Finland FAQ – Know Before You Go

swamp football world championships finland
Swamp football world championships in Hyrynsalmi, Finland, is a crazy festival with some serious moments. Photo: Ville Palonen

On this page you may find practical information about Finland and frequently asked questions about Finnish language, prices, tipping, safety, public transport, camping rules, sauna etiquette, etc. If you can’t find the information you are looking for, please post your question in the comment box in the end of the article. Thank you!

Is Finland a safe travel destination?

Finland is one of the safest holiday destinations in the world. A tourist doesn’t need to worry about violence or even petty crime (with the exception of very rare pickpocketing). There are no natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods or hurricanes in Finland. Corruption in Finland is practically non-existent, and citizens’ trust in the police is solid. The level of hygiene is high, so food poisoning is extremely rare. On top of everything, Finland has survived the Covid-19 pandemic extremely well.

Can I speak English in Finland?

The language in Finland is Finnish, but thanks to television, movies, international travel and of course the school system, most Finns speak (or at least understand) English. Especially young and middle-aged people speak English – and of course people working in tourism. With the older folks you may have to resort to international sign language.

Currency and prices in Finland

Currency in Finland is the Euro (€). The price level is slightly higher than in the countries of Southern and Central Europe, but on the other hand cheaper than, for example, in the neighboring countries of Sweden and Norway.

Should I leave a tip in Finland?

Tipping is not customary in Finland. The idea of ​​the Nordic welfare state is that everyone gets a sufficient salary for their work and doesn’t have to depend on the customer’s goodwill.

But if you get excellent service and really want to tip – waiters particularly in fine dining restaurants have become accustomed to it – please go ahead! Unfortunately there isn’t any clear rule of thumb how much you should tip, so round up the bill as you please.

Taxis are never tipped in Finland. When you see the final price of your taxi ride, you understand why.

Public transport – trains and buses in Finland

Public transport works extremely well in Finland. Especially between major cities, a bus or train is just as fast a method of travel as your own car.

It’s easiest to buy tickets online on your mobile phone. Prices vary depending on the booking situation: the earlier you book your seat, the cheaper price you get. A particularly affordable bus company is Onnibussi, which operates between many larger cities. State-owned VR (Valtionrautatiet) is responsible for all passenger trains.

Larger cities – Helsinki, Turku, Tampere – have very efficient and affordable public transport. Driving a taxi in Finland, on the other hand, is quite expensive.

Car rental in Finland

moose warning sign
Moose warning signs are a common sight in Finland. Photo: Ville Palonen

Renting a car in Finland is easy and highly recommended. You will enjoy a holiday in Finland much more when you can travel freely – although public transport works very well between cities, it is quite challenging to visit rural nature attractions without your own car. 

It’s easiest to rent a car directly from the airport. In large cities it’s more convenient to travel by public transport, but in the centers of smaller cities it is easy to drive: there aren’t any narrow, medieval alleys like in Southern Europe, let alone traffic jams that completely stop traffic. 

Traffic rules are followed closely, as a fine for speeding or running red lights can be hundreds of euros. There are no toll roads in Finland. In winter studded tires are used.

Read more: Driving in Finland – Tips and 4 Best Road Trips

Renting a cabin in Finland

A summer cottage is a fundamental part of the Finnish mind. A large portion of families have their own cottage by either a lake or the Baltic Sea. Even though cottages are often quite close to each other – at least by Finnish standards – they are usually separated by at least a small forest that blocks the view. It’s not appropriate to visit anybody’s summer cabin without an invitation.

The most popular cottage season starts at Midsummer in late June and lasts until the end of July.

Cottage activities with family and friends are very relaxed and informal: sauna, swimming, barbeque, reading books on the pier and fishing. 

Foreigners can easily try this authentic experience, because there are thousands of rental cottages in Finland. A cottage can be booked for the whole summer or only for a weekend, but the most common booking period is one week. Many summer cottages are modestly equipped: for example, not all of them have running water. Electricity and a wood-heated sauna can be found in every cottage. Of course, some cottages are higher standard than usual, and have an indoor toilet, a shower and even a dishwasher. 

Read more: Summer Cottages and Cabins in Finland – Guide to Finnish Cottage Life

Can I go camping in Finland?

Yes you can, and you should! Finland has a set of traditional rules, called “everyman’s rights” (a.k.a. “freedom to roam”), which allow for example hiking, berry picking and mushroom picking on private lands. Believe it or not – camping is also allowed without a permission from the landowner!

