a few different prices: 

  • Adult living in Helsinki: 109,70 e / month
  • Adult living outside of Helsinki: 187e / month
  • Students and other discount groups: 65,80e / month 
Public transport in Tampere

The monthly ticket for two travel zones for an adult is 56 e / month.

And for a youngster (ages 17 to 24), the same ticket is 39 e / month as well as students pay 42 e / month.

Children under 6 years can travel for free with an adult.

In Turku, the pricing is a bit more simple since there aren’t different travel zones. The seasonal ticket for an adult is 55 e / month, and discount groups pay for 38 e / month, except for children under 15 years, who get to travel only for 27 e / month.

Long-distance travel prices in Finland

Here are some typical prices for traveling between the bigger cities. All prices depend on the train/bus company type, the season, and how far in advance you book your ticket. 

Helsinki – Tampere:

  • By train: approximately 20-40 euros 
  • By bus: about 10-25 euros

Tampere – Turku:

  • By train: approximately 20-40 euros 
  • By bus: about 10-20 euros 

Turku – Helsinki:

  • By train: approximately 20-40 euros 
  • By bus: about 10-25 euros 

Helsinki – Oulu:

  • By train: approximately 40-80 euros
  • By bus: about 20-50 euros 

Biking to work in Finland

In addition to public transport, biking is also a popular mode of transportation in Finland, particularly during the spring, summer, and autumn months when the weather is milder. Some employers even offer incentives for employees who bike to work, such as subsidized bike purchases or free bike storage facilities. Bikes are also easy to take with you on a train if you need to switch your transportation on your way to work.

Many Finnish cities, including Helsinki, have extensive bike lane networks, making it safe and easy to get around on two wheels. Helsinki is also known for its city bikes, which anyone can use with an affordable biking pass.

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