By plane: Most travellers arrive at Helsinki-Vantaa airport 15 kms N of Helsinki. Take the 615 bus downtown if you want to start saving money right from the start. It costs 5 EUR (pay the driver) and it is a bit cheaper than the Finnair nonstop bus plus that it gives you a free tram/bus/metro connection for 80 mins. The bus picks up some people in the airport's technical areas, but then it heads for the highway for the Main Railway Station almost just as fast as the Finnair Bus. Should you need the Finnair Bus option later, you will find it on the Eliel Square on the W side of the Railway station.
In July 2015, a new railway line, the Kehärata (Circle Line), connecting the airport with the railway stations Tikkurila, Pasila and Helsinki Main Station will be opened for service and offer connections to all trains and metro lines operating out of Helsinki.
By ferry: All ferry harbours in Helsinki have bus or tram connections to the Mannerheimintie main street and the central bus and railway stations.
From the Olympia terminal (Tallink Silja) it's tram 2 (towards the big white church), from the Katajanokka terminal (Viking Line) it's trams 4 and 4T, and from the West Harbour it's trams 6T and 9. Pay the driver, the tram ticket costs 3 EUR and it's valid for transfer anywhere within Helsinki for 1 hour. A cheaper ticket for 2,20 valid only on trams is available in advance from ticketing machinges. You can also buy a 24 h ticket for Helsinki for 8 EUR on the tram.
By train or bus: In Helsinki, you arrive in the middle of everything. The main railway and bus stations are within 200 metres from each other, the main bus station a little more disguised, located under the Kamppi shopping center. The Railway station is on the opposite side of the main Mannerheimintie street. This is considered to be the heart of daily Helsinki. To find the tourists' favourite area, keep walking a few blocks in the same direction that your bus or train came in and follow the Esplanadi which begins at the Swedish Theatre.
Matka.fi is a most elegant public transport planner for all Finland can be found at where you can type in any address in Finland and get suggestions for how to get there (no flights and no fares yet, but so far, so good). The link gives you an English interface.
Reittiopas is another route planner for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area with smaller coverage but with a variety of options on how you want to travel.
Train and bus are relatively equal means of public transport in Southern Finland considering price, service, frequency and quality. All trains are operated by VR, the Finnish State Railways.
For long-distance travel, VR offers Pendolino trains with top speeds of up to 220 kmh, while the Intercity's make 160 kmh. Long-distance trains have restaurant or café cars or trolleys on board, and also facilities for PC and Internet working. Trains are usually punctual and delays of more than 10-15 mins are rare.
Three main lines leave Helsinki, one to the west to Turku, one to the north to Tampere and the third to the east to Lahti. Expect hourly departures from early morning to late evening, but none at night. If you want to travel along the South East coast of Finland, though, take the bus instead.
The line to Turku (160 kms west) connects to costal Tammisaari and Hanko via train change in Karjaa. The Turku trains also continue to Turku's harbour station for ferry passengers to Åland and Sweden. Depending on where you are heading locally at your destination, do also consider taking the bus to Turku, which is fast and may arrive a bit more centrally for you.
The Tampere (190 kms north) trains usually continue into western, central and northern Finland and are usually faster than the bus, which also arrives a little more remotely in Tampere. The Tampere rail line has excellent connections to e.g. Jyväskylä, Oulu and Rovaniemi.
The Lahti (100 kms northeast) trains is actually the route to Siberia if you like. Beyond Lahti you can reach St. Petersburg on the new Allegro fast train, and also Moscow by direct trains, or Finnish destinations such as Lappeenranta, Kuopio or Joensuu.
A long distance train journey of about 200 kms costs 25 EUR for Intercity and 30 EUR for Pendolino. There are slower and cheaper trains for some longer distances, but they are rare. Do also check out VR's website a www.vr.fi. Buying your ticket in advance may save you up to 50 % of the ticket price. Do also check out VR's Veturi loyalty club, that currently offers real cheap tickets on some trains, if booked about 10 to 50 days in advance.
In Helsinki, all long-distance trains stop at Pasila 3 kms north of Helsinki Main Station. The new train connection to Helsinki-Vantaa will open in 2015, but until then, if you have a flight-train connection, bus 61 takes you from Helsinki-Vantaa airport direct to the nearest Tikkurila railway station in about 20 mins, where nearly all long distance trains stop. The Tikkurila station is a quite small station with little facilities, so waiting long for your connection, especially at winter or night, may not be that pleasant. When in doubt, go via Helsinki downtown instead.
Local trains in the Helsinki area indicated by letters, which don't seem to be assigned to the train lines by any given logic. The standard of the trains is good and they are clean and fast, but delays are frequent especially winter-time, so allow some 30 mins slack in your schedule if it involves a local train.
The local trains are integrated in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area three-zone fare system, but some local trains travel further outside the regional fare system, for instance to Karjaa, Tampere and Lahti.
Much of public transport in the Helsinki Area is built up around the trains and feeder bus services as well as park & ride options are good.
