Main information

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 High Low
January
26F
17
February 25 15
March 32 20
April 44 30
May 56 40
June 65 48
July 66 49
August 71 55
September 59 46
October 47 37
November 37 30
December 31 23

 

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.

Holidays

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.

Electricity

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.

Emergencies

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.

 

Mail

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.

Currency

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.

Taxes

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

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

Passports & Visas

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.

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.

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.

Events

Midsummer’s Day (Juhannus) is the most important annual event for Finns. People leave cities and towns for summer cottages to celebrate the longest day of the year. Bonfires are lit and lakeside merrymakers swim and row boats.

March

Musica Nova Helsinki.

Musica Nova Helsinki is an international annual event dedicated to new art music concerts

Musica Nova Helsinki,

Lasipalatsi, 00100 HELSINKI,

tel. +358 (0)9 6126 5100, telefax +358 (0)9 6126 5161

Annual Church Music festival

Churches of Helsinki are filled with music. Festival features especially brass instruments.

The Parish Union of Helsinki, information, 3 linja 22, 00530 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 70921, telefax +358 (0)9 709 2233

Helsinki, Cable Factory

Helsinki Beer Festival

The biggest Beer Festival in Finland is presented each year. The Festival featured a record 400 different beer, 50 ciders, and a selection of whiskies. On Thursday and Friday afternoons admission is to trade visitors only. On Thursday and Friday nights (from 5 p.m.) and all day Saturday (from 12 noon) the Festival is open to the general public. Helsinki Beer Festival Office, Telephone +358-9-6962 8021
Fax + 358-9-6962 8080

 

June

Helsinki Day. anniversary of the founding of Helsinki, with activities around the city for people of all ages. Helsinki City Information Office, Aleksanterinkatu 20, 00100 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 1691, telefax +358 (0)9 655 354

Jun 14-Jun 16

Helsinki, Senate Square

Regional Fair (Itä-Uusimaa). The traditional fair in the heart of the city, bringing a mixture of dialects, regional cuisine and practical demonstrations of various trades and crafts.

Helsinki City Information Office, Aleksanterinkatu 20, 00100 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 1691, telefax +358 (0)9 655 354

Jun 14

Helsinki, Olympic Stadium

AsicsGrand Prix

The summer’s biggest sports event will feature top athletes from around the world.

 

Suomen Urheiluliitto ry, Radiokatu 20, 00240 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 348 121, telefax +358 (09) 3481 2367

June 22

Helsinki, Seurasaari

National Midsummer Eve celebration. Bonfires, folk music, folk dances, traditional Finnish games

Seurasaari Foundation, Tamminiementie 1, 00250 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 485 424, telefax +358 (0)9 485 424

 

August

August 24-September 9 (approx)

Helsinki Festival

Helsinki Festival, Lasipalatsi, Mannerheimintie 22-24, 00100 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 6126 5100, fax +358 (0)9 6126 5161

Music, dance, drama, films, high-standard exhibitions. The basic idea of the annual Helsinki Festival is to culminate the summer with an international arts event. The Festival includes Night of the Arts -festival and Food Piazza on the Senate Square

The Helsinki Festival is the most diverse event in the Finnish cultural calendar, with major symphonic works and the finest baroque orchestras. World class musicians perform in the Huvila Festival Tent each year.

Other Festival events include visiting dance and theatre companies, and well known names in visual art and cinema. There is a special program for children. The annual Night of the Arts is celebrated late in August with many events throughout the city.

mid-August

Helsinki, Fair Centre

 

Helsinki International Fashion Fair

The Fashion fair presents coming trends, it is the number one event in the Fashion industry in Finland

Helsinki Fair Centre, Messuaukio 1, 00520 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 15091, telefax +358 (0)9 142 358

 

September

mid-September

Helsinki, Fair Center

Habitare, Homeowner Fair

Habitare Furniture and Interior Decoration Fair is the biggest furniture fair in Finland. In the previous fair 501 exhibitors displayed products from 25 different countries.

Helsinki Fair Centre, Messuaukio 1, 00520 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 15091, telefax +358 (0)9 142 358

 

October

early October

Helsinki, Market Square

Baltic Herring Market

Fishermen have been gathering round Helsinki Market Square at the beginning of October to sell their wares ever since the 18th century. Once again October will bring the oldest of the city’s traditional events. The market will be packed with salted, pickled and marinated fish and special events.

Port of Helsinki, Olympiaranta 3, 00140 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 173 331, telefax +358 (0)9 1733 3232

mid-October

Helsinki, Hartwall Areena

 

Helsinki International Horse Show.

Each year, Helsinki International Horse Show arrives at Hartwall Areena for three days. The biggest annual indoor event in Finland, the Horse Show has been held in Helsinki since 1985 and has established itself in the forefront of top events. Event attracts top names from abroad.

Scanhorse, Runeberginkatu 5 B, 00100 HELSINKI, puh. +358

 

November

Nov-Dec

Helsinki

Forces of Light festival

A city event using light and darkness as its ingredients. Forces of Light is a project of the townspeople, one which has been built by means of a broad network. The event will inspire people to enhance their habitat by means of light and create an image of Helsinki as a creative city of light. Forces of Light, Fredrikinkatu 61 A 60, 00100 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 686 6810, telefax +358 (0)9 6866 8111

 

Nov

Helsinki Classic Jazz.

Helsinki Classic Jazz Festival swings in November. The best international and finnish classic jazz bands.

Classic Jazz ry, Metsätähdentie 13, 01350 Vantaa, tel.+358 (0)9 602 116, +358 (0)40 505 4884, telefax +358 (0)9 602 656

end of Nov

Helsinki

 

Ethnic Sounds

Since 1994 Ethnic Sounds is involved in the Nordic ”World in the North” –festival collaboration. Ethnic Sounds features artists from around the world.

Maailman musiikin keskus, Meritullinkatu 33 C, 00170 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 6962 790, telefax +358 (0)9 6962 7910

end of Nov-beginning of Dec

 

Dance Arena

A biennial festival of contemporary Finnish dance and the Finnish Platform of Rencontres Internationales Chorégraphiques de Seine-Saint-Denis. The festival highlights the peak performances of Finnish contemporary dance and takes place in the different venues for presenting dance.

Finnish Dance Information Centre, Bulevardi 23 – 27, 00180 Helsinki, tel. + 358 (0)9 612 1075, telefax + 358 (0)9 612 1824,

 

December

Dec 6

Helsinki

Independence Day

Honor guard at the war memorial and students’ torchlight procession at the Senate Square.

Women’s Christmas Fair

Crafts and Christmas specialities.

Naisten Joulumessut, Bulevardi 11 A, 00120 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 642 277

Dec 13

Cathedral-Finlandia Hall

Lucia parade

On Lucia Day, 13th December, the beautiful Lucia maiden descends the steps of the Lutheran Cathedral and leads a parade through the city.

Folkhälsan, Topeliuksenkatu 20, 00250 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 43491, telefax +358 (0)9 434 9352

Esplanade Park

Christmas Market “Tuomaan markkinat”

Crafts, baked goods and other Christmas specialities

Kiinteistövirasto, Halli- ja ulkomyyntiyksikkö, Pohjoisesplanadi 5, 00170 HELSINKI, tel. +358 (0)9 169 3367, telefax +358 (0)9 169 3784

Dec 31

Senate Square

National New Year’s Eve festivities. Speeches and music

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