Planning a Trip to Finland

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Overview

With so many beautiful things to see where do you even start when planning a trip to Finland? Finland is a nordic country located in northern Europe near the Baltic Sea. Its bordering countries are Norway, Sweden, and Russia. 

Most of Finland is blanketed by thick lush woodlands making it the most densely forested country in Europe. There’s even a chance to see the Northern Lights if you take a trip to the Lapland.

Finland has been ranked the happiest country in the world for the last 5 years. Many people say it’s because of its simple way of living and being fully present in your surroundings. 

In this guide, you will see just how great Finland is, the best things to do, and what makes Finland the happiest country in the world. 

 

Language

Finnish and Swedish are the two main languages spoken in Finland. 

The majority of Finns speak English as their second language. In major cities communicating in English shouldn’t be a problem. I always try to learn basic words in the language of the country I’m visiting. Just learning simple things like hello, thank you, and excuse me, can make a big difference when trying to communicate.

Be sure you download Google Translate as well. With Google Translate you want to make sure to download the language before your trip so you can use it offline.

 

Passport/Visa

Finland is a part of the Schengen area, if you are a United States citizen you will need a valid passport that has been issued no more than 10 years ago and doesn’t expire for at least 6 months after your departure date. 

If you plan on staying longer than 90 days in a 180-day period, you will need to obtain a visa. You can find out exactly what you need here.  

 

Currency

The Euro is the current currency being used in Finland. 

At the time of writing this, the exchange rate is $0.98 US dollars to 1 Euro. But this can be easily checked with a google search or an app I really like to use can be downloaded here.

 

Grab a handful of Euros while planning your trip to finland

 

Credit Cards and ATMs

Credit Cards are widely accepted throughout Finland, especially in the bigger cities. If you are traveling to smaller rural cities or shopping at the Christmas Markets make sure you carry a little bit of cash.

ATMs aren’t as easy to find as they used to be but you can still find them. There is a fee so be sure to do your research before you use them.

 

Adapter

Finland uses type C and type F plugs. The voltage for the plugs is 230V and 50Hz. I recommend getting a travel adapter. We have this one and it’s great. It can be used in 150 different countries, has 2 USB port chargers, and a surge protector.

 

Safety

Not only is Finland the happiest country in the world it is also one of the safest countries to live and travel in. Crime rates in Finland are fairly low.

Just because crime rates are low doesn’t mean that things can’t happen. Just be smart and trust your instincts.

Check out our article about how to stay safe while traveling here.

 

Transportation

Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is the only city in Finland with a tram and metro system. You can access other cities and towns through public buses though. Buses are the main form of travel throughout Finland.

Trains are also a great option to get around Finland.

Uber is also available in Finland.

 

Trams in Finland

 

Planning a Trip to Finland

Best Time to Go to Finland

The best time to visit Finland will depend on what you want to do during your visit. If you want the best chance of seeing the northern lights you’ll want to visit in December or January. 

If you decide to go in December you will get to experience Christmas time in Finland with decorations, Christmas markets, and maybe even snow!

The shoulder seasons in Finland are in Spring and Fall. This can be a beautiful time to visit if you aren’t set on seeing the northern lights. The temperatures during the shoulder season are still quite cool.

In the summertime, you will have longer days to explore and warmer days. During the summer the parks and beaches are full of people enjoying the warmer weather.

If you are planning to visit the Lapland it still will be on the colder side. 

Not sure what to pack for the winter in Finland? Check out our packing list here.

 

Northern lights in finland

 

Estimated Budget

Finland isn’t the cheapest country to visit but you can definitely travel on a budget if you need to. Below are the average costs as of 2022. Be aware that prices will change depending on the season and circumstances.

Rovaniemi is one of the best places to experience the northern lights and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience but it is an extremely expensive place to stay so keep that in mind.

 

Accommodations

Hostel: Average around 30 Euro for a dorm

    Average 50 Euro for a private room

Hotel: Budget Hotel average: 100 Euro per night

  Luxury Hotel average: 200 Euro-400 Euro per night

 

Food

(average per person)

Meal at a cafe: 15-20 Euro

Multi-course Meal: 50 Euro

Beer: 7-8 Euro

Latte: 4-5 Euro

Pastries: 1.5 -4 Euro each

 

Transportation

Public Transportation (buses, trams, trolleys): average 3.00 Euro depending on the length of time

Trains: 20-25 Euro depending on the length of the route.

Examples: Turku to Helsinki (2 hours) is about 17 Euros or Helsinki to Tempere (about 1 1/2hours) on the fast train starts at around 20 Euro

Buses

Trains are normally the better option since they are faster and cheaper, but sometimes buses can be a good option because there are more buses scheduled daily than trains normally. 

Buses can vary depending on the route. 

Helsinki to Turku (2 1/2 hours): 10-15 Euro

Helsinki to Tampere (2 hours): 8 Euro

Helsinki to Rovaniemi (13 hours): 55 Euro

Uber

Uber is available in Finland! It can be quite expensive though. I have not personally used Uber while in Finland. It may be worth it if you are sharing the cost with other people.

Renting a Car

Averages about 30 Euro a day for a small compact car. You do need to be at least 20 years old with a valid license you have had for at least a year and an International Drivers permit. You can read all about that here.

 

What to Pack for Finland

Finland gets extremely cold in the winter. You definitely want to bring layers. I wore my Artic Expedition jacket but not enough layers so I was pretty cold while walking around the Christmas Market.

Don’t forget to wear a nice warm jacket, base layers or thermals, gloves, a scarf, and a hat or ear muffs.

 

You can download your copy of our Finland packing list

 

Where to Stay in Finland 

Helsinki

Scandic Helsinki Hub 

Scandic Grand Central Helsinki 

Hotel Rivoli Jardin 

 

Rovaniemi 

Aurora Hut Igloo  Staying in a glass igloo watching the northern lights is a major bucket list item for me! See more of my bucket list items here.

HAAWE Boutique Apart Hotel 

Scandic Polar

Artic City Hotel 

 

Turku

Centro Hotel Turku

Hotel Kakola 

Omena Hotel Turku Humalistonkatu 

 

Tampere

Hotel Kauppi 

Courtyard Tampere City 

Scandic Tampere Station 

 

Note: I have not personally been to all of these hotels. They are just some of the top-rated ones I found while researching.

 

Planning a trip to Finland- stay in an igloo to watch the northern lights.

 

Best of Finland

Top Cities to Visit in Finland

Helsinki

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a beautiful place to visit. There’s a ton to see and do while in Helsinki. There are museums, beautiful architecture, shopping, and during the holiday season, the Christmas market.

 

Turku

Turku is the oldest city and former capital of Finland. The heart of this city is the Aurajoki river. Many tourists and locals walk along the waterside and enjoy the views and some of the most popular restaurants and cafes in Turku.

 

Rovaniemi 

Rovaniemi is known as the official hometown of Santa Claus! This is one of the best Christmas destinations to visit. You can visit the arctic circle and have a chance at seeing the northern lights. Although Rovaniemi is an amazing Christmas destination it’s beautiful all year round!

 

Tampere

Tampere is considered the most loved city in Finland and is also the sauna capital of the world. There is so much to do in this beautiful city, especially for kids making this a great family-friendly destination.

 

Best Things to do in Finland

Experience a Finland Christmas

Rovaniemi is one of the best Christmas destinations. Visit the arctic circle and Santas village any day of the year. You can send postcards to the family at the Santa Claus post office, see reindeer, ride snowmobiles, and even stay in an igloo hotel. This really is the most amazing Christmas village.

If you just want a taste of Christmas and don’t want to go all out you can explore the Helsinki Christmas market and the beautiful decorations that are up around the city.

 

Dogs sled in finland

 

Explore the Helsinki

Get the most out of your Helsinki trip and get the Helsinki card. There are tons of attractions, discounts, and freebies included in the price of your card. This allows you to see all that Helsinki has to offer at a lower price. You can read more about the Helsinki card here.

 

See the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are at the top of my bucket list and Finland is one of the best places to get a chance to see them. 

Your best chance to see them is between September and April. There are tons of guided tours you can join or you can venture out on your own.

 

What to Eat in Finland

Finnish Rye Bread

Rye bread is the most popular bread in Finland. Finnish rye bread is often served as a side to a meal but is also eaten on its own for breakfast or a quick snack. It’s made from sourdough and is high in fiber making it a healthier option as well.

 

Salmiakki (Salty Licorice)

Salmiakki is extremely popular in Finland. Salmiakki tastes much different than the licorice we are used to in the United States. This candy is flavored with ammonium chloride to give it a strong salty flavor. It’s referred to as “black gold” to Finns.

I was not a huge fan but I don’t like black licorice to begin with. I did bring some back for my dad who actually liked it as a souvenir. Here are a few more souvenir ideas to bring back from Finland.

 

Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup)

Salmon is the most popular fish in the Finnish diet. If you want to enjoy salmon the Finnish way it’s by eating salmon soup. Fresh cream and butter are added sometimes to make it creamier. I loved salmon soup when I was visiting. It was a great way to warm up from the cold.

 

Karjalanpiirakka (Rice Pies)

These rye crust pastries are filled with thick rice porridge. They are a popular snack throughout the country. You can find these at a local bakery or supermarket and you can also find them filled with shredded carrots and rice, and potato mash as well as the traditional porridge filling.

 

Now that you have read our guide, it’s time to start planning an epic trip to Finland. Have any questions or anything we should add to our guide? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

Planning a trip to Finland Pin Pin for pinterest Finalnd Travel guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finland travel guide pin for pinterest