Helsinki has only one metro line, though with two different extensions in the eastern end. It runs up until 23:30 every night. The main metro stations are, beginning from the west: Ruoholahti (connection to Tallinn ferries), Kamppi (bus station), Rautatientori (railway station) and Itäkeskus (a shopping mall with several onward connections to suburbs east of Helsinki).
For a prolonged political dispute, there is no metro connection westwards to Espoo yet. The latest speculation is to have the lined opened in 2017.
Helsinki is the only city in Finland with trams. The network comprises 9 main lines and new lines are being planned. Tram tickets are a few cents cheaper than other public transport tickets and the trams run until about 1 o'clock in the night.
Tram 2 takes you for a good tour around the main sights of Helsinki such as the Market Square, President's Palace, Senate Square, Aleksanterinkatu shopping street, Mannerheimintie main street, Kiasma art museum, Parliament House, Temppeliaukio Rock Church, the architecturally interesting Töölö suburb, 1952 Olympic Stadium, the traditional workers Kallio (the tram has now changed line number to a 3), the Hakaniemi "Red Square", Railway station, Eira with bourgeois and embassy villas and back to the Market Square.
According to Finland traffic rules trams have precedence over all other motor vehicles.
Finland's bus network has been considered one of the best in Europe. Focus seems to shift to intercity and express services, but the network is even expanding in many parts of southern Finland. Buses normally fall into three categories normal ( vakio), fast ( pika) and express. There is
also two low-cost bus companies operating on long-haul routes in Southern FInland, Onnibus and Onniexpress, where you have to book in advance over the web to get low-price tickets.
Bus schedules are usually revised on 1 Jun every year and 1 Jun - 15 Aug may be a period when seasonal exceptions apply - tourist destinations may be better served, while countryside loops and lines are withdrawn.
In Finland, you can pay for the bus ride to the driver or a bus attendant. Credit cards are widely accepted, sometimes even on very local lines, but don't expect that anywhere in metropolitan or city areas.
In Finland, long-distance bus stops are marked with a blue-and-white bus stop sign. If there is an additional sign saying pikavuoro, it means that also fast and express buses halt there. Local buses stop at yellow-and-black bus stop signs. Low-cost operators may have their bus stops off the main bus stations; the Onnibus bus stop is outside the Kiasma art museum, but still right at the heart of Helsinki centre.
Both to get on and off the bus, you'll have to give the driver a signal as Finnish buses don't stop at all stops listed in the timetable by default.
Finland has a nationwide fare system, except for some metropolitan areas, so prices are possible to calculate in advance. With a recent deregulation there is, however, a wider spread of prices, mostly to the benefit of the traveller.
The bus stations, the ticketing and a freight system is being run all over the country by a company called Matkahuolto. They also provide a coverage of timetables of different companies, even though some don't operate off Matkahuolto's stations. Tip: if you for some reason need to have some items transported across the country, bus freight is many times more reliable, cheaper and easier-to-use than going to the nearest post office.
If you arrive in Helsinki-Vantaa airport and go somewhere else in Finland, a direct bus from the airport to Kotka, Porvoo, Lahti, Tampere, Pori and Turku may save you both time and effort. Usually they haul you to your long-distance bus by a feeder bus.
In southern Finland, places east of Helsinki like Porvoo, Loviisa, Kotka and Hamina are best reached by bus. So are destinations northwest of Helsinki along the road towards Forssa, Rauma and Pori. Also for travel to Turku bus is an option equal to the train, as the bus takes you more to downtown Turku than its three trains stations do.
Booking seats or buying tickets in advance is rarely necessary, except for low-cost tickets or for holidays like Midsummer (late June) or Christmas. The national bus fare can today be considered a maximum prices as many special offers are around - but you can expect a maximum of 3,30 EUR for 6 kms / 10 EUR for 50 kms / 45 EUR for 250 kms express. An extra fare of about 3,30 EUR applies to most fast and express buses.
In the Helsinki Area most of the public transport involves a bus or a combination of train or metro with a feeder bus. A three-digit bus is usually a regional bus, where the higher 2- or 3-zone fare applies.
Bus 550 is a fast bus line taking you across the Helsinki from Itäkeskus (M) in the east to Espoo's Leppävaara train hub and to Tapiola and the Westend bus terminal. The line is priced like all other bus lines in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
Tampere, Turku and Lappeenranta have airports with international service, but domestic flying between these destinations is not worth it, unless you have the flight as a cheap add-on to your international flight. Better take the bus or train.
For the Helsinki Metropolitan Area you can buy a 24 hrs tourist ticket on buses and trams. It costs 8 EUR for Helsinki and 12 EUR if you also want to go Espoo or Vantaa (where the airport is). Tickets for up to 7 days are also available at blue-and-yellow R-kiosks at airports, railway and bus stations at prices of 32 EUR for Helsinki or 72 EUR for the whole region for a full week.
In the Helsinki Metropolitan area a one-zone ticket valid in all public transport costs 3 EUR (transfer time 60 mins), a two-zone 5 EUR (transfer time 80 mins) and a three-zone 7 EUR (transfer time 100 mins). The ticket is valid also on the Suomenlinna ferry.