Keep in mind, however, that camping should only be temporary (one or maximum two nights), and it is essential to have the permission of the landowner to light a campfire or cut down trees or even twigs. That’s why the best places for camping in Finland are numerous state-owned hiking areas and national parks. 

camping finland
Camping in Patvinsuo National Park, Finland. Photo: Ville Palonen

Hiking and camping in national parks is completely free for everyone. Parks are equipped with fireplaces, lean-to shelters and even wilderness huts – also free of charge.

Read more: National Parks in Finland – 10 Best Places for Hiking and Camping

Tap water in Finland

Finnish tap water is 100% drinkable. It’s cleaner than most bottled water – in fact, it is sold bottled abroad, and even high-quality restaurants offer their customers just plain tap water. So don’t waste your money on bottled water in Finland, rather fill your water bottle with a good conscience straight from the tap.

However, if you buy bottled water (or soda or beer), remember that there is a deposit in bottles and cans in Finland – so don’t throw empty bottles in the trash!

Special diets

Vegetarians and vegans are well taken into account in Finland, as there are many of them. Gluten-free products are also easy to find. If your stomach is not used to dairy products, no worries: as many as 20% of Finns have lactose intolerance, so you can get lactose-free products from every shop, kiosk, café and restaurant.

Alcohol in Finland

Due to high taxes alcohol is quite expensive in Finland, but not everywhere. The cheapest 0,33 liter beer can in a supermarket costs one euro. A 0,5 liter can of local craft beer cost 3€ in supermarket and 6-7€ in a bar or restaurant.

Wines and spirits are not sold in supermarkets, only in state monopoly shops called Alko. 

Restaurants and bars are not allowed to sell take-away drinks – you must finish your beer in the premises before leaving.

Electrical plug

The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz (same as in most of Europe, Asia and Australia).

Power plug In Finland has two round pins, so if you come from the UK you’ll need an adapter.

Finnish sauna

kiilopää smoke sauna lapland
Kiilopää smoke sauna has a swimming spot in the cool stream passing by. Lapland, Finland. Photo: Ville Palonen

Sauna is almost a sacred place for Finns. Instead of Sunday worship, Finns go to the sauna on Saturday. Instead of Holy Communion, a Cold Beer is served after sauna. 

People go to Finnish sauna often naked, but this depends on the company; for example, among relatives in the summer cottage people usually wear a swimsuit or a towel.

There are many public saunas in Finland, where tourists are also welcome (yes, you can wear a swimsuit). In winter, visiting a frozen lake from a sauna is an unforgettable experience!

Read more: Sauna in Finland – the Ultimate Guide to Finnish Sauna Culture

What is the best time to visit Finland?

Autumn colors paint the Lapland lanscape in mid-September. Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, Kilpisjärvi, Finland. Photo: Ville Palonen

The best time to visit Helsinki is summer. Temperatures often reach the heat limit (modest 25 Celsius in Finland), nights are bright (twilight lasts or a few hours), and city events and other hustle and bustle abound.

The exception is July, when half of Finland heads to summer cabins and Helsinki feels deserted. July is the best time to rent a cottage in the Lakeland region or head for a road trip on the Archipelago Trail or to nature attractions of Eastern Finland.

The best time to experience Lapland’s magical winter is from February to April. There is plenty of snow for all kinds of winter activities, but the polar night is over and the days are wonderfully bright and long. Another great time to visit Lapland is mid-September, when autumn foliage paints the landscape to fairytale splendor.

Read more: Best time to visit Finland – the four seasons

Cruises from Helsinki to Tallinn, Stockholm or St. Petersburg

From Helsinki you can easily get a cruise to Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Stockholm. Cruises to St. Petersburg and Stockholm require one for each direction, but a trip to Tallinn takes only a couple of hours. A day cruise to Tallinn is a popular and recommended day trip from Helsinki.

St. Petersburg can also be reached by train. If you are traveling by train, check in advance visa requirements for Russia! Cruise passengers do not need a visa. 

Map of Finland’s best travel attractions

The map below shows the best tourist sights, museums, family attractions, hiking trails, outdoor activities, wildlife safaris and ski resorts of Finland.

Did you like this article? If you’re planning a trip to Finland, please book your hotel or rent a cottage by clicking on our affiliate links. We get a small commission, but you don’t pay any extra. Thanks for your support!

Ville Palonen (born 1976) is a freelance photographer and travel writer who loves mountains, wildlife and road trips. He has visited 80 countries and travelled in adventurous destinations like Amazon, Himalaya and Borneo. In Finland Ville spends his time photographing, hiking, fishing, hunting and mushrooming. Ville's favourite destinations in Finland are treeless fells of Lapland and wild parts of East Finland.